- Install passwords on your credit cards, bank and phone accounts! Avoid using information like your mother’s maiden name; birth date; last four digits of your Social Security number; phone number; or a series of consecutive numbers.
- Pay attention to billing cycles! Follow up with creditors if your bills do not arrive. A missing bill could indicate a thief has taken over your accounts.
- Protect your deposit slips and check book! Never use a deposit slip or blank check as a way to give someone your address or phone number. Your deposit slip’s account number could allow someone access to your account.
- Monitor your accounts and keep your receipts to check against your monthly statements.
- Do not give out information over the phone or internet to unsolicited contacts. Thieves pose as bank officials, internet service providers and even government agencies to get your Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, or account numbers.
- Guard your mail from theft! Deposit mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery. Planning on being away from home? Request a vacation hold on your mail at your local post office. The Postal Service will hold your mail until you can pick it up.
- Buy a shredder! Shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, statements, checks, bank statements and expired charge cards. Keep them or destroy them.
- Have recurring checks direct deposited into your bank! When ordering new checks, pick them up from the bank instead of having them mailed to your home.
- Minimize the amount of identification and the number of debit/credit cards you carry! Only carry what you need. Never carry your Social Security card!
- Secure personal information in a safe place! Write down all your card numbers and keep them in a safe place, in case you need to report a lost or stolen card. Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work and at home; do the same with copies of administrative forms that contain sensitive information. Especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your home.
- Only give your Social Security number when absolutely necessary!
- Know who has access to your personal information! Verify that employment and personal records are kept secure. Ask about information security procedures in your workplace, at businesses, doctor’s offices or other institutions that collect your personal data. Ask about the disposal procedures for those records as well. Find out if your information will be shared. If so, ask how your information can be kept confidential.
- Place an Active Duty Alert on your credit report! If you are a member of the military and away from your normal duty station, you may place an active duty alert on your credit reports to help minimize the risk of identity theft while you are deployed. Active duty alerts are in effect on your report for 1 year. If your deployment lasts longer, you can place another alert on your credit report.
- Order a copy of your credit report every year. The three major credit bureaus are:
– Equifax 1(800)525-6285 www.equifax.com
– Experian 1(888)397-3742 www.experian.com
– TransUnion www.transunion.com
You can also get a free credit report and score on-line at www.creditkarma.com