Identity theft is probably not entirely preventable, but there are ways to minimize your risk.
- Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. Make sure all information is accurate and includes only those activities that you have authorized.
- Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Try to avoid using birth date, social security numbers or phone numbers.
- Secure personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help or are having service work done in your home.
- Ask about information security procedures in your work place. Find out who has access to your personal information and verify that these records are kept in a secure location.
Checking your credit reports on a regular basis can help catch mistakes and fraud before serious damage is done to your credit history. It is also very important not to give out personal identifying information over the phone or internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with. Before you share any of this information, confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate organization.
Here are a few other quick tips to help minimize your risk:
- Guard your mail and trash from theft. Shred discarded credit card offers, credit applications, bank statements, checks and credit card statements. Identity thieves have been known to go dumpster diving for anything that might have your personal identifying information.
- Do not carry your Social Security Card..leave it in a secure location.
- Limit the number of credit or debit cards that you carry in your wallet or purse to a manageable number.
- Be wary of promotional scams. Identity thieves may use phony offers to get you to give them your personal information.