Think about your habits – Do you delete spam emails? Keep your Social Security Number in a secure place? Do you shred statements and receipts before throwing them away? There are some simple steps you can take to reduce or minimize the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.
Practice Safe Internet Use
Privacy is an important issue, especially in the information age. To keep your data safe, delete spam emails asking for personal information and keep your antivirus and anti-spyware software up to date. Shop online only with secure web pages (check your browser for an image of a lock or look for "https" in the address bar). Never send credit card numbers, Social Security Numbers and other personal information via email.
Destroy Private Records
Tear up or shred credit card statements, ATM, credit or debit card receipts, bank deposit receipts, loan solicitations and other documents that contain private financial information.
Secure Your Mail
Empty your mailbox regularly and consider investing in a mailbox lock. When mailing bill payments and checks, consider dropping them off at the post office or in a secure mailbox. These are simple changes that can have a big impact on your personal security.
Be Careful with your Social Security Number
Your Social Security Number is a major target because it can give identity thieves access to your credit report and bank accounts. Never carry your card with you. Instead, memorize your number and keep the card in a secure place at home or in a safety deposit box. Never write or print your Social Security Number on checks.
Check your Credit Report
At least once a year, obtain and review your credit report for suspicious activity. Consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to request your credit report online, by phone, or through the mail.
Be Aware of Scams
Always be on the defensive with your private information. Never give out personal information to telemarketers or respond to emails from someone claiming to represent your bank, credit card issuer, a government agency, a charity, or other organization. If you think the request is legitimate, contact the company directly to confirm.