Although no method is full proof, we thought we would provide some information and tips on how to avoid identity theft. The tips include the following:
- Never carry your Social Security Card.
- Shred all personal documents.
- Watch your mail.
- Drop checks at a mailbox or post office.
- Hold mail when out of town.
- Know your payment cycles and when your statement arrives; monitor your statements.
- Take care when using the Internet.
- Select strong and unique passwords.
- Avoid calls from charitable organizations.
- Keep separate list of credit card account numbers as well as contact numbers – easy reference in case stolen or misplaced.
- Review your credit report regularly.
- Shred pre-approved credit card offers.
- Password protect mobile phones and computers.
- Do not provide sensitive information over the telephone.
- Take extra care when using ATMs so that information you input is not capable of being seen by anyone.
If you feel like you have been a victim of identity theft you should:
- call the three credit reporting agencies and place fraud alerts on your Social Security Number;
- have a copy of your credit report sent to you and look it over carefully for any fraudulent activity of inaccuracies;
- call the police where you live. You may want to have a report made so that this report can be sent to your creditors to report any fraud;
- call and write to all creditors who opened fraudulent accounts; send the correspondence certified, return receipt requested and advise that it is a case of identity theft. Request copies of all applications and transaction information.
Contact information for the major credit reporting agencies:
- Transunion – (800) 888-4213; www.tuc.com
- Experian – (888) Experian; www.experian.com
- Equifax – (800) 685-1111; www.equifax.com
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.