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Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

Here are just a few suggestions to help you protect your privacy and reduce your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft:

  • Provide your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary and don't carry your card in your wallet.

  • Tear up or shred any documents that contain personal information, such as bills, bank statements, credit card receipts, etc. before throwing them away.

  • Carry only the credit cards and identification that you need.

  • Periodically check your credit report.

  • When creating passwords and PINs, avoid using the last 4 digits of your Social Security number, your birth date, your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.

  • Review your credit card and other financial statements each month to check for any purchases you didn't make. Also, pay attention to billing cycles. A bill that doesn't arrive on time may have been redirected by an identity thief.

  • Cancel, in writing, credit cards that you rarely, if ever, use.

  • Never give out your credit card or bank account information over the phone unless you have initiated the call or are familiar with the company.

  • Put a lock on your mailbox, and if you can't, pick up your mail as quickly as possible once it has been delivered. Also, drop off letters containing personal information in more secure locations such as the Post Office or a U.S. Postal Service box.

  • Don't leave printed receipts behind at ATM machines or gas pumps.

  • Don't put credit card information on a Web site that isn't secure.

  • Write the 3 major credit bureaus and ask to "Opt Out" of the credit lists they sell. Call 1-800-567-8688. Be aware that the option to "Opt Out" may expire in 2 years, so you may want to make a note of this.

  • If you believe that you may already be a victim of identity theft, act fast to minimize the damage.

Additional Resources

Learn What to Shred

Ins and Outs of Identity Theft

U.S. Postal Inspection Service