ID Theft Protection Tips
- Check your credit report, which is available free once every 12 months at www.annualcreditreport.com from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. If you suspect that there are any inaccuracies, call the bureau immediately. (Call Equifax at 800-685-1111; Experian at 888-EXPERIAN; or TransUnion at 800-888-4213)
- Protect your Social Security number. Do not use your SSN as an identifier at work, school or on your driver’s license. Request a new number to substitute as an ID if this is assigned automatically.
- Create passwords and PINs that are difficult for others to guess but easy for you to remember. Memorize the numbers to avoid having to write them down.
- Buy a shredder to destroy any financial and personal documents before throwing them away. This includes bills, statements and pre-approved credit cards offers.
- Check your wallet: Do not carry your Social Security card, birth certificate, passport, or extra credit cards unless absolutely necessary.
- Never put outgoing documents that contain personal information in your mailbox to be picked up; drop them directly at the post office or a postal service mailbox.
- Be aware of your surroundings especially when using an ATM, entering PINs or making a purchase with a credit car. Scam artists can easily look over your shoulder, or even spy from far away to steel your information.
- Use caution when responding to, or clicking on, an unfamiliar or unsolicited email. It is very easy for someone to scam you by using a seemingly authentic Web address.
- Avoid emailing personal or financial information to anyone. It is much safer to furnish this information over the phone, provided you are the one who initiated the call.
- Report any suspicious activity to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) immediately.
*For more important prevention tips visit the FTC Web site at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.