What should I do to protect my identity?

There is no way to completely prevent identity theft; however there are ways to protect your identity more safely. To minimize the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft, here are some basic steps you can take:

  • Lock your financial documents and records in a safe place at home and lock your wallet or purse in a safe place at work
  • If you have a roommate keep all of your information in a hidden place
  • Do not carry your Social Security card with you
  • Keep your checks and credit cards in a safe place
  • Read through all of your bank statements, bills and credit report to look for unusual or suspicious charges or changes
  • If you do not receive all of your bills follow up with your creditor
  • Shred receipts, credit offers, credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks, bank statements, expired credit or debit cards and any other similar documents
  • Destroy the labels on your prescription bottles when you throw them out
  • Use a locked mail box or post office box and if you won’t be home for several days ask the postal office for a vacation hold
  • Do not give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or know who you’re dealing with
  • Do not overshare on social media websites
  • Do not have new checks mailed to you, pick them up at the bank
  • Before providing your Social Security Number ask why it is needed, how it will be used, how it will be protected and what will happen if you don’t provide it
  • Use passwords on your bank, credit card and phone accounts but do not use your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security Number, your address or phone number because those are the most common and can be easily found
  • Be alert to impersonators on the phone and computer and watch out for promotions or scams
  • Install firewalls and virus-detection on your home computer

Leave a comment