Several services are available that will provide you with regular monitoring of your private information to ensure that your name and credit are protected. These services will notify you whenever there is new activity under your name. We provide tips on finding the right identity theft solution for you and your needs.
Your Social Security number
Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet. When asked for your social security number, ask to use other types of identifiers. If your state uses your Social Security number as your driver’s license number, ask to substitute another number. Do the same if your health insurance company uses your Social Security number as your policy number. You should only provide your Social Security number when absolutely necessary and if no alternatives are available. Do not write your Social Security number on checks.
Your employer and financial institutions will need your Social Security number for wage and tax reporting purposes. Other businesses may ask you for your Social Security number to do a credit check if you are applying for a loan, renting an apartment, or signing up for utilities. When asked for your Social Security number ask how the number will be used, and how they protect individuals’ Social Security numbers from being stolen.
Treat your trash and mail carefully
Many identity thieves will go through trash (also known as dumpster diving) to obtain your personal information. Invest in a shredder for receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, medical statements, checks, bank statements and credit offers you get in the mail. Cut up expired credit cards or cards which you are no longer using.
Place outgoing mail containing personally identifying information in USPS collection boxes or at your local post office, rather than leaving it in an unsecured mailbox. Regularly remove mail from your mailbox. If you’re planning to be away from home and can’t pick up your mail or have a friend pick it up for you, contact the U.S. Postal Service to request a temporary vacation hold. The Postal Service will hold your mail at your local post office until you can pick it up or are home to receive it.
Be aware on the internet
The Internet can give you access to a world of information, entertainment, financial offers, and countless other services. It is also prime hunting grounds for online scammers and identity thieves. Many identity thieves will send emails or direct you to websites whose sole purpose is to gain your personal information. Submitting your username and password, for instance, on a misspelled bank site which is made to look exactly like a real banking site, will give identity thieves the information that they need to access your account and gain financial information to get them started. The following information is commonly asked for / given on the internet, and the source should be carefully examined before divulging: Social Security number, bank account number, credit card number and pin numbers/ passwords.
|Date of Birth||Medium|
|Mother’s Maiden Name||Medium|
|Social Security Number||High|
|Bank Account Number||High|
|Credit Card Number||High|
|PIN or Password||High|
Select difficult passwords
Passwords are something that extra thought be given to. You should not use easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, your last name, your children’s name, the last four digits of your Social Security number or your phone number. Alphanumeric combination with special characters added make the best passwords. While it can be difficult to remember all of your passwords, varying them is much less difficult than sorting out an identity theft case.
Check your billing and bank statements as soon as they arrive
Be on the lookout for any fraudulent charges. If you notice something suspicious, contact your bank immediately. Online accounts should be checked with regularity as well.
Check your credit reports for free at least once a year
Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, you are entitled to receive one free credit report from the big three credit bureaus every 12 months. Just visit AnnualCreditReport.com. Upon receiving your credit report, look for anything suspicious. Look for accounts opened under your name that you are unaware of. If you notice anything suspicious, contact the credit bureaus immediately.
Don’t list your date of birth and/or social security number on resume
There is no reason why most potential employers would need to know this information about you at first glance. There is no sure way of knowing how many hands your social security number may end up in, and how they may handle your sensitive information.
Use your ATM card wisely
Avoid going to the ATM late at night or in hidden areas, and always be sure no one is looking over your shoulder when you are entering your PIN. If they are, cancel the transaction quickly and go to another ATM or banking center.