Identity Theft Prevention
- Destroy private records and statements. Shred credit card statements, solicitations and other documents that contain private financial information.
- Secure your mail. Empty your mailbox quickly, lock it, or get a post office box to ensure that no one has access to the financial information being sent to you. Never mail bill payments from home to eliminate the chance of them being stolen from your mailbox. Once stolen, the payee's name may be erased with solvents and the checks may be cashed fraudulently. Mail your bills from the post office or another secure location.
- Safeguard your Social Security number. Do not carry your social security card, or any other card that has your social security number on it, with you. Be reminded that some health insurance cards have your social security number on them. Do not list your social security number on your personal checks. This is a primary target for identity thieves because it gives them access to your credit report as well as your bank account.
- Do not leave a paper trail. Never leave ATM, credit card or gas station receipts in clear view. Always shred what you do not need.
- Never let your credit card out of your sight. Always keep an eye on your credit card or, better yet, pay with cash.
- Know who you're dealing with. Whenever someone contacts you requesting private identity or financial information, make no response other than to find out who they are, what company they represent and the reason for the call. If you have reason to believe that the request may be legitimate, contact the company yourself and confirm what you were told before revealing any of your personal data.
- Take your name off of marketer lists. Register yourself with the National Do-Not-Call registry by calling (888) 382-1222 in order to cut down on junk mail and credit card solicitations.
- Monitor your credit report. Obtain and thoroughly review your credit report, which can be obtained free of charge at http://www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling (877) 322-8228. You can receive a free credit report annually. If you notice something suspicious on your credit report, alert the credit card company or creditor immediately.
- Review your credit card statements carefully. Make sure you recognize the merchants, locations and purchases listed before paying the bill. Consider closing credit card accounts that are not of use to you.
Victims of Identity Theft
Contact the fraud department of each of the three major credit bureaus. Explain to them that you are an identity theft victim. Request that a "fraud alert" and victim?s statement be placed in your file, instructing creditors to contact you prior to opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts.
To report fraud: 1-800-525-6285
and write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
To report fraud: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
and write: P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
To report fraud: 1-800-680-7289
and write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634
Contact the creditors of any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each creditor, and follow up with a notification letter.
File a report with your local police department or the police department of the community where the identity theft took place. Keep a copy of the police report for your records and to verify the crime with banks, credit card companies, and other parties requesting some form of proof.
Maintain records of everything concerning your efforts to clear up fraud, including copies of written correspondence and documentation of telephone calls.