Avoid Identity Theft - Deter, Detect, Defend



While nothing can guarantee that you won't become a victim of identity theft, you can minimize your risk by making it difficult for identity thieves to access your personal information.
  • Protect your social security number:
    •   Don't carry your SS card with you
    •   Don't write your SS number on checks
    •  Give your SS number only when necessary - use other types of identifiers whenever possible.
  • Treat your trash and mail carefully:         
    • Shred charge receipts, copies of credit applications,  insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements before discarding.
    • Consider opting out of prescreened offers of credit in the mail by calling 1-888-567-8688        (NOTE: You will be asked to provide your Social Security number).
    • Deposit outgoing mail containing personally identifying information in postal collection boxes or at your local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox.
    • Promptly remove mail from your mailbox.
    • If you are planning to be away from home contact the U. S. Postal Service at  1-800-275-8777 to place a vacation hold. 
  • Be on guard using the internet:
    •  For practical tips to help you be on guard against internet fraud, secure your computer and protect your personal information, go to: http://onguardonline.gov           
  • Select intricate passwords:
    •   Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts.
    •   Don't use easily available information (i.e. mother's maiden name, birth date, last 4 of social security number).  Instead, for a strong password, use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.
    •  Give your SS number only when necessary - use other types of identifiers whenever possible
  • Verify a source before sharing information:
    • Because identity thieves are clever and may pose as representatives of banks, internet service providers, etc., don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the internet unless you have initiated the contact.
  • Safeguard your purse and wallet:
    • Protect your purse and wallet at all times.  Don't carry your social security card, and carry only the identification cards, credit cards or debit cards that you will need when you go out.
  • Store information in a secure location in your home.
 For more information visit http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/index.html .


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