Take extra precautions to ensure that credit and debit cards, personal identification numbers (PINs) and passwords, unused check stock, social security cards and other documents that bear your social security number, insurance cards, driver's license and number, and other personal information are not susceptible to identity theft. Shredding is the best way of disposing of any of this information.
Your monthly bank statement including check and deposit images, credit card receipts, statements and solicitations, utility bills, medical bills, insurance information, investment statements, should be stored in a secure location and shredded when no longer needed.
A mailbox that can be locked with an opening for delivery of mail is advised.
Bill payments and other items that contain personal information mailed in your residential mailbox are often targets of identity theft. Use a U.S. Postal Service drop box rather than your mailbox to mail bill payments. If you do utilize your residential mail- box to mail bill payments, don't place them inside the mailbox until shortly before it will be picked up and don't raise the flag on the mailbox. Utilize your financial institution's automatic bill payment service to eliminate the need to mail payments.
Remove your mail from your mailbox as soon as possible after it has been delivered. Make arrangements if you are traveling, have the Post Office hold your mail or have someone pick it up daily.
Never give personal information to someone over the telephone unless you have initiated the call and have a very good reason to trust him or her.
Never send your personal information, credit card numbers or account numbers via e-mail or instant message.
Do not be taken in by individuals or companies that state you have won a prize but you first need to provide personal information before they can send it to you. This is probably a scam.
If you would like to be removed from the national direct mail and telemarketing lists contact:
Direct Marketing Association
Mail Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
Telephone Preference Service
(include: name, home address, home telephone number and signature)
Also you can join the DMA's mail preference service by going to: www.the-dma.org/consumers
Don't carry any more credit or debit cards with you than necessary in the event your purse or wallet is stolen. Store them in a secure place. Do not leave them in your car, even if it is locked. Do not leave them in your hotel or motel room.
Watch carefully as clerks swipe your card for a "double swipe" to prevent a dishonest clerk from submitting a phony charge later.
Leave your wallet out of your purse or pocket until you have received your card back from the clerk.
Never lend your credit or debit card to anyone.
If you have lost your card(s), do not be fooled by a "Good Samaritan" caller who says they have found your card(s) and will mail them to you right away. Call the issuer immediately.
Maintain a list of all credit card and personal information. This list should include credit card numbers, credit card company numbers, bank numbers and credit reporting agency contact information. They will ask for the billing address so if different from your own personal address, be sure to have that available also. Keep this information in a safe place that can be accessed easily.
Always shred your credit card, debit card and ATM receipts. Never discard them at the point of sale.
If you are receiving courtesy checks from your credit card company, you may want to request they discontinue sending them unless requested and shred the unused ones.
If you would like to not receive any more pre-approved credit card offers call:
#1-888-567-8688. This service is offered jointly by the three credit agencies.
Do not carry PIN numbers in your purse or wallet or write them on your card.
Don't use passwords easily determined, i.e. 111111, 123456, family birth dates, telephone number, or your name, spouse's name, or child's name.
When entering PIN numbers into an ATM, point of sale machine or telephone make yourself aware of those around you and be sure and hide the numbers as you are entering them.
Never share your log-on name or password with anyone at anytime.
If you are transacting business over the Internet always keep a copy of the receipt and transaction information.
Always make your Internet purchases over a secure connection and make purchases by credit card. You can tell if you are in a secured site by the padlock icon in the right hand bottom corner of your computer screen.
Always check with the Better Business Bureau before doing business with any company that you do not know, especially on-line. Doing business with companies whose main office address is located in the continental United States will make it much easier to settle disputes than with companies located outside the US. Beware of a business that only has a P.O. Box for an address. (Better Business Bureau of the Mountain States (970) 484-1348, Better Business Bureau Four Corners (505) 326-6501, Denver Area Better Business Bureau (303) 758-2100)
The use of a firewall is highly recommended. This software is not expensive and can be purchased from most stores that sell software.
Examine your credit card, debit card, and bank statements immediately when you receive them to determine whether there are any unauthorized transactions. Report any that you find immediately to your financial institution.
Obtain a copy of your credit report annually from all three major credit bureaus and review for accuracy.
Close accounts that you suspect have fraudulent activity or that you have been informed are at risk.
Maintain a file with detailed information regarding all fraudulent transactions and the steps you have taken to resolve the problem. This should include copies of telephone bills showing calls made and their cost. Receipts of certified mailing of letters etc.
Contact the following:
Credit Reporting Agencies