Identity Theft Protection
How To Protect Yourself
- Shred any documents that may contain personal identifying information before throwing away those documents
- Secure your mail. Stolen mail is a simple, yet common method that identity thieves use to obtain your personal information. If you are leaving town for an extended period of time, have a trusted neighbor, friend or family member collect your mail so that it is not available for identity thieves to steal.
- Order a free copy of your credit report. Each of the three major credit reporting agencies will provide you with one free credit report per year. Use this to monitor your credit. Immediately report anything suspicious to the police, and place a security alert on your credit with these agencies. You can contact any of the three major credit reporting agencies, or you may request a free credit report at FTC Consumer Advice, or you can call 1(877)322 8228. AnnualCreditReport.com is a centralized service that allows consumers to request annual credit reports created by the three major credit reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
- Never give any of your personal information to anyone over the phone or over the internet unless you initiated the contact, and, in the case of the internet, you are on a secure website.
- Regularly check your credit card and bank account balances. This is the quickest and easiest way to identity potential identity theft.
- Protect your social security number. A social security number is the “holy grail” for identity thieves. Many businesses needlessly ask people for their social security numbers. Be extremely cautious about giving this number to others.
IF YOU HAVE BECOME A VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT, NOTIFY THE POLICE. Contact your local police department to file a criminal report. Document the names and phone numbers of everyone you speak to regarding the incident. List exactly what has happened, such as bad checks, credit card abuse, unauthorized withdrawals from bank accounts, and so forth.
- File a police report.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit through the major credit reporting agencies.
Report mail fraud to the United States Postal Inspection Service here.
- Report any fraudulent use of your Social Security card to the Social Security Fraud Hotline at (800) 269-0271, or by visiting their website here.
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