How to Minimize Your ID Theft Risk
When it comes to identity theft, you can't entirely control whether you will become a victim. But there are certain steps you can take to minimize your risk.
- Order a copy of your credit report.
- Place passwords on your credit card, bank, and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, or a series of consecutive numbers.
- Secure personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help or are having work done in your home.
- Ask about information security procedures in your workplace or at businesses, doctor's offices or other institutions that collect your personal information.
- Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you've initiated the contact or are sure you know who you're dealing with.
- Confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate organization before you share any personal information. Check an organization's website by typing its URL in the address line, rather than cutting and pasting it.
- Treat your mail and trash carefully.
- Promptly remove mail from your mailbox. If you're planning to be away from home and can't pick up your mail, call your post office to request a vacation hold.
- Always shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards, and credit offers you get in the mail.
- Don't carry your Social Security number card; leave it in a secure place. Only give your Social Security number when absolutely necessary.
- Carry only the credit, debit and identification cards that you'll actually need when you go out.
- Be cautious when responding to promotions. Identity thieves may create phony promotional offers to get you to give them your personal information.
- Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work; do the same with copies of administrative forms that have your sensitive personal information.
When ordering new checks, pick them up from the bank instead of having them mailed to your home mailbox.