Identity Theft Prevention Checklist
Follow this checklist for your identity's security
This comprehensive checklist provides a guide to protecting your identity and your financial security!
What is identity theft?
How can someone steal your identity? Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other identifying information, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
What can I do to PREVENT theft of my identity?
- Sign up on the Do-Not-Call List
- Sign up to block credit card offers
- Don't give out any financial information, such as checking account and credit card numbers; and especially your social Security number; on the phone or online, unless you initiate the call and know the person or organization you're dealing with. Don't give that information to any stranger. In general, it is only required for medical providers, banks, mortgages and credit card companies.
- Shred any credit card offers, bank account statements, credit card statements and that you receive in the mail (if you don't have a shredder, burn them completely in the fireplace).
- Don't fill out the "win a vacation" and other promotions you see in stores and shopping malls. That will just get you on a junk mailing list and guarantee calls from persistent, high-pressure salesmen.
- Do not throw out anything (without shredding it first) that contains your personal identification information (name, address, social security number, driver's license number, mother's maiden name, or account numbers.
- Use a separate email address when you post messages to any public forum, such as newsgroups and mailing lists. Free email accounts from Yahoo and Hotmail are perfect for this. Never use your personal email address for this purpose: you will be flooded with spam. You can periodically check this email account to see what's spam and what isn't. A bonus is that Yahoo's spam blocker is better than those from most ISP's! And your main personal email address won't be as clogged with spam. Some ISP's, like AOL and BellSouth.net give you multiple email accounts free with your paid service.
- Don't pre-print your driver's license, telephone or Social Security numbers on your checks. And in states that want to use your social security number as your driver's license number, insist on another method - most allow it.
- Report lost or stolen checks immediately. The bank can block payment on the check numbers that are missing. Also, review new checks you receive, to make sure none has been stolen in transit.
- Store new and cancelled checks, credit card statements, medical bills, anything with confidential information, in a safe place and shred them when you are done with them.
- Guard your Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) for your ATM and credit cards, and don't write on or keep your PINs with your cards. You should also guard your ATM and credit card receipts. Thieves can use them to access your accounts.
- Be creative in selecting Personal Identification Numbers for your ATM and credit cards, and passwords that enable you to access other accounts. Don't use birth dates, part of your Social Security Number or driver's license number, address, or children's or spouse's names. Remember: If someone has stolen your identity, he or she probably has some or all of this information.
- Don't put outgoing mail in or on your mailbox. Drop it into a secure, official Postal Service collection box. Thieves may use your mail to steal your identity.
- If regular bills fail to reach you, call the company to find out why. Someone may have filed a false change-of-address notice to divert your information to his or her address.
- If your bills include suspicious charges, don't ignore them. Instead, investigate immediately to head off any possible fraud before it occurs.
- Check your credit report regularly. Federal law allows you to obtain one from credit report from each of the 3 major credit reporting agencies per year. See this page for more information.
And please let us know about any suspicious calls or emails you receive. We look for patterns so that we can alert the authorities and victims to new scams, before it is too late!