Minimize your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft
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.Think twice before providing 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. Identity thieves are clever, and have posed as representatives of credit unions, banks, Internet service providers (ISPs), and even government agencies to get people to reveal their Social Security number, mother's maiden name, account numbers, and other identifying information. Treat your mail and trash carefully
Deposit your outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox. If you're planning to be away from home and can't pick up your mail, call the U.S. Postal Service at 1-800-275-8777 to request a vacation hold. The Postal Service will hold your mail at your local post office until you can pick it up or are home to receive it.
To thwart an identity thief who may pick through your trash or recycling bins to capture your personal information, tear or shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards that you're discarding, and credit offers you get in the mail. Don't carry your Social Security number card leave it in a secure place
Give your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary, and ask to use other types of identifiers. If your state uses your Social Security number as your driver's license number, ask to substitute another number. Do the same if your health insurance company uses your Social Security number as your policy number. Order a copy of your credit report
An amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the major nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit reports, at your request, once every 12 months.
To order your free annual report from one or all the national consumer reporting companies, visitwww.annualcreditreport.com, call 877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it t Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You can print the form fromwww.ftc.gov/credit.
Source: Federal Trade Commission, for more information and helpful tips, visit http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/.