Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
- Don't give away your personal information to unknown persons or organizations.
- Guard your personal information. Don't reveal your SSN to anyone, unless the person asking for it has a plausible reason for needing it.
- Don't throw away papers containing sensitive personal information about yourself. Destroy them.
- Don't reveal personal and financial information about yourself in emails.
- Don't respond to emails soliciting for sensitive information about yourself.
- Pay attention to the URL of a site. Malicious websites may look similar to legitimate ones with some exceptions, for example spelling variations(e.g. .com versus .net), etc.
- Be suspicious of unsolicited emails or phone calls from unknown individuals asking to reveal personal information about you or your company.
- Check the website's security before sending sensitive information about yourself or your organization. A secure transaction will always have two indices:
- an icon of a lock in the bottom of the browser page;
- The URL address of the website page changes from "http" to https" when sensitive data is provided.
- Try to verify people's identity, demanding for your personal information, directly with their company.
- Do businesses with companies that have security policy and provide security protection for online transactions.
- Immediately report your lost or stolen credit cards to the issuer.
- Sign your credit cards upon receiving, before someone else does it.
- Memorize all passwords and pins.
- Don't leave receipts, checks laying around.
- Check expiration dates on credit cards and contact the issuer if you do not receive a replacement before they expire.
- Match credit card receipts against monthly bills and check financial statements for accuracy.
- Don't have your SSN or driver's license printed on checks, envelops, or other papers.
- Password protect the files that contain personal or financial information.
- Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily detectable ones, such as your name, birth date, mother's maiden name, the last four digits of your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.
- Ask periodically for a copy of your credit report.
- Maintain records of your banking and financial reports.
- Cancel all unused accounts.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit file. The alert:
Once the credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the other two credit bureaus will automatically be notified to place fraud alerts on your credit report, and all three reports will be sent to you free of charge.
- allows creditors to contact you before issuing any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts;
- prevents identity thieves from opening additional accounts in your own name.
- Review the reports as soon as you receive them and look for the accounts you didn't open or for unexplained debts.
- Continue to check your reports periodically to make sure that no new fraudulent activity has occurred. In case there are any inaccuracies in information concerning your SSN, name, address, whether they are due to fraud or typographical errors, please report them to the credit bureaus as soon as possible.
- Ask for a copy of the police report so that you can provide evidence of the theft to the organizations that you will have to contact later. If you can't get a copy, at least get the report number.
- Cancel your stolen/lost cards, get new ones issued and change your Personal Identification Number.
- Close any accounts on the checks that have been stolen or opened fraudulently.
- Protect yourself from hackers by installing a firewall on your computer.
In a few words:
- reduce access to your personal data;
- wisely, responsibly, and vigilantly manage your information;
- carefully handle your credit cards, SSN, passwords and pins;
- be aware of online transactions.
These steps are only starting points in detecting and stopping the fraud.
Be aware that it usually takes a lot of time and money to halt Identity Theft and you may not be able to stop the fraud immediately.