How to Avoid Identity Theft
Financial account credentials, passwords, Social Security numbers and other personal information are sought by thieves to commit identity theft, which can damage your credit and cost you countless hours and dollars in the effort to restore your good name.
You can minimize your risk of identity theft by observing the following tips, courtesy of the Federal Trade Commission, and you can learn more about each of these tips at the FTC Identity Theft Web Site: Deter, Detect, Defend.
- Protect your Social Security number. Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check. Give your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary, and ask to use other types of identifiers.
- Treat your trash and mail carefully. Always shred documents you discard that may contain sensitive financial or personal information, including credit offers you receive in the mail. To opt out of prescreened credit offers, call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688). Deposit outgoing mail containing personally identifying information in post office collection boxes or at your local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox, and promptly remove mail from your mailbox.
- Be on guard when using the Internet. Beware “spoof” e-mail and “phishing.”
- Select intricate passwords for log-in to financial and personal information online. Use at least eight characters, both uppercase and lowercase letters, one or more numerals and one or more symbols. Change your password often. Do not share it with others, and do not record it in an easy-to-find place.
- Verify sources before sharing information. Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or on the Internet unless you've initiated the contact and are sure you know who you're dealing with.
- Safeguard your purse and wallet. Protect your purse and wallet at all times. Don't carry your Social Security number or card; leave it in a secure place. Carry only the identification information and the credit and debit cards that you'll actually need when you go out.
- Store information in secure locations. Keep your personal information in a secure place at home and work.
- Review your credit reports at least once a year to check for errors and fraud, and review your credit before using credit to buy a home or car, or to make other large purchases.
If you become the victim of identity theft:
- 1. Notify law enforcement immediately.
- 2. Call us at 888.763.7600 to block all lost or stolen cards, checks and account information.
- 3. Carefully review your account on a regular basis.
- 4. Notify us of any discrepancies on your account.
- 5. Visit the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Web Site: Deter, Detect, Defend to learn how to detect identity theft and how to recover from identity theft