Identity Theft Prevention

Tim Cantrell

Identity Theft

Identity theft is the fraudulent acquisition and use of a person's private identifying information, usually for financial gain.


What to do if Your Identity is Stolen

  1. Report it to your financial institution. Call the phone number on your account statement or on the back of your credit or debit card.
  2. Report the fraud to your local police immediately. Keep a copy of the police report, which will make it easier to prove your case to creditors and retailers.
  3. Contact the credit-reporting bureaus and ask them to flag your account with a fraud alert, which asks merchants not to grant new credit without your approval.

Tips on How to Prevent Identity Theft

  • Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer.
  • Don't respond to unsolicited requests for personal information in the mail, over the phone or online.
  • Store personal information in a safe place at home and at work. Don't leave it lying around.
  • Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write it on your checks. Only give out your SSN when absolutely necessary.
  • Protect your PIN. Never write a PIN on a credit/debit card or on a slip of paper kept in your wallet.
  • Keep your receipts. Ask for carbons and incorrect charge slips as well. Promptly compare receipts with account statements. Watch for unauthorized transactions.
  • Tear up or shred unwanted receipts, credit offers, account statements, expired cards, etc., to prevent dumpster divers getting your personal information.
  • Check your credit report at least once a year. Check it more frequently if you suspect someone has gotten access to your account information