Identity Theft Prevention
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
- Report it to your financial institution. Call the phone number on your account statement or on the back of your credit or debit card.
- 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.
- 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