When it comes to fraud, knowledge is power. Don't be fooled by criminals. Arm yourself by reading the tips below.
Identity Theft Self-Defense Tips:
- Do not give personal information over the phone, email or internet unless you make the initial contact.
- Shred everything, including credit card receipts, old bank statements, medical statements, bills, and pre-approved credit card offers.
- Do not enter account information in emails you believe to be from a financial institution.
- PIN numbers and passwords should be protected. Be watchful at ATMs. Thieves will stand close enough to see PIN numbers punched in by users.
- Write clearly on all credit applications.
- Limit the number of credit cards you carry.
- Keep only necessary identification items in a purse or wallet. Never carry your social security number and drivers license together in your wallet.
- Monitor your credit and bank accounts carefully to catch unauthorized charges.
- Never leave paid bills in your mailbox for the carrier to pick up unless it's a locked box..
- Check your credit report annually.
- Only give your Social Security number when absolutely necessary.
- If you do not receive a bill on time, call the creditor.
- If you're moving, contact all creditors and update them on your address change immediately.
- Immediately report lost or stolen checks.
If you think your identity has been stolen, follow the steps below:
- File a police report.
- Report the fraud to the three major credit bureaus:
- Equifax (800) 525-6286; www.equifax.com
- Experian (888) 397-3742; www.experian.com
- Trans Union (800) 680-7289; www.transunion.com
- Call the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft Hotline at (877) ID-THEFT.
- Contact your creditors and close your accounts. Contact your bank as well.