Protect Your Personal Information
Start by protecting the personal information in your wallet and your mailbox. There is a greater risk of becoming a fraud victim due to mail fraud or lost or stolen credit cards than through online theft. There are many easy ways to lower the risk of this happening to you.
Keep Your Personal Information Private
There is personal information present on mail, credit cards, and identification. Keeping this information private is the first step in reducing your risk of identity theft and fraud.
- Carry only necessary identification with you. How many credit cards do you need to carry? Store those you don't need in a secure place. Don't carry your Social Security card.
- Do not pre-print your drivers license number or social security on your checks.
- Know when your mail comes and pick it up before someone else does. Don't send out your bill payments with the red flag up on your mailbox. The safest thing to do is to drop off mail at the nearest U.S. Post Office.
- Make copies of all of the financial information that you carry with you daily and store the copies in a safe place.
- Never provide personal information unless you have initiated the contact and have confirmed the business or person's identity.
- Secure personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your home.
- Be wary of telephone and door-to-door solicitations.
- Shred pre-approved credit offers and unnecessary financial documents immediately and before throwing them away.
- Opt-out of pre-approved credit card offers by dialing 1.888.567.8688. This will communicate your decision to all three of the major credit bureaus.
- Check up on your credit. You're entitled to a free credit report annually. You can go to www.annualcreditreport.com or contact the major credit reporting agencies listed here:
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790