Preventing Identity Theft is a matter of being pro-active and always being vigilant.
Your goal should be to limit other people’s access to your information.
It’s the prime target because it leads to your credit report and your bank accounts. Do not print it on your checks. If you use it to apply for a loan, credit card, rental or anything requiring a credit check, ask that it be returned to you once the transaction is completed.
You can arrange to be alerted to activity in your financial records. Once notified, you can follow-up. Credit reports are available form many services including the three major Credit Bureaus:
Always destroy papers containing personal information before throwing them out. The Emerson Police Department recommends a “cross-cut shredder” to shred documents.
Items containing personal information, such as bank statements & receipts, etc., should not be thrown in the trash. Theives may search trash for jsut this kind of information.
The three major credit bureaus maintain marketing lists which may contain your information. It is advisable to request that your name be deleted from these lists and from the Direct Marketing Association’s mail and telephone preference service.
Copy the contents of your wallet (both sides of each item) so that you have all your account numbers and other data in the event of loss or theft of a wallet or purse. Keep them in a safe and secure place such as a safety deposit box.
On the phone, never release personal information unless you have initiated the call and truct the business with which you are dealing.
Use caution when using ATM cards, making credit card purchases and utilizing pin numbers and passwords.
Keep an eye on credit card activity, bank statements and other finanicial accounts to ensure that all balances and receipts match. Review all statements when you get them. Close unnecessary department or bank-issued credit cards.
Mail boxes at private homes generally are not very secure. Do not place outgoing mail in your home mail boxes. Consider using a locked mail box to receive all mail.
Have a firewall and virus protection installed. Be aware that it is possible that the personal information you send over the internet could be viewed by others. Make sure the site secured.
Computers, hard drives, floppy disks, compact discs and any other electronic recording device which may contain personal information should be destroyed prior to disposing of it.