Identity Theft Prevention
The best way to prevent identity theft is to take the necessary precautions to make yourself immune to it. Simple actions such as:
- Properly disposing of documents containing sensitive information. Shredding or burning such documents is the best ways to prevent criminals from using a technique known as dumpster diving.
- Verifying that an online site is legitimate when applying for a credit card, a loan, or any service that requires personally identifiable information. Look for the “https” symbol in the address bar (it indicates that you have a secure connection).
- Removing yourself from junk mail lists, such as credit card offers or pre-approved loan offers. Go to https://www.optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688). The phone number and website are operated by the major credit bureaus.
- Reducing telemarketing calls by contacting the federal government's National Do Not Call Registry. To register your phone number or to get information about the registry, visit https://www.donotcall.gov, or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to register.
- Monitoring your financial accounts closely.
- Avoiding responding to requests for personal information, such as your full name, birthdate, address or anything that might be useful for criminals. Regardless if the request comes via mail, phone, or online, remain skeptical and keep your information private. Once a thief gains access to your account information they can use it to pretend they are you. They can go as far as opening new credit cards, renting a house or apartment, accessing personal bank accounts and obtaining jobs under your name.
- Keeping your personal information secure in your home.
- Avoiding carrying your Social Security Card with you.
- Depositing outgoing mail in the Post Office collection boxes inside your local Post Office.
The Federal Trade Commission, (FTC), is working with other government agencies and organizations to help guard customers against, and recover from identity theft. While you can't completely prevent identity theft from occurring, you can minimize your risk by managing your personal information wisely and being cautious.
Identity thieves can strike even when you've been as careful as possible about keeping your personal information to yourself. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act, (FACTA) permits a consumer to receive at least one free copy of their credit report annually from each of three nationwide credit bureaus whether fraud is suspected or not.