Identity Theft Protection - Preventing ID Theft
Steps for Preventing ID Theft and Implementing Effective Identity Theft Protection:
Check Your Credit Report
Check your credit reports for all three credit bureaus. Make sure the information reported by your creditors is accurate and includes only those credit lines that you have opened.
Check your credit reports for new accounts that have been opened that you may not have authorized.
Check your reports for addresses where you have never lived or received bills at.
Check your reports for new inquiries from lenders or other companies that you did not initiate.
Consider Monitoring your Credit Reports
Sign-up for daily monitoring of your credit report at one of, or preferably all 3 national credit bureaus.
With monitoring, you will be alerted on a timely basis for key changes in your credit report(s) such as changes of address, new accounts opened, and new inquiries into your credit report. All these things may indicate id theft if you did not initiate the actions.
Credit monitoring is a reasonably inexpensive way to discover id theft early. With the other identity theft protection actions discussed below, credit monitoring can only strengthen your defense against the identity thief.
Pay attention to receiving your bills and statements
Follow up with creditors if your bills don't arrive on time. A missing credit card bill may mean an identity thief has taken over your credit card account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks.
Protect your mail from theft by depositing your outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office. Promptly get your mail from your mailbox after it has been delivered. Place a vacation request with Postal Service if you are going to be away for some time, and you want the Postal Service to hold your mail at your local post office until you can pick it up.
Protect your credit card and bank accounts.
Do not use your mother's maiden name, or your birth date, or the last four digits of your SSN or your phone number in your password.
Don't give out personal information on the phone unless you have initiated the phone call or know who you're dealing with.
Keep your personal information in a safe place. When you throw your papers or bills away that may have private information on them, tear or shred the papers such as charge receipts, credit applications, insurance forms, doctor's statements, bank checks and statements, expired credit cards and offers for credit cards that you may receive in the mail.
Find out who has access to your personal information at work and verify that the records are kept in a secure location.
Don't give out your SSN unless necessary.
Don't carry your Social Security Card; leave it at home in a safe place.
Protect the information on your computer
Update your virus protection software regularly because computer viruses can contain software code that causes your computer to capture information that may include your accounts, passwords, contacts, identifying information and other personal data, and then send that information back to an identity thief looking to use that information for fraudulent purposes.
Don't download files from strangers that may include the latest viruses. Don't click on hyperlinks in emails from people you don't know that may take you to sites that are built to collect your private personal information.
Use a hardware or software firewall to guard against penetration into your system from others looking to access your computer over the Internet.
When you communicate with sites that transmit your personal data over the Internet, be sure to use a secure protocol in your browser such as https so your data is encrypted and others cannot easily read the transmission.
Use a secure password to get into your computer and laptop that is a combination of letters and numbers, upper and lower case, and maybe even a special symbol if permitted. It should be at least 8 characters long, if not more.
Log out of sites or applications that require you to log into to protect another user from accessing those programs and sites that may also have stored your personal information just in case your computer or laptop is stolen.
When it comes time to dispose of your computer, erase the data on your hard drive and consider using some additional methods to protect your data from being left on the hard drive.
Read web site privacy policies. If they collect your personal data, be sure you agree with their policies and trust they will maintain sufficient security over your data to keep it safe.