How to Minimize Your ID Theft Risk

When it comes to identity theft, you can't entirely control whether you will become a victim. But there are certain steps you can take to minimize your risk.

  • Order a copy of your credit report.
  • Place passwords on your credit card, bank, and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, or a series of consecutive numbers.
  • Secure personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help or are having work done in your home.
  • Ask about information security procedures in your workplace or at businesses, doctor's offices or other institutions that collect your personal information.
  • Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you've initiated the contact or are sure you know who you're dealing with.
  • Confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate organization before you share any personal information. Check an organization's website by typing its URL in the address line, rather than cutting and pasting it.
  • Treat your mail and trash carefully.
  • Promptly remove mail from your mailbox. If you're planning to be away from home and can't pick up your mail, call your post office to request a vacation hold.
  • Always shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards, and credit offers you get in the mail.
  • Don't carry your Social Security number card; leave it in a secure place. Only give your Social Security number when absolutely necessary.
  • Carry only the credit, debit and identification cards that you'll actually need when you go out.
  • Be cautious when responding to promotions. Identity thieves may create phony promotional offers to get you to give them your personal information.
  • Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work; do the same with copies of administrative forms that have your sensitive personal information.
  • When ordering new checks, pick them up from the bank instead of having them mailed to your home mailbox.
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