Avoiding Identity Theft
- Monitor accounts and bank statements each month. Address any irregularities immediately.
- Check credit reports multiple times a year for errors and irregularities. Report these immediately, as it may take months to resolve fraudulent action. Credit reports can be purchased from the following agencies:
- Be careful of what goes into the trash and recycling. Important documents, old credit cards or credit card offers, and other sensitive information should be shredded before being discarded.
- Use caution when online. Only purchase from trusted vendors and secure websites, which have a https:// address, as opposed to http://. Make sure you are on a secure website when entering sensitive information.
- Select complex passwords. Do not use your mother’s maiden name, your birthdate, or your name as an online password. Verify sources before sharing information. If an individual or online site seems untrustworthy, research it thoroughly before handing over sensitive information.
- Protect your Social Security number. Do not carry your Social Security card with you, and provide it only when absolutely necessary. If possible, ask to use other identifiers in its place. Ask how the information will be used.
- Protect belongings such as wallets and purses, book bags and handbags.
- Store information in secure locations at home, especially if you have roommates or employ outside help.
- Only share information with trusted individuals who have a legitimate need for it. This includes family members.