Identity theft – the act of using another person’s personal and financial information to commit fraud or other crimes – is on the rise. You can, however, foil thieves by adopting simple yet powerful proactive techniques.
  1. Order and check your credit reports. Spot inaccuracies? Dispute them immediately.
  2. Keep all identification and financial documents in a safe and private place.
  3. Provide personal information only when you know the party you’re dealing with, how it will be used, and are certain it won’t be shared.
  4. Make passwords too complicated for anyone else to guess.
  5. Remove mail from your mailbox promptly. Out of town? Request a vacation hold.
  6. Deposit sensitive mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office.
  7. Memorize your Social Security number (SSN) rather than carrying your card.
  8. Opt out of having your SSN or driver’s license number printed on checks.
  9. Carry only necessary credit and charge cards.
  10. Shred all statements and pre-approved credit card offers with a crosscut shredder.
  11. Cancel unused credit card accounts.
  12. Be on the alert for pickpockets and people watching you swipe your card.
  13. Inspect credit and debit card receipts and monthly statements for accuracy.
  14. Know your billing cycles and contact creditors if bills don’t arrive on time.
  15. Know where your checkbook is at all times.
  16. Print firmly and use indelible ink when writing checks.
  17. Update virus protection software, particularly after new virus alerts are announced.
  18. Never download files or open hyperlinks sent from people you don’t know.
  19. When shopping online, enter personal and financial information only when there is a “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar and the URL reads “https.”
  20. Avoid storing personal and financial information on your laptop.
Protecting your identity takes surprisingly little time and effort. Take action today!

Did you know?
You may have built-in theft protection if your ATM/debit card sports the VISA or MasterCard logo. With it, in most instances, your liability for unauthorized use is $50 per card, no matter how much time has elapsed since the discovery of the loss or theft.

ID Theft Fact
Credit card issuers lose about $1 billion each year from fraud. Merchants, though, lose more than $10 billion each year in credit card related crime.