Protecting Yourself Against Identity Theft »

The Federal Trade Commission estimates that 9 million people are victims of identity theft each year. Identity theft occurs when someone commits fraud by using your identification information, such as your name, Social Security number or credit card number. Though it is impossible to completely safeguard yourself against identity theft, there are some simple ways to protect yourself and reduce the risk

Protect your Social Security number.

Do not put your Social Security number on any document unless it is legally required. Never give your Social Security number, credit card number or bank account information to anyone over the phone.

Pick up new checks at the bank.

When you order new checks from your bank, do not allow them to be delivered to your mailbox or dropped off at your home where they can be stolen. When you are expecting a new credit card, ask the company to have it sent to you via certified or overnight mail so that it will not be left in your mailbox.

Buy and Use A Shredder.

Shred papers containing credit card numbers, bank account numbers, your Social Security number and other information. Disposing of paperwork through shredding or burning is one of the best ways to insure no one can de-fraud you by going through your trash.

Check Your Credit Report and Rating.

Check your credit report every 6 months to make sure it does not contain accounts that do not belong to you. Be sure to get copies of your credit reports from all 3 major credit bureaus--Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

Be Creative With Passwords.

When creating passwords or PINs, do not use the last 4 digits of your social security number. Make your passwords unique and use a combination of letters and numbers. Do not reveal your password to anyone. If you write passwords down, keep the paper in a lock box or safe.

Be Careful Using Debit/Credit Cards Online.

Use credit cards when shopping online instead of debit cards because credit cards are better protected against fraud.

Be Careful Using The ATM.

Do not use the ATM or enter any personal information on your computer if someone is standing behind you.

Keep Your Receipts.

Take credit card receipts with you. Do not leave receipts on the table at a restaurant or throw them in a public trash can

Beware of Identity Theft Protection Scams.

There are a lot of companies that offer identity theft protection. If you choose to use one, make sure you know what you are getting.

Again, while it is impossible to completely guard your identity, doing these simple things will definitely improve your chances.

(This information retrieved from on 4/1/2014)

Advice for protecting against identity theft