How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Identity Theft
1. Never throw receipts or statements away that have personal information
on them. The trash is the greatest repository of information for the identity
thief. Even better, shred everything that has identifying information on it (transaction
2. Pay to have an unlisted telephone number in your local telephone directory.
3. Take as much identification off of your personal
checks and driver’s
license as possible. Thus, no home addresses, phone numbers, or social security
numbers on personal checks. Last only your last name and first initial rather
than your full name. You want a retail clerk to check your ID when you are cashing
Most states now provide a photo ID on all new automobile
drivers licenses issued. If you do not have one, conceder getting your licenses
renewed now to get a photo ID for identification purposes. Do not put your social
security number on your driver’s license.
4. Check your bank accounts for suspicious activity everyday, this can be
done online via the Internet.
5. Have your middle initial removed from all public documentation if possible.
Middle initials help identity thieves narrow down their searches for victims.
6. If someone calls you asking for your personal
information on the telephone – do
not provide any personal information to anyone over the phone.
7. Don’t leave your mail out overnight. If
you will be away from home for any period of time: have your home mail delivery
stopped. If possible, secure a locked mail box at your local post office or a
retail store mail box service for your home mail delivery.
If you go on vacation, have your mail and newspaper delivery stopped and arrange
to have your yard maintained. Include the post office, newspaper service, and
your friends or neighbors to insure that your home looks as if it is occupied
while you are gone.
8. Write “Check ID” on the back of your
debit or credit cards next to your signature. In that way, when a retail store
checks your signature on your card, they will verify that the card is being used
by the proper individual.
9. Be aware of people standing too close to you and “shoulder surfing” you
while you conduct your ATM transactions.
If you do become a victim of an identity crime – do
1. Demand to file a police report no matter how unwilling the law enforcement
office may be. Make sure to get a copy or at least the report number.
2. In the case of card fraud, make sure to cancel your card and report it
as stolen to your credit card company as soon as you find out.
Immediately, fill out affidavits with the appropriate financial institution
denying that you were the one who made the relevant purchases. In most cases,
the banks will respond with up to a 30-day process that requires the businesses
that accepted the fraudulent transactions to repay the banks.
3. Report the fraud to the three major credit bureaus:
Post Office Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022
Equifax Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc
Post Office Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
Post Office Box 1909
Orange, CA 92865
4. The U.S. Secret Service handles fraud cases that cross state borders. If
you know that your case applies, contact their local office to make them aware
of your case. If it is part of a broader fraud case, you may be contacted by
5. You can also fill out a complaint form with the Federal Trade Commission,
although this is strictly used to track national identity theft statistics.
Copyright Steven Presar