How to Prevent Identity Theft

Protect yourself and your identity. You can reduce the chance that you will be a victim of identity theft by taking the following precautions:
  • Guard your Social Security Number. Remember this is the most important step. This is the key to your credit report and banking accounts. Give it out only when it is absolutely necessary.
  • Minimize the amount of personal financial information and credit cards you carry. Memorize passwords and PIN's instead of carrying them with you.
  • Keep personal financial information in a secure place in your home. Shred identifying information before throwing it away.
  • Do not give sensitive information to unsolicited callers. Remember that most legitimate businesses will not ask for your Social Security or bank account numbers.
  • Shield your hand when entering your PIN at a bank ATM or when making long distance calls with a calling card. Take your credit card receipts and ATM slips. Shred them before throwing them away.
  • Pick up new checks or a new or reissued credit card at your bank rather than having them delivered to your home. Do not have your driver license number or social security number printed on your checks.
  • Check your credit report each year for signs of unusual activity.
  • Do not give personal information over the phone, over the Internet or through the mail unless you initiated the contact or are certain of the business’s trustworthiness.
  • Mail payments from a safe location. Do not place them in your mailbox where they can be stolen.
  • If your bank or credit card statement does not arrive on time, call the issuer to make sure they are being sent to the proper address. Also contact the Post Office to see if a change of address has been filed in your name. A thief may steal or divert your statements to hide illegal credit activity.
For additional prevention tips check out the IACP's Identity Theft Prevention Toolkit.