Identity Theft Prevention Tips
- Do not leave your purse, wallet or other items with personal information in your vehicle, even for a brief period of time. ID thieves target vehicles as a good source of personal information. Our Department handles numerous complaints of purses etc. being stolen from vehicles at gas pumps, day care centers and parks.
- Minimize the amount of information you carry. Your purse or wallet is the key to your identity so protect it! Carry what is absolutely necessary. Keep an inventory of everything in your wallet or PDA.
- Know when your credit and bank financial statements arrive. Review them for any discrepancies or unusual charges. If you do not receive your statement, call the financial institution immediately to find out why. Consider receiving your statements paperless.
- Protect your mail! Do not place outgoing bills or checks in unsecured out boxes at work or private curbside residential mailboxes. Use the U.S. Postal Service mailboxes instead. Retrieve your incoming mail immediately upon arriving home and if you are going away, have a trusted person pick up your mail or have the post office hold it until you return.
- Never put your Social Security number or military ID number on your checks or on the outside of envelopes containing payments.
- If possible and your bank offers the service online, utilize your bank to send check payments for you. This way your personal account information is not sent and the banks information would be on the check.
- Shred all pieces of mail, including credit card offers, bank statements and advertisements bearing your name, address or any other personal information. You can also black out certain sensitive parts with permanent black marker.
- Store your passports, social security card, vehicle titles, birth certificates, extra check books and other important documents in a safe or safe deposit box.
- Never give out personal information over the telephone, internet, or through text messages unless you initiated the contact. Scam artists like to impersonate authority figures, such as IRS agents and banking representatives in order to obtain your information.
- There is no law that requires you to have to provide a doctors office your Social Security number. They have your medical insurance information and that is all they need.
- Make a copy of your medical history at least on a yearly basis. Ask for summarized statements from your health insurance company. This way, in case an identity thief steals your identity to obtain medical products or services fraudulently, you can recognize the fraud sooner than later and have legitimate documentation of services you did receive.
- When purchasing items on the internet, use only secure websites. Always pay using a credit card vs. a debit card which is directly linked to your bank account.
- Use a special credit card you have set aside with a lower credit limit for cyber shopping and dining out. This would be the card number that you have the least control over and if it is compromised, at least you know it is limited to 1 card and the dollar loss will not be too extensive.
- Do not use a public computer for conducting business online. Avoid conducting sensitive business with wireless connections if possible.
- If job hunting using resume website do not apply unless the employer has a verifiable address. These sites are a haven for ID thieves.
- Avoid posting personal information in emails, websites and in chat rooms, such as Facebook.