How to Prevent Identity Theft

How to Prevent ID Theft

One way to protect your identity is to check your credit report periodically.  It is free to pull a credit report – you can get 1 free report from each of the 3 credit reporting agencies once during each 12 month period.  Make sure you use www.Annualcreditreport.com  or call (877) 322-8228.  Some websites advertise a free credit report but then try to sell you a monthly credit monitoring service.  This website will not charge you any fee.  Look over the credit report and make sure there are no errors.   Stagger when you pull the credit report so that you can monitor your report throughout the year. 

Securing your mailbox is another way to protect your identity.  Do not leave outgoing mail in the mailbox that someone could steal and get your personal information.  Make sure you shred any mail you have received that has your name and any identifying information on it.  Having a mailbox that is locked is another way to protect your mail.  Get your mail as soon as possible each day – don’t let it sit in the box all day or over the weekend.  Ask a neighbor to bring in your mail if you will be gone for the day or weekend.

Don’t carry your social security card with you.  Protect your bank account numbers and ATM receipts – often times ATM receipts are dropped at the bank and laying on the ground for thieves to pick up.  If someone does get a hold of your credit card or checks contact all three credit bureaus and ask them to issue a fraud alert.  Contact the local police department, Social Security Administration, and all creditors you have accounts with. 

Credit Bureaus:

Equifax:  800-525-6285

Experian:  888-397-3742

Transunion:  800-680-7289

SSA Fraud Hotline:  800-269-0271

You can ask the credit reporting agencies to flag your account and you can add a victim’s statement saying that your ID was stolen and ask that they call you to verify any credit applications.  Make sure to check your credit report and look for items you don’t recognize.  Notify the Federal Trade Commission which keeps a database of identity theft:  (888) FTC-Help, FTC, CRC-49, Washington D.C. 20580.

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