Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

January 14, 2019

Identity theft is the fraudulent use of a person’s personal information. Identity thieves often use another person’s Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, or account number to open a new credit card or checking account, charge to an existing credit card or checking account, or obtain new loans.

Identity thieves often steal young adults’ Social Security numbers because youth aren’t using and checking credit. Peers, friends, and roommates are often the culprits.

Clearing your credit record of fraudulent use can be a complicated and time-consuming effort. Here are tips to keep your identity safe:

Never give personal information such as your Social Security number and account numbers unless you initiated the contact or know the person asking for them. Refuse to do business with retailers who require your Social Security number.

Shred old credit card receipts, ATM receipts, account statements, and unused credit card offers before throwing them away. “Dumpster divers” get information from your trash.

Create strong PINs. Avoid using easily available information as your birth date, last 4 digits of your Social Security number, or phone number as your PIN.

Pay attention to billing cycles and statements. If you do not receive a monthly bill or statement, call the card company. It may mean the bill was mailed to a thief.

Check account statement carefully – and often – to make sure all transactions are yours.

Mail bills containing checks at a postal box, rather than leaving them in your mailbox.

Don’t lend your debit card to anyone.