Woman holding phone on couch

ID Theft Prevention

Prevention Tips

  • Do not give personal information, such as account numbers or social security numbers over the telephone, through the mail, or over the internet, unless you initiated the contact or know with whom you are dealing.
  • Take social security numbers off your Drivers licenses and checks
  • Check all account statements carefully to ensure all charges, checks, or withdrawals were authorized.
  • Watch your phone bills, cable bills, internet bills, etc., carefully for any increase in charges.
  • Pick up check orders at the bank.
  • Pay attention to billing cycles and statements.
  • Cancel and cut up unused or “extra” credit cards.
  • Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at the local post office instead of at home.
  • Promptly remove mail from your mailbox.
  • Keep important documents, (passport, birth certificate, stocks, savings accounts), locked in a safe or file drawer, especially if you have roommates or are employing outside help.
  • Shred old bank and credit card statements, receipts, copies of credit card applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards that you're discarding, and credit offers received in the mail. Make sure account numbers, passwords, and addresses are unreadable before discarding.
  • Create passwords that make sense to you but are not the usual birth date, anniversary, pet or maiden name.
  • Keep a written record or photo copy of the contents of your wallet or purse. Keep this record locked away. Don't carry your wallet with you when it is not necessary.
  • Before you type in your credit card number or any other account information, make sure that the web sites are encrypted, secure, and have a privacy policy.
  • Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work.
  • Never leave transaction receipts at ATM machines, on counters at financial institutions, or at gasoline pumps.
  • Order copies of your credit report.

What to Do if You Become a Victim

  1. Contact the Police.

    Provide documentation (i.e. debt collection letters, credit reports, ID Theft Affidavit) to prove you are a victim of identity theft. Require that a report be filed.

  2. Contact Credit Bureaus.

    Request that “Fraud Alert” be placed in your file as well as a victim's statement that asks creditors to call you before opening any new accounts or changing your existing accounts.

    Order a copy of your credit report from each credit bureau. Reports must be given free of charge to victims of identity theft. Review the reports to verify no fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name and that your existing account was not charged. Contact companies of unauthorized new accounts or pending inquiries immediately. Have them remove the accounts from their system. It is only necessary to contact one credit bureau to report identity theft because they all share a common database.

    Credit Bureau Fraud Hotline Order Report
    Equifax 800-525-6285 800-685-1111
    Experian 888-397-3742 888-397-3742
    TransUnion 800-680-7289 800-888-4213

  3. Contact the Federal Trade Commission

    The FTC will file a report and assist you in referring complaints to appropriate entities, including major credit-reporting agencies and law enforcement agencies.

    Call 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338).

  4. Contact Creditors, Financial Institutions, or Utilities.

    Ask if they have their own fraud dispute forms, if not, ask if your ID Theft Affidavit is sufficient. Close old accounts and open new accounts using new PINs and Passwords.

    If your checks have been stolen or misused, contact the major check verification companies directly to request retailers who use their databases not to accept your checks.

    Verification Companies Phone Number
    TeleCheck 800-710-9898
    Certegy, Inc. 800-437-5120
    International Check Services 800-631-9656
    If your checks have been stolen or misused, you can find out if the identity thief has been passing bad checks in your name by calling SCAN at 800-262-7771.
  5. Contact Postal Service if your mail has been stolen.

    Contact Social Security Administration if your Social Security Number has been stolen.