The list is not in order of importance. All of these suggestions will help ensure that thieves cannot access your
1. Donít give out your social security number.
Depending on your age, you may remember a time when driverís licenses in some states
bore social security numbers and many people included the identification numbers on
their checks. Businesses often required the number in order to cash a check or accept one
as payment. This is a big step for you to help prevent identity theft.
That was one of the ways that thieves were able to steal peopleís identities.
Unless it is a requirement, as it would be for filling out an application for credit, donít
give your social security number to anyone.
2. Request a copy of your credit report on an annual basis.
You can get reports from the three major credit bureaus for free every year. If you notice
an application for credit that you didnít make or a new account that you didnít open, you
have been a victim. See #10 of the top 10 ways to prevent identity theft.
3. Donít ignore it when bills seem to be missing.
One of the ways that thieves gain access to your personal information is to steal your
mail. The more information they have about you, the easier it is for them to ďbecomeĒ
you, at least on paper. Act immediately if something seems to be missing, particularly a
credit card or bank statement. See suggestion #10.
4. Buy a small safe or lock box.
This is an especially good idea for anyone that has roommates or a housekeeper. We
want to trust these people, but itís still not a good idea to leave passports, social security
cards or other important documents lying around. A small safe or even a locking box is
enough to deter most people.
5. Purchase a shredder.
You can shred all of your bank statements, cancelled checks and credit card statements
or even all of your mail once itís been read. Dumpster diving is another way that people
steal personal info.
6. Donít give out your account numbers, addresses or other personal information over the phone.
If you receive an unexpected call from your bank or credit card company, call them back.
One of the scams used by con-men recently was to call up a bankís customer, pretend to
be working for the bank and ask them to verify their personal information. If you get a
call like this, call the number on your bank or credit card statement. If itís a scam, the
company will be alerted.
7. Safeguard your computer(s).
You need to make sure you have anti virus, antispyware and anti identity theft software on your pc.
8. Ignore internet links in emails.
Even if the link appears to be from someone you know, donít click on it. G-mail and
some of the better systems will now show you the actual email address if you hover over
the one you see. If you have some good virus protection software, you donít have to
worry about this one. You can prevent identity theft by not falling into the phishing schemes.
9. Donít ignore letters concerning purchases you did not make.
Some people get notices from companies concerning purchases they did not make.
Instead of calling the company to try and correct the situation, they shrug and ignore it.
When you get a call or a letter like that, you have already been a victim, but itís not too
10. Notify the correct authorities immediately if you suspect you have been a victim of
The first step is to put a ďfraud alertĒ on all of your credit reports. That will prevent
anyone from trying to use your identity to get credit.
Second, call the company that opened the account without your approval. Follow up with
a written letter advising the company that you will not be responsible for any charges
made on the account.
Third, file a police report. This is a way of proving to creditors that you have been a
Fourth, report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission. This helps other people and
police officers with their investigations.Fifth, keep copies of all letters sent and document every phone call that you make. The more evidence you have, the more convincing your case will be to the creditors,
investigators and credit bureaus.
If we are going to prevent identity theft on any kind of large scale we need to make it harder for these thieves to steal our identity.† If you have ever had someone use your credit without permission then you know firsthand the importance for us to prevent identity theft.