Reduce Your Risk of Identity Theft
Here are some ways you can reduce your risk of identity theft.
- Never respond to an email asking you to confirm or verify account information, even if it looks official.
- Don’t give out your credit card number or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call and you are sure the company is reputable.
- Shop online only if the site is secure.
- Shred financial records, bank statements, credit card bills and pre-approved credit card applications before you throw them away.
- Reducing the amount of junk mail you receive can help you minimize your risk of identity theft.
- Opt out of prescreened credit offers at www.optoutprescreen.com.
- Sign up with the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service to be removed from telemarketer’s mailing lists at www.DMAchoice.org. You have to re-register every three years.
- Place a "credit security freeze" on your credit file.
Security Data Breach Notices
Sometimes, the risk of identity theft is out of your control. If you receive a “data breach” notification, it means your personal or financial information may have been compromised because a third party’s computer files have been hacked, putting you at risk for identity theft.
- If the data breach notice offers a period of free credit monitoring, you may wish to sign up for the service.
File a Fraud Alert
If you have received a data breach notice, you also may wish to contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies to file a free Fraud Alert. The 1-year alert helps to prevent the identity thief from opening new accounts in your name. You only need to contact one agency because that agency is required by law to notify the other two agencies. You will have to provide your SSN and other personal information.
- Experian - file online at www.experian.com
- TransUnion - file online at www.transunion.com
- Equifax Fraud Alert - file online at www.equifax.com
You may also wish to consider filing a Credit Security Freeze, which prevents anyone from opening new accounts in your name.