How to Avoid Identity Theft in Your Home
Safeguard your dwelling from the ill will of identity thieves.
Identity theft occurs when someone gets ahold of your personal information and uses it for their personal gain. Once they have your information, an identity thief can steal goods and services, make purchases, take expensive trips, drain your savings or conduct illegal activities – all in your name. Getting your good reputation back can be a long, drawn out and expensive process.
Here are some ways you can safeguard personal information around your home.
- Never give out your Social Security number unless you know the source. Ask questions before sharing such as:
- Why do they need it?
- How it will be used?
- How they will protect it.
- What happens if you don’t share the number?
- What alternatives will work?
- Pay attention to your credit/debit billing cycles. If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.
- Watch all accounts for unauthorized transactions.
- Keep receipts. Ask for copies and any incorrect charge slips to prevent account numbers from being copied.
- Don't respond to unsolicited requests for personal information in the mail, over the phone or online.
- Check your credit report once a year. Check more frequently if you suspect someone has gotten access to your personal information.
- Place outgoing mail in secure collection boxes or the post office.
- Keep financial documents in a secure place.
- Destroy labels on prescription bottles before discarding.
- Consider using a post office box so your mail is always in a secure environment.
- Opt out of prescreened offers of credit and insurance by mail. To opt out, call 1-888-567-8688 or go to optoutprescreen.com.
- When ordering checks, don’t have them mailed to your home unless you have a secure mailbox with a lock.
- Don’t share health plan information with anyone who offers free health services or products.
- When traveling, request a vacation hold on your mail.
- Shred old charge receipts, credit applications, insurance forms, bank statements, expired charge cards, bills, convenience checks, preapproved credit offers, etc., to prevent a thief from obtaining account information from your trash or recycle bin.