1. Use an inexpensive crosscut shredder to destroy old tax returns, bank statements, utility bills, loan records, credit card statements and other records that contain personal information.
2. Blank forms can easily be altered by identity thieves using chemical and computer technology. Shred those blank cash advance “convenience” checks often included in monthly credit card statements.
3. Have your Social Security # removed from all utility / medical / charge accounts and your driver’s license. Ask to be assigned a random ID number instead.
4. Leave your original Social Security card at home in a safe place. Do NOT carry it in your purse or wallet.
5. Opt out of those pre-approved credit offers you get in your mailbox. Call and ask to have your name & address removed from their mailing lists.
6. Never leave outgoing mail in an unlocked home mailbox. Account numbers and bank routing information are printed on your checks and can be easily copied. Plus, the “Pay to the order of “line can be altered by identity thieves using available computer technology.
Check Your Credit
1. Order a copy of your personal credit report annually from major credit bureaus: EQUIFAX (800) 685-1111, EXPERIAN (888) 397-3742, TRANS UNION (800) 888- 4213. Once you receive copies, check each one to be sure that all activity listed is correct.
2.Do NOT sign a new credit card. Using a permanent fine point marker, write “C.I.D.” in the signature line. By doing so, you are asking every sales person to “See my ID” so they check personal identification before processing a retail transaction.
3.Immediately check for YOUR NAME on the credit card that’s returned to you after each transaction…especially in restaurants and bars. Never simply pick up the credit card and receipt copy and store them in your wallet or pocket.
4.Pay close attention to bank, credit card, and debit card statements. Report any suspicious entry promptly in order to be protected by your bank or credit card company regulations.
1 out of every 10 people that have been violated by identity theft know that person. Again stay aware and be safe.
By: Jim Doyle, owner of Madison Security Group