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Advice Center


Minimize Your Risk of Identify Theft

Your identity is your single most valuable asset. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to reduce the risk of having it stolen. Follow these steps to help protect your good name.

Guard personal information

  • Don’t keep your social security card or other personal information in your purse or wallet.
  • Limit the number of credit or bank cards that you carry to only those you really need.
  • Never give personal information (credit card numbers or SSN) over the phone or internet unless you have initiated the contact and are sure you’re dealing with a reliable source.
  • Shred disposable personal info like credit offers, charge receipts, and bank statements. Don’t just toss these items in the trash.

Control incoming and outgoing mail

  • Deposit outgoing mail at an official US Postal Service office or collection box only.
  • Ask the post office to hold your mail if you’re going to be away from home.
  • Pick up your incoming mail promptly.
  • Consider installing a mailbox that locks.
  • Pay attention to billing cycles. Notify creditors if a bill does not arrive on time.

Use unique passwords

  • Avoid easily accessed information like your mother’s maiden name, your birthday, a series of numbers, or the last 4 digits of your social security number.
  • Memorize your personal identification numbers (PINs) and passwords. Do not keep them in your purse or wallet. Do not write your PIN on the back of credit, bank, or ATM cards.

Order a copy of your credit report – every year

  • Review copies from each of the three major bureaus to make sure the accounts and transactions are accurate and include only those that you’ve authorized.

Consider purchasing ID theft protection services

  • Explore options whereby service providers regularly monitor your credit report, send alerts when suspicious activity occurs, and offer recovery assistance if your identity is ever stolen.