The U.S. Postal Service receives millions of reports of identity theft every year. The effect of identity theft on consumers is costly.
Identity theft is one of the growing crime problems in this country that you can help prevent with some simple tips.
Here are some tips to help prevent you from becoming a victim of identity theft:
Do not put outgoing mail, especially bill payments, in personal curbside mailboxes that are unsecured. Use United States Postal Services mailboxes, preferably inside a post office.
Protect your important personal information like driver's license or social security number. Do not give this information to anyone unless absolutely necessary.
Shred financial records before throwing them away.
Be alert for anyone calling you from your bank and trying to get your assistance in a bank investigation by asking for your personal information.
Do not store your passwords or PIN numbers with your credit or debit cards. Commit passwords and PIN numbers to memory.
Be suspicious of any e-mails from legitimate looking businesses that seek pesonal information. "Phishing" for information via e-mails is a rapidly growing trend in identity theft.
More information from the National Crime Prevention Council is available here.
When criminals get your personal information, you can become a victim of identity theft. These criminals will use your information for their own gain. They do this in several ways; 1) by stealing your wallet, 2) going through your trash, or 3) compromising your bank or credit information. They get your information by contacting you by telephone, in person, or via the internet and ask for personal information.
At some point in time, you may become a victim of identity theft, because the sources of gathering information are plentiful, but there are ways to minimize your risk.
Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft:
- Never throw away ATM receipts, credit statements, credit cards, or bank statements in a usable form. It is recommended that you shred this information.
- Never give your credit card number over the telephone unless you make the call.
- Reconcile your bank account monthly, and notify your bank of discrepancies immediately.
- Keep a list of telephone numbers to call to report the loss or theft of your wallet, credit cards, etc.
- Report unauthorized financial transactions to your bank, credit card company, and the police as soon as you detect them.
- Review a copy of your credit report at least once each year. Notify the credit bureau in writing of any questionable entries and follow through until they are explained or removed.
- If your identity has been assumed, ask the credit bureau to print a statement to that effect in your credit report.
- If you know of anyone who receives mail from credit card companies or banks in the names of others, report it to local or federal law enforcement authorities.
For more information:
Identity Theft webpage
"Be crime smart” when it comes to sharing personal information—yours or someone else’s, don’t give it out over the telephone unless you have verified the identity of the caller.