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How Can I Protect Myself from Identity Theft?

How Can I Protect Myself from Identity Theft?

June 20, 2019
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How Can I Protect Myself from Identity Theft? 

The quick answer is you can’t. That being said, there is a lot that you can do that will make it a lot harder for criminals to steal your identity. So what can you do?

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has several steps that you can take to protect your Identity[1]:

  1. Guard your Social Security number
    • Do not carry any items that contain your full Social Security number in your wallet or purse.
    • Never give your Social Security number to someone you do not know or trust.
    • Before giving it to anyone, always ask why it is needed before giving it.
  2. Reduce the items you carry in your wallet or purse
    • Carry only what you need and leave extra credit cards and your checkbook at home.
    • Consider carrying your wallet or purse on your front. Put your wallet in your front pocket or carry a small, close fitting bag on your front.
    • Make copies of the front and back of all items in your wallet/purse and keep them in a safe place in case you need them.
  3. Be careful with Credit/Debit cards and Bank Account information
    • Never give out your PIN number or your Bank Account number to someone who calls.
    • Review your bank/credit card statements regularly and call if you notice any questionable activity, even if it is only for a small amount.
    • Let Banks and Credit Cards know about planned travel.
  4. Be cautious when using the ATM
    • When possible use your bank ATM and go during business hours.
    • Check the ATM for things that look suspicious.
    • Shield your hand when entering your pin to prevent an onlooker or camera from seeing/recording it.
  5. Be careful with mail
    • Collect mail in a timely fashion and consider installing a locked mailbox if you do not already have one.
    • Take mail that contains checks or other personally identifying information to the Post Office to be mailed.
    • Shred all mail and other documents with personally identifying information, cross-cut is best.
  6. Be Careful with documents
    • Keep Social Security cards, Medicare cards, Military ID cards, copies of tax returns, statements, bills, and other critical information in a safe place in your home – preferably in a locked container.
    • Be careful when signing any document and do not sign any document that you have not read or do not understand.
    • Consult an Attorney before appointing a Power of Attorney and make sure you understand how much control the Agent will have to make decisions for you.
  7. Regularly review your credit report
    • Request a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus each year. Annual Credit Report requests are free and is recommended by the Federal Trade Commission. Visit annualcreditreport.com
    • Report anything that is not correct or is a concern.
    • If you have been the victim of identity theft place a fraud alert.
    • Whether you have been the victim of identity theft or not, strongly consider placing a Credit Report Freeze to protect yourself.
  8. Opt Out
  9. Ask the Experts
    • If you have been the victim of identity theft or you would like information to help put a personal crime prevention plan in place, contact the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (or the local agency in your state). The experts are there to help so use them!

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

[1] Identity Theft Prevention information provided by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/Prevention%20Tips.pdf

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/cyber-security-technology-network-3374252/