How to Prevent Identity Theft Offline
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Identity theft is not only a high-tech crime. Your identity may be stolen even if you never spend any time online. Here are some ways to prevent identity theft – and protect your confidential information:
- Open all bills and bank statements when received and review for possible fraudulent charges or activity.
- If a regular bill fails to reach you, call the company to find out why. Someone may have filed a false change-of-address form to divert your information to his/her address.
- Make sure your postal mailbox is secure, and don't leave outgoing bills in a public location for the postman to collect.
- Check your credit report for unauthorized activity and incorrect information. The three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) are required by law to provide you with a free credit report once a year at your request. You may also request as free credit report annually at https://www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Invest in a cross-cut document shredder and use it to destroy old statements, bills, receipts and pre-approved credit card offers before discarding them. It's one of the simplest ways to prevent identity theft offline.
- Never carry your Social Security card or number in your wallet or purse.
- Carry only the credit/debit cards you need.
- Never write your ATM and/or credit card PIN on the cards.
- Choose PINs that are not part of your Social Security number, date of birth, street address, etc.
- Be aware of anyone attempting to get your PIN by "shoulder surfing" at an ATM or in-store credit/debit card scanner.
- Never use your Social Security number, telephone or drivers license number on checks
- Never give out personal or financial information to solicitors via phone. If you are asked for this information, tell the caller that you will call the company back at a known phone number to confirm the inquiry is legitimate.