Fraud and identity theft are not only high-tech crimes. Your identity may be stolen even if you never spend any time online. Here are some ways to 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.