Identity Theft

10 Ways to Stop Identity Theft

  • Buy a shredder and use it: Identity thieves may use your garbage to obtain personal information. Shred all old bank and credit statements as well as "junk mail" credit offers, before trashing them.
  • Guard your social security number. Do not print your Social Security Number on your checks. After applying for a loan, credit card, rental, or anything else that requires a credit report, request your Social Security number on the application be truncated or completely obliterated and your original document report is shredded before your eyes or returned to you once a decision has been made.
  • Keep duplicate records: Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Copy both sides of your license and credit cards so you have all the account information, numbers, expiration dates, and phone numbers if your wallet or purse gets stolen.
  • Know who you are talking to: Never give your credit card number or personal information over the phone unless you have initiated the call and trust that business.
  • Mail payments from a safe location: Do not mail bill payments and checks from home. They can be stolen from your mailbox and washed clean with chemicals. Take them to the post office.
  • Monitor your credit card activity: Carefully examine your credit-card statements for fraudulent charges before paying them. If you don't need or use department store or bank-issued credit cards, close the accounts.
  • Monitor your credit report.
  • Monitor your Social Security activity: You may wish to order your Social Security Earnings and Benefits statement once a year to check for fraud.
  • Remove your name from marketing lists: The three credit-reporting bureaus - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion - all maintain marketing lists that may contain your information. Contact these agencies to remove your name from the lists. You may also want to add your name to the Missouri No Call list to reduce telephone solicitations.
  • Watch what you carry in your wallet: Do not keep your Social Security card in your wallet or carry extra credit cards, or other important identity documents except when needed.