Minimizing ID Theft

September 24, 2008

How do you minimize your risk?

Nothing you do can guarantee that you won’t become a identity theft victim, but you can minimize your risk with a few simple steps

  • Protect your social security number. Don’t carry it in your wallet; give it out only when absolutely necessary; and, verify in advance the source before sharing.
  • Be careful where and with whom you share your social security number and private, identifying financial information, such as mother’s maiden name.
  • Treat your trash with care. Thieves pick through trash and recycling bins to capture personal information. Shred credit card bills and receipts, credit card offers, credit applications, insurance forms, hospital and physician statements and expired credit cards.
  • Consider freezing your credit.

Consumers in many states can “freeze” or restrict access to their credit reports. Once the freeze is in place, no one – potential creditors or other third parties – will be able to get access to your credit report until the you lift the freeze.

What credit information can be frozen varies by state. So does the cost. The Consumers Union offers a guide spelling out the ins and outs of state security freeze laws by state that includes information from the three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.