Credit card and Identity Theft
Don't be a target for identity theft! Protect yourself!
Credit card fraud costs consumers about $1 billion each year. All a thief needs to
steal an identity is your name, address, social security number, and date of birth. All
of this information is easily obtained from driver's licenses and/or checking accounts.
Minimize information in phone books:
A great deal of personal information is listed in telephone or organization
o An unlisted phone number.
o Listing only your name, phone number, and not your address.
(List only your initials and avoid Dr., Atty. or other professional
Use a computer generated driver's license number: Only use your Social
Security Number as an identification number for its intended Social Security
purposes, not as a driver's license number. Obtain a computer-generated Georgia
driver's license number. Remember, a driver's license has all of the information a
thief needs to steal your identity. Carefully protect copies of your driver's license
and license number!
Minimize identifying information on personal checks: Forego convenience,
and reduce information preprinted on personal checks. Consider debit cards when
possible. Avoid recording identification information on self-carboning checks.
Beware of pre-approved credit offers: Pre-approved credit applications provide
information to thieves with your identity and instant credit opportunities. Credit-
reporting agencies routinely sell your name to financial institutions that solicit
new credit applicants. Consumer Reports (Sept. 1997) suggests consumers call
Equifax, (888)567-8688; Experian, (800)353-0809; and Trans Union, (888)567-
8688 to prohibit the sale of your name and address to these financial institutions.
Shred or destroy ALL of these offers. Identity thieves go through mailboxes and
trash for discarded pre-approved credit applications.
Minimize Credit Card Accounts: Close any stagnant or unnecessary credit card
accounts. Do not just shred your credit cards, but correspond directly with the
credit-card company when closing an account. Maintain only one credit account,
if possible. Closely monitor billing statements and immediately report any
Remove your name from solicitation lists: File formal requests to have your
name and address removed from mail and telephone solicitation lists. Written
requests can be sent to:
o Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 9008
Farmingdale, NY 11735
o Telephone Preference Services
P.O. Box 9014
Farmingdale, NY 11735
Do not release information by phone or Internet: Don't give credit-card
numbers or other personal information over the phone or Internet unless you
initiated the contact and you have a business relationship with the company.
Carefully select and closely guard your passwords: Your mother's maiden
name is not a protected password. Identity thieves can easily obtain a maiden
name from a birth certificate, which is a public record. Do not use your phone
numbers or address numbers as passwords. Do not keep passwords in things such
as a planner or purse and do not share passwords with others. If possible, change
Shred everything: Before discarding any documents which list personal
information, shred them. Examples include:
o pre-approved credit applications
o canceled checks
o payroll check stubs
o credit card receipts
o mail order offers
o any other personal information
Conduct annual credit report checks: Order a biannual credit report from each
of the three national credit-reporting agencies. These reports list personal data,
including loans and brokerage accounts. If your identity is stolen, credit bureaus
suggest installing a fraud alert on all your credit files. This should prompt
creditors to call you before they open a new account. Also, file a police report any
time you are a fraud or theft victim. Copies of your credit report can be obtained
o Equifax, 1-800-685-1111.
o Experian, 1-800-787-6864.
o Trans Union, 1-800-916-8800.
Costs for these reports range from $free to $49.