Identity Theft Prevention Tips1
1. Check credit reports from the 3 major credit bureaus annually. Look for errors & evidence of identity theft.
2. Review your bank and/or brokerage account statements when they arrive to reconcile the balance and check
for unusual transactions.
3. Save credit card receipts and check them against statements received from creditors. Do not leave them in
shopping bags where they can get lost or stolen.
4. Know the approximate billing cycle for all credit cards and utility bills (e.g., cell phone) and call creditors
immediately if bills are not received within a week of the due date.
5. Use a crosscut shredder, fireplace or woodstove to destroy pre-approved credit card offers, bank or
brokerage statements, old pay stubs and tax records, credit card receipts, and other sensitive documents.
6. Destroy documents containing information of interest to identity thieves including utility bills, personal
correspondence that could corroborate your identity, cancelled checks, expired credit cards, etc.
7. Avoid giving out Social Security Number (SSN) or bank account numbers to unsolicited callers or orally (e.g.,
in a store) where others can listen.
8. Have a post office box or locked mailbox for incoming mail.
9. Place outgoing mail in a secured collection box or at the post office – NOT in an unsecured home mailbox or
rural route mailbox.
10. Have mail held or picked up by a trusted friend, neighbor, or family member when you are away.
11. Question how personal information will be used before revealing it to anyone. Say “no” where possible, or ask
to use another type of identifier.
12. Be cautious about leaving personal information lying around your home or office, especially if it would be
accessible to a roommate, babysitter, cleaning service, home contractor, etc. who has access to your home or
office when you’re not there.
13. Avoid carrying your Social Security card or other identification containing your SSN (e.g., college ID, military
ID, employee ID, health insurance card, etc) in your wallet.
14. Avoid printing your driver’s license or SSN on personal checks.
15. Limit the amount of personal information “out there” by not completing Internet “profiles” for rebates &
contests. Be cautious with online resumé posting, electronic mailing lists, secured sites for online purchases,
listings in Who’s Who guides, and other public data sources.
16. Limit the number of credit cards and other identification information carried in your wallet or purse. Do not
routinely carry your checkbook.
17. Be aware of who has access to your personal information at work and/or places where you do business (e.g.,
utility companies, medical providers) and take steps to question or limit unauthorized access, where needed.
18. Cross out your credit card number or bank account number with a magic marker on receipts for travel or
other expenses submitted to any employer, charitable or professional organization, or other entity for
expense reimbursement or for documentation of any type (e.g., tax preparation, product rebates).
19. Be careful about completing postcards (e.g., for product warranties, contests, etc.). Mail them in envelopes if
they contain sensitive information.
20. Practice “general security consciousness” by not leaving wallets or purses unattended, even for a few moments
(e.g., at dances or in supermarket carts), zipping purses shut, buttoning back wallet pockets, and putting house
lights on timers when away. Use secure door locks, leave questionable “sensitive” information spaces blank on
applications, store important papers (e.g., car title) in a safe deposit box or home safe, and keep a list of
credit card account numbers and contact information handy, in case you need to report a loss quickly.
It is the policy of the Maryland Cooperative Extension that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, religion, disability, age or
Identity Theft Risk Assessment Quiz, Rutgers Cooperative Extension http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/money/identitytheft/