Tips on General Security and Identity Theft

  Protecting yourself…

…Is the mailbox at your home or business vulnerable? If your mailbox does not have a key or combination lock to prevent mail from being removed after it is delivered, install a locking mailbox without delay.

…Do not place your outgoing mail in your mailbox for your postman to pick up. Mail outgoing mail at your office, in a US Post Office mailbox, or at the post office.  
…Shred all mail with identifying information on it in a cross-cut style shredder.

…Request that new checks be delivered to your bank branch rather than to your home.  

…Monitor all personal and business checking, savings, credit, and debit accounts frequently and carefully for unauthorized charges, and report discrepancies immediately.    

…Be alert and cautious when using ATM machines.

…Always take receipts with sensitive information home with you to shred.

…Consider “opting” out of all credit card offers, so that credit applications are not mailed to you. You can do this by contacting the major credit bureaus: 
Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.  

…Protect your medical and dental records and health insurance information, as medical insurance fraud is becoming more prevalent.

…Carry only the minimum amount of credit cards and minimal identifying information in your wallet or purse. (Yes, you need your driver’s license, but do you need to have your Social Security card in your wallet?)

…Photocopy the contents of your wallet and keep the copies in a secure place at your home or in a safe deposit box. If your wallet is stolen, you will know exactly who to notify, the phone numbers and account numbers are accessible, and you won’t overlook cancelling any account.

…Protect your social security number. Avoid using it on job applications (a potential employer does not need this number until you are actually hired and on their payroll). Just indicate “to be provided upon employment” on the application, and explain your concern if you are questioned.    

… Protect birthdate information. Again, birthdates are often helpful to identity thieves, and most people don’t hesitate to provide it when asked. Don’t use it on social networking sites, most of which can be accessed by anyone.  

…When at a hotel, be sure to keep all personal information (passports, driver’s licenses, etc.) locked in your room safe at all times. Hotel staff members often have room access when you are not present.          

…You are entitled to a free annual credit score from the three major credit Bureaus. Request this information and review it carefully for any suspicious activity.

   CAUTION: When contacting the credit bureaus, do so by telephone rather than searching for them on line. When our office staff attempted to reach them on line, we were also directed to several similar (or impostor) sites, and you do not wish to risk providing your financial information to a bogus site.  

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