What can I do to protect myself from identity theft?

Identity theft is a serious problem affecting more people every day. That’s why learning how to prevent it is so important. Knowing how to prevent identity theft makes your identity more secure. The more people who know how to prevent identity theft, the less inclined others may be to commit the crime.

Preventing identity theft starts with managing your personal information carefully and sensibly. We recommend a few simple precautions to keep your personal information safe:

  • Only carry essential documents with you.
    Not carrying extra credit cards, your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport with you outside the house can help you prevent identity theft.
  • Keep new checks out of the mail.
    When ordering new checks, you can prevent identity theft by picking them up at the financial institution instead of having them sent to your home. This makes it harder for your checks to be stolen, altered and cashed by identity thieves.
  • Be careful when giving out personal information over the phone.
    Identity thieves may call, posing as financial institutions or government agencies. To prevent identity theft, do not give out personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
  • Your trash is their treasure.
    To prevent identity theft, shred your receipts, credit card offers, financial institution statements, returned checks and any other sensitive information before throwing it away.
  • Make sure others are keeping you safe.
    Ensure that your employer, landlord and anyone else with access to your personal data keeps your records safe.
  • Stay on top of your credit.
    Make sure your credit reports are accurate and that you sign up for a credit monitoring service, which can alert you by email to changes in your credit report – a helpful way to prevent identity theft.
  • Protect your Social Security number.
    To prevent identity theft, make sure your financial institution does not print your SSN on your personal checks.
  • Follow your credit card billing cycles closely.
    Identity thieves can start by changing your billing address. Making sure you receive your credit card bill every month is an easy way to prevent identity theft.
  • Keep a list of account numbers, expiration dates and telephone numbers filed away.
    If your wallet is stolen, being able to quickly alert your creditors is essential to prevent identity theft.
  • Create passwords or PIN numbers out of a random mix of letters and numbers.
    Doing so makes it harder for identity thieves to discover these codes, and makes it easier for you to prevent identity theft.

How can I tell if I am a victim of identity theft?

Consistently monitor both your financial and public record information and look for:

  • Unfamiliar criminal records, court records, address information or bankruptcies
  • Unexplained charges or withdrawals
  • Failing to receive bills or other mail. This may signal an address change by the identity thief
  • Being served court papers or arrest warrants for actions you did not commit
  • Receiving credit cards for which you did not apply
  • Being denied credit for no apparent reason
  • Receiving calls or letters from debt collectors or businesses about merchandise or services you did not buy

Although any of these indications could be a result of a simple clerical error, you should not assume that there's been a mistake and do nothing. Always follow up with the business or institution to find out.

What should I do if I am a victim of identity theft?

Please contact our Restoration Specialists for help at 866.765.6241. In addition, according to the U.S. Attorney General's office, the Secret Service oversees identity theft. This office advises you to:

  • Report the crime to the police immediately. Get a copy of your police report or case number. Credit card companies, your financial institution, and the insurance company may ask you to reference the report to verify the crime
  • Immediately contact your credit card issuers. Get replacement cards with new account numbers and ask that the old account be processed as "account closed at consumer's request" for credit record purposes. You should also follow up this telephone conversation with a letter to the credit card company that summarizes your request in writing
  • Call the fraud units of the three credit reporting bureaus and ask that your accounts be flagged. Also, add a victim's statement to your report that requests that they contact you to verify future credit applications:
    Equifax Credit Information Services
Consumer Fraud Div.
P.O. Box 105069
Atlanta, Georgia 30348
Tel: 888.766.0008
Fraud Victim Assistance Center
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
Tel: 800.680.7289
  • Keep a log of all conversations with authorities and financial entities. And follow-up! Make sure that all creditors or credit bureaus have received what they need from you
  • Review your reports regularly and make sure all changes you requested have been effected
  • You have numerous rights under the FCRA, including the right to dispute inaccurate information in your credit report(s). Consumer reporting agencies are required to investigate and respond to your dispute, but are not obligated to change or remove accurate information that is reported in compliance with applicable law. While this plan can provide you assistance in filing a dispute, the FCRA allows you to file a dispute for free with a consumer reporting agency without the assistance of a third party.