10 Ways to Avoid Identity Theft

  1. Keep your Social Security card in a secure place, and give out the number only when necessary. Ask to use other identifiers whenever possible.
  2. Guard your purse or wallet. Never put either one down unless your hand is connected to it.
  3. Limit the number of checks and debit/credit cards you carry to only what you will actually need.
  4. Check credit card and bank statements carefully for unauthorized charges.
  5. Close credit card accounts you don't use on a regular basis.
  6. Shred all documents containing personal information -- especially preapproved credit card offers -- with a cross-cut shredder.
  7. Before revealing any identifying information, ask how it will be used and secured, and whether it will be shared with others.
  8. Order copies of your free credit reports from the three credit bureaus at least once a year, and check them carefully for accuracy. (See numbers below.)
  9. Place passwords on credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information such as mother's maiden name, birth date, phone number, etc. Instead use an eight-character combination of letters and numbers.
  10. Use a locked mailbox or a post office box to send and receive mail.

Important Numbers

Credit Bureaus

  • Equifax: (800) 525-6285
  • Experian (formerly TRW): (800) 301-7195
  • Trans Union: (800) 680-7289

Social Security Administration fraud line: (800) 269-0271

Source: Parker Associates copyright © 1999-2007