Mail – Personal and Non-Requested Mail
Have your mail delivered to a P.O. Box at the US Post Office or install a secure mailbox, one that requires a lock and key to retrieve your mail.
Do not place outbound mail in an open, unlocked mailbox.
Do not leave any mail in your car.
If you are traveling away from your home for an extended period, have your mail held at the post office or have a trusted neighbor pick it up.
If bills, credit card or bank statements do not arrive on time each month, immediately place a call to find out if they were sent. Make sure you receive all necessary tax statements at the appropriate time (January and April).
Always shred “pre-approved” credit offers you receive in the mail before you discard.
Register with www.optoutprescreen.com to remove your name from lists that will stop pre-approved credit offers from being sent to you.
Register with www.fcc.gov/cgb/donotcall to add your name to the National Do-Not-Call Registry.
Register with www.dmachoice.org to add your name to Direct Market Association list that will stop telephone, mail and e-mail offers.
Financial Institutions – Banks, Checking Accounts, Debit and Credit Cards
Continually monitor the activity of all open accounts.
Use your banks online banking system to monitor and access your accounts. Setup email alerts to notify you when there are changes or activity with your accounts.
Reconcile your checking account with each statement. Be sure to review each cancelled check, either online or with the physical check.
Ask your bank and credit card issuers to send your monthly statements online instead of sending a monthly paper statement.
Contact your bank or financial institution immediately if a new or reissued credit card does not arrive on time.
Do not include your full name, your home phone number or your SSN printed on your checks. Use your first name initials instead of your full name. You are not required to show your SSN or let a merchant write your SSN on your checks.
When re-ordering new checks, do not have them mailed to your house, pick them up at your branch location.
Never leave mail containing loan or credit card payments at your home, office or in your car. Take the payments with you and place in a US Post Office box.
Inspect each of your credit card statements, bank statements and loan statements to ensure accurate postings and activity each month. Make sure you can recognize and identify each transaction.
Prepare a list of bank account numbers, credit card numbers including expiration dates and customer service phone numbers in the event you lose a card and need to contact them. Place this list in safe and secure place and do not carry this list with you.
Social Security Numbers
No one piece of information is more important than your Social Security Number. Pay extra attention to protecting it.
Remove your card from your wallet or purse. Do not carry any form of identification displaying your card number. Do not carry your Social Security card with you unless you need it for a specific reason such as health care.
The Social Security Administration mails your Social Security Statement each year, check this for signs of fraud.
Do not give your number out to anyone, for any reason over the phone, unless you are completely sure of who your are dealing with and you started the call.
Do not include your card number on a job application when applying for a job. You should only need to provide it after you have been offered the job. You may need to provide your Social Security Number if a background check is required by the employer prior to employment.
Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) and Personal Passwords
Never carry your credit card or debit card PIN in your wallet or purse. Do not write your PIN’s on anything that will travel with you.
Do not use any combination of letters or numbers that can be easily discovered or guessed. These include such things as your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, your middle name, your child’s name, your pet’s name, your street address, etc. Do not use the last four digits of your SSN. When a new debit or credit card is issued, immediately change the PIN the financial institution has set as a default number.
Always use a combination of letters and numbers when selecting a password or PIN. You should change these frequently.
At work and at home, set up password-protected computer files that contain sensitive personal or account data.
Never use an ATM if people are around you or if you see a suspicious person hanging around the ATM. Always shield the keypad when entering your PIN.
Never write down your passwords or PINs. If you forget a password or a PIN, you can contact the company or institution, they will either send you the correct one or re-issue you a new one. In this case, any time you receive a new password or PIN, you should immediately change it to a new one.
Personal Items – Never carry the following with you unless you need it for a specific reason that day.
Your Social Security card or any of your dependents’.
Your birth certificate or any of your dependents’.
Your driver’s license or insurance card with your SSN or that of a family member. If your driver’s license has your SSN printed on it, immediately have it re-issued without it.
Your passport or that of any of you dependents.
Your military identification card
A list of your banking information (PINs, logins, passwords, or account numbers)
Your paychecks or pay stubs
Any deposit slips pre-printed with your either your name or account information.
Try to avoid carrying more than two credit or debit cards.
Any receipts or bills with your account information displayed.
Any card that might store sensitive data on a magnetic stripe, such as a gas card, electronic hotel key, or employee ID.
Take all receipts home and shred before discarding. Do not throw away any receipt into a public trashcan.
Make sure you never leave a credit or debit behind. Always double check to make sure your card is back in your wallet or purse.
Inspect all credit card or debit card receipts to ensure that only the last four digits of the card are listed. When signing a credit card receipt, note whether your entire account number is displayed, or merely the last four digits. If the entire number shows, cross it out before leaving the signed receipt behind.
When dining out, make sure the waiter, cashier or bartender processes our bill in a timely manner. Never leave your card to “run a tab”. Insist they run the card for pre-approval and hand back to you.
Never fill out an application for loans, credit or other services without knowing how the business uses, stores and disposes of your data. If the business is using your data for any reason besides completing the current transaction (ex: selling your data to other companies) you should not complete the transaction.
Internet surfing, visiting web sites, email and computers
Never register or give out your personal information including your name, address, telephone, emails, financial data or credit and debit cards if you aren’t absolutely positive of the sites authenticity. Always look for signs that the site is secure.
Do not open any link or email unless you can verify the safety of the source.
Install a firewall on your home computer.
Install virus protection, keep it updated and run it daily.
Never throw away a computer or hard drive that contains data. Purchase a software program that will completely remove all files and data. Simply deleting files or uninstalling programs using the delete function on your computer may not remove the information.
Always password protect or encrypt sensitive data that is sent or stored in digital form.
Always password protect the use of your personal or work computer.
Ask any company that you transact with financially not to share your information with other companies or institutions.
Never discard anything that contains your name, address, or other sensitive data before shredding the information. This includes such items as bills, receipts, bank or credit card statements, personalized offer letters and envelopes, magazines, catalogs, and pre-approved credit offers.
Never discard sensitive documents at work unless you’re company utilizes a shredding service or unless you personally shred it.
Do not set your trash out the night before it is to be collected. Try and place it out as close to the pick up time as possible.
Order a copy of your credit report. An amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the major nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit reports, at your request, once every 12 months.
To order your free annual report from one or all the national consumer reporting companies, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free 877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You can print the form from ftc.gov/credit. Do not contact the three nationwide consumer reporting companies individually; they provide free annual credit reports only throughwww.annualcreditreport.com, 877-322-8228, and Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
Under federal law, you’re also entitled to a free report if a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance or employment, and you request your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting company that supplied the information about you. You’re also entitled to one free report a year if you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days; you’re on welfare; or your report is inaccurate because of fraud. Otherwise, a consumer reporting company may charge you up to $9.50 for any other copies of your report.
To get a copy of your report, contact:
Equifax Credit Information Services
(800) 685-1111 (credit report)
(888) 397-3742 (credit report)
Trans Union Corp.
(800) 916-8800 (credit report)
Under state law, consumers in Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont already have free access to their credit reports.