Protect Your Identity

Protect Your Identity

  • Destroy private records and statements.  Destroy credit card statements, solicitations, and other documents that contain any private information.  Shred this paperwork using a “cross-cut” shredder so thieves can’t find your data when they rummage through your garbage.
  • Don’t leave a paper trail; never leave an ATM, credit card, or gas station receipt behind.
  • Secure your mail.  Empty your mailbox regularly, lock it, or get a P.O. Box so criminals don’t have a chance to steal credit card offers.
  • Never mail outgoing bill payments and checks from an unsecured mailbox, especially at home.  They can be stolen from your mailbox and the payee’s name erased with solvents.  Mail them from the post office or another secure location.
  • Safeguard your Social Security number (SSN).  Never carry your card with you, or any other card that may have your SSN on it, like a health insurance card or a school-issued ID.  Don’t put your number on your checks; your SSN is the primary target for identity thieves because it gives them access to your credit report and bank accounts.
  • There are very few entities that can actually demand your SSN – the Department of Motor Vehicles, for example.  Also, SSN’s are required for transactions involving taxes, so that means banks, brokerages, employers, post-secondary institutions you might attend, and the like also have a legitimate need for your SSN.
  • Know who you are dealing with.  Whenever you are contacted, either by phone or email, by individuals identifying themselves as banks, credit card or e-commerce companies and ask for private identity or financial information, do not respond.  Legitimate companies do not contact you and ask you to provide personal data such as PIN’s, usernames and passwords, or bank account information over the phone or internet.  If you think that the request is legitimate, contact the company by calling the customer service using the number on your account statement or in the telephone book and confirm what you are told before revealing any of your personal data.
  • Guard your personal information.  Ask questions whenever anyone asks you for personal data.  How will the information be used?  Why must I provide this data?  Ask anyone who does require your Social Security number, for instance, cell phone providers, what their privacy policy is and whether you can arrange for the organization not to share your information with anyone else.
  • Review your bank and credit card statements carefully.  Look for unauthorized charges or withdrawals and report them immediately.  Make sure you recognize the merchants, locations, and purchases listed before paying the bill.  If you don’t need or use department store or bank-issued credit cards, consider closing the accounts.
  • Keep track of your billing dates and cycles and follow up with creditors if you don’t receive bills or statements on time.
  • Take your name off marketers’ hit list.  In addition to the national Do Not Call Registry (1-888-382-1222 or online), you also can reduce credit card solicitations for five years by contacting an opt-out service run by the three major credit bureaus (1-888 5-OPT OUT or online).  You will need to provide your Social Security number as an identifier.
  • Monitor your credit report.  Each year, obtain and thoroughly review your credit report from the three major credit bureaus; Equifax (1-800-685-1111), Experian (1-883-397-3742) and TransUnion (1-800-680-4213) or online to look for suspicious activity.  If you notice something suspicious, alert your card company or the creditor immediately.
  • Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus.  Tell them that you’re  an identity theft victim.  Request that a “fraud alert” be placed in your file, along with a victim’s statement asking that creditors call you before opening any new account or changing your existing accounts.
    • Equifax To report fraud: 1-800-525-6285 or P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241,
    • Experian To report fraud: 1-888-EXPERIAN (391-3742) or P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013, and
    • TransUnion To report fraud: 1-800-680-7289 or Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634
  • Contact the creditors for any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.  Speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each creditor, and follow up with a letter.
  • If your Social Security number has been used illegally, contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.
  • File a report with the Police in the community where the identity theft took place.  Get a copy of the police report in case the bank, credit card company, or others need proof of the crime.
  • Keep written records of everything involving your efforts to clear up fraud. This includes copies of written correspondence and records of telephone calls.
  • Computer phishing is a crime.  Phishers attempt to fraudulently acquire credit card details and other sensitive personal data via bogus email or pop-up windows.  It may appear to be a legitimate email from a legitimate institution but beware of unsolicited requests for information.
  • Financial or payment institutions will never request that you send them personal sensitive data via email or pop-up windows.
  • If you receive a suspicious looking email from any bank, lending, or payment institution, it is best to delete and not respond.  If, by coincidence, you have an account with the entity mentioned in the email, call your legitimate institution using the number on your physical bill or via the telephone book or through telephone information.
  • Do not call the number that may be listed in the bogus email and do not click on any link listed in the bogus email.
  • If a deal sounds too good to be true; it probably is.
  • Be wary of any "get rich quick" scheme that wants you to invest money in advance.
  • Never give out your credit card information over the phone unless you made the call.
  • Do not buy on the spur of the moment; take time to research the company or product.
  • If you are approached by a possible con artist or unauthorized solicitor, report the incident immediately to Campus Safety or the police.

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