10 tips for protecting personal information
1. Don’t give anyone your Social Security, credit card, or bank account numbers unless you know the source and/or have initiated the contact. If you are unsure, ask the person to send you a request by mail instead of asking for it over the telephone. Con artists working a scam can be very convincing.
2. Don't just throw away papers that have important account or financial numbers listed on them. Tear up the papers or shred them. Thieves often go through the trash looking for intact bank account, credit card, etc. numbers so they can raid your accounts.
3. Keep your credit card and ATM receipts in a safe place until you've paid the credit card bill or balanced your checkbook. Then tear up or shred them.
4. Don't leave bill payment envelopes in a home mailbox for the mail carrier. Someone might take them. Instead, put your envelopes inside a postal mailbox.
5. Reduce the circulation of your information through the mail. Stop receiving prescreened credit offers by calling 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688). You can also reduce direct mail marketing and telemarketing by contacting the Direct Marketing Association.
6. Don't send your credit card number over the Internet unless you are sure the Web site is secured and your computer is protected by anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall, and other security software. Keep your security software updated.
7. Shred or tear up anything with your name, address, credit card information, or bank account numbers before putting it in the trash or recycle bin. This includes unused credit card offers.
8. Don't get hooked by "phishing." Scam artists looking to get personal information such as credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security numbers, and other pieces of data send spam emails hoping to lure you into divulging this important information. If you get an unexpected email asking you to update or verify any important information, be careful. It might be a "phisher" trying to con you out of your personal information. For more information, visit www.phishinginfo.org.
9. Review your credit card statements and telephone bills for unauthorized use. If you suspect fraud, call the company immediately.
10. If you're a victim of identity theft, report the crime to the police immediately.