7 Tips to Help Keep Your Identity Safe

Credit card with chip

Identity theft is a costly crime: In 2016, losses totaled $16 billion and affected more than 15 million U.S. consumers.* How can you avoid joining their ranks? Here are seven tips to help you protect your personal information.

  1. Reduce your paper trail. Shred financial and other personal documents before disposing of them, or consider electronic delivery if it’s available. Store your confidential documents in a secure location.
  2. Protect your Social Security number. Don’t carry your Social Security card or write your number on a check. Provide your number as identification only when required.
  3. Keep your personal information private. Never provide personal information over the phone, through  the U.S. mail, via email or over the internet unless you know the request is legitimate and the site is secure. (Look for “HTTPS” at the beginning of the URL.)
  4. Watch out for pop-ups and links. Thieves use these to try to acquire your personal information. Don’t click on a pop-up ad or a link in an unsolicited email.
  5. Stay virus-free. Keep your computer security and anti-virus software up to date.
  6. Create passwords that are hard to guess. Don’t use an obvious password, such as your birth date, your mother’s maiden name or the last four digits of your Social Security number. Change your passwords often, and don’t use the same password for every account.
  7. Check your credit report. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report each year if you request it. Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com, call 877-322-8228, or write to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281, to order your credit report.

Reporting identity theft

Contact the Federal Trade Commission through one of the following methods:

  • Online - www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov 
  • Phone - 877-ID-THEFT (438-4338)
  • U.S. Mail - Identity Theft Clearing House
    Federal Trade Commission
    600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, H 130
    Washington, DC 20580

Important Information:

*Source: “2017 Identity Fraud: Securing the Connected Life,” Javelin Strategy & Research, Feb. 1, 2017.

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