Deter identity thieves by safeguarding your information.
■ Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information
before you discard them.
■ Protect your Social Security number. Don’t carry your Social Security
card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check.
Give it out only if absolutely necessary or ask to use another
■ Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or
over the Internet unless you know who you are dealing with.
■ Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails; instead, type in a
web address you know.
Use firewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software to protect your
home computer; keep them up-to-date. Visit
www.OnGuardOnline.gov for more
■ Don’t use an obvious password like your birth date, your mother’s
maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.
■ Keep your personal information in a secure place at home, especially
if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in
Detect suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial
accounts and billing statements.
Be alert to signs that require immediate
■ Bills that do not arrive as expected
■ Unexpected credit cards or account statements
■ Denials of credit for no apparent reason
■ Calls or letters about purchases you did not make
■ Your credit report. Credit reports contain information about
you, including what accounts
you have and your bill paying history.
• The law requires the major nationwide consumer reporting
companies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—to give you a free copy of
your credit report each year if you ask for it.
• Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228, a
service created by these three companies, to order your free credit
reports each year. You also can write: Annual Credit Report Request
Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
■ Your financial statements. Review financial accounts and
billing statements regularly, looking for charges you did not make.
Defend against ID theft as soon as you suspect it.
■ Place a “Fraud Alert” on your credit reports, and review the
reports carefully. The alert tells creditors to follow certain
procedures before they open new accounts in your name or make changes to
your existing accounts. The three nationwide consumer reporting
companies have toll-free numbers for placing an initial 90-day fraud
alert; a call to one company is sufficient:
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
Placing a fraud alert entitles you to free copies of your credit
reports. Look for inquiries from companies you haven’t contacted,
accounts you didn’t open, and debts on your accounts that you can’t
■ Close accounts. Close any accounts that have
been tampered with or established fraudulently.
• Call the security or fraud departments of each company where an account
was opened or changed without your okay. Follow up in writing, with copies
of supporting documents.
• Use the ID Theft Affidavit at ftc.gov/idtheft
to support your written statement.
• Ask for written verification that the disputed account has been closed and
• Keep copies of documents and records of your conversations about the
■ File a police report. File a report with law enforcement officials to help
you with creditors who may want proof of the crime.
■ Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Your report helps law
enforcement officials across the country in their investigations.
By phone: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) or TTY, 1-866-653-4261
By mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, Washington,
To learn more about ID theft and how to deter, detect and defend against it,