Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Recommendations to Protect against Identity Theft

Do not give personal information, such as account numbers or social security numbers, over the telephone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you initiated the contact or know with whom you are dealing. If you want to reduce the number of telephone solicitations from many national marketers, visit the following website: DMA Telephone Preference Service

Store personal information in a safe place and tear up old credit card receipts, ATM receipts, old account statements, and unused credit card offers before throwing them away. If you prefer not to receive pre-approved offers, you can opt out of such offers by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT.

Protect your PINs and other passwords. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your social security number, your phone number, etc.

Carry only the minimum amount of identifying information and the number of credit cards that you need.

Pay attention to billing cycles and statements. Inquire of the bank if you do not receive a monthly bill; it may mean an identity thief has diverted the bill.

Report lost or stolen checks immediately. Your bank will block payment on the check numbers involved. Also, review new deliveries of checks to make sure none have been stolen in transit.

Store canceled and new checks in a safe place.

Check account statements carefully to ensure all charges, checks, or withdrawals were authorized.

Guard your mail against theft. If you have the type of mailbox with a flag to signal the box contains mail, do not leave bill payment envelopes in your mailbox with the flag up. Instead, deposit them in a post office collection box or at the local post office. Promptly remove incoming mail. If you want to remove your name from many national direct mail lists, either visit the following website or send your name and address to:

Direct Marketing Association, Inc. Mail Preference Service

1615 L Street

Washington, DC 20036

Periodically contact the major credit reporting companies to review your file and make certain the information is correct. You can obtain a copy of your credit report at any time. In New Jersey, state law gives you one free credit report per year. The three major credit bureaus are Equifax (800-685-1111), Experian (888-397-3742), TransUnion (800-916-8800). Click the name of any of the three major credit bureaus to be taken to its website.

Together, we can head off identity theft and account fraud before it happens.