Identity Theft: 
    Prevention Strategies

  1. Be extremely cautious when handling and disclosing the following information: social security number, mother's maiden name, date of birth, past addresses, drivers license number, and, of course, bank and credit account numbers.
  2. Invest in a personal shredder. This is your first line of defense. Shred bank and credit card statements, cancelled checks, pre-approved credit card offers, etc. before disposal. A cross cut shredder offers added security because it makes it harder to reconstruct the document.
  3. Place garbage out on the morning of pickup rather than the night before. This gives dumpster divers less opportunity to go through your garbage.
  4. Consider listing only your name and phone number in the telephone book, or get an unlisted and unpublished number. If you have a personal or business listing, avoid the use of titles, such as "Dr.," or "Attorney," or any other signs announcing you're affluent.
  5. Be aware of other directories in which you may be listed. In addition to the telephone directory (item # 4), criminals have been known to find victims in "Who's Who" and other publications. Be sure to check online directories too. offers automated software to monitor your name online. To see an example of in action click here.
  6. Install a residential mailbox with a locking mechanism or purchase a door with a mail slot.
  7. Don't leave outgoing checks or paid bills in your residential mailbox. Take your mail to the post office or drop it in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox. Also, consider paying bills electronically; a lot of financial institutions now offer this option.
  8. Opt out of pre-approved credit card offers by calling (888) 5OPTOUT, or (888) 567-8688. Your request covers all three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax).
  9. When you order new checks, do not have them sent to your residence. Pick them up at the bank instead. Or, have them delivered to you by registered mail -- so you have to sign for them personally.
  10. Call your credit card company if your card has expired and you have not yet received a replacement.

These are just a few of the safeguards outlined in
"Johnny May's Guide to Preventing Identity Theft"

But what if you are already a victim?