- 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.
- 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.
- Place garbage out on the morning of pickup rather than the
night before. This gives dumpster divers less opportunity to
go through your garbage.
- Consider listing only your name and phone number in the
telephone book, or get an unlisted and unpublished number.
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.
- 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. Reputation.com offers automated software to monitor your name online. To see an example of Reputation.com in action click here.
- Install a residential mailbox with a locking mechanism
purchase a door with a mail slot.
- 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
- 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).
- 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
- Call your credit card company if your card has expired
you have not yet received a replacement.
These are just a few of the safeguards outlined
"Johnny May's Guide to
Preventing Identity Theft"
But what if you are already a victim?