SUMMARY: Learn how to prevent and protect yourself from identity theft.
These days, more than ever, identity thieves are on the prowl and ready to attack. They're looking to steal your personal information so they can apply for credit in your name, file taxes or get medical services. These acts can damage your credit status and cost you time and money to restore your good name.
But there are ways to protect yourself – and we’ve got valuable information to help keep your identity safe:
- Put your Social Security card in a safe place you'll remember. Never carry it in your wallet. Only provide it when required, and make sure that you can verify the authenticity of any business asking for it.
- Check your statements – and if one is ever late, contact the lender immediately to go over recent transactions, which can help you determine whether your statement has been stolen.
- Enable multi-factor authentication, which requires multiple steps to verify your identity when logging into financial accounts. Also, make sure your passwords are unique, long and strong. (Remember, don't use "password"!)
- Destroy old paperwork with account numbers or other personally-identifying information. Even better, opt for paperless statements and eDocuments, which offer greater security.
- Review your credit reports from each of the three main credit reporting bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – annually for free. You can get started at AnnualCreditReport.com. Freeze your credit files with each credit bureau for free to prevent anyone from opening a new credit account in your name.
And, if you’re ever the victim of identity theft, be sure to report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission at IdentityTheft.gov.
For more tips on staying safe online, visit our Online Fraud Center.