Identity Theft: Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft
Provided by Visa, Content Partner for the SME Toolkit
When your private financial information gets into the wrong hands, the consequences can be devastating. But there are some simple steps you can take to reduce or minimize the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.
Practice Safe Internet Use
Delete spam emails that ask for personal information, and keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware software up-to-date. Shop online only with secure web pages (check the bottom of your browser for an image of a lock or look for “https” in the address bar). Never send credit card numbers and other personal information via email.
Destroy Private Records
Tear up or shred credit card statements; ATM, credit, or debit card receipts; bank deposit receipts; loan solicitations; and other documents that contain private financial information.
Secure Your Mail
Empty your mailbox quickly and get a mailbox lock. When mailing bill payments and checks, consider dropping them off at the post office or a secure mailbox.
Check Your Credit Report
At least once a year, obtain and review your credit report for suspicious activity.
Beware of Scams
Always be on the defensive with your private information. Never give out personal information to telemarketers or respond to emails from someone claiming to represent your bank, credit card company, a government agency, a charity, or other organization. If you think the request is legitimate, contact the company directly to confirm their claims.
If you think identity theft happened, please contact:
- BANKS AND CREDIT CARD ISSUERS. Report the theft to your credit card issuers and request replacement cards with new account numbers. Ask your bank to close affected accounts and obtain new account numbers there as well. If you have checks stolen, you can also ask your bank to stop payment on any checks about which you are unsure.
- CREDIT BUREAUS. Immediately contact the fraud departments of all credit bureaus. Alert them that you are a victim of identity theft, and request that a fraud alert be placed in your file. You can also request a security freeze, preventing credit issuers from obtaining access to your credit files without your permission. This prevents thieves from opening up new credit cards or other loans.
- LAW enforcercercement. Report identity theft to your local police department. If the crime occurred somewhere other than where you live, you may wish to report it to law enforcement there as well. The police will create an "identity theft report" and give you a copy.
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