HOWTO: Avoid ID Theft

According a Gallup poll 19% of consumers report having their financial information stolen including a bank or credit card number.

70% of consumers say they would do something to prevent ID theft if they knew what to do. Here’s what:

Don’t have 10,000 credit cards. Have a few, and monitor their activity.

Make sure employees swipe your card at the register, and that they only swipe it once.

Don’t give your credit card information, SSN, or bank account info to anyone who calls you. It’s easy to call someone and say, “Hi, this is People’s Gas. We’re calling to update your account information. First, can you verify your SSN for security purposes?” Then, you, dumbass, tell a total stranger your SSN. You’re so awesome. If it’s really People’s Gas, call them back.

Take your receipts with you. Shred them. Shred everything, actually.

More tips here.

If these don’t work and you still get in trouble, check out the FTC’s site on dealing with ID theft. And our article HOW TO: Get Through Having Your Identity Stolen.


Edit Your Comment

  1. phrygian says:

    I shred almost every receipt and piece of junkmail that comes into the house. Then, I dump it into my compost bin or use it instead of hay/mulch around my vegetable garden. That way, papers with my personal information never leave my property and I still get to recycle it.

  2. FinanceTravels says:

    All good suggestions. My problem though is the Megalo Marts pushing their “Shred 15-million way papers into confetti shredders” for $40+. I have used a simple strip shredder for a few years now and have no intention of buying a new one. I really can’t imagine someone sitting there and reconstructing my strips of paper into readable pages. I also burn a majority of the paper after I shred it

  3. ajn007 says:

    Aren’t the inks and acids bad for your soil?

  4. Trai_Dep says:

    Anyone knowledgable about holding or freezing your credit report? Something along the lines of notifying the big 3 credit-istas that no one can run your credit report w/o your calling (from home?) first?

    Disadvantage (so to speak) is that you won’t be able to get those on-the-spot credit cards.

    Advantage is (this is where I’m fuzzy) no one can issue a credit card in your name unless you call the credit agency first? Seems fairly iron-clad, if so.

    Balanced against how many times do you REALLY need an on-the-spot card issued a year, it seems a good tradeoff.

    I’m sure this is an alternative that the credit industry is loathe to discuss objectively.

    I’m at work, so can’t research, but it was stuck in my brain for some reason.

    Pros/Cons of this, anyone?

  5. Fledermaus says:

    Consumers should have the option of choosing to be on a national list where a photo ID and an in-person meeting is required before the consumer can recieve loans, credit cards, new bank accounts or do anything else that crooks can do remotely with your stolen identity.

    I would glady give up the convience of instant credit for the security of this system.

    It could be called the “Do Not Credit List”

    Similiar to the comment before this, only more secure and time consuming.

  6. thrillhouse says:

    I’m not so sure about actually “freezing” your credit report. but here’s two things you can do:

    1> Pre-screen Opt-out. This is why you get offers for credit cards, “free” vacations, and all kinds of other junk mail. These companies are pre-screening your credit report, then sending the junk. Everyone is opted-in by default. You have to opt-out to stop it. I’m pretty sure this requires a letter to be mailed to them. in any event, I would mail it to them with return receipt requested so that you have proof that they got it. Get the feeling that this whole thing is not set up to benefit you?

    2> Put a Fraud Victim Alert on all three bureaus. I think you may actually need to be a victim to do it, but this does basically what has been described above. Once again, the default choice is not the best one for the consumer. See here

  7. AmyCU says:

    “Anyone knowledgable about holding or freezing your credit report?”

    Placing a security freeze on your consumer credit reporting files makes it hard for thieves and scammers to use your information to open new accounts, like new credit cards in your name.

    A security freeze is a powerful identity theft prevention tool for individuals. While a fraud alert on your files is just a red flag; a security freeze locks them — it stops the opening of false new accounts which require a credit check unless the consumer has expressly authorized a potential creditor to check the consumer’s credit report or credit score. Without a credit report or credit score a business usually will not open a new account. As of today, 34 states and the District of Columbia have enacted security freeze laws. Check Consumer Union’s list to see if your state is one of them and on how to place a security freeze.

    A Project of Consumers Union