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Be Proactive

Here’s steps you can take to protect yourself from identity thieves. 

1. Obtain a copy of your credit report at least annually.  Credit reports contain information about you, including what accounts you have and your bill paying history.  The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) was established in 2005 to help reduce identity theft.  This law requires the three major nationwide consumer-reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion -  to give you a free copy of your credit report every 12 months if you ask for it. 

Website               www. annualcreditreport.com
Phone                  1-877-322-8228
Mail                       Print this form (pdf) and mail to:
                              Annual Credit Report Request Service
                              P.O. Box  105281
                              Atlanta, GA  30348-5281 

2. Opt-out of pre-approved credit card offers.  Take your name off mailing lists, telemarketing lists, and email lists.  You can contact 888-567-8688 or Click Here to opt-out of prescreened solicitation lists from all three nationwide credit reporting agencies.  Or contact each of the three national credit bureaus directly:

PO Box 740123
Atlanta, GA  30374-0123

701 Experian Pkwy 
PO Box 919
Allen, TX  75013
PO Box 97328
Jackson, MS  39288-7328

3. Place your residential phone numbers on the “National Do Not Call” registry by calling 888-382-1222 or Click Here. This free service is provided by the Federal Trade Commission and accepts both cell and home phone numbers.  You must call from the phone number you are registering.  If you have registered your number and you’re still receiving calls or Click Here to file a complaint.

4. Reduce direct mail solicitation by listing addresses with:            
                Direct Marketing Association
                Mail Preference Service
                PO Box 643
                Carmel, NY  15012-0643
                Click Here for residential addresses
                Click Here for email addresses

5. Review financial statements routinely and report any errors immediately.  Be alert to signs that require immediate attention: bills that do not arrive as expected, unexpected credit cards or account statements, unusual transactions appearing on financial statements, denials of credit for no apparent reason and calls or letters about purchases you did not make. 

6. Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails; instead, type in a web address you know.  Use firewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software to protect your home computer and keep them up-to-date. 

7. Don’t use an obvious password like your birth date, your mother’s maiden name, consecutive numbers, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. 

8. Pay attention to your mail.  Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery.  Know billing cycles and when to expect payments.  Drop outgoing mail in postal collection boxes.  Ask the U. S. Postal Service for vacation hold when you’re away.  Take advantage of home banking services like online banking and online bill pay.  By using these services, you can avoid sensitive information left in your mailbox.

9. Photocopy the important contents of your wallet or purse.  Having the account numbers and corresponding phone numbers handy make it easier to contact the companies right away.  Keep the photocopy in an easy to find, safe place.