How to Avoid Identity Theft

12-15-2020Debt & Credit

You probably already know these things, but it is always a good reminder to remember the following items to minimize the risk of your identity being stolen.  The time and money you will spend in recovery is expensive – and potentially avoidable.

  • Passwords - Using passwords that include a mix of letters, numbers and special characters makes it harder for identity thieves to crack these codes. Consider a phrase instead of a password and intertwine numbers and/or characters (e.g. Lov3MyK!d5).  Another trick is to use three unrelated words (e.g. LatteSleepFrog).
  • Social Security Number - If possible, make sure your bank does not print your Social Security Number or phone on your personal checks. If you have a small business, create a limited liability company with a unique Tax Identification Number.
  • Important documents - Not carrying extra credit cards, your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport with you outside your house can help you minimize your risk of identity theft.
  • Shredder - Shred your receipts, credit card offers, bank statements, returned checks and any other sensitive information before throwing it away.
  • Think - Identity thieves may call, sometimes posing as bank or government agency officials. Do not give out personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
  • Bank Check - When ordering new checks, pick them up at the bank instead of having them sent to your home. This makes it harder for your checks to be stolen, altered, and cashed by identity thieves.
  • Ask – Ask your employer, landlord and anyone else with access to your personal data how they keep your records safe and encrypted.
  • Free Credit Report - Under federal law you are entitled to a copy of your credit report annually from all three credit reporting agencies - the Experian® bureau, Equifax® and TransUnion® - once every 12 months. Every consumer should check their credit reports from each of the 3 bureaus annually. You may contact the Central Source by visiting When you order, you will need to provide your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. To verify your identity, you may need to provide some information on your credit report, such as the amount of your monthly mortgage payment.