How to prevent identity theft.

Doing some simple things will greatly reduce the likelihood of someone stealing your identity.

Memorize all of your passwords. Don’t record them on anything in your purse or wallet.

How crooks get personal information:

Much of the time, the materials that an identity thief goes after are very easy to get a hold of. Each day you can expose private information to the public by using a computer, throwing away documents, or just talking to a friend or coworker. Here are some of the ways that you may be putting your identity’s security at risk.

  • You don’t shred your confidential papers and they find them in the trash.
  • Your mail is left in an unlocked box and someone steals it.
  • They buy the information either on the internet or from someone who stole it.
  • A crook steals it from a loan or credit application you filled out somewhere that wasn’t shredded.
  • They get it from your computer, especially when it doesn’t have a firewall.
  • You don’t secure your computer and a friend, relative or coworker gains access.

Making your identity more secure:

Luckily there are some simple things you can do to significantly decrease the chance that any of this will happen. Be aware of the threats to your identity’s security, and use caution with your personal information.

  • Protect your Social Security Number. It is the key to your credit and banking accounts. Release it only when absolutely necessary.
  • Regularly check your credit report for unauthorized accounts.
  • Reduce your number of credit cards and carry only one or two of them at a time.
  • Take your credit card receipts with you and do not throw them away in public trash cans.
  • Make your passwords difficult to guess and memorize them.
  • Cancel any of your unused accounts. Even though you do not use them, they still appear in your credit report which thieves can find and steal.

What to do if your identity is stolen.

Sometimes doing everything you can think of to protect your identity will not work. If you find yourself in this situation, make sure you take the following steps:

  • Keep a log of all your contacts & make copies of all documents.
  • Contact all creditors, by phone and in writing, to inform them of the problem.
  • Request a copy of your credit report.
  • Contact the DMV to see if another license was issued in your name.

What’s being done:

The California Legislature has taken action to prevent identity theft by passing laws that punish the criminals and help victims clear their names. Here are some of the measures taken:

  • The Office of Privacy Protection was created.
  • Identity theft victims have the right to receive copies of fraudulent materials.
  • Consumers can have their names removed from credit card solicitations.

Important Resources: