On February 21, CyberScout fraud specialists Mark Fullbright, Vicki Volkert and Raul Vargas tackled phone questions about identity theft during an on-air special on Arizona's KNXV ABC 15. To watch the video and read the full article, please visit the ABC15 website.
Concerned about identity theft? Follow these tips to reduce your risk:
Protect your Social Security number (SSN)
- Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet.
- Avoid carrying cards with your SSN, particularly health insurance cards, unless you need them to receive care.
- Request that your driver's license number is not the same as your Social Security number.
- Never give out your SSN, credit card number, or other personal information over the phone unless you have a trusted business relationship with the organization and initiated the call using a verified phone number.
- Avoid including your SSN on job applications.
- Provide your SSN only when absolutely necessary—for tax forms, employment, student records, stock, and property transactions, etc.
- If your financial institution attempts to use your SSN as an account number, ask them to change it immediately.
- If a government agency requests your SSN, look for a Privacy Act notice. This will state whether a SSN is required, how it will be used, how it is protected, and what happens if you don't provide it.
Protect what's in your wallet, pocket, or purse
- Never leave your wallet or purse in your car, not even in the trunk.
- Whenever possible, avoid carrying these items with you: birth certificate; passport; military identification card; driver's license or insurance card with SSN on it; banking information (PINs, logins, passwords, or account numbers); paychecks; pay stubs; and deposit slips.
Protect your mail
- Use either a secure locking mailbox or a post office box.
- Never place outbound mail (at home or work) in an open, unlocked mailbox.
- Never leave mail in your car.
- Investigate immediately if expected statements or bills from your financial institutions do not arrive on time.
- Be especially vigilant during January and April when tax documents are sent out—they're favorite targets for identity thieves.
- During extended absences, have mail held at the post office.
- Never simply discard "pre-approved" credit offers you received in the mail. Always shred them.