Keys to Protecting Your Identity - dummies

Keys to Protecting Your Identity

By Michael J. Arata, Jr.

Part of Identity Theft For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Protect your personal information to limit your exposure to identity theft. Identity thieves target certain types of personal information and have many clever ways to get it. Everyone needs to protect the following:

  • Social Security Number (SSN): Never carry your Social Security card with you unless it’s the first day on a new job. Don’t give your SSN to anyone but the government.

  • Your personal identification number (PIN): Protect your PIN number for your ATM card. Make up a PIN that only you will know and that no one can guess easily. You change your PIN at least every 90 days. Do not write it down and place it your wallet.

  • Date of birth (DOB): Your DOB and your SSN are two important pieces of information that are needed to steal your identity.

In addition, the following identity theft-prevention tips can help you keep your personal information secure:

  • Shred sensitive documents: Shred any documents that have personal information, bank accounts, credit card accounts, and so on before you discard them.

  • Opt out of preapproved credit card offers: By receiving preapproved credit applications in the mail, you increase your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft. You can opt out of preapproved credit card applications by calling the toll-free number, (888) 567-8688.

  • Don’t fall for job scams: The ID thief tricks you into giving her your personal information through a phony job offer ruse.