Preventing Identity Theft
Here are some tips to help prevent becoming an identity theft victim.
- Never leave your financial information in your car. Car prowl is a prime source for identity theft.
- Have your mail delivered to a secure location.
- Don't put bill payments in an unlocked mailbox for pickup.
- Carefully review your account statements.
- Don't give out your personal information over the telephone unless you initiated the phone call.
- Never use a debit card or a check if you are shopping online.
- Shred your financial garbage.
- Obtain and review your credit reports regularly.
- If using your debit card, use your hand to shield your PIN from view.
Even if you have taken all the above steps, you may still become a victim. If you learn that someone has obtained your financial information, take the following steps as soon as possible. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Review your credit reports to see if new accounts have been opened. A fraud alert will help prevent a thief from opening new accounts. Credit reporting agencies can be reached at www.equifax.com; www.experian.com or www.transunion.com.
- Make a police report with the police agency where you live. Washington law allows an identity theft victim to make a report in their hometown, regardless of where the crime occurred.
- Close any accounts that have been compromised or you think have been compromised.
- Make a report to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov or you can call 1-877-ID-THEFT.
- Continue to review your credit reports for any unauthorized activity.