Question: How can I protect myself against identity theft?
Answer: First, don’t carry your Social Security card with you. Keep it secure at home with your other important papers. Second, don’t readily give out your Social Security number. While many banks, schools, doctors, landlords and others will request your number, it is your decision whether to provide it. Ask if there is some other way to identify you in their records.
If you are the victim of identity theft, you should report it right away. To report identity theft, fraud or misuse of your Social Security number, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (the nation’s consumer protection agency) recommends you:
- Place a fraud alert on your credit file by contacting one of the following companies (The company you contact is required to contact the other two, which will then place alerts on your reports.): Equifax, 1-800-525-6285, Trans Union, 1-800-680-7289, Experian, 1-888-397-3742
- Review your credit report for inquiries from companies you have not contacted, accounts you did not open and debts on your accounts you cannot explain.
- Close any accounts you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
- File a complaint with the FTC at 1-877-438-4338 (TTY 1-866-653-4261).
Source: Social Security Administration