social-security-cardTheft and unauthorized use of your personal information can destroy your credit and ruin your reputation. Here are some tips to help safeguard your identity:

  1. Shred financial documents and mailings with personal information before tossing them in your garbage. The garbage is a great source of information for identity thieves.
  2. Protect your social security number. If you are carrying your social security card around with you in your wallet, take it out and store it in a safe place. Don’t give out your social security number unless absolutely necessary and do not list it on your checks. If you are asked for your social security number, determine if it is really necessary. In recent years, many organizations and agencies have begun using alternate and safer ways to keep track of accounts.
  3. Don’t give out any personal information over the phone, through the mail, or on the internet, unless you know, for certain, who you are dealing with.
  4. Store your personal information at home in a secure location. This is especially important if you have roommates, guests, or contractors working in your home.
  5. If you do not receive bills when expected, make some phone calls to make sure your mail is not going elsewhere.
  6. If you receive unexpected credit card charges or statements, get to the bottom of them immediately.
  7. If you receive calls or letters about purchases you did not make, make inquiries promptly to protect yourself.
  8. Inspect your credit report on a regular basis, at least annually. You can visit www.annualcreditreport.com for a free copy of your credit report. Look for any discrepancies.
  9. Review all your financial and bank account statements carefully.
  10. Place a “Fraud Alert” on your credit reports if you feel your identity has been stolen. You can place a 90-day alert on your credit by calling one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies.
  11. Close accounts that have been infiltrated or tampered with.
  12. Contact local law enforcement if you have reason to believe your identity has been stolen.
  13. Report identity theft to the US Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-438-4338.
  14. If you think your identity has been compromised or stolen, contact your financial professional as soon as possible for further assistance.

Conveniently located in Central New York state, Ann Wolfson Associates is a financial planning and consulting firm dedicated to helping individuals, families and organizations reach their financial goals. If you have questions about this article or if you would like to become a client of Ann Wolfson Associates, please call (315)449-4730.