movies portray identity theft as a comical occurrence. However, in reality being
a victim of identity theft can have large financial consequences. It is extremely
important to try to deter identity theft from happening, quickly spot it if it
has happened, and take the appropriate steps to defend yourself. The Better
Business Bureau serving Northern Indiana (BBB) offers tips on how
to respond in the case that identity theft has taken place.
thieves are relentless in their pursuit of private information,” said Michael Coil, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Northern Indiana and .
“It is very important to be aware of all the different ways to defend yourself
and to keep your identity safe. It is always easier to avoid a problem rather
than fix it once it occurs.”
offers the following tips to keep your identity secure:
only the cards you need at the time. Minimize the identification
information and the number of cards you carry in your wallet or purse. Do not
carry your Social Security card unless you need it.
- Cut up old or expired
credit cards. Be aware of inactive credit card and bank
accounts. Check them periodically for suspicious activity.
- Choose your PIN wisely. For
your ATM card, choose a Personal Identification Number (PIN) different
from your address, telephone number, middle name, the last four digits of
your Social Security number, your birth date or any other information that
could be easily discovered by thieves.
- Social Security
Number (SSN): Be careful about sharing your SSN. Ask why your number is
needed, how it will be used and what will happen if you refuse. Do not
carry your Social Security card with you on a daily basis. Leave it at
home in a secure location.
- Mailbox: Place outgoing mail in a secure mailbox. If
you do not have a locked mailbox, pick up incoming mail as soon as
- Storage: Never store your
private documents in unsecured locations, such as your car or office. At home, invest in a
fireproof lock box or safe to store important documents.
- Shred Documents: Avoid storing
documents that contain personal information you no longer need including: credit
card applications, insurance forms, financial statements, health forms,
and other billing statements. Shred all unnecessary documents that contain personal
information; garbage cans are goldmines for identity thieves.
- Receipts and Bank
Statements: Monitor bank and credit card statements for fraudulent
activity. Know what dates your bills arrive. Late or missing bills can
indicate your information has been compromised.
- Credit Report: Check your credit report
annually. Under the Fair & Accurate Credit Transaction Act, consumers
are entitled to a free annual credit report. The only authorized source is
Visit BBB’s website for more consumer tips at www.bbb.org
As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose
of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help
resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and
arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and
charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reviews on businesses and
nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity
before making a purchase or donation.