Avoiding Identity Theft

Author Frank W. Abagnale offers these tips for avoiding identity theft in his book, The Art of the Steal

Monitor your credit report
. It contains your Social Security number, present and prior employers, a listing of all your accounts including those that have been closed.

Be very careful with your Social Security number. You can request that your Social Security number be truncated or completely obliterated on any credit applications.

Do not print your Social Security number on your checks

Remove your name from the marketing list of the three credit reporting bureaus to reduce the number of pre-approved credit offers you receive.

Cancel unused credit card accounts.

Photocopy both sides of your wallet’s critical information: Social Security card, credit cards and driver’s license. If you lose your purse or wallet, file a police report in the local jurisdiction. Call the credit card companies, credit rating companies and Social Security Administration (800-269-0271) to put a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number

Shred old checks, credit cards and other financial records. Also shred junk-mail solicitations you receive for credit.

Reconcile credit card and bank statements promptly and report questionable activity. Timely account reconciliation is an extremely important control to prevent embezzlement and detect check fraud