The National Foundation for Credit Counseling has declared October 20 â€“ 27 Protect Your Identity Week in the United States in an effort to raise awareness around identity theft and help residents protect their identities from being stolen.
Last year in Eden Prairie there were 197 cases of identity theft, up from 168 in 2010. Pauline Sager, who investigates most of the identity theft crimes in Eden Prairie, offers the following tips to help prevent becoming an identity theft victim:
- Remove mail from your mailbox promptly.
- Send outgoing mail through post office collection boxes or at the local post office.
- Do not have your bank send new checks to your home address. Tell the bank that you prefer to pick them up.
- Check credit card receipts against monthly bills.
- Shred credit card applications, receipts, bills and other financial information before discarding.
- Don’t carry your Social Security card or birth certificate with you â€“ leave them in a secure location.
- Keep a list of all your credit card accounts and bank accounts in a secure place so you can quickly call the issuers to inform them about missing or stolen cards.
- Limit the number of credit cards you have and cancel any inactive accounts.
- Never give any credit card, bank or Social Security information to anyone by telephone, even if you made the call, unless you can positively verify that the call is legitimate.
- Avoid using easily available information for passwords such as mother’s maiden name or family member birthdates.
- Beware of “phishing” scams. Scam artists “phish” for victims by pretending to be banks, stores, or government agencies. They do this over the phone, in emails and in the U.S. mail. Don’t give out your personal information. Don’t respond to a request to verify your account number or password. Legitimate companies do not request this kind of information in this way.