Identity theft is one of the fasting growing crimes in America today. Armed with something as simple as a Social Security number or a birth date, criminals can make a living out of opening credit card accounts, applying for jobs and even renting apartments in the names of innocent, unsuspecting consumers. And, most of the time, you won't even know your identity has been stolen until hundreds or even thousands of dollars of debt are racked up in your name.
If you think that your identity has been compromised, check out our article on Reporting Identity Theft or Fraud, and contact Texans at 972.348.2000 or 800.843.5295.
Tips for Preventing Identity Theft
Don’t leave outgoing mail or bills in your home/apartment mailbox. Drop them at the post office.
Don’t leave mail in your mailbox overnight. Credit card applications mailed to you with your personal information already filled in can easily be used by thieves to open accounts in your name.
When you order checks, have them mailed to your financial institution instead of your residence so they can’t be stolen out of your mailbox.
Use a gel ink pen to write personal checks. It prevents thieves from "washing" your checks and cashing them in their own name.
Buy a paper shredder, and use it for any personal information that you are throwing away. Anything with your name, credit card number or other identifying factor can be stolen by thieves rummaging through your outside trash.
Don’t release personal information unless absolutely necessary, especially your Social Security number.
Obtain a copy of your credit report at least once each year for monitoring.