Eight ways to protect yourself from identity theft

August 16, 2019

We share personal and financial information about ourselves every day that can make us vulnerable to identity theft. Take steps to avoid becoming a victim.

Many common, every day transactions can put us at risk for identity theft and fraud, often without our realizing it. For example, when you shop online, rent a car, or book a hotel room, you are required to share your name, address, and phone number, along with a credit card number.

By gaining access to your personal information, a criminal can use your identity to open a bank account with a line of credit, rent an apartment, buy a car, or get a loan. He or she may even commit a crime and give your name to the police.

What you can do to protect yourself

The good news is there are steps you can take to protect yourself from being victimized. Here are eight ways to guard against fraud and identity theft:

  1. Never carry your Social Security card in your wallet and only give out your Social Security number when absolutely necessary. If a business refuses to use another identifier to complete a transaction, consider going elsewhere.
  2. Carry only the credit and debit cards that you need. Store others in a secure location.
  3. Review your monthly credit card statements and order your credit report every year, to make sure there has been no activity that isn’t yours.
  4. Cancel all inactive credit and debit cards. Even if you don’t use them, the accounts appear on your credit report, which in turn can be used by thieves.
  5. Pay attention to your billing cycles. A missing credit card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your account and changed the billing information.
  6. Use different passwords for different websites, and change them regularly.
  7. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to any unexpected request, whether it’s made by phone, email, or text, even if the sender claims to be a government agency.
  8. Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers can fake caller ID information so what you see may not be real. If you receive a call asking for money or personal information, hang up.

If you are victimized

Read Prevent ID theft: Avoid financial scams, then log on to the Call to Health* website and complete the How to Avoid Being Taken by a Phone Scam challenge to earn 20 Call to Health points. Don’t be embarrassed. If you’ve been scammed or your personal information is stolen, file a report with your local police department right away. Certain types of scams and fraud may also be reported to the appropriate federal enforcement agencies. You may also contact your state consumer protection office.

If you have medical coverage* through the Board of Pensions, you can consult with a fraud resolution specialist using the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), at no cost to you. The specialist can guide you in reporting the crime and help you with a recovery plan. To access the EAP, call 866-640-2772, or log into the EAP website.

*The EAP and Call to Health are not available to members enrolled in Triple-S, GeoBlue, or the Medicare Supplement Plan.