What Can You Do About Identity Theft?
Protect Yourself from Becoming a Victim
In order to keep from becoming a victim, you should do the following:
- Review your financial and account statements promptly and carefully.
- Review your credit report regularly. You have the right to obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the three national credit reporting companies each year. Requesting your free copy from one company every four months allows you to closely monitory your credit report.
- Password protect your accounts.
- Secure your personal information inside your home.
- Secure your personal information in cyberspace. Do not post information such as your date of birth, social security number, pet's name or high school name on public social networking sites. This information can easily be used by identity thieves to verify your identity.
- Ask about information security procedures at work and other institutions that collect your information.
- Be cautious about who you give your information to. Verify that the person you are speaking with is affiliated with the business, whether on the phone or online.
- Put mail in postal collection boxes or drop it off at the local post office instead of leaving it in your mailbox at home. Remove incoming mail from your mailbox promptly and consider using a locked mailbox..
- Shred credit card receipts, bank statements, and other items bearing your personal information before disposing them.
- Safely dispose of other items containing your personal information, such as computers and mobile devices. If possible, wipe these devices of all data prior to disposing of them.
- Only provide your Social Security Number when absolutely necessary.
- Be aware of your surroundings when using ATMs. Only use bank ATMs; avoid the stand-alone machines.
- Consider opting out of receiving prescreened mail offers for credit and insurance.
You can opt out by calling 888-567-8688 or visiting the OptOutPrescreen website. You can choose to opt out for a five-year period or permanently. If you choose to opt out, you can subsequently opt in to resume receiving pre-screened mail offers. This service is offered and operated by the three nationwide credit reporting companies.
What to Do if You've Been a Victim of Identity Theft
- File a report with your local police department. (In New Jersey, your local police department is required to take your complaint and provide you with a copy of the report. NJSA 2C:21-17.6)
- Place a security freeze on your credit report with all three credit reporting agencies. NJSA 56:11-46, et. seq. A security freeze will prevent your credit report from being accessed by most potential creditors. For more information on placing a security freeze on your credit reports, and the consequences of the freeze, please visit the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance "Security Freeze" page.
- Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission.
- View additional resources for responding to identity theft.