Database Theft and Hacking Keep your personal financial information off corporate marketing and billing databases as much as possible to reduce the chance that your information will be hacked or stolen. To be removed from many mailing lists for up to five years, sign up online at The Direct Marketing Association Website, http://www.the-dma.org, or write to:
Direct Marketing Association
Mail Preference Service
P. O. Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512
Limit the number of pre-approved credit offers you receive by removing your name from the marketing lists of the three credit reporting bureaus. Call (888) 5-OPT-OUT or (888) 567-8688.
If any of your credit card issuers send random-issue convenience checks, request in writing to be removed from that mailing list. Ask your bank about its privacy and information policies. Find out under what circumstances your bank may provide your account information to a third party. Request that you be notified in advance and ask if it is possible to opt out of this practice.
Social Security Information
Do not carry your Social Security card with you unless you need it for a job application. Release your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary or when required by law. Ask the requestor if another identification number can be used instead. Never print your Social Security number on your checks. If your workplace displays your Social Security number on a timecard or other place open to public view, ask to have this procedure changed. If you are over age 25, you should receive a Social Security statement by mail each year. Check your statement thoroughly and report any inaccuracies to the Social Security Administration. You can order a copy of your statement by calling (800) 772- 1213 or by accessing the Social Security Web site by clicking here.
Order a copy of your credit report at least once a year from each of the three credit bureaus listed in this brochure to check for inaccuracies or fraudulent use of accounts. Even if you have not been the victim of identity theft, consider asking the credit bureaus to place a security alert on your account as a protective measure. This alert instructs creditors to call you personally to verify applicant information. While this will mean that you can no longer get instant credit, such as on-site approval for store charge cards, it will also stop others from getting credit in your name. Be sure to ask how long the alert will be in effect and how to extend it if necessary.
Credit / ATM / Debit Cards
Reduce the number of credit cards you use and only carry the cards that you intend to use. Use credit cards that have your photo on them. This makes it more difficult for an imposter to use stolen cards at a store. If you receive an offer for a pre-approved credit card or loan but aren't interested, shred the application form before throwing it away.
Bank Accounts and Billing Statements
Check your bank account and credit billing statements carefully each month for unauthorized activity. If you receive a credit card in the mail that you did not request, call the issuer to find out why it was sent to you. If it was requested by someone else in your name, cancel it immediately. When creating a password for an ATM card, long distance account, credit card, or other form of credit, do not use common numbers such as your birth date or the last four digits of your Social Security number. Avoid using names, such as your mother's maiden name or your birthplace, that are likely to appear in public records accessible to thieves.
Computer and Internet Security