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Ways to Prevent Offline Identity Theft and Fraud

Posted on Wednesday, August 2, 2023
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by Outside Contributor
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By: Travelers

Identity Theft

While much of the news coverage about identity theft is centered around online fraud, it frequently happens offline as well.

In fact, many identity (ID) fraud cases happen when a person’s purse or wallet has been lost or stolen. Thieves can use the information they find inside for ID fraud, so use these tips to help protect yourself and your ID.

 

Protect Your Purse or Wallet

Many people store sensitive personal information in purses and wallets, which makes it easier for thieves to commit ID fraud. Help secure your ID by keeping purses and wallets in a safe place and carrying only what’s essential when you go out. Leave credit cards in a secure place at home if you don’t plan to use them while you’re away.

Unless absolutely necessary, don’t carry your Social Security cards, birth certificates or passports. These documents contain key pieces of personal information thieves could use to steal your ID.

 

Safeguard Social Security Numbers

Social Security numbers are often used to open fraudulent accounts or to access financial information or assets. Don’t have your Social Security number printed on your checks or allow merchants to write it on them.

If a business requests your Social Security number, ask them why. If it’s not a valid reason, don’t provide the information they request. Also, never give confidential information to an unsolicited phone caller who says they represent a financial institution or creditor. Instead, get the caller’s name, location, phone number and reason for the call. Then call the phone number on your billing statements to verify the caller’s ID.

 

Keep an Eye on Your Mail

Whether you’re sending or receiving mail, take steps to help keep it safe from prying eyes. Never put outgoing checks, bill payments or financial information in your unlocked home mailbox. When sending sensitive documents, send them from the post office or consider using a secure postal mailbox.

If you receive credit card statements by mail, be aware of when they’re scheduled to arrive. If they’re late, call the credit card company to confirm if the statement was sent. Also, make sure to shred old bills, statements or other unnecessary financial records containing personal information. To cut down on physical copies of sensitive financial data, consider requesting or signing up to receive electronic versions.

 

Closely Monitor Your Credit

On a regular basis, monitor your bank statements or credit reports and take these preventive measures:

  • Create a list of your credit card and bank account information, then store it in a secure place such as a password-protected flash drive or fireproof safe. On the list, include account numbers, expiration dates, credit limits, phone numbers or emails of the customer service and fraud departments. If your card is missing or stolen, you’ll then be able to quickly notify your credit card provider to prevent fraudulent charges.

 

  • Review your credit report and notify the credit bureaus of any mistakes. The U.S. Government Fair Credit Reporting Act gives consumers the right to receive one free copy of their credit report once every 12 months from each of the three main credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). However, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, you can order one report from a different bureau weekly (through December 2023) to see credit activity.

 

Offline ID theft can happen to anyone. However, by incorporating these tips into your daily life, you can help lessen the chances of being a target for fraudsters.

This content is brought to you by Travelers. AMAC members receive special discounts on auto, home, and renters insurance from Travelers.

Check out this special offer for AMAC members from Travelers or call 866-675-9167 to discover how much you can save.

*Average savings is based on new AMAC auto policyholders countrywide who reported savings to Travelers through the Affinity marketing distribution channel in 2021. Individual savings may vary. Savings are not guaranteed.

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John Bass
John Bass
11 months ago

Duh…let’s state the obvious.

Doc
Doc
11 months ago

And purchase identity theft insurance.

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