Avoiding Identity Theft

Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft

Guard your financial information.

Only disclose your credit card or bank account number when you"re paying for something with it.

Keep your Social Security number confidential.

Don't give it to anyone unless you're sure who it is and why they need it. Ask your college administrator, health insurer, the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety and others who may use this as your ID number to give you a substitute number.

Beware of imposters.

Be especially suspicious if you get a call or e-mail from someone claiming to be from a company you do business with, asking for information they should already have on file. (In its most common form, this ruse is known as "phishing.") Contact the company directly to confirm the validity of the message.

Keep your mail safe.

Collect it promptly from your mailbox and ask the Post Office to hold it while you"re away. Send bill payments from the Post Office or a public mailbox.

Lock it up.

Keep your personal information locked up at home, at work, at school and elsewhere so that no one else will have easy access to it. Don't leave PIN numbers or passwords in your wallet or on your desk; memorize them.

Stay safe online.

Install a firewall on your laptop or computer. Don't send sensitive information such as credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or bank account information by e-mail, since it's not secure. When you're asked to provide financial or other sensitive information on websites, the letters at the beginning of the address bar should change from "http" to "https" or "shttp," indicating that your information is being encrypted, or scrambled, to transmit it safely.

Check your credit reports regularly.

If you find accounts that don't belong to you or other incorrect information, contact the credit reporting agencies to dispute those charges. Federal law entitles you to one free copy of your credit reports each year from each of the three credit reporting agencies. You can request them through a single central source at AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 877-322-8228. In addition, all Georgia consumers are eligible to receive two additional copies of each credit report per year at no charge. To receive these additional copies, you must contact the credit reporting agencies directly. Please note that because of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the three credit reporting agencies are offering free weekly credit reports through December 31, 2022.