How to Protect Yourself Offline
You can reduce your chances of falling victim to fraud and identity theft with the help of these everyday safety tips:
Secure your personal information
Only carry the identification you need on a daily basis in your wallet, purse, or briefcase. Don’t carry your Social Security card with you. It’s a good idea to make copies of all of the information that you carry (credit cards, driver's license and insurance cards) and keep the copies in a secure place such as a safe, locked drawer, or safe deposit box. If they are stolen or you lose them, you’ll have a record of who to call.
Protect your Social Security number
Be cautious when asked for your Social Security number. Always verify the reason it is required. Never write your Social Security number on your checks. Keep documents that contain your Social Security number in a secure place such as a locked drawer.
Receive account statements online
Sign up for online statements (when available) to reduce your chances of having your identity stolen through the mail. If a company doesn’t offer online statements, make sure you review all of your banking, credit card, and auto account paper statements regularly. Reviewing your transactions is the easiest way to catch unknown activity.
Take advantage of direct deposit
Use direct deposit to have paychecks and other recurring deposits placed directly into your accounts. This reduces the risk of a criminal obtaining your account number from a paper check.
Have monthly payments made automatically
For example, when you enroll in Ally’s Auto Pay – which allows your monthly auto payment to be withdrawn automatically from your checking or savings account – you can help combat identity theft by removing another paper source of your private information.
Manage your mail carefully
Always shred documents that contain personal information instead of placing them in your trashcan or recycling bin. This includes pre-approved credit card offers. Criminals look for personal information in trashcans and use it to access your accounts or open new accounts using your identity. As an extra precaution, you can opt out of receiving pre-approved credit offers by calling the Federal Trade Commissions’ dedicated number 888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or visiting http://www.ftc.gov/privacy/.
Check your checks
Store blank and cancelled checks securely. Report lost or stolen checks immediately. Use your checks in order and look for check numbers out of order on your statements. A check number out of order could indicate fraud. Use online bill payment or electronic funds transfers instead of writing checks to reduce check fraud.
Keep an eye on your credit
Check your credit report annually. As a consumer you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three reporting agencies once a year. Request these reports at www.annualcreditreport.com.
Protect your credit and debit card and PIN
Always keep your credit and debit cards in a safe place. If your card is lost or stolen, contact the issuing company immediately. Memorize your PIN code. Do not write it down or share it with anyone including bank employees or police agencies.
Use caution at the ATM
Be aware of your surroundings at the ATM. Make sure others cannot see the keypad while you’re entering your PIN. If you do print a receipt, take it with you and keep it in safe place. The receipt may contain information about your account balance and a partial account number, which may be used for fraud. When you’re done with your receipts, shred them.