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Protecting Your Identity and Information

  • Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information to commit fraud and other crimes. Read the helpful information below to learn how to better protect yourself.


    General Best Practices

    Prevention of identity theft and fraud begins by paying extra attention to the details of your daily routines.

    • Lock up your financial documents and records in a safe place at home  
    • Limit what you carry with you to only the identification, credit and debit cards you need. Leave your Social Security and Medicare cards at home or in a secure place 
    • Be careful with your mail and take outgoing mail to a post office collection box, promptly remove mail from your mailbox, and request a vacation hold on your mail from the post office when you’ll be away 
    • Consider opting out of pre-screened offers of credit and insurance by mail for five years by calling (888) 567-8688 or visiting www.optoutprescreen.com
    • Shred sensitive documents like receipts, credit offers, insurance forms, expired charge cards, and similar documents before putting them in your trash 
    • Protect your medical information and destroy prescription bottle labels before you throw them out 
    • Exercise your curiosity by asking your workplace, a business, your child’s school or a doctor’s office how your information will be handled and who will have access before you share it with them. 

    Identity Theft Awareness

    You should always remain aware of potential signs that your information has been stolen.  For example, you may be a victim of identity theft or fraud if:

    • You see unexplained withdrawals from your bank account (you can report suspicious account activity here)
    • Merchants refuse your checks
    • You don't get your bills or other mail as expected
    • Debt collectors call you about debts that aren't yours
    • You find unfamiliar accounts on your credit report
    • Medical providers bill you for services you didn't use
    • Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because records show you've reached your benefits limit
    • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name or you have income from an employer for which you haven't worked

    Your Credit Report

    Your credit report may show the first signs that someone has misused your information, so it's important to check your report a few times a year.

    • You have the right to request a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies.  Visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call (877) 322-8228 to order your report(s) or learn more about how you can receive your free report.
    • Credit reporting companies may charge you a fee for an additional copy of your report within a 12-month period.  To buy a copy of your report, visit Equifax.com, Experian.com or Transunion.com.
    • If you see errors on your credit report, like accounts you didn't open or debts you didn't incur, contact the credit reporting companies and the fraud department of each business that reported an error.
    • Credit reporting companies must block identity theft-related information from appearing on a victim's credit report, but you must request this block from each of the credit bureaus.
    • You may request a credit freeze on your credit file, which means potential creditors cannot get to your credit report.  The length of time a freeze can stay in place and the cost to place and lift a freeze depends on state law; find your state's Attorney General's office at www.naag.org to determine applicable fees and how long the credit freeze lasts.

    Online Security

    The world of cyberspace presents unique challenges for protecting yourself from identity theft and fraud.  There are several things you can do to make it more difficult for scammers and thieves to access your information electronically.

    • Use unique and hard-to-guess passwords that combine letters (both upper and lower case), numbers, and symbols, and change passwords regularly.  Avoid using personal information specifically, the last 4 digits of your SSN or your date of birth in your password.
    • Install security patches and software updates as soon as they are released by verified sources
    • Sign up for security alerts to be sent to your mobile phone or email account so that you are notified of changes to your account, personal information, or suspicious activity taking place on the account, such as unauthorized card-not-present transactions.  The most common method for fraudsters to take over a victim's account is by changing the physical address.
    • Avoid using unencrypted public Wi-Fi.  SSL offers little or no protection when using unencrypted Wi-Fi hot spots.
    • Be aware of impersonators.  Never respond directly to requests for personal or account information via email, over the phone, in email, or through the mobile device--including SMS text message.

    Phishing Information

    Phishing is a common method using unsolicited emails get personal information from you with an urgent request or warning. Learn more  about phishing and its impact to you and how to prevent it.

    Additional Information

    You can learn more about how to protect yourself and your business with these brochures and helpful links:

    If you have questions about identity protection, contact Customer Service at (256) 386-5000 or (877) 865-5050. Also you may Contact Us with our online form.


    Some information on this page provided courtesy of Deluxe Provent, FTC.gov and Javelin Strategy & Research 2012


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