Below are some tips to help you prevent becoming a victim of identity theft:
- Never leave valuables or mail in your vehicle, including glove boxes and consoles.
- Shred all documents that contain personal identifying information. DO NOT throw away credit card solicitations or credit card checks without shredding them.
- When ordering personal checks, include only your first initial and last name. This prevents thieves from signing the check correctly.
- Copy all contents of your purse and/or wallet. Include both sides of each article. Keep these copies in a secure location. This allows you to know whether an item is missing.
- When writing personal checks to pay off credit card accounts, DO NOT put the entire account number on the check. Simply including the last four numbers is sufficient.
- Make a list of all bills and statements you regularly receive, including the dates they are normally delivered. If you do not receive an expected bill, contact the issuer immediately.
- Promptly remove mail from your mailbox. Never leave mail over night. Make arrangements to have mail picked up if you are leaving town or going on vacation.
- Deposit outgoing mail in the post office collection mailboxes or at your local post office. If you live in a rural area, place a lock on your box.
- Educate your children. Teach them not to give out personal information over the phone, Internet or any other time without permission.
- Stop pre-approved credit card offers. Have your name removed from credit bureau marketing lists. Call toll free 1-888-5-OPT OUT or 1-888-567-8688.
- Protect your computer from viruses and spyware. Use strong passwords with at least eight characters which include combinations of letters and numbers. Use firewall, virus and spyware protection and update it regularly. Download software only from sites you know and trust. Set your Internet browser security to at least medium.
- DO NOT become a victim of Internet "phishing". Only give out your identifying information to sites you trust. Never respond to a solicitation from a site or email you did not initiate.
- Review your credit report at least once a year. Every person is entitled to one free credit report per reporting agency every year. There are three main credit reporting agencies in the United States. They are: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. To obtain these free reports, please go to http://www.annualcreditreport.com. Request a free credit report from one of the reporting agencies, and then every four months request another from a different agency.
Annual Credit Report Request Service
Mail: P.O. Box 105283
Atlanta, GA 30348-5283
Identity Theft Links
PENAL CODE § 530.5(a)
Unauthorized Use of Personal Identifying Info
Every person who willfully obtains personal identifying information, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 530.55, of another person, and uses that information for any unlawful purpose, including to obtain, or attempt to obtain, credit, goods, services, real property, or medical information without the consent of that person, is guilty of a public offense, and upon conviction therefor, shall be punished by a fine, by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by both a fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in the state prison.
(West's Ann. Cal. Penal Code)