Stolen wallets and checkbooks remain the most frequent sources of ID theft.
- Avoid carrying your checkbook or your Social Security card. Photocopy your card and cut out all but the last four digits. Government agencies and companies should be required to X out all but the last four numbers too.
- Never give out your Social Security number without first asking, “What happens if I don't give it?” Most of the time, the answer is, “Nothing.”
- Don’t use your mother’s real maiden name or your real city of birth as identifiers. Use made-up names. (City of birth: Atlantis.) But never make up a Social Security number! That creates a problem for someone else.
- Try to add passwords to online and offline accounts, so that anyone who calls your bank or mutual fund needs more than your name, address and Social Security number to impersonate you.
- Make sure your mail is delivered to a locked box.
- Buy a cross-cut shredder and destroy all unsolicited pre-approved credit offers and blank “courtesy” checks.
About the Author: Carl H. Starrett II has been a licensed attorney since 1993 and is a member in good standing with the California State Bar and the San Diego County Bar Association. Mr. Starrett practices in the areas of bankruptcy, business litigation, construction, corporate planning and debt collection.