By: Justin M. Kennedy, Associate Attorney
Litherland, Kennedy & Associates, APC, Attorneys at Law
While at a national conference, I attended a seminar on how to prevent identity theft. What follows are some of the tips and strategies provided by the speaker, Jeff Lanza, a Retired FBI Agent, on how to better protect yourself:
Social Security Number
Do not carry your social security card with you.
Mr. Lanza recommended only providing your social security number for the following purposes: (1) employment, (2) opening financial accounts, (3) credit checks, or (4) background checks.
If you are asked for your social security number for any other reason, please verify that it is a legitimate request. Some requests are optional and not required. And some may only need the last four numbers.
Medicare currently uses your Social Security Number for identification purposes and the Social Security Number appears on your Medicare card. Please keep the Medicare card in a safe location or under your protection.
Protect your Paper Documents
If you need to shred a document, use a cross-cut or micro-cut shredder. If you feel that it is unlikely that someone will manually sort through and reassemble the standard shredded documents, please be aware that there are computer programs that are sophisticated enough to digitally reassemble standard shredded documents.
Paying Bills, Mailing Checks
Do not stick outgoing mail with sensitive information (including a check) in your mailbox for pick up.
You may want to set up online bill payment or if that is not possible, take the envelope containing the check directly to a post office drop box.
If you are writing a check, please use a Gel ink pen rather than a ballpoint pen to limit the ability for check-washers to bleach your check and convert it into a signed blank check, as the gel ink bleeds into the paper more fully than a ballpoint pen.
By freezing your credit, identity thieves would not have the ability to open new accounts/credit cards in your name. However, this stops all activity in your name and would require you to unfreeze your account before a new account may be opened. Here is a link to more information on freezing your credit: http://consumersunion.org/research/consumers-unions-guide-to-security-freeze-protection/#CA
For more information from Jeff, please see the handouts on his website: http://www.thelanzagroup.com/jeff-lanza-speaking-topics/
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