protect yourself from identity theft and
protect your social security number from being stolen

1- Review your credit report once a year. Below are the web sites of the credit reporting agencies.

2- Only release your social security number to agencies who require it for action you have initiated. Never give this information to unsolicited telephone callers or over the Internet.

3- Request that your driver's license number be a random number (some states use your social security number)

4- Shred all thrown-out documents containing your social security number.

5- Contact your creditor or service provider if expected bills do not arrive.

6- If you do not feel comfortable giving out your social security number, then don't.

7- Do not carry your social security card in your wallet or purse. You should only need to present the card for tax purposes when you start a new job.

8- Protect your home mailbox because thieves can also steal your home mail in order to get to your personal information.

9- Contact the Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or the Federal Trade Commission Fraud Hotline at 1-877-IDTHEFT. You can also go to the Federal Trade Commission's site in order to file a complaint with the Commission.

Important Note:
Many thieves use mailed pre-approved credit offers to get a credit card quickly. Also, according to the postmaster general, 30 percent of the mailed convenience checks get used fraudulently.
If you receive pre-approved credit offers and credit card convenience checks in your mailbox, then you should shred them before throwing them in your waste basket.

Web sites for the Credit Reporting Agencies:
Trans Union

If you fall victim of identity theft, here are a few things you should do:
-- first ask that any fraudulent accounts be closed.
-- contact the fraud departments of the three credit reporting agencies and have a fraud alert placed on your account.
-- file a report with the police, and get a copy, in case the bank, the credit card company or others need proof of the crime later on.