Identity Theft Prevention
While there is no way to completely eliminate the risks of fraud or identity theft, there are things that you can do to help protect yourself and minimize the risk.
Protecting your personal information day-to-day:
- Protect your Social Security Number. Remove your Social Security Number printed on anything—such as checks. Keep your Social Security card not in your wallet, but in a secure place within your home.
- Don’t give out personal information to unknown callers. If an unknown caller asks for your personal or financial information, tell them you will call them back to confirm the inquiry, then either verify the company is legitimate, or if it's a bank or credit card company, call them back using a number from your bill or your card.
- Regularly review bills and account statements. Make sure you recognize and authorized all charges, checks, and/or withdrawals. If a regular bill doesn’t arrive, call the company to find out why—it could mean that a thief has redirected your mail to another address.
- Protect important documents at home. Keep your personal information and important documents in a secure place in your home, like a locked file cabinet or a safe.
- Shred documents containing personal information. Once you’ve paid your bills and reconciled your accounts, shred old account statements, bills, receipts, pre-approved credit offers, and other documents that contain personal information before you throw them away.
- Protect your mail from theft. Don't leave outgoing mail (like bill payments) in an unsecured mailbox. Use a locking mailbox or take it to a post box or your local post office. If you are planning to be away from home, call or go online to contact the U.S. Postal Service and request a vacation hold.
- Streamline your wallet. Carry only the credit and/or debit cards, checks and/or cash that you need for the day.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Be conscious of people standing nearby when you are making purchases or using an ATM. Thieves have been known to copy credit card information or take pictures of cards on their cell phones.
- Check your credit report regularly (at least once each year). Make sure the information about you is accurate and that it includes only those accounts and activities you’ve authorized.
Safeguard against identity theft!
Follow a few simple tips to protect your identity. This brochure offers methods for safer online shopping and recovery from identity theft.ID Theft Prevention Brochure (361 KB PDF)
Strategies people use to be less visible online:1
- 64% -- Cleared cookies and browser history
- 41% -- Deleted/edited something you posted in the past
- 41% -- Set your browser to disable or turn off cookies
- 36% -- Not used website because it asked for your real name
- 26% -- Used temporary username/email address
- 25% -- Post comments without revealing who you are
- 21% -- Asked someone to remove something posted about you
- 18% -- Tried to mask identity
- 18% -- Used a public computer to browse anonymously
- 18% -- Used fake name/untraceable username
- 14% -- Encrypted your communications
- 14% -- Used service that allows you to browse the web anonymously
- 13% -- Gave inaccurate info about yourself
This site is for education purposes. The material provided on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any Capital One product or service to your unique circumstances. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.
Source: From 2013 Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project