Contact Search FAQ




601 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20004-2601
Phone: 202/638-3950
FAX: 202/638-3410




  Home & Family Finance Resource Center

101: How to Prevent Identity Theft

Jennifer Zeberkiewicz / February 4th, 2018

No one can totally eliminate the risk of identity theft, but there are things you can do to reduce risk. Think of your Social Security Number (SSN), financial account numbers, and passwords as the Holy Grail—sacred and powerful. Protect them carefully.

Protect your Social Security Number

  • Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet unless you'll need it that day.
  • Don't write your SSN on checks.

Protect your personal information

  • Deposit outgoing mail containing personal information in post office collection boxes rather than in unsecured mailboxes.
  • Avoid using public computers to access financial accounts.
  • Shred any paperwork containing nonpublic information--such as financial account numbers, SSN, driver's license information, receipts, tax forms, vehicle registration, and insurance forms.

Protect your passwords

  • Choose passwords with letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Memorize them or use online password management programs to keep track of them.

Protect your financial accounts

  • Use strong passwords on your credit card, bank, and phone accounts.
  • Use secure websites for financial transactions. Secure sites have an "s" after the http—https://.
  • If you receive an e-mail that claims to be from your financial institution and contains a link to the website, don't click on the link. Instead, navigate to the website by manually typing in the address.
  • Check your credit report regularly. You can obtain a free credit report once a year from each of the major credit bureaus by visiting
  • Monitor your transactions and reconcile your financial accounts regularly.
  • Make copies of your credit cards and store copies in a safe place.

Protect your cellphone

  • Use a password lock your phone and protect sensitive information.
  • Don't store financial information on your phone.

When using social media...

  • Don't list your address and phone number and never talk about your finances.

Start Glossary Library

Facebook Post