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Identity Theft: Preventive Actions and Services

Preventive Actions

  • Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery.
  • Do not leave outgoing mail in unsecured mail receptacles. Deposit it in post office collection mailboxes or at your local post office.
  • Never give personal information over the telephone, such as your social security number, date of birth, mother's maiden name, credit card number, or PIN code, unless you initiated the phone call. Protect this information and release it only when absolutely necessary.
  • Shred preapproved credit applications, credit card receipts, bills and other financial information you don't want before discarding them in the trash or recycling bin.
  • Empty your wallet of extra cards and IDs, or better yet, cancel the ones you do not use and maintain a list of the ones you do.
  • Order your credit report from the three credit bureaus once a year to check for fraudulent activity or other discrepancies. (Maryland Law allows you to get one free copy a year from each credit bureau).
  • Never leave receipts at bank machines, bank counters, trash receptacles, or unattended gasoline pumps. Keep track of all your paperwork. When you no longer need it, destroy it.
  • Memorize your social security number and all of your passwords. Do not record them on any cards or on anything in your wallet or purse.
  • Sign all credit cards upon receipt.
  • Save all credit card receipts and match them against your monthly bills.
  • Be conscious of normal receipt of routine financial statements. Contact the sender if they are not received in the mail.
  • Notify your credit card companies and financial institutions in advance of any change of address or phone number.
  • Never loan your credit cards to anyone else.
  • Never put your credit card or any other financial account number on a post card or on the outside of an envelope.
  • If you applied for a new credit card and it hasn't arrived in a timely manner, call the bank or credit card company involved.
  • Report all lost or stolen credit cards immediately.
  • Closely monitor expiration dates on your credit cards. Contact the credit card issuer if replacement cards are not received prior to the expiration date.
  • Beware of mail or telephone solicitations disguised as promotions offering instant prizes or awards designed solely to obtain your personal information or credit card numbers.
  • Balance your checkbook on a monthly basis for possible fraudulent charges on your debit card number. The bank limits the time period in which complaints can be filed and you can be reimbursed for fraudulent charges

Internet and Online Services

  • Use caution when disclosing checking account numbers, credit card numbers or other personal financial data at any web site or online service location unless you receive a secured authentication key from your provider.
  • When you subscribe to an online service, you may be asked to give credit card information. When you enter any interactive service site, beware of con-artists who may ask you to "confirm" your enrollment service by disclosing passwords or the credit card account number used to subscribe. Don't give them out!
  • If the crime occurred in our jurisdiction and there are workable leads, such as witnesses and suspect information, an investigator will be assigned to the case. Unfortunately, not all cases will be assigned to an investigator.  

Revised March 1, 2013

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