- Protect your social security number. Make sure you do not have any identification cards in your wallet that contain your SSN. Most insurance cards have stopped using your SSN as the identification number, but double-check just to make sure.
Make sure your SSN is not included on your pay stubs. The only two places your employer should have copies of your SSN is the W-4 in your personnel file and in the payroll system.
Do not give your SSN to any business, including most health care providers. If you need to borrow money, you more than likely will have to provide them with it.
You generally are not legally required to provide your Social Security number to most businesses - including most health care providers... However, some companies might refuse to do business with you... There is no law that prevents businesses from requesting your SSN, and there are few restrictions on what businesses can do with it. (http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs10-ssn.htm#11)
- Get insurance. Add a rider to your homeowners' insurance policy. This will cover the expense associated with cleaning up your identity. The cost is minimal and takes about five minutes.
- Review your credit report annually. You can obtain your credit report for free from AnnualCreditReport.com. It take just a few minutes to download your credit report, but set aside 20 minutes to review it. The report provides enough information to close any account that is open that you are not using. Also, look for any accounts that you did not open.
AnnualCreditReport.com is the ONLY authorized source to get your free annual credit report under federal law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees you access to a free credit report from each of the three nationwide reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — every twelve months. The Federal Trade Commission has received complaints from consumers who thought they were ordering their free annual credit report, but instead paid hidden fees or agreed to unwanted services. Don’t be fooled by TV ads, email offers, or online search results. Go to the authorized source when you request your free report. (http://www.ftc.gov/freereports)
- Opt-out. Tired of getting junk mail? Worried that it may include personal information that you don't want falling into the wrong hands? Call (888) 5 OPT-OUT -- (888) 567-8688 to opt-out of receiving these mail solicitations. One pitfall is that the phone requires you to give them your SSN. Alternatively, you can opt-out at https://www.optoutprescreen.com.
- Put a freeze on your credit. You will need to contact all three credit bureaus to set this up (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion). This is better protection than the 90-day fraud alert.
A security freeze gives consumers the choice to “freeze” or lock access to their credit file against anyone trying to open up a new account or to get new credit in their name.
When a security freeze is in place at all three major credit bureaus, an identity thief cannot open a new account because the potential creditor or seller of services will not be able to check the credit file. When the consumer is applying for credit, he or she can lift the freeze temporarily using a PIN so legitimate applications for credit or services can be processed.
You may also want to consider Identity Theft Alerts. I, personally, subscribed to this service for about 18 months. I liked it because anytime there was activity to my account, I was immediately notified. I did not like it because it is negative assurance and after-the-fact. I was only alerted if there was activity. I would prefer to be notified monthly that there was no activity, also. I decided to save the money and use my free annual credit report. Equifax's product costs $12.95 per month and monitors all three credit bureaus.
Companies like LifeLock offer to do some of the above -- for a monthly fee. However, they want your social security number and other personal information. Plus, you can do everything they offer for a fraction of the cost. Don't trust a contoversial company to do it for you.
For more information:http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/idtheft.htm