RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Most people don't find out their identity has been stolen, until their credit cards have been maxed out, or their bank accounts wiped out. Often, they never find out how thieves got their hands on such personal information. In tonight's 12 On Your Side, some tips to safeguard your identity. An all year long mission -- not, for just around the holidays.
* Shred bank statements - Tear up or shred bank statements, anything that has your personal information on it ... Even solicitations that come in the mail.
* Secure your mail - Collect your mail from your home mailbox every day, or use post office box. Take your outgoing bill payments to the post office, and never mail checks from home. Thieves can steal and alter your checks.
* Protect your social security number - Don't put it on your checks and don't carry your social security card in your wallet.
* Take your name off marketer's hit lists. - Call 1-888-382-1222. This will reduce junk mail and stop those credit card solicitations.
* Check your credit report - Contact: annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228. Get a free copy, review it, and alert the appropriate creditor if you see something suspicious.
* Review your credit card statements every month. Make sure you actually made all purchased before paying the bill.
Remember, debit cards are not credit cards. They link directly to your bank account. You can dispute fraudulent activity on a credit card plus there are other protections. Debit cards transfer money immediately from your account.