Tips for Protecting Your Personal Information
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) encourages you to make sure your transactions — online and off — are secure and your personal information is protected. The FTC offers these tips to help you manage your personal information wisely, and to help minimize its misuse.
- Put passwords on your all your accounts, including your credit card account, and your bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information — like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN, or your phone number — or obvious choices, like a series of consecutive numbers or your hometown football team.
- Minimize the identification information and the number of cards you carry to what you’ll actually need. Don’t put all your identifying information in one holder in your purse, briefcase, or backpack.
- Keep items with personal information in a safe place. When you discard receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, bank checks and statements, expired charge cards, credit offers you get in the mail, and mailing labels from magazines, tear or shred them. That will help thwart any identity thief who may pick through your trash or recycling bins to capture your personal information.
- Order a copy of your credit report. Make sure it’s accurate and includes only those activities you’ve authorized. Each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. To order your free annual report from one or all national consumer reporting companies, visit www.annualcreditreport.com, call toll-free 1-877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
For more information, see Your Access to Free Credit Reports.
- Use a secure browser when shopping online to guard the security of your transactions. When submitting your purchase information, look for the “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar to be sure your information is secure during transmission.
To learn more about more about privacy issues and how they affect your life and the decisions you may make in the marketplace, visit ftc.gov/privacy.