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Prevent personal information from falling into the wrong hands

Updated December 23, 2009

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, an estimated 7 million consumers across the nation became victims of identity theft in 2002. In light of this statistic, the Cerritos Sheriff’s Station/Community Safety Center would like to offer some valuable tips to help protect individuals from identity theft.

Be aware that thieves know that mailboxes frequently contain personal identification information. Some of the information that a thief could use to establish new accounts in your name include your Social Security number, credit card numbers, driver’s license number, cancelled checks and even health insurance cards and billing information.

A change of address can be requested on an existing account or after a new account is established, and it could take a long time for you to become aware of the problem.

Following are some tips to help keep your personal identification information out of the hands of the wrong people:

  • Pick up the mail soon after delivery.
  • Consider dropping off outgoing mail at the post office.
  • Pay attention to your billing cycles and review all statements carefully.
  • Always shred documents that contain personal information.
  • Give your Social Security number only when necessary.
  • Keep items with personal information in a safe place and shred them when you do not need them anymore.
  • Obtain a credit report every year to monitor activity on your various accounts. This is how many people discover that they have become victims. There are three major companies that offer this credit report service: Equifax (888) 766-0008, Experian (888) 397-3742 and TransUnion (800) 888-4213.

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