Tips on Protecting Your Identity

Updated February 11, 2022

Identity theft is when someone uses your personal or financial information without your knowledge or permission.

Commonly used identity data includes your name, address, bank/credit account numbers, Social Security number, and medical insurance account numbers. This information can be used to:

  • Buy things with your credit cards
  • Obtain new credit cards in your name
  • Open phone or utility accounts in your name
  • File for and obtain your tax refund
  • Use your health insurance to get medical care
  • Pretend to be you if they are arrested

Your identity is valuable so it is worthwhile and responsible to proactively protect it.

Protect documents that have personal information
Keep them in a safe place.  This includes financial records, Social Security and Medicare cards and tax documents.  When it’s time to dispose of them, shred them.

Hesitate before giving out your Social Security number (SSN).
The only organizations that really need your SSN are the IRS, your bank, and your employer.  None of them will call, email, or text you to ask for your SSN. 
If someone aside from these organizations asks for your SSN, ask them why they need it, how they will protect it, and if they would be able to use a different identifier.

Protect your identity in the digital world
Use strong passwords; add multi-factor authentication for accounts that offer it
Do not give your personal information to someone who calls, emails or texts you.

Aside from taking steps to protect your identity information, it pays to know what to look for to detect identity theft:

Keep track of what bills you owe and when they’re due.
If you stop getting a bill, it could be a sign that someone changed your billing address

Review your bills.
Charges for items or services you didn’t buy or authorize could be identity theft.  So could suddenly receiving a bill you didn’t expect.

Monitor your bank account statement

Request and review your credit reports. Accounts in your name that you don’t recognize could be identity theft.  You can get a free annual credit report by going to or calling 1-877-322-8228

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