Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

Do not routinely carry your social security card or birth certificate in your wallet or purse.

Carry only those credit cards you use regularly and cancel all credit cards you do not use.

Keep an accurate list of all credit cards and bank accounts including the name, mailing address and telephone number of the creditor, the account number, and expiration date. Update the list regularly and keep it in a secure place.

Review closely all credit card and bank statements each month to detect unusual activity or unauthorized charges.

Destroy pre-approved credit card solicitations and reduce the number of those solicitations by calling 1 (888) 5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688), or visit the website at

Disclose your social security number only when absolutely necessary. Social Security numbers were implemented as a method to account for your taxable earnings, not as a universal identifier.

Change your driver’s license number to a randomly assigned “S number.”

When you pay by check, the seller can only record your name, address, driver’s license or Massachusetts ID number, and your choice of a home or daytime telephone number (M.G.L. c. 93, § 105).

If you have a random license number, you avoid disclosing your Social Security number every time you pay by check.

Don’t give out any personal information on the telephone, through the mail, or over the Internet, unless you’ve initiated the contact or are sure you know with whom you are dealing.

Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office instead of an unsecured mailbox. Remove mail promptly from your mailbox. If you’re planning to be away from home and can’t pick up your mail, call the U.S. Postal Office at 1- 800­275-8777 or stop by the Post Office and request a vacation hold.

Destroy all credit card and ATM receipts and do not discard them at banks or retail establishments.

What should you do if you are the victim of identity theft?

File a Police report and take actions immediately to minimize damage to your credit record, and to ensure that you are not held responsible for debts which the identity thief incurred using your name. Keep a record of all correspondence and conversations with financial institutions and other companies, credit bureaus, and law enforcement officials. Send all correspondence by certified mail, return receipt requested, to document what the company received and when.Massachusetts law provides that identity theft is a crime (M.G.L. c. 266, s. 37E). You should be aware that not all identity theft complaints can or will be investigated. However, by providing law enforcement offices with a written report, you make it possible for law enforcement offices to spot trends and patterns, and to identify the prevalence of identity theft.

Keep copies of everything.

For further information visit these sites:

Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
Federal Trade Commission
Social Security Administration