Offline Identity Protection
- Monitor your postal mail.
- Lock your mailbox. Preferably, your personal mailbox should lock. Don't leave mail in your mailbox longer than necessary - especially if your mailbox does not lock.
- Hold your mail. If you're traveling, don't let mail pile up. Have the post office hold your mail at times when you won't be able to collect it.
- Monitor mail closely. Take immediate action if bills do not arrive as expected or if you receive unexpected credit cards or a mysterious account statement.
- Don't give out your personal information freely.
- Don't give out your phone number. Ask solicitors or other businesses for their phone number so you have control over these communications.
- Don't give out personal information in surveys. Surveys, both online and offline can be dangerous if they ask you to provide confidential information.
- Safeguard your Social Security Number. Do not publish your Social Security Number on checks and other public documents. Do not carry your card with you; keep your card in a safe place at home.
- Check your credit report annually.
- Take advantage of free annual credit reports. Credit reports contain information about your accounts and your bill paying history. Major nationwide consumer reporting companies are legally required to provide free copies of your credit reports. Review your credit report each year for accuracy.
- Shred documents containing personal information before discarding them. Shred bills, bank statements, pre-approved financial solicitations and other confidential information before discarding them.
- Keep backup copies of important data. On a regular basis, copy your important files -- those you couldn't easily reproduce if they were destroyed -- onto some external storage medium, such as a thumb drive or a CD. Generally, the list of files to back up would include:
- bank records and other financial information
- software that you've purchased and downloaded (that is, software for which you don't have installation CDs)
- email address book
- Internet browser bookmarks
- any files you've created, such as documents, spreadsheets, and databases.