How You Can Protect Yourself
Never use your mother's maiden name, and other tips the security squad never told you
(MONEY Magazine) – GUARD THAT NUMBER
Do not carry your Social Security card or any other document that lists the number in your wallet. If the number is on your driver's license, go to the DMV and request a different identifying number. You can also request that your health insurer give you an anonymous number for your medical insurance card.
PROTECT YOUR NAME
Consider dropping your address from your phone book listing, or get an unlisted number. Don't use professional titles like "doctor" or "attorney" in your listing—signs of affluence make you more susceptible to fraud.
WATCH YOUR MAIL
If your bills don't arrive around the same time they usually do each month, someone could be tampering with your mail.
VARY YOUR PASSWORDS
If several passwords are too hard to remember, at least diversify passwords for financially sensitive accounts like online banking. And never use your mother's maiden name—a relatively easy bit of info for thieves to get—as a prompt if you forget your password.
CHECK YOUR STATUS
Order your credit reports directly from credit scorer Fair Isaac (myfico.com) or from the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax (equifax.com), Experian (experian.com) and TransUnion (transunion.com). Third-party sites may not have the same privacy safeguards in place as MyFico and the Big Three agencies. —MEGAN JOHNSTON