How to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft

By Athina K. Powers, Esq.

1. Don’t carry all your credit cards and IDs in your wallet. 

2. If you rent a car, either remove or destroy the rental agreement after you return the car.

3. When you travel, make sure you secure the mail that you are receiving at your home or office. Mail can be a primary source of information for identity thieves to obtain information about you and use it for their own benefit. The US postal office provides an optional service to hold your mail until your return.

4. When you're vacationing, use traveler’s checks rather than your own check book.

5. When you use the ATM machine, look around you to make sure people are not trying to peek over your shoulder to see your pin number. Pickpockets can get your ATM card and drain your account.

6. Make copies of your credit cards (front and back) and keep a list of customer service numbers for each card.

7. Be careful where you store your personal information in your own home: there are case scenarios where baby sitters or cleaning personal have removed said information and used them for personal gain. 

8. After you receive a loan or credit card or anything else that requires your SSN for completion, request that your Social Security Number be removed from the record. That information is no longer needed on file after you have received your loan.

9. Remove yourself from the marketing list for pre-approved credit cards and other solicitation. Simply write a letter directly to the marketing association and ask to remove yourself from their list (www.dmaconsumers.org). 

10. When you receive SPAM emails, do not click on the "remove me" link that is provided by the SPAM email host, because that only confirms to them that your address is real and they will continue to send more emails. 

11. SPAM faxes are illegal to receive and if you call the number they provide in order for you to remove yourself from the faxing list, you'll only be SPAMed more. 

12. To keep telemarketers away, go to www.donotcall.gov and remove yourself from the call registry. ATTENTION: There is no “do not email” registry; it's a phishing scam.

13. Check your credit report annually by using www.annualcreditreport.com, and never forget to check the section marked "Inquiries".

14. Check your SS statement. 

15. Don’t carry your SS card with you.

16. Examine your monthly bank and credit card statements, as well as your medical bills and statements.

17. Never give personal details over the phone, especially when you're not speaking directly to the person that you intended to call and speak to. 

18. Protect your computer with firewall and security software that has automatic updates. Same goes for your Smartphone an other portable devices by using security software and passwords. 

19. The only way to rid of any document containing personal information is to shred or burn the document. 

20. When you take part in any financial transactions over the internet, ensure that the communications are encrypted, especially if you are using public Wi-Fi access. 

21. Never use easy passwords that stem from your personal life or family.

22. Do not share personal information on social networks. Before you register with websites, make sure you read the privacy policies that secure your personal information. Unlike the common stereotype, identity thieves do not always monitor or hack your digital devices from a third world country; the majority of thieves are usually neighbors, friends, relatives and roommates because you leave yourself open to them.


Athina K. Powers is a California Attorney and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)* and founder of a contemporary, boutique law practice in California that assists clients in the counties of Riverside, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco. For over 30 years, she successfully represented clients in cases ranging from divorce and restraining orders to white collar crime and fraud investigations. Her mission is to provide clients with effective and efficient legal representation.

~ RUBEN HINOJOSA

"High bankruptcy rates, increased credit card debt, and identity theft make it imperative that all of us take an active role in providing financial and economic education during all stages of one's life."

COPYRIGHT © ATHINA K. POWERS, CA ATTORNEY & FRAUD EXAMINER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

By Attorney Athina Karamanlis Powers

By Attorney Athina Karamanlis Powers

My Stolen Identity