How can you help your family, friends, and neighbors protect their personal information? Here are some tips you can give them:
- To stop unwanted telemarketing phone calls, join the national Do Not Call Registry by calling, toll-free, 1-888-382-1222 from the number you want to register, or go to www.donotcall.gov. You can register your home phone and your cell phone.
- To stop getting pre-approved offers of credit or insurance, call, toll-free, 1-888-5-OPT-OUT.
- Paste an “I am not interested” script by your telephone that reminds you to just tell anyone trying to sell you something that you are not interested. Then just hang up! Never give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you have initiated the contact and know who the party is on the other side of the transaction.
- Be very careful about giving your Social Security Number. Your bank may need it, but a department store probably does not. Ask if you can use a substitute number with businesses and health-care offices. And don’t carry your card in your wallet.
- Don’t leave your checkbook, wallet, or other personal papers lying on a table or anywhere visitors could see your private information.
- Get a copy of your credit report at least once a year. Read your report to be sure the information is correct and that no one has used your information to get credit, a job, or a loan. Report any mistakes to the company that sent you the report. Call, toll-free, 1-877-322-8228 to order a free report, or go to www.annualcreditreport.com. You must answer security questions to get the report.
- If you believe that someone else has had inappropriate access to your personal information, place a fraud alert on your credit bureau accounts. You can also consider placing a security freeze on your accounts. For more information on whether these options are right for your situation, go to www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud.
- Visit www.onguardonline.gov for practical tips from the federal government to help guard you against internet fraud.
- Visit www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud to learn more about frauds and scams.