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Crime Prevention

Identity Theft

While you probably can't prevent identity theft entirely, here are some tips on how to minimize your risk of identity theft:

  • Before revealing personal information, find out how it is going to be used

  • Ask whether personal information will be shared with others

  • Ask if you have a choice about the use of your personal information

  • Ask if you can choose to have the information kept confidential

  • Pay attention to billing cycles

  • Follow up with creditors if bills don't arrive on time
    (A missing credit card bill may indicate an identity thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address to cover his/her tracks)

  • Guard mail from theft

  • Deposit out-going mail at Post Office or Post Office collection boxes

  • Promptly remove your mail from mailbox after it is delivered

  • When going on vacation, request that the Post Office hold your mail

  • Put passwords on credit card and bank accounts

  • Avoid using obvious passwords such as:  mother's maiden name, birth dates, phone numbers, street address, all or any part of your social security number, or any consecutive numbers

  • Carry only the ID cards or credit cards you think you will need to use

  • Don't give out personal information over the phone, internet, or through the mail unless YOU initiated the contact or know for sure who you are dealing with
    (Identity thieves pose as bank representatives, internet service providers, and even government agencies to get personal and identifying information.  Legitimate organizations that you do business with have the information you need and won't ask for it.)

  • Keep items with personal information in a safe place

  • Shred or tear up charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, bank checks and statements, credit cards, and credit card offers
    (Identity thieves get lots of information from trash or recycling bins)

  • Keep personal information stored at home in a safe place (especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or have service work done)

  • Be aware of who has access to your personal information at work--verify that records are kept in a secure location

  • Give out your social security number only when absolutely necessary

  • Ask to use identifiers other than your social security number when possible

  • Don't carry your social security card with you

  • Ask why your social security number is being requested

  • When requested, ask how your social security number will be used

  • If someone you are dealing with is insistent on asking for your social security number, ask them what law requires the social security number to be given

  • Ask what will happen if you don't provide your social security number
    (Some businesses may not provide you with the goods or services you are seeking if you do not provide your social security number.  Getting answers to these questions will help you to decide whether you want to share your social security number with that business.  Remember--it's your decision!)

  • Order a copy of your credit report each year from one of the three major credit reporting agencies.  Alternate agencies each year or order all three each year.  Your credit report contains information regarding where you work, where you live, credit accounts that have been opened in your name, how you pay your bills, and whether you have been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy.  Checking your credit report on a regular basis can catch mistakes and fraud before they cause havoc on your personal finances.



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The WI Statewide VINE system is a service through which victims of crime can use the telephone or Internet to search for information regarding the custody status of their offender.  The VINE toll-free number is 888-868-4631.

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