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Identity Theft - Head Matters


5. Preventing Fraud and Scams

c. Out of the home—shopping and services

When you’re out shopping, you’re very vulnerable to identity thieves. They can watch where you put your credit card or even listen for confidential information you may tell a sales associate during a transaction.

Shred your receipts
– When you sign a credit card slip, avoid putting your address, telephone number, or driver’s license number on it.  Also, be sure to take your receipts with you to shred or store securely at home because “dumpster diving” is very common at large retail areas such as malls.  This will help minimize how much personal information about you is floating around out there.

– Be particularly wary of giving out your Social Security Number. 

Try not to use your Social Security Number for an identifier. Check your driver’s license to make sure you aren’t using your Social Security Number as identification—few states require this anymore. If a school, employer, health insurer, or other institution needs to give you an identification number, sometimes they use your Social Security Number.  Ask if they can use another number instead. The only places you must use your Social Security Number are on government and financial forms, such as tax forms and most credit applications.

Only a few institutions have any reasonable cause to know your Social Security Number.  Institutions who do need your SSN include businesses granting you credit, employers filling out tax forms for you, or government agencies. Anybody else... ask questions and think twice about sharing your SSN!
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