How to Avoid Identity Theft


Facebook Tweet mail
blog post author image
Written by Guest | Last Updated February 24th, 2020
Our goal here at is to provide you with the honest, reliable information you need to find companies you can trust.

Person holding their hand up
Guest Post by Erin Ellis

While identity theft can happen to anyone, you can take steps to reduce your risk. Identity theft is the fraudulent use of an individual’s personal information for financial gain. Identity thieves can use a person’s Social Security Number, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, or account number to open fraudulent new credit card accounts, charge existing credit card accounts, or obtain new loans. The following tips will help you protect yourself from identity theft:

Avoid sharing your personal information

Don’t give out your personal information or leave it exposed for anyone to see. This includes your home address, phone number, driver’s license, and your Social Security Number.

Track your monthly statements

Set time aside to track your monthly statements provided by your credit union or bank. Review the overall summary of the activity associated with your account. If you recognize something that’s incorrect, whether it’s an account you didn’t open, transactions you didn’t make, or any other suspicious activity, report it immediately. Your credit union or bank can then work quickly to identify the fraudulent activity and cancel your debit or credit card.

Monitor your credit reports on a regular basis

Frequently monitor your credit by accessing your reports. This will reveal signs of identity theft, and you may be able to catch it early on. You can check your credit reports for free from three major credit bureaus at

Freeze your credit

A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, is a free tool that allows you to restrict access to your credit report. To fully protect your credit by freezing it, you’re required to initiate a freeze with each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. After they receive your freeze request, each credit bureau will provide you with a unique PIN or password in case you choose to lift the freeze in the future.

This feature makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name, due to the fact that most creditors need to see your credit report before they approve a new account. If they can’t view your report, they may not extend the credit.

Opt out of pre-approved credit card offers

An additional way that an ID thief can obtain your personal information is by stealing your mail. Typically, many pre-approved credit card applications arrive in your mailbox. Identity thieves can use your address and send it in. By calling 888-5-OPTOUT, you can opt out of receiving these offers for two years. However, for permanent opt-out status, you can submit your request in writing and send it to the three main credit reporting agencies.

Learn more from professional resources

By visiting, which is hosted by the National Credit Union Association and serves as a financial literacy resource library, you can obtain a wide range of informative articles on finance and fraud prevention. Visit your local credit union or bank to learn more about how you can reduce your risk. PFCU also offers resources and additional information to its members and will work with them to quickly identify suspicious activity and resolve any fraudulent charges.

It’s important to anticipate potential risks of identity theft before you fall victim. Once you lose your identity, it can be very difficult to restore it before any major damage is done. Reference these tips, and you’ll be prepared for financial success.

Erin Ellis is an Accredited Financial Counselor at Philadelphia Federal Credit Union (PFCU) where she develops PFCU’s financial education curriculum, provides one-one-one counseling with members, and presents financial seminars to PFCU members and a wide network of social services organizations throughout the Philadelphia region. Erin is passionate about helping individuals and families better manage their money and achieve their financial goals.

The Top Identity Theft Companies

company logo
#1 NortonLifeLock chevron_right
9.9 Overall Score
company logo
#2 IdentityIQ chevron_right
8.5 Overall Score
company logo
#3 Complete ID chevron_right
8.4 Overall Score

Related Articles

Holiday Scams to Avoid This Year

December 13, 2019

The holiday season is a time for joy, family, and gifts. And it’s a season that you may look forward to all year....

Read More
What You Need to Know About Tax Identity Theft This Tax Se...

March 28, 2019

Identity theft may not be your main concern this tax season, but it definitely should be on your radar. What is tax ide...

Read More
The Heartbreak of Spousal Identity Theft

February 14, 2018

It's Valentine's Day and you and your spouse are enjoying a candlelit dinner at your favorite restaurant. Everything fe...

Read More