How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Millions of Americans are victims of identity theft each year. As thieves are becoming increasingly sophisticated, consumers must be diligent in protecting their identity. While some identity theft issues can be resolved quickly, other identity theft victims face years of recovery. One of the most important things a consumer can do for their credit is to protect their confidential personal information. Here are some steps a consumer can take:

Shred confidential information

Often, identity theft occurs when a thief goes “dumpster diving,” i.e., rummaging through trash to find confidential information. Consumers can protect themselves by shredding any document that contains Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, or other important confidential information. When in doubt, play it safe and shred it.

Protect your confidential information 

Identity thieves use sophisticated methods, such as fraudulent phone calls and text messages, to obtain Social Security and account numbers. Know who is calling you, and don’t provide confidential information over the phone unless you’ve made the phone call.

Don’t click on suspicious emails 

Phishing scams have become increasingly popular, and phishing emails often look legitimate. Don’t click on links in emails—instead type the official URL into your browser’s address bar. If something looks suspicious, assume that it probably is. Call your bank or credit card company directly and inquire about the email.

Monitor your credit

Order your free annual credit reports and scrutinize them to ensure that all of the accounts listed are yours. By reviewing your credit report on a regular basis, you may catch an instance of identity theft before it becomes a larger problem.

Jesse Campbell photo.

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, with over ten years of experience creating valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

  • Better Business Bureau A+ rating Better Business Bureau
    MMI is proud to have achieved an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), a nonprofit organization focused on promoting and improving marketplace trust. The BBB investigates charges of fraud against both consumers and businesses, sets standards for truthfulness in advertising, and evaluates the trustworthiness of businesses and charities, providing a score from A+ (highest) to F (lowest).
  • Financial Counseling Association of America Financial Counseling Association of America
    MMI is a proud member of the Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA), a national association representing financial counseling companies that provide consumer credit counseling, housing counseling, student loan counseling, bankruptcy counseling, debt management, and various financial education services.
  • Trustpilot Trustpilot
    MMI is rated as “Excellent” (4.9/5) by reviewers on Trustpilot, a global, online consumer review platform dedicated to openness and transparency. Since 2007, Trustpilot has received over 116 million customer reviews for nearly 500,000 different websites and businesses. See what others are saying about the work we do.
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development - Equal Housing Opportunity Department of Housing and Urban Development
    MMI is certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide consumer housing counseling. The mission of HUD is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD provides support services directly and through approved, local agencies like MMI.
  • Council on Accreditation Council On Accreditation
    MMI is proudly accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. COA’s thorough, peer-reviewed accreditation process is designed to ensure that organizations like MMI are providing the highest standard of service and support for clients and employees alike.
  • National Foundation for Credit Counseling National Foundation for Credit Counseling
    MMI is a longstanding member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), the nation’s largest nonprofit financial counseling organization. Founded in 1951, the NFCC’s mission is to promote financially responsible behavior and help member organizations like MMI deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.