Social Security Number

Do not routinely carry your social security card or birth certificate in your wallet or purse. Carry only those credit cards you use regularly and cancel all credit cards you do not use. Don't give out any personal information on the telephone, through the mail, or over the Internet, unless you've initiated the contact or are sure you know with whom you are dealing. Disclose your social security number only when absolutely necessary. Social Security numbers were implemented as a method to account for your taxable earnings, not as a universal identifier. Change your driver's license number to a randomly assigned "S number." When you pay by check, the seller can only record your name, address, driver's license or Massachusetts ID number, and your choice of a home or daytime telephone number ( M.G.L. c. 93, s. 105). If you have a random license number, you avoid disclosing your Social Security number every time you pay by check.

Track Account Information and Mail

Keep an accurate list of all credit cards and bank accounts including the name, mailing address and telephone number of the creditor, the account number, and expiration date. Update the list regularly and keep it in a secure place. Also, review closely all credit card and bank statements each month to detect unusual activity or unauthorized charges.

Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office instead of an unsecured mailbox. Remove mail promptly from your mailbox. If you're planning to be away from home and can't pick up your mail, visit the U.S. Postal Office website to request a vacation hold. Destroy all credit card and ATM receipts and do not discard them at banks or retail establishments. Destroy pre-approved credit card solicitations and reduce the number of those solicitations by calling 1 (888) 5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688), or visit the website at www.optoutprescreen.com.

Know Your Rights

Massachusetts law requires that any entity that maintains personal information comply with specific standards for disposal of that information: paper documents containing personal information must be either redacted, burned, pulverized or shredded so that personal data cannot practicably be read or reconstructed; and electronic media and other non-paper media containing personal information must be destroyed or erased so that personal information cannot practicably be read or reconstructed. Corporations, organizations and agencies may be fined for violating these standards.