Prevention Tips



The CCSO suggests the following crime prevention techniques to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft:

  1. To minimize the amount of information an identity thief can steal, do not carry extra credit cards, a social security card, birth certificate or passport in your wallet or purse, except when needed.
  2. To reduce the amount of personal information that is in circulation consider the following:
    • Remove your name from the marketing lists of the three major credit reporting bureaus, i.e., Equifax, Experian (formerly TRW) and Trans Union. This will limit the number of pre-approved offers of credit that you receive. These offers, if thrown away in the trash, are potential targets of identity thieves who will use them to order credit cards using your identity.
    • Sign up for the Direct Marketing Association Mail Preference Service and the Telephone Preference Service. By doing this, your name is added to computerized name deletion lists used by nationwide marketers.
    • Have your name and address removed from telephone books and reverse directories.
  3. Install a locked mailbox at your residence or business to reduce mail theft or use a post office box.
  4. When you order new checks, do not have them sent to your home address. Have them sent to a post office box or arrange to pick them up at your bank.
  5. When you pay bills, do not place the envelopes containing your checks in your home mailbox for the letter carrier to pick up. If stolen, your checks can be altered and cashed by identity thieves. It is best to mail your checks and other sensitive mail at the post office rather than your home or neighborhood mailbox. Write checks with a fine-point permanent marker.
  6. Pay bills with an electronic bill payment service.
  7. Reduce the number of credit cards you actively use to a bare minimum. Carry only one or two credit cards in your wallet. Cancel all unused credit card accounts. Even though you do not use these accounts, account numbers are recorded in your credit report along with other data that can be used by identity thieves.
  8. Keep a list and/or photocopy of all your credit cards, account numbers, expiration dates and telephone numbers of the customer service and fraud departments in a secure place (not your wallet or purse) so you can quickly contact your creditors in case your credit cards are stolen. Do the same with your bank accounts.
  9. Never give out your credit card number or other personal information over the telephone, unless you have a trusted business relationship with the person or company and you have initiated the telephone call. Identity thieves have been known to call their victims with a fake story that goes something like this, "Today is your lucky day! You have been chosen by the "Jane and John Doe Sweepstakes Committee" to receive a free trip to Europe. All we need is your credit card number and expiration date to verify you as the lucky winner."
  10. Order your credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus to check for inaccuracies and fraudulent use of your accounts. Make sure that you recognize every line of information established in your file.
  11. Always take credit card receipts with you. Never throw them in a public trash container.
  12. Watch the mail when you expect a new or reissued credit card to arrive. Contact the issuer if the card does not arrive.
  13. When creating a password or Personal Identification Number (PIN), do not use the last four digits of your social security number, date of birth, middle name, the name of your family pet, consecutive numbers of anything else that could easily be discovered by identity thieves.
  14. Ask your financial institution to add extra security protection to your account. Most will allow you to use an additional code (a number or word) when assessing your account. Do not use your mother’s maiden name, as that is all too easily obtained by identity thieves.
  15. Memorize all your passwords. Do not record them on anything in your wallet or purse.
  16. Protect your social security number. Release it only when absolutely necessary (tax forms, employment records, most banking, stock and property transactions). The social security number is the key to your credit and bank accounts and is a prime target of identity thieves.
  17. Do not have your social security number printed on your checks. Do not let merchants write your social security number on your checks because of the risk of fraud.
  18. Order your Social Security Earnings and Benefits Statement once a year to check for fraud.
  19. Carefully review your credit card statements for unauthorized use.
  20. Do not throw pre-approved credit offers in the trash or in a recycling container without first shredding them. The discarded credit offers can be used by identity thieves to order credit cards in your name and to have the credit cards mailed to their address.
  21. Do the same with other sensitive information like credit card receipts. Home shredders can be purchased at many office supply stores.
  22. Demand financial institutions to adequately safeguard your data. Request a special password that only you would know. Memorize all passwords. Discourage your bank from using the last four digits of the social security number as the PIN they assign to customers.
  23. When you fill out loan applications, find out how the company disposes of them. If you are not convinced that they store them in locked files and/or shred them, take your business elsewhere. Some car dealerships, department stores, car rental agencies, and video stores have been known to be careless with customer applications. When you pay by credit card, ask the business how it stores and disposes of the transaction slip. Avoid paying by credit card if you think the business does not use adequate safeguards.
  24. Store your cancelled checks in a safe place. In the wrong hands, they can reveal a lot of information about you. Never permit your credit card number to be written on your checks. It is a violation of California law (California Civil Code 1725) and places you at risk of fraud.
  25. Any entity involved in handling personal information should train all its employees, from the top to the bottom, on responsible information-handling practices. Persuade the companies, government agencies and nonprofit agencies with which you are associated to adopt privacy policies and conduct privacy training. Employees should be trained to check picture identification cards when accepting credit cards.


 Answering the Door

  • Install a peephole or viewer in all entry doors so you can see who is outside without opening the door.
  • Do not trust door chains. They can be easily broken.
  • Don't open the door to anyone you don't know. Insist service personnel verify their identity before allowing them in.


  • Make sure that exterior lights are mounted out of reach, so that burglars can't easily unscrew bulbs.
  • Consider buying motion-sensitive lights, which are now available at relatively low prices.
  • Use a variable light timer to activate lights inside your home.
  • Trim trees and shrubs near doors and windows so burglars can't hide in the shadows


Make it time-consuming for a burglar to break into your home by :

  • Installing deadbolt locks on all exterior doors.
  • Installing double key locks in doors which contain glass. This will keep a burglar from being able to open the foor simply by breaking the glass and reaching through. (Note: so that everyone in the house can get out in the event of a fire, be sure to keep the key in a designated place).
  • Placing additional locks on all windows and patio doors.
  • Secure sliding glass doors with locks or a rigid wooden dowel wedges in the track.
  • Lock double-hung windows by sliding a bolt or nail into a hole drilled at a downward angle through the top of each sash and into the frame.


  • Get a dog. You don't need a large attack dog; even a small dog creates a distrubance that burglars would prefer to avoid.
  • If you can afford it, install an alarm system that will alert neighbors of a burglar's presence.

Other tips to prevent break-ins:

  • Think like a burglar. "Case" your home the way a burglar would and look for easy ways to enter your home.
  • Be sure valuables such as guns, electronic devices and artwork are not visible from the street.
  • Work together with your neighbors. Organize a Neighborhood Watch and let your neighbors know when you will be away for an extended period.
  • Display your house number conspicuously and have it well illuminated. This will help police and emergency personnel find your home quickly.

Going Away

  • Make your home appear occupied when you go out.
  • Leave lights on and the radio playing.
  • Keep your garage door closed and locked.
  • Use timing devices to turn inside lights on and off.
  • If you will be gone several days, arrange to have the mail and papers stopped or picked up. Half of all home burglaries occur during the day when alert neighbors could spot and report the thieves.
  • Don't post on social media sites that you will be or are out of town.

Make a file and log all items in your home that have serial numbers.  If items do not have serial numbers, engrave your own "owner applied number" and record this in your log.  Place pictures of jewlery and other small items in your item file.  Keep your sales receipts and other important papers with identifiying information for products. 


  • Use Common Sense When Parking and Exiting Your Vehicle
  • Always take your key, don't leave it in or on your vehicle
  • Always close and lock all windows and doors when you park.
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Always keep your vehicle in your garage, if possible.
  • Never, ever leave valuable in your vehicle, especially where they can be seen.
  • Never, ever leave the area while your vehicle is running. 


There are several diffierent types of anittheft systems and devices designed to make vehicles more difficult to steal and in the event they are solen, easier to trace and recover.  Here's how some of them work:

                 Audible and Visible Devices: Audible devices deter theft by emitting sound that brings attention to an unauthorized attempt to steal or enter your vehicle, such as a horn alarm. Visible devices are devices that create a visual threat/warning/deterrence to a potential thief—such as those created by the use of steering-wheel, brake and wheel locks—as well as theft-deterrent decals, flashing lights and window etching.

                Immobilizing-Type Devices: Immobilizing-type devices are electronic devices that prevent thieves from bypassing your vehicle’s ignition system and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some electronic devices incorporate computer chips in ignition keys. Other immobilizer-type devices disable the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine, such as fuel cut-off devices, kill switches, and starter, ignition and fuel disablers.

                Vehicle Recovery Systems: A vehicle thief will look for any way to steal your vehicle, and sometimes no matter what you do to prevent or deter vehicle theft, it can still happen. Some vehicle manufacturers are installing devices that use electronic transmission technology to aid in the recovery of your vehicle in the event that it has been stolen. This electronic transmission technology has the potential to also help law enforcement reveal the location of other stolen vehicles—and possibility catch the thief in the act.