by Lisa Grimaldi | January 01, 2005

Worried about identity theft? Following are some practical tips from Mari Frank, a privacy consultant and author of Safeguard Your Identity: Protect Yourself With a Personal Privacy Audit (

Make confetti. Invest in a paper shredder. Use it to destroy mail and old records that contain personal or financial data.

Be vague. Leave your home address and telephone number off personal checks.

Watch your back. Be aware of who is standing behind you at ATMs and when using phone cards. “Shoulder surfers” can get your PIN number and access your accounts.

Protect mail. Don’t leave bills or envelopes containing checks in your home mailbox for pick-up by your mail carrier. Thieves can snatch them and, using an acid wash, erase the name of the recipient on the check  and change it to their own.

Beware card sharks. If a newly ordered credit card or replacement doesn’t arrive promptly, call and ask when the card was sent.