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How to Prevent Identity Theft: Protect Your Identity

Identity theft is growing throughout the United States. Due to the increased use of internet transactions, those people with criminal intent work to find more effective ways to capitalize on this commerce. Individuals may also not be taking the identity theft warnings seriously enough, or just not know how to protect themselves while taking advantage of the convenience of internet shopping.

The list of precautions in preventing identity theft continues to grow. While thieves are sitting behind a computer hacking away at your computer accounts or ravaging through your trash, there are plenty of victims who fall prey to hackers while waiting for the list of precautions to be updated.There are the standard precautions that apply to avoid identity theft:

Carry only what you absolutely need on your person (e.g., limited debit and credit cards; select identification).
Keep your personal information away from everyone’s access, including roommates and any outside workers. 

Cancel any accounts which are not currently in use (bank, credit, and computer accounts).
Guard your social security number with care.

It is acceptable to ask about security procedures for all businesses with which you are affiliated, such as doctor’s offices, or any place that harbors any of your personal information. Remove your name from all marketing lists,  as this will limit the number of pre-approved credit lines that you receive. NEVER give out any personal information over the phone regardless of who is asking for the information. Keep copies of all of your personal information in a secure place.

Some people like to have their drivers license number printed on their checks but you may want to avoid that convenience. Invest in a shredder and shred all documents before you throw them away. Your home mailbox is normally not a secure place, and if left accessible all day long, gives ample opportunity for those with identity theft ill intent to take advantage of you. You should also order a copy of your credit report annually. Examine it very carefully, looking for any activity or information of which you are unaware. Then trace it down to see where it originates, and correct any errors immediately.

You are also going to need to  protect your computerl. Use passwords on all of your accounts, install a firewall, and only give personal and financial information over verified secured servers. Change your passwords often, and use a password to protect your computer so that no one else can access your information. All of these efforts can help you lessen the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.

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