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5 Ways to Avoid Identity Theft

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5 Ways to Avoid Identity Theft

Identity theft is a problem that affects millions of people each year. Thankfully, there are simple steps you can take to help keep your private information safe. Here are five simple ways you can protect yourself from identity thieves.

Shred any documents you don't need

Make sure you completely destroy all documents that contain personal information by shredding them. Bills, credit card statements, and ATM receipts are all examples of documents to destroy to protect yourself from identity theft. A personal shredder is an inexpensive and valuable investment in your security.

Monitor your statements

Monitoring your bank and credit card statements will alert you of fraudulent activity and allow you to take measures to safeguard your security. If you are going abroad, make sure you have a trusted friend or relative monitor your statements, or check them online to ensure that nothing is amiss.

Protect your computer

It is important to protect your computer from malware to stay secure online. Install the latest updates for all of your software, including your operating system. You also need to install a firewall and an antivirus and keep them updated. Many hackers gather personal information from computers and it is important to protect yourself against these attacks.

Carry minimal personal information

Never carry your credit cards, debit cards, passport, and Social Security card in the same wallet. Carry only the minimum information that you need at any given time. Make photocopies of all the cards and documents in your wallet to keep at home, or scan them and store them electronically. These records can be extremely helpful if your wallet is stolen.

Protect your mailbox

One common way for criminals to steal personal information is by searching through mailboxes. Many personal documents arrive by mail and it is important that you keep your mailbox secure. Check your mailbox regularly and when you have a choice between receiving email or postal mail, go for the online option to reduce the risk of losing personal information. If you are going away, ask the post office hold your mail, forward it to another location, or have a trusted friend or neighbor pick it up each day.

Identity theft is a serious problem that affects millions of people every year. It is much easier to take these simple steps to prevent identity theft than it is to get your identity back once it has been stolen!

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