Identity theft is a serious problem that can have a profound negative impact on a victim’s life. Identity theft occurs when an individual’s personal information is stolen and then used without their knowledge. For instance, many have found that their social security numbers and other personal information have been used by identity thieves to obtain credit cards, max them out and then leave the unknowing victim in the lurch. However, there are methods that you can implement to protect yourself from this growing trend.

1. Contest, Phone and Email Scams

Unscrupulous folks are not above trying to scare or trick your personal information out of you. You may receive an email or a phone call from who appears to be your bank or a creditor requesting verification of your personal information. Do not give this information away. Also, be aware of those who claim that you have won a wonderful prize or contest, and all they need is your credit card number to send your winnings out. Don’t fall for this scam.

2. Be Careful on Cell Phones

Cellular devices are not secured lines and can actually be easily monitored. As a result, you should be careful not to use your cell phone to make orders which requires your credit information. Also, avoid discussing in depth personal information via cell.

3. Properly Handle Paperwork

Identity thieves will go to all kinds of lengths to get your personal information, including digging through the trash. How often do you just toss out pre-screened credit offers? What about your bills? This is very dangerous as those who are intent on stealing identities are looking for just these sorts of documents. Rather, shred and recycle this information.

4. Be Careful on Job Websites

While it is nearly impossible to apply for a job without using job websites these days, it is imperative that you be careful with the information that you post. Does a potential employer really need to know your birthday or social security number before you’re even interviewed? Of course they don’t.

5. Password Protection

Everyone has about a million pass-codes and pin numbers these days. It’s just simpler to assign something easy to remember for these necessary numbers such as a wedding anniversary date or your significant other’s name. Try to avoid this. Rather, reach for codes that are easy for you to remember but difficult for a thief to figure out. Keep all of these codes written down somewhere safe, but preferably not online.

6. Protect Your Computer 

Identity thieves love the World Wide Web. They can easily obtain all sorts of information through simple trickery. Therefore, make sure that your computer isn’t easy to crack by investing in quality spyware, anti-virus protection and firewall protection. in with ‘https,’ go somewhere different. That ‘s’ at the end means the site is secure.

7. Monitor Credit

Really, even the most careful person can be the victim of identity theft. Therefore, the very best way to protect yourself is to be vigilant in monitoring your credit. You can get a free credit report from each of the three leading credit bureaus annually. Check one every four months to make sure there are no errors, which could be a sign of identity theft. Also, monitor your bills and all of your banking transactions weekly for unauthorized purchases.

Identity theft can be financially devastating. Luckily, it is a mostly avoidable problem. Simply following the above recommendations will go a long way to protect your identity.