Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States last year. Over 11 million Americans have been the victim to identity theft last year. One in every 20 U.S. adults was a victim of identity theft in 2009.
On average, an identity was stolen every three seconds. A stolen identity can be used to open new credit card accounts, apply for mortgages, and even take out payday loans.
Year after year, identity thieves become increasingly more resourceful and ingenious. They find new ways to steal personal information from unsuspecting Americans. Simply monitoring credit reports just is not good enough to defend against thieves. You have to be proactive in your defense of identity theft.
How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
There are a few simple and easy things that you can do every day to protect yourself from identity theft and limit the threats to your personal information. You can protect yourself from identity theft and reduce the treat of identity theft from happening to you.
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Secure Your Junk Mail
Identity thieves can obtain information by stealing your mail. Junk mail, bank statements, bills, pre-approved credit offers, and W-2s all contain valuable information for thieves to scrounge. Because some identity theft is still done by trash digging, all read mail should go through the shredder before it goes to the trash.
Reconcile Your Bank And Credit Card Statements
You are on the hook for more money if you delay in reporting a theft of your identity and fraudulent use of your credit cards and especially your debt card. You should be sure to reconcile bank and credit card statements against all of your receipts.
You need to be on the watch for any charges that you may not recognize. If you find a discrepancy, notify your bank or credit card company immediately, no matter how small. Many criminals try small amounts as a test before they go for a larger score.
Beware Of Emails And Attachments
With modern technology, identity thieves can access your information without ever leaving their home. Beware of unsolicited emails asking for your sensitive information. You should never open an email from someone or a company you do not know, and you should never click on a link inside the email or download an attachment from someone you do not know and trust.
By clicking on links within email, you can visit websites that record your personal and financial information and automatically upload malicious software that is designed to steal your passwords and other account information by monitoring your key strokes. Free or fee, anti-virus programs are designed to help protect you.
Avoid Fire Sharing Networks
Avoid file sharing networks which are quickly becoming illegal and authorities are cracking down on. Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing can give hackers and identity thieves direct and open access to the inside of your computer and your personal information stored on your hard drive without your knowledge.
Preventative measures are a good start. But there are experts who dedicate themselves every day to outsmarting the identity thieves like the experts at LifeLock. It may be a smart and inexpensive precaution to let a security company like LifeLock help protect you from identity theft.
LifeLock provides a proactive identity theft service, specializing in the prevention of identity theft rather than the reporting of it. LifeLock Identity Alert™ system provides broad identity coverage, control, and early notification of both credit and non-credit related identity threats.
They also search over 10,000 sites for the illegal selling or trading of your personal information.
LifeLock guarantees their services so much that they will spend up to $1 million to hire lawyers, investigators, consultants, and whatever else it takes to restore your name and help you recover the direct losses from the identity theft if you are a victim while using their services.
Do you protect yourself from identity theft? What resources do you use?