How to protect yourself from identity theft

Identity theft is one of biggest threats of this era. Now, not only do we need to be weary of our physical safety, but we also need to protect ourselves from people trying to steal our personal information. Here are a few steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim:

Padlock sitting on top of stack of credit cards

Keep your personal information in a safe area
Don't just leave your credit cards lying around the house or in your pocket. Make sure you keep them safe in your wallet. However, you shouldn't keep your social security card or any other sensitive records on your person-keep those type of items filed away. If you lose your social security number, an untrustworthy person could use it to do a number of things, including file for your tax return, try to get a job under your identity, or destroy your credit.

Make sure you trust the people to whom you give your information
Your mom probably isn't going to steal your identity, but you do need to be cautious to whom you give your information. If someone asks for your credit card or social security number, ask them why they need it. When making purchases online, make sure you check to see that the web address begins with “https”-the “s” indicates that the site is secure.

If you think your information was stolen, act quickly
As soon as you realize you've lost a card or a personal document, call your credit card company or your bank to deactivate your card. If you've lost your social security card, things get a little trickier. You can only get a new number if you can prove that your number is being misused, among other factors [1]. Check out the Social Security Administration's website for more information.

Make protecting your identity a priority. It's important to be alert and proactive. If you don't, you could find yourself in a very stressful situation.

[1] Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number, Social Security Administration

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