Identity theft is a growing problem in the United States, one that everyone should be aware of. To avoid becoming a victim, start thinking about identity theft security and take steps to keep your identity safe.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.
Once thieves get a hold of your identity, they can cause all sorts of damage. Thieves can make purchases using your existing accounts. Some may open new lines of credit in your name. They can rent homes, buy real estate or make other investments with your identity.
To avoid this, invest time in managing your financial records. Keep identification you do not need to have on you, such as your passport, tucked away. Most importantly, report any instances of identity theft to your lenders, the local police and to the FTC.
The most effective way of minimizing these risks is to make changes to your everyday lifestyle. To help prevent identity theft, consider the following:
Be vigilant about keeping your identity to yourself. Don't give your information to just anyone. Work to prevent identity theft from affecting you.
Get copies of your credit reports and verify that the information on the reports is accurate. Look for addresses that aren't yours, accounts you didn't open, inquiries you didn't authorize and changes to your name. Report these to the credit bureaus immediately.
You may also wish to put a security freeze on your credit reports at each of the three credit bureaus. This will enable you to lock your credit, making it impossible for thieves to open a new line of credit using your identification.