Identity theft is a serious crime that affects nearly 10 million Americans every year. It can affect anyone and unless you actively practice ways to protect your personal information—you too can become a victim. Identity thieves don’t necessarily have to have your social security number to steal your identity; they can use your credit card numbers, driver’s license number, bank account information, and even your employment records. The following steps will explain how to protect your personal information from identity thieves and show you what to do if you believe your identity has been stolen.
Keep your wallet or purse with you at all times. Never leave your wallet or purse in your car, even if your car is locked. Watch your purse when you’re out and never leave it hanging on the back of your chair at restaurants or on stall hooks in the ladies room.
Get a copy of your credit report and check it for errors. Every American is entitled to a free credit report every year from each of the three credit reporting agencies. Take advantage of this offer and thoroughly check all three credit reports for errors. If you think there may be a discrepancy on your credit report, immediately report it to the credit reporting agency and dispute the item or items in question.
Contact the credit reporting agencies and account issuers in writing to report the accounts you believe were opened fraudulently. Always keep a copy of all documents you send and receive for your records.