ID theft is considered to be one of the fastest-growing crimes in the nation. By taking steps now to protect your identity, you will avoid having to take steps later to clear your name and your credit. Becoming a victim of identity theft has the potential to cost a lot of money, a lot of time, and places a large amount of unnecessary stress on you. ID theft happens when your personal information is stolen and the person committing the crime uses that information to commit a form of fraud, theft, or another crime. Examples of the personal information that may be stolen includes, but is not limited to, your Social Security number, the number associated with your bank account, your name, and your address. Once this information is obtained by a criminal, it could potentially damage your reputation, as well as your credit. In this guide, you will learn 3 steps that may be used to protect yourself from ID theft.

1.     Protect Your Numbers
The first and most important step to protecting yourself from ID theft is to ensure that you protect your numbers. These include your Social Security number, any PINs that you have, sensitive passwords, and any type of account number in which you are associated. You may do this by avoiding carrying these numbers in your purse or wallet. You should never provide these numbers to anyone, except in situations in which you know it to be necessary. An example of such situation is when you are handling tax-related affairs with the IRS. It is best to keep all your important numbers locked away in a location that is difficult to access by others. In doing so, you are taking a productive step in protecting yourself from identity theft.

2.     Monitor Your Statements
The next step you may take in order to protect yourself from ID theft is to consistently monitor your statements – both those from your bank and those associated with your credit cards. You should look to ensure that all activity reflects activities that you have performed and that no suspicious activities are present. By monitoring your statements closely each month, you have a better chance of identifying any type of theft and reducing the amount of damage that the theft may cause you.

3.     Watch Your Mail
If you currently utilize an unsecured mailbox to send or receive any mail that contains information that personally identifies you, you should stop immediately. It is best to use a designated collection box at your local post office for these types of items. If you receive paper statements from your bank, credit card agency, and other types of companies, you should opt out from paper and sign up for paperless billing.

ID theft is highly devastating to those that experience it. Each of us has personal identifying information. If that information gets into the hands of the wrong people, it could wreak havoc in your life. Not only do crimes associated with identity theft result in your good name becoming tarnished, it could cost you a lot of money and result in many unnecessary complications, such as devastating your credit. By taking the steps outlined in this guide, you will be able to successfully protect you and your identity.