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If you've ever had your identity stolen, don't feel alone. About 9 million Americans suffer through fraudulent charges and other effects of identity theft each year. But there are ways you can prevent identity theft. What can consumers do to stop identity theft and safeguard their personal information?
Prevent Identity Theft Tip #1: Secure your personal belongings and records.
Identity thieves can't steal much if they don't have your personal information. This is why it's vital for consumers to make sure that sensitive documents stay behind locked drawers or a safe. And, when it comes time to dispose of documents that may have some personal data on it, the safest bet is to destroy them. A shredder comes in handy for this.
It might also be prudent for consumers to drop off mail containing sensitive information at the post office. Snoops can easily take mail from mailboxes.
Prevent Identity Theft Tip #2: Monitor your credit.
TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian are required by law to provide a free credit report to consumers each year. You should try to monitoring your credit by requesting copies of your credit report. See if there is any suspicious activity on your account. If there is information on it that seems inaccurate, contact the credit agencies to have them removed.
Prevent Identity Theft Tip #3: Be cautious when giving out your personal information.
Avoid email phishing scams. Be wary when websites or emails request you give out your personal information over the internet. Similarly, be careful about giving personal information to unverified people over the phone. Emails and phone calls from scammers may look or sound legitimate.
Use these simple tips to help prevent identity theft. While these methods might not completely stop identity thieves from striking, they can reduce your potential risk.