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Protect Yourself: Follow These Steps to Prevent Identity Theft

written by: nataliajones•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 10/15/2010

A physical break-in can leave you feeling vulnerable and afraid, but identity theft is just as scary. This invasion of privacy can cost you lots of money if it goes undetected and it can be hard to bounce back. Check these steps on how to prevent identity theft.

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    Identity Theft How do you protect yourself from credit card and identity theft? There are a number of steps on how to prevent identity theft. Here are a few of the most effective.

    Check Your Credit Score

    A number of people only check their credit report when they need to qualify for a loan, and by that time it may be too late to correct errors or detect fraudulent accounts that appear under your name. By staying on top of what the three credit rating agencies have to say about you on a regular basis, you are more likely to notice transactions that are unusual or incorrect. This will certainly put you in a better position to stop them before they do too much damage to your overall credit score.

    Be Careful When Using Public Computers

    You can never be too careful when inputting private information on a public computer. Your social security number or bank account information can be lifted off of sites that you visited if you do not log off properly or if you entered information on a site that was not secure. This means that your information can be accessed by the next person to use the machine, leaving you susceptible to identity theft.

    Install Protective Software on Home Computers

    You should be careful even on your personal computer because there are sites that are purposely set up to try to steal your data. Phishing is a common way that people fall victim to identity theft because they open emails, click on links or enter information onto sties that are not what they seem to be. Specialist anti-virus software and anti-spyware can help to protect you from attacks from unscrupulous con artists.

    Shred Your Mail

    You should be extra vigilant about your physical mail because this can easily get into the wrong hands. Another of our steps on how to prevent identity theft is to shred all sensitive documents before you throw them away so that even if someone tried to get your mail from your garbage they would not be able to read the information. Also, if you are going to be away for some time, arrange to have your mail picked up instead of having it pile up as temptation for those who want to steal your information. Alternatively, you can have your mail held at the post office for the time you will be away and collect them all when you return.

    Image: Michelle Meiklejohn /

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    Continue reading on page two for more steps on how to prevent identity theft.

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    How Do You Protect Yourself From Credit Card and Identity Theft? Your Questions AnsweredAre you wondering how do you protect yourself from credit card and identity theft? These steps on how to prevent identity theft can help you to stay safe from those who want to prey on the less informed. It is important to be vigilant about protecting your identity because being careless with your information can be both costly and dangerous.
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    Steps on How to Prevent Identity Theft - Continued

    On page one of this article, we looked at how do you protect yourself from credit card and identity theft. Here, we continue looking at the steps on how to prevent identity theft.

    Only Shop from Secure Websites

    While online security has become more of a priority for most online retailers, some sites are still not paying enough attention to the safety of your transaction. To be sure that your information will be safe before you click to purchase something from a site, look for recognizable symbols of online security, or you can check the URL for the "https" prefix as another indicator that security measures are in place.

    Read Your Credit Card Statements

    If you don't pay close attention to the actual transactions on your credit card statement you could be missing small transactions that you did not make. It is a good idea to keep your credit card receipts until your statement arrives so that you can match them back and decrease the risk that you might miss a transaction that could highlight fraud before it gets too costly.

    Never Leave Receipts Behind

    If you walk away from the ATM without taking your bank receipt, or you pay with your credit card and then neglect to pick up the slip, you could be leaving yourself open to identity theft. These little pieces of paper contain important information that can be pieced together to commit acts of fraud which can wreck your credit score.

    Don't Take Your Eyes Off Your Credit Card

    Another way to fall victim to identity theft is "credit card skimming." Here, the perpetrator makes a copy of your credit card and identification to use it later for online purchases. If you always insist on handing over your card only for attendants to swipe your payment there is less opportunity for this to happen. If you have to hand over your card for it to be swiped out of your sight, it is safer to pay with cash.

    Instead of wondering how do you protect yourself from credit card and identity theft, you can be proactive. Practicing these simple steps on how to prevent identity theft can help you to maintain control of your financial life.