Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it in a way that involves fraud or deception, typically for a financial gain. If you have ever been a victim of identity theft, then you may understand how difficult it is to overcome the burden it brings to your credit, finances and even your reputation. However, there are many ways you can help prevent identity theft from happening to you.

Safeguard your social security number
Your social security number is one of the most prized pieces of information. If your social security number falls into the wrong hands, it can cause problems for you financially. A scammer could easily apply for a loan, open a new account and commit credit card fraud if they gain access to your social security number. Avoid carrying around your social security card and always ensure documents that display your social security number are properly handled or shredded.

Set-up credit alerts
Establishing credit alerts is an additional layer of protection you can give yourself. Receiving an alert if your social was used to apply for a loan can help you spot identity theft and report it quickly.

Shred old check books and credit card statements
Don’t put it past a fraudster to dumpster dive for sensitive information. Scammers will look for statements, old cards, and check books just to gain information about you. The safest thing you can do is shred your documentation at home before tossing it in the trash.

Use strong passwords and add multi-factor authentication
When identity theft happens it often isn’t just your social security number that is compromised. Make sure to protect your login credentials by using strong passwords and setting up multi-factor authentication when possible. Keeping a close eye on your credit report will help you spot any suspicious activity or discover if a fraudster has attempted to steal your identity. If you ever feel you have fallen victim to identity theft, make sure to report it immediately to or file a police report. After completing this you will want to file an extended fraud alert with the Federal Trade Commission to make it harder for new credit lines to be opened.

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