#1 You can’t protect yourself from identity theft.

Some, not all Identity theft is preventable. There are many things people can do to minimize their risk, both online and offline. Shred anything that has names and account numbers or any other data that can be used to con someone else into divulging even more information. Keep financial records protected and private in a locking file cabinet at home or protected PC. Opt out of junk mail. Invest in an identity theft protection service and get a credit freeze.

#2 Identity theft is only a financial crime.

There is also medical identity theft when someone poses as you to get medical attention, criminal identity theft when the thief commits crimes under your identity. There is also employment fraud when they use your SSN to get a job and identity cloning when the thief is simply trying to evade the law or others by posing as you in plain sight.

#3 Technology and computers are why identity theft is so big.

Certainly data breaches are responsible for some identity theft. However, low tech identity theft is the bigger problem. A lost or stolen wallet, checkbook, or a debit or credit card handed over to a clerk or information tossed in the trash are all the most prevalent ways your identity is jacked.

#4 Caller ID is safe.

Caller IDs are easily spoofed with technology that allows the bad guy to change what shows up on your handset. First, no matter who calls, never giver personal information over the phone if you stand to gain or lose something or if the caller states your data was lost in a computer crash. Always use the phonebook or look up the number online and call them back.

#5 Checking your credit report protects you from identity theft.

I’ve always though thought this was silly advice. Checking your credit report just tells you if your identity has been stolen. But you should still check your credit report as often as possible. Some identity theft protection services let you check it every day. I’d check it monthly if you have the option.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing identity theft on YouTube. Disclosures.

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