Identity thieves can be extremely clever and can often cause you disastrous debt and a terrible credit rating. A good credit rating is important in order to receive favorable loan terms and credit cards.
In order to prevent identity theft you can frequently check your credit report, which can be found online. In your credit report, check for things such as withdrawals you can’t explain, unfamiliar accounts, transactions you didn’t do, and debt that is not yours. If merchants refuse your checks, you don’t receive your bills or mail and you get medical bills that aren’t yours, you can be pretty sure your identity has been stolen. In this case you should immediately call your bank(s) to disallow all transactions involving your account.
Your credit/debit card information can also be stolen at an ATM or gas station. Thieves can place devices which record your card number around the card-swipe slot and above the pin pad to record your pin number. You can check to see any strange looking card slots or plastic-like pin pads to avoid this.
If you receive strange emails, especially ones requesting your personal information, do not open or respond to them. These can contain viruses, malware, or can simply be spam. Always keep a backup of your digital files and have the screensaver on your mobile devices and laptop password protected. Always, always wipe your hard drives before you sell or dispose your digital devices.
Use passwords and protect them. Don’t carry a list of your passwords around in your wallet/purse in case it is stolen or lost. Keep your passwords encrypted and keep your password list in parts (separate) so it is harder to decode or steal. Make your passwords longer, use different characters and do not use the same passwords for everything.
Your identity is precious. If it is stolen you can be robbed or even accused of something you never did. You must always maintain a good credit report and never, ever give your identification into the hands of a stranger.