November 28th, 2008

Ten Ways to Avoid Identity Theft to Protect your Credit

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Retail stores have databases compromised and online retailers have personal information hacked into on a fairly regular basis these days. 9.3 million people fell victim to identity theft in 2004 alone, which is an indicator that above all else, we absolutely need to learn ways to avoid identity theft and protect the integrity of our credit and credit scores. Here are ten ways that you can better protect yourself against having your identity stolen, ensuring that your credit is safe and protected.

1 – Take your bills and statements online rather than opting for paper versions.

Even with shredding machines, determined individuals will still be able to retrieve enough information to steal your identity.

2 – Scrutinize your bank statements and bills every month.

Identifying identity theft early is the best chance to ensure that the minimum amount of damage occurs to your accounts and credit score.

3 – Use your passwords responsibility.

Don’t give them out freely or write them down where others will find them. Be sure to choose hard to guess passwords, avoiding simple phrases or whole words.

4 – Be careful how you use your social security number and shield it whenever possible.

This number alone is all someone needs to steal your identity. Do not give it out to someone you don’t trust implicitly.

5 – Read every piece of mail you get rather than throwing it away.

You do not know if the piece of mail contains your personal information, a pre-approved credit offer, or anything else needed to steal your identity.

6 – Keep credit card offers at bay as effectively as you possibly can.

Sign up for anti-junk mail services and request to be removed from pre-approved offer lists from all of the banks and distributors from which you get the offers.

7 – Lock up your mailbox to keep people from stealing your mail.

If you have a box in front of your home, get the kind that allows you to keep the mail behind a locked panel. Also, make sure not to put outbound mail until right before the mailman arrives.

8 – Know where your mail is all the time, even when you are out of town or out on vacation.

Have a friend pick up the mail for you and keep it safe, or request for the post office to hold the mail, which will do it for up to a month.

9 – Defend your credit card numbers from strangers who may be listening.

Do not give you card out readily on the phone, unless you are in a private place, and only if you have to. Instead of giving the number, ask if the other company can send a bill, or has an online, secure web page.

10 – Shred whatever evidence is going to be thrown away before you let it leave the safety of your home.

Shredding is a deterrent that stops the vast majority of identity thieves. Determined individuals will still find the information, but shredding the documents is a minimum amount to ensure that you identity remains safe.

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Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Credit Karma does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For complete details of any products mentioned, visit bank or issuer website.


  1. It would make it much easier to read if you didn’t put “To protect your identity,” in front of every item.

    Craig at 1:37 pm on December 4, 2008
  2. Good point and fixed.

    Kenneth Lin at 1:45 pm on December 4, 2008
  3. These are good tips for prevention, but criminals are resourceful, the best advice is to monitor the activity on your credit report on a regular basis. This year, I have received no less than 10 emails from creditors who are “so sorry” but some hacker has stolen my personal data from their system. Criminals are also patient, who knows when this info will be used.

    D. Lyn Rich at 12:20 pm on July 26, 2011
  4. we absolutely need to learn ways to avoid identity theft. your blog is so nice..

    Wood Shredder at 2:27 am on June 2, 2012
  5. Reading every piece of mail you get is really important. Thanks for sharing these tips.

    Traci searching for paper shredders at 3:27 pm on July 30, 2013

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