By all accounts consumers are doing a much better job of detecting and reporting identity theft. In fact the number of incidents had been in decline for a number of years.

“Had been” is the key phrase. According to Javelin Strategy and Research, identity theft increased by twenty two percent in 2008. While the numbers for this year are not yet available, high profile cases like the one in Miami where Albert Gonzalez is accused of stealing over 40 million debit and credit card numbers from the database of several big time companies has many people worried that identity theft is back and about to get much worse.

Sometimes as the Gonzalez case shows you can have your personal information stolen through no fault of your own. But most incidents are of the every day variety. So it is essential to take some extra steps to protect yourself.

1. Throwing It Out Carefully

It’s not very likely that you did a thorough inspection of what’s in the garbage. Identity thieves do. By scoping out your area they know what day and time the trucks will arrive. Meanwhile they take a gamble that there are some receipts in your trash bag as well as financial statements or maybe a junk credit card offer or two. It is essential to completely destroy anything which could be used to gather your personal information before getting rid of it.

2. Sometimes It Is Who You Know.

They are your family, friends and neighbors. Still you have to be careful. According to the Better Business Bureau in almost half of the identity theft cases reported the victim knew the thief. You naturally cannot rule them out of your social circle but you still must be very careful in sharing your personal information.

3. Regular Checkups

It is estimated that over forty percent of victims do not discover the theft until three months after it has happened. They are the lucky ones. All too often it takes years for an identity theft victim to realize they have been ripped off. Check your credit report and financial accounts on a regular basis. If you have not signed up for online banking you should definitely take action. It is very effective when it comes to monitoring financial activities.


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