Identity theft is one of the fastest growing areas of crime in the online/information world. The FTC's January 2006 report said that 37% of their 685,000 consumer fraud complaints received in 2005 involved identity theft. Many think the number for identity theft is even bigger, much bigger. With that said, here is a list of 10 things you can do to help protect yourself.

  1. Shop online only on secure websites.
  2. Protect all of your personal information.
  3. Protect your computer. A lot of sensitive data is stored on your PC, make sure it is locked down.
  4. When web surfing, use another identity. Be stealth.
  5. Watch out for phishing scams. Carefully review your email for hints of fraud.
  6. Pay by cash, but if you can't, pay by credit card. There is more protection for you if you use your credit card online.
  7. Get off of mailing lists, especially those for preapproved credit cards. And if you don't take them up on their offer, shred the information.
  8. Regularly check your credit reports on all three of the big credit agencies. Make it part of your end of year or beginning of year financial review.
  9. If you think someone is attempting to steal your identity, report it right away. If you are wrong, at least you took some action to protect yourself.
  10. Protect PINs, passwords, anything that gets you access to personal or financial information.