Six Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Identity Theft

IDENTITY GUARD recently reminds consumers that Identity theft remains a major threat to consumers of all ages. Fraud protection is essential for everyone from infants to adolescents to adults because identity theft is such a costly and potentially life-changing crime.

According to a February 2011 Javelin Strategy & Research report on identity theft and fraud protection, more than 8.1 million identities were stolen in 2010. On average, victims of identity theft were responsible for paying $631 in out-of-pocket costs, such as those to cover fraudulent debt or legal fees, which is a significant rise from $387 in 2009. The California-based market research firm says the increased need for fraud protection may stem from thieves focusing more on new account debit card fraud.

The climbing costs may provide individuals with even more incentive to better monitor their credit reports and scores. While a credit and 
fraud protection program can be a great asset, consumers should also make sure to take the proper steps to lower their risk of identity theft.

Here are six tips that may help consumers better defend against thieves.

1. Avoid throwing away any private documentation -- bills, credit card offers, bank statements -- that contains personal identifying details without first running it through a paper shredder.

2. Take receipts after a purchase and check their listed amounts against credit card bills. This approach may help a person identify any fraudulent charges on his or her statements.

3. Avoid carrying your Social Security card out of your home unless it's absolutely necessary.

4. Have your mail delivery temporarily suspended when you are on vacation.

5. Use a different password for each online account and construct passwords with a combination of numbers, capital letters, and, if 
possible, symbols.

6. Stay abreast of the latest online fraud tactics. Knowing what scams are out there can help individuals practice safer Web browsing 
 behavior.

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