4 Ways to prevent identity theft

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By Jim Carr By Jim Carr

PHOENIX -- A recent report indicates that more than 8 million identities were stolen last year. The cases, on average, cost victims around $600 in fraudulent costs. So, to keep from becoming a victim, remind yourself to do the following.

First, do the obvious and don't throw away your mail or personal information.

Felicia Thompson with the Phoenix Better Business Bureau warns your garbage "has your name, your credit card numbers, your bank account numbers, just so many things a scammer could essentially piece together and use it against you."
 
Instead, invest in a cheap shredder. It takes just a moment to shred junk mail and documents you may not think are important but could be crucial to a scammer.
 
Secondly, don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Chances are you already know your number by heart anyway.
 
"People lose their wallets and their purses," Thompson said. "You set your purse down or your bag down, it just is a matter of someone getting your information when you're not paying attention."
 
Next, use different passwords for different accounts. Having one password is like a master key and once it's figured out, the scammer has access to all of your computer accounts.
 
"If you can just have a different password, even if it is a different letter or number, that's helpful and it can deter someone from taking the extra step and taking your ID," Thompson said.
 
Finally, be sure to keep yourself informed. It's up to you to learn the latest methods used by scammers. That way you'll know how to prevent yourself from becoming part of the 8 million people victimized last year.
 
"Stay connected to the Federal Trade Commission and really do your best to be proactive," Thompson said. "Only you are your best protection from ID theft and fraud."
 
By the way, in regard to computer passwords, don’t use your pet’s name. It’s easy to find out your pet's name on Facebook or other social media sites and crooks know that so be careful.