Annually, approximately ten million people have something very important stolen from them. It is not their car, it is not their child, and it is not their money: it’s their identity. Identity theft is a crime that is on the rise and costing billions of hard earned dollars a year.

While there is no way to ensure 100% identify theft protection, there are several tips to follow that can reduce your chances of becoming a victim.

-Shred all important documents. Whenever you receive a bank statement or a credit card statement, or even a medical bill, do not throw it away. File the papers in a heavy duty filing cabinet with a lock. When it is time to sort through the documents and get rid of what is not needed, run the papers through a shredder. Shredders can vary in price depending upon quality, but for $30.00 you can have a better piece of mind.

-Do not carry your social security card in your wallet. It may seem convenient to have your social security card in your wallet, but it is not necessary. This is a very important identity theft protection tip and if followed can help preserve your identity. -Lock your family’s social security cards up in a fire proof safe. Try to memorize the numbers and not write them down anywhere.

-Be careful who you submit your information to. Unfortunately, there are some people out there who are not very nice. These people may create websites or send out professional looking emails that ask you for very personal information. They may offer you a job or claim to be your bank updating information. Before you submit any information online, call the company and see if they are sending out emails, or check the Better Business Bureau for company information.

-When mailing out documents with personal information on, use security envelops. These envelops make it virtually impossible for anyone to see through them. For even more identity theft protection, only mail important documents in the blue postal mailboxes. If at all possible, try to avoid leaving personal mail overnight in a residential mailbox.

-Photo copy all of the contents of your wallet and file them in a locking safe. By photo copying all of the items in your wallet, you have records of who to call if the wallet is lost or stolen. In the event that you notice your wallet is missing, immediately begin calling and canceling your credit and bank cards. Even if the wallet turns up 2 days later underneath the car seat, you still took the right step toward identity theft protection.

Remember that just because you haven’t given any personal information out or you haven’t lost your wallet, does not mean you are safe. While taking extreme measures for identity theft protection ensures you better piece of mind, it can not guarantee that somebody has not gotten a hold of some information. Always check your credit report at least once or twice a year to make sure no new accounts have been open that you did not authorize. You’ll only have one identity so protect it.