Over the last ten years or so we have seen a huge increase in a very special kind of criminal. This

criminal doesn’t break into your home, vehicle, or office space to vandalize or steal something, but this criminal breaks into your identity and uses it to ruin your live. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes across the country. The sad thing is, the US population is very uneducated about identity theft, how it can turn their lives upside down, and how to protect

Nearly 20% of the US population has either been directly affected by an identity thief or know someone who has. When a criminal steals your identity, it’s not just your money or your possessions that they can take. It will also cost you countless hours of personal time and effort in getting things cleaned up after you have become a victim. A criminal can target areas which will affect your credit rating most of the time preventing your from being able to secure a loan for an automobile or even a mortgage for your first home.

When it comes to your identity and protecting it you cannot rely on someone to protect you. You need to realize that it all comes down to you and members of your family to make the right moves to protect yourself and your data at all times. It is very important to have the ability to shred documents like bank statements and bills from the electric company. Often times, these documents are the first that are targeted by a criminal. If they get their hands on these documents, some of the information found on them can be used to apply for credit cards in your name.

Today, online fraud is where you are at the highest risk of having your identity stolen. The amount of information stored and shared online is so tempting and easy for criminals to obtain and use for their own personal gain. The sad thing is, people are willing and easily give up this information online without any question.

People are still being taken advantage of by phishing scams over the phone and over the internet. When you get a phone call or an email that looks or sounds suspicious, delete it or hang up and call the institution that the call supposedly came from. Any institution who has your very sensitive information like a social security number will have no reason to every call you asking for this info.

You should also keep your computers anti-virus software up to date and be on the lookout for news about new viruses and trojan horses. There are plenty of viruses that can be downloaded to your computer and expose passwords and personal information. I recently had my personal blog hacked and that was one of the biggest pains since many of my posts were deleted, scrambled, or changed to portray hate, racism, and a lot foul language.

I fixed the problem with much stronger passwords always using numbers and letters intertwined. You must always remember to look after your data both at home and online and make sure that it is protected and that you are the only one who has access to it. Take the necessary steps now to protect your identity and your personal data before it’s too late.