Identity theft has become a serious problem within the last ten years. These insidious thieves cost Britons millions of pounds every year with their selfish and inconsiderate crimes. Identity theft takes you by surprise and by the time you discover that you’re in big trouble, it’s already too late and your good name is smeared.

Here are ten ways simple ways for you to protect yourself against identity theft:

1. Invest in a shredder at home and shred all your sensitive garbage like bills, credit card ads and old documents. Identity thieves go through trash cans looking for these items and then they have you. Aside from burning them, shredding them is the only option. For the workplace, using a confidential data destruction service is a very useful option – confidential paperwork builds up very quickly in the office and it should under no circumstances be left lying around for anyone to read.

2. Limit online shopping to secure sites only. Check the bottom of the page for a picture of a padlock or the letters “https”. This assures you that your transaction is safe from hackers.

3. Avoid all email requests for personal information. This is called “phishing” and is very common through email and chat services. Don’t fall for it. Reputable companies will not act in this manner.

4. A similar “phishing” type of information scam comes via the telephone. Again, don’t fall for it. Never give out personal info over the phone; plenty of security measures are always put in place by trustworthy companies and there will be safe methods of getting your details to these.

5. Protect your computer by keeping anti-virus and anti-spyware updated. This software blocks attempts to compromise your information and is your first line of defence against fraudsters who want to get their hands on your personal details in any way they can.

6. Obtain a copy of your credit report periodically and review it for facts you weren’t aware of or which seem suspicious. You could even go one step further and subscribe to a service that alerts you when changes to your credit report occur.

7. If you are going away for a period of time and your post is delivered in an easily accessible space such as an external post box, consider halting your postal delivery while you are away – ID thieves are opportunists and will go to great lengths to get what they want; if they figure out that you’re travelling and that they can easily access your mail daily they will do so.

8. Important documents such as birth certificates need to be secured. The preferable storage would be in a fire safe locked box tucked safely away in your home.

9. Call your credit card companies and bank institution and inquire about identity theft procedures they have in place. You shouldn’t be liable for fraudulent charges. Don’t be afraid to ask your employer about sensitive data and how it is safeguarded. The safety of your private information is important.

10. Take great care with your National Insurance number – Do not, under any circumstances, allow anyone you decide to do business with use your NI number to identify you. This makes your NI number public information and definitely puts you at risk BIG TIME.

These are the simple things you can do on a day to day basis to safeguard your identity.

By doing these things, you will have less of a chance of being hit by identity theft – don’t be careless. Take care of your confidential information and you will save yourself the stress and grief of dealing with someone else using your identity as if it were their own.