Identity theft is an all too common crime across the country and it can be easy to fall victim to it. However, you may also be able to take a few simple steps to dramatically increase your security.
One of the easiest things to do when it comes to increasing your security from identity theft is being careful about what you keep in your wallet. There's not likely to be a situation where you need more than one credit card with you at all times, and having more only increases the risk should your wallet go missing or get stolen.
For the same reason, it's important not to leave important identification in there beyond what you need. Of course you need your driver's license, but find a safe place at home to store your passport, Social Security card, and other documents that contain a wealth of personal data that could be valuable to thieves.
Further, take precautions to be more aware when you're online. Some crooks set up fake websites that look like your regular banking site. Others send spam emails designed to either dupe you out of money or personal information.
One great rule of thumb for protecting yourself from these attacks is to always make sure your web browser displays a lock icon somewhere in the window when you're entering sensitive data. Further, it's important to never share any personal information or passwords with someone claiming to represent your bank or another organization unless they can verify their identity. These groups would never require you to turn over data in this way. Both these tactics are known as "phishing," and are used to get information that can be used to gain access to your accounts, or open new ones.
Finally, it's usually a good idea to regularly check your credit report as a means of determining whether any accounts have been opened in your name. This document contains a list of all cards and other accounts attributed to you. If you see something on your credit report you don't recognize, it may be a sign that you've been victimized by identity theft. Alerting the credit bureau that issued the document to the problem can help you to clear it up, but you will have to provide evidence that you are not responsible for the balance listed.