Despite the fact that you may have never been a victim of identity theft thus far, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be actively protecting yourself from it. Although you probably picture some shady criminal when you hear the word theft, your friends and family member are actually more likely to steal your information. Some of the reasons why people commit identity theft are to open credit cards in your name, get medical treatment, or steal your tax refund. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself and your family.

According to an article published by CBS News, in one-third of all identity theft cases, the perpetrator and victim are family members. One of the reasons why family members are often responsible for these crimes is because it’s easy for them to get the information they need. After all, they spend a lot of time in your home and know where they could find personal identification documents and other valuables. In some cases, they will even get the information for a completely different purpose, but choose to use it for their own benefit.

The problem main with identity theft is that you probably won’t see it coming if a family member is going to do it. With that in mind, make sure to keep your personal information secure and monitor your bank accounts. Since you’ll rarely need your social security card, just keep it in a safety deposit box at home. If you have kids who are not yet 18, you should be responsible for their personal documents. Know that children can often be the target of identity theft as well. Avoid giving your credit and debit cards to your friends for whatever reason. If you want to split the bill in a restaurant or lend them some money, you can simply use cash.

When you’ve been a victim of identity theft and find out that a family member committed the crime, your next step would be deciding what you’re going to do next. Although it can be a hard thing to do, it may be best to call the police and report the crime. In the event that the damage was small, you can try resolving the issue without getting the authorities involved.

Of course, other people aside from family members and friends may also steal your identity. In order to decrease the risk of becoming a victim, you need to be careful online. If something about a certain link doesn’t seem right to you then you shouldn’t click on it. Another thing that you will have to pay attention to is how much personal information you’re sharing on social media. Many identity thieves will look for social media accounts that contain a lot of private information and try to piece together identities.

To protect yourself offline, you should consider using a shredder. Keep in mind that many criminals will have no problem going dumpster-diving to find personal information. You probably throw away all types of different documents without even thinking about it like work documents, medical records, receipts, photocopies of passports, and financial statements. Identity theft is just one of the threats that you may experience if you’re carelessly discarding important documents. Depending on what people find, they can also start blackmailing you. This is why getting a shredder is a good idea. By shredding all of the documents you plan on throwing away, you won’t have to worry about somebody stealing them.

One of the more common ways how people get their personal information stolen is by using public Wi-Fi to access sensitive data. A lot of hackers often set up their own free networks in an attempt to steal valuable info. Therefore, you should access sensitive data only when you’re connected to a secure network.

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