What is identity theft?
Why should you care if it happens?
It is a serious crime that can happen to you at any time. Identity theft is when someone uses the information like your name and address, credit card or bank account numbers, medical insurance account numbers, and your social security number without getting your permission.
How can a thief steal your identity?
There are several different reasons why you should care if your identity gets stolen. You will be responsible for whatever the thief does with all of your personal information. You are the one paying for whatever they buy, even if you don't know about the bills. The thief could get a credit card using your name and information but he changes the address so the bills get sent to him. He never pays them and the credit card company will think it was you, so it hurts your credit.
How do you know?
A thief could get your personal information either online or in person. They could steal your mail or garbage and get your social security number and account numbers, they could trick you into sending personal information in an e-mail, or they could steal your wallet or purse when you aren't paying attention.
Can you protect yourself?
Sometimes you can tell when your identity has been stolen, but sometimes you can't. Read your bills to see if there is anything on them that you didn't buy. Watch your bank account statement to see if there is any withdrawals you didn't make. Check your mail to see if you stopped getting a bill or start getting a new one that you didn't know about. Get your credit report to see if there are accounts or other information you didn't know about.
You can't completely prevent it from happening but there are a few ways to lower the risk of it happening. Every time you shop in a store, watch your wallet or purse, be careful with your credit or debit card, and do not tell people what your pin number is. When you're shopping online, use passwords that aren't easy to guess, shop on secure websites, don't put information on computers in public places, and have a security software on your computer.