What Is Identity Theft And How Can It Be Avoided? Jewelry, electronics, your car - in the past, if a thief wanted to rob you they stole your valuable possessions. But in today's information- based world, there's something even more valuable that thieves can take from you: your identity, and with it, your credit and your good name. Read on to learn about what identity theft is and how it can be avoided. More than 15 million people become victims of identity theft every year. An identity is stolen every two seconds in the United States - the fastest growing crime in the U.S. for the past four years.Armed with personal information such as your Social Security number, credit card number, name, and address, an identity thief can run up debts and commit identity fraud in your name. When unpaid loans and delinquent credit cards are reported in your name, they can go unnoticed for years, compounding the damage and ruining your credit for years more. The first sign that you've been a victim of identity theft is always unsettling. But for many people, that first sign is just the beginning. Depending on the skills and determination of the thief, and the length of time it happens, the damage could be much greater. On average, victims of identity theft spend 500 hours and more than $3,000 repairing the damage. How Identity Theft Can Be Avoided With the importance that good credit history has to your day-to-day life, it is certainly worth protecting. By actively monitoring your credit and putting in place safeguards to prevent thieves from using your personal information, you can help protect yourself from identity theft today and secure your future. Some ways to prevent identity theft include: · Shred mail from banks, institutions, and even new credit card offers before disposing - all of these things can contain valuable personal information which identity thieves can use to drain accounts and open new credit cards in your name. They get the information by stealing it out of the trash after it has been thrown out. · Never give out financial information after clicking on an email link or through social networking sites - if you've ever received an email from a "bank" or other financial institution asking for account information, thieves could have been phishing for your identity. Clicking on their link will send you to a site that looks the same as the actual institution, but actually belongs to the thief.Identity thieves are also using social networking sites like Facebook to find out your personal information. · Warn your children and parents about the dangers of identity fraud and theft - seniors are particularly vulnerable to it, as many are also less knowledgeable about technology, and more trusting of strangers and marketers. College students are another high-risk group due to frequent address changes and unforwarded mail containing personal information. Even if you are doing everything possible on your own to protect your identity, you can be better protected with an identity protection company that manages and protects all areas of your personal information. Sign up for identity protection today!