Even though more people are aware of the dangers of identity theft, new cases continue to pop up each year. In 2009, nearly 11-million Americans were victims of having their personal information used by someone else, which can have long lasting effects on their credit.
State Division of Trade and Consumer Protection Administrator Janet Jenkins says many of those cases were the result of thieves getting their hands on basic personal information, such as a Social Security number, driver’s license or credit card.
Jenkins says the best way to protect yourself is by not carrying items like your Social Security card in your wallet and shredding old bills. You should also keep tabs of bank and credit transactions online, along with getting a free credit report each year. Jenkins says you should report unauthorized activity right away to banks, credit card companies, and the police.
While awareness of identity theft is up, Jenkins says it can still be very difficult for victims to reclaim their lives. She says it can take years for some victims to sort everything out and restore their financial lives to order. Jenkins says the earlier you discover a problem, the easier it usually is to quickly put a stop to the damage.