Identity theft is a terrifying experience. It is haunting to know that another person out there has taken your personal information—all likely without ever having met you in person.

According to the FTC, an average of nine million Americans a year are forced to deal with identity theft. This is not a comforting statistic, but the good news is that a person can take measures to help protect their identity.

Protect Your Mail

One of the easiest ways for a person to get their hands on your personal information is through the mail. As such, protecting your mail is one of the best ways also to protect your identity. Sign up for a PO Box if you live somewhere where your mail isn’t safe. Alternatively, get a locking mailbox (authorized by the USPS), or install a mailbox camera.

Shred and Store Safely

We get lots of sensitive documents each year. The trick is knowing what to do with those documents. Papers that need to be kept should be stored safely in a lockbox. Conversely, paper documents that are no longer needed should be safely shredded and disposed of. One can either buy a small shredder for the home or go to a reputable company willing to handle the destruction of these documents.

Passwords are Your Friend

This one may seem like common sense, but it isn’t given the number of people who skip password protocols. Passwords are your friend, and they exist for a reason. Create strong passwords whenever possible. 

This includes setting up a password to access your phone, computer, and other devices that may store personal information. Alternatively, one could go with facial recognition or thumbprint locks.

Part of keeping your password secure involves changing your passwords regularly. This adds an additional layer of protection. Consider setting up a password manager for an additional level of security.

Don’t Over Share Information

Believe it or not, social media is another security risk for protecting one’s personal information. These sites make it tempting to share a lot of personal information, such as birth dates, email addresses, and other bits that could help guess a password correctly. Naturally, the best way to protect yourself here is by avoiding sharing too much information on social media.