8 Tips to Prevent Identity Theft & Fraud


8 Simple Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

Bad: You lost your wallet. Worse: Someone else is racking up debt in your name. Good: You can prevent this!


148 million people (including me!) had their information stolen when Equifax, a major credit bureau that collects all your most sensitive and personal information (everything thieves would need to impersonate you), got hacked. But this wasn’t the first big hack, nor will it be the last.

Imagine that you’re working hard to save up for that car or house you’ve always wanted, or that business loan you so desperately need to take your business to the next level. Out of nowhere you start getting loan statements in the mail from banks you don’t have accounts at. It only gets worse as you are notified of purchases you haven’t made for various, expensive items. Or maybe you don’t get any notices and you only realize years later when you apply for that loan; your credit has gone from 800 to 100. What’s going on??

8 Simple Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

YES! You can dramatically reduce your chances of being a victim of identity theft by following these tips…

The concept of identity theft was once a far-fetched idea, but now has become a super-common crime. Over 8 million Americans became victims of identity theft last year alone, a crime amounting to over $45 billion.

Criminals are able to pretend to be you and make financial transactions (like opening credit cards, taking out loans, buying cars, etc.) using your identity and social security number. Criminals can get your info any of a number of ways, like hacking, spyware, or simply mailing in any of the pre-approved credit card offers sent to you unsolicited (more on that — see tip #3).

Think you can just get a credit monitoring and “protection” service to protect you? Think again. Those services charge a small fortune for what you can get for free, and they don’t prevent identity theft — they just let you know there’s a problem after the fact. #useless

There are ways to protect yourself from identity theft and prevent something like this from happening to you. The steps are surprisingly easy and better than the alternative of spending months dealing with the banks and credit bureaus to untangle your credit and debt issues. Read on:

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A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she spends most of her time in France, NYC, London and Switzerland, and travels extensively around the world. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 97 Comments

  1. Kimberly Shaw

    If this happens to you, The first thing to do is move action and move aggressively, remember If someone has stolen your identity, they’re working as fast they can [to use your information] before you realize what’s happened.

  2. While identity theft can happen to anyone, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk. If you think someone is using your personal information to open accounts, file taxes, or make purchases, visit IdentityTheft.gov to report and recover from identity theft.

  3. Roxy Fellows

    Even if you’re a busy person, take the time to tend to these kinds of problems if you want it solved immediately too.

  4. Cadi Venere

    Great tips that we can all use.

  5. Mimi Jordan

    It just takes a little bit of effort on our side to protect ourselves from identity theft. Let’s not get lazy. It’s worth it.

  6. Kelly Cloes

    I have a friend that doesn’t even check the list of purchases from her card because she feels that she doesn’t need to be reminded of all the shopping spree that she did. It was only until she decided to save and stop spending for a while that the list of purchases became short and she saw purchases that weren’t hers. That was the only time she saw that it’s been more than a year that whoever was stealing from her was purchasing stuff little by little but in significant amounts.

  7. Reign Abella

    Following the tips here might just save us the fuss of getting our identities stolen.

  8. Sydney Freign

    I agree. Change your passwords frequently and make sure it’s not just the name of your dog. Everyone knows who your dog is just by looking into your social media account. This is a reality and people actually do that.

    • Keena Cotton

      There’s a reason behind why you’re prompted when your passwords are weak or strong. Don’t get annoyed when your password needs to consist of a symbol, a capital letter, and a number. They’re annoying so you’re protected.

  9. Leila Bartholomew

    Act fast when this happens. Report it immediately. A difference of 24 hours can create so much damage already.

  10. Kit Stevens

    Even if I tell the companies not to share my information unless you can actually prove that they’re the one who shared it, it’s useless.

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