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Avoid oversharing on social networking sites.

9. The Dangers of Social Networking

Be cautious with how much information you share on social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, FourSquare, etc.  In other words, keep your private information off social networking websites. Don’t post things like your address, phone number, date of birth, email, or Social Security number. These are all details that an identity thief could use against you. Set your profile to private so people you don’t want to see your profile can’t search your name and access it.

10. Monitor Your Account Statements Regularly

Keep close tabs on all of your financial accounts but pay particular attention to your debit card and credit card spending. Read each credit card and bank statement carefully. Did you make those charges? If not, contact your bank or your credit card company immediately. The sooner you report a suspicious charge, the better off you’ll be. Review account statements regularly to ensure all charges are correct. If your account statement is late in arriving, call your financial institution to find out why. If your financial institution offers electronic account access, it’s a good idea to review your account activity online regularly to catch any suspicious activity immediately.

11. Watch Your Receipts

Do not leave your credit and debit card receipts in shopping bags. Put them in your wallet until you get home and then file them or shred them as appropriate. Do the same with your ATM receipts. Make sure your credit and debit card receipts do not show the full account number. If they do, ink out all but the last four digits.

12. Invest in a Shredder

Instead of tossing your mail and other sensitive information in the trash, invest in a shredder.  Shred pre-approved credit applications, mail or basically any documents that have any of your personal identifying information on them: name, address, phone numbers, etc. A cross-cutting shredder works best and you can find one at your local office supply store for anywhere from $35-$150. The cost of a shredder is very little compared to the financial damage that can occur when your identity is stolen.

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