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Posted: Sarah Hancock|August 30th, 2018

Identity Theft

33 Mistakes That Could Result in Identity Theft

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Written by Sarah Hancock
Sarah Hancock is passionate about green living and sustainability. She frequently writes about renewable energy and manages the Solar blog at BestCompany.com.

Identity theft, which is a serious crime that occurs when an individual obtains the personal or financial information of another person and uses it to fraudulently make transactions or purchases, is a growing problem. In the infamous words of Dwight K. Schrute, "Identity theft is not a joke, Jim! Millions of families suffer every year!" And it's true—an all-time high of approximately 15.4 million American adults fell victim to identity theft in 2016. Although the issue of identity fraud is increasing, there are ways to mitigate risk and minimize impact. Take care to avoid the following mistakes that could potentially compromise your identity:

1. Keeping your Social Security card in your wallet

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2. Sharing too much personal information in person, over the phone, or online

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3. Responding to spam emails

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4. Never checking your credit

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5. Failing to shred financial documents

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6. Oversharing on social media

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7. Letting your mail sit in an unsecured mailbox

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8. Allowing online retailers to save your credit card information for later use

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9. Accessing the internet over unsecured wifi networks

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10. Selecting weak passwords

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11. Not having private social media profiles

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12. Failing to frequently monitor your bank and credit card statements

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13. Storing too much confidential information on your smartphone or computer

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14. Using the same password for everything

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15. Not downloading anti-virus or anti-malware software

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16. Using your debit card for online shopping

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17. Not shielding the keypad when you type in your PIN in public

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18. Downloading torrents

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19. Leaving receipts behind

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20. Not freezing your credit card accounts

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21. Shopping on illegitimate websites

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22. Never changing your passwords

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23. Logging into private accounts on public computers

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24. Accepting strange friend requests

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25. Forgetting to erase your hard drive when you sell your computer

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26. Failing to enable two-step verification if available

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27. Not putting a lock on your phone or tablet

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28. Using one email account for everything

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29. Not storing important financial documents in a safe

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30. Keeping credit cards, checks, and bank statements in your car

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31. Not protecting your wallet from pickpockets

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32. Assuming that identity theft will never happen to you

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33. Choosing not to take advantage of an identity protection service

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