Protecting Yourself Against Identity Theft

January 18, 2007 -- Posted at 9:52 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR -- Most folks don't realize how easy it's become for thieves to steal our identities. Shoulder surfing, dumpster diving and pfishing are all ways our information can fall into the wrong hands. But protecting yourself may be easier than you think.

It's a crime that can happen to anyone...a thief taking off with your identity.

"Keep a close eye on your purse, wallet...things like that. too often times, ladies tend to leave their purses in their shopping carts or open in their vehicles, maybe while they run inside the convenience store to pay for their gas and they are susectible to being the victim of this type of crime," said Lt. Rick Elliott of the Jonesboro Police Department.

Locking your doors and rolling up the windows can keep you from becoming a victim of fraud.

"Once somebody gets a hold of their purse and their valuables and their credit information, then that person has free reign to go out and get credit cards in the victims name and charge them up and the victim has to deal with that for a long period of time," said Lt. Elliott.

And if you discover someone's swiped your identity...the first step in recovering it is reporting it.

"Contact the police department and make a police report and get that documentation started. then contact your credit bureaus and run a credit check on yourself and make sure that nobody has attempted to obtain credit in your name," said Lt. Elliott.

If you suspect that your identity has been stolen, it's important to place a fraud alert on your credit reports. This can help prevent an identity thief from opening additional accounts in your name.