With everything that people go through on a daily basis, it's important to understand that you need to be on the lookout for signs of identity theft within your accounts and information, too. These signs can be small things - or they can be large ones that seem like they are staring you right in the face. In an attempt to catch thieves before they can do serious damage, it's important to know what to look for and how to prevent the worst from happening. No one wants to be victims of identity theft, and the only way to successfully prevent this from happening is to take special care with the ways that you use and monitor your own information.
Check accounts frequently. This means more than checking balances and transaction history - it also means checking on log-in histories if available, seeing where people have signed in from, looking for a "last used on" date, and even asking friends and relatives whether or not they've seen things that appear out of the ordinary. Your accounts are not meant to be used by multiple people - they're meant for your eyes only, so it's important to ensure that they stay that way.
Change passwords both before and after noticing suspicious activity. Many accounts require users to change passwords every few months. This is done as a safety measure as well as a way to ensure that the accounts are not sitting dormant and then are rediscovered after long periods of time by people that did not create them. Changing the secret codes - and changing them to things that cannot easily be guessed - is just one of the things that can be done to combat cases of identity theft. If you see some suspicious transactions or notice that someone has been using your account, changing the password is a good way to effectively lock the people that are misusing your information out, allowing you to recover some independence and security.
Go through statements frequently. Your bank account statements are going to be the best indicator of whether or not people are misusing your information - and spending your money. These can show records of fraudulent spending, transactions, purchases or even newly opened accounts that you know nothing of. As soon as these things are noticed, they can be addresses. Credit and identity monitors are great additions and extremely useful tools when it comes to checking these things out - information about them can be found on websites like http://www.identityguard.com/, which provides information, user stories, facts and figures.
Pay attention to the mail you receive - both online and via the post office. Getting mail that you don't remember signing up for is one of the indicators that identity theft may be occurring. Email newsletters from unfamiliar websites, brochures for companies and products that you've never used .. each of these items is the potential for theft to be occurring right under your nose, so to ensure that this is not the case, be vigilant. If you receive these pieces of mail, address them immediately - don't let things go or get out of hand, or they may just keep escalating.