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There are many preventive steps you can take to guard against identity theft. However, it is impossible to give a 100 percent guarantee that you will never become a victim. Just as we can lock our homes at night, put in a security system – or even hire an armed guard – we can decrease the chances of theft, but not guarantee it.
Part of our vulnerability to identity theft comes from the fact that our personal information is in countless computer databases and file cabinets that we don't control. We give out personal information to get credit cards, bank loans, car loans, insurance policies, driver's licenses and passports, and the information is in employer's files and IRS tax filings. We have to place our trust in strangers to protect our information. That opens the door for possible theft by dishonest employees or via computer hackers who steal entire databases.
The key to prevention is to limit access to your information and, when obligated to give it, ask questions about security measures used to protect against theft. Always ask why someone needs your personal information, and how it will be stored and secured. Above all else, protect your Social Security number. The most damage from identity theft occurs when a criminal uses it to create an entirely new credit and/or criminal history in your name. Whenever possible use an alternate form of identification or verification for accounts and records.