Chances are you or someone you know has had their identity stolen at one point or another. Identity theft can be expensive, stressful and extremely complicated to recover from. Here are five ways to protect yourself and your most important data from identity thieves.

1. Secure Your Hard Copies

While online accounts are password-protected, important paper documents are often left in a drawer or simply tossed in the trash, where thieves can find them. What’s the solution? Buy a safe and a shredder. Every sensitive document should be shredded or kept in the safe.

2. Examine Your Financial Statements

It’s always a good idea to review your financial statements as soon as possible after getting them. It will help you track your expenses and alert you to any fraudulent charges.

3. Choose Strong Passwords

Many people have one password they use for all devices and platforms. That’s convenient, but it’s also dangerous. Having multiple hard-to-remember passwords may make it more difficult for you to access your own accounts, but potential identity thieves will have a more difficult time, too.

4. Protect Your Computer

Malware is just one way identity thieves steal your data. Invest in a strong anti-spyware program to make sure your hardware is safe from invaders.

5. Secure Your Wi-Fi and Avoid Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi is often unsecure and a great hunting ground for thieves; steer clear if you can. At the very least, avoid all online banking or password logins while using public Wi-Fi. Additionally, secure your own home Wi-Fi with a strong password.

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