4200096Identity theft continues to top the Federal Trade Commission’s national ranking of consumer complaints, 14%, Americans reported losing over $1.6 billion in 2013, according to report released in February, 2014.

According to Jessica Rich, Director of the Bureau Consumer Protection “American of all ages are vulnerable to identity theft.”

Here are some tips in how to minimize your risk of becoming a victim:

1- Don’t give out your SSN unnecessarily (When you do question how it will be used and if it will be shared).

2- Always use a crosscut shredder to dispose any document containing your personal information; when writing checks use a specialized gel pen.

3- Place outgoing mail in collection boxes or the U.S. Port Office.

4- Know your billing cycles and if your bill fail to show up contact your creditor immediately. Review your Bank and credit card carefully for any unusual activity.

5- Use different password for your financial accounts. Make sure you use a strong password; minimum eight character long, combination of upper, lower, special characters and numbers when permissible is recommended. Never use your name or any other name easy to obtain, such as; close relative, pet`s name, date of birth and so on.

6- Don’t give out your personal information on the phone, mail or electronically, unless your initiated the contact.

7- Make sure you make use of firewall software. Maintain your antivirus and spyware software updated.

8- Order your free annual credit report online at: www.annualcreditreport.com

9- You may also “freeze” your credit report by contacting the credit bureaus.