Every year, approximately 15 million people have their identities stolen with financial losses totaling around $50 million. This means that almost 7 percent of adults experience identity theft and lose approximately $3,500. With increased storing and sharing of your information online and the increasing sophistication of identity thieves, your personal information may be at risk. Here’s what you need to know about identity theft as well as some tips to avoid becoming a victim.

Identity Theft 101

There are many types of identity theft and ways that criminals can find and use your personal information. Some of the most common types are credit, medical and tax theft, all of which can cause you a major headache and problems in the future with credit reports, health insurance and the law.

Even though there is a lot of attention given to online identity fraud, your personal information can be stolen in many other ways. Dumpster diving, stolen wallets, stolen mail, customer call scams and phishing schemes are still common ways for criminals to get the information they need.

What Can You Do to Prevent ID Theft?

There are several easy steps you can take to help prevent identity theft in-person and online. Here are some recommendations from USA.gov you should follow:

In-person:

Online:

What Happens if Your Identity is Stolen?

Unfortunately, you can do everything right and still become a victim of identity theft. If you think this has happened to you, the United States Department of Justice makes the following suggestions:

At times, it can seem like identity theft is impossible to avoid. Hackers and criminals may find new and creative ways to collect information, but companies and users also are becoming smarter. Use identity theft protection tools to keep your information safe, be smart about what you share with others and know what to do to get any problems solved as quickly as possible.