In today's credit reliant world in which establishing and maintaining good credit is so important, many of us realize that it is possible for a person to commit the unlawful deceptions of identity theft by stealing and using another person's name, Social Security number, or credit card number and using this information to commit fraudulent crimes. Taking a few simple, basic steps toward preventing identity theft from ever occuring in the first place is important now more than ever.

If you become a victim of identity theft, it could either be fairly easy to solve this issue or it could require a lot of money and time to restore your credit and reputation. Due to the sad fact that being a victim of identity theft puts false information on your credit history, you can be turned down for jobs, school loans, mortgages, and car loans because of this violation. There is even a chance that you could be arrested by the police for crimes that you know nothing about.

Due to sloppy safeguarding practices at credit card companies and information that may be leaked at your place of work, it would be very easy for criminals to gain access to your social security number these days.

Although you can't guarantee that you will never be a victim of identity theft, there are some things that you can do to protect yourself.

It is important that you check your credit report often to catch any sudden changes in your credit score. It is extremely necessary to check your credit report at a minimum of once a year. If you develop a habit of keeping an eye on your credit report, then you will have a better chance of finding out if your identity has been stolen before even more damage can be done.

Always make it a habit to assign a password to all of your credit card accounts. Be creative when choosing a password and don't use something as predictable as your mother's maiden name. Someone looking to gain your information could easily say that you interested in leasing a house or apartment from then and obtain a copy of your credit report which will list your mother's maiden name on it.

It is also very important to keep a close watch on your monthly credit card statements. By checking your statements closely and regularly, you can report any fraudulent purchases quickly. It could be a bad sign that someone may have stolen your identity if you don't receive your monthly statement due to someone possibly changing your address. You can find out if a change of address has been issued for you by calling your credit card company and your local post office.

Always keep any valuable numbers confident. It is important that you never write your credit card number on a check or mailing envelope. Unless you are the caller and are sure of who you are talking to, you should never give your account numbers to anyone on the phone. Before you dispose of pre-approved credit card applications, make sure that you shred them so that they can't be read.

You should never let your guard down when it comes to identity theft. If you are waiting for any type of credit card to come in the mail, be sure to keep a close look out for your mail's arrival. If your expected credit card doesn't come as scheduled, you should call your credit card company immediately.

Another important thing that you can do to protect yourself is to protect your computer. You can stop hackers from stealing your personal information and account numbers from your computer's hard drive by installing a security firewall on your personal computer. This is vital to your security if you use the internet regularly by connecting through cable or DSL.

Today, it is more important than ever before to protect your home computer from getting dangerous viruses online. In order to keep dangerous viruses from making your computer release your important personal files or information to hackers, it is vital to install virus protection, including the latest identity theft software on your computer and keep it updated.

You should immediately call your credit card company, financial institution, phone company, and utility company and ask them to put a hold on your accounts if you think that someone has stolen your name, Social Security number, or any type of other personal information.

Most credit card companies and other businesses will gladly send you a new card with a brand new account number.