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Identity theft is one of the most despicable crimes out there. Here are seven ways to help protect yourself:

>> Secure Your Hard Copies

Every sensitive document should be kept in a safe. Credit cards and debit cards should be securely placed in your wallet at all times.

Bonus Tip:  Shred all aged documents that contain sensitive information

>> Examine Your Financial Statements

Review your financial statements monthly and check carefully for fraudulent activity. Report any suspicious charges immediately.

Bonus Tip: Sign up for alerts and limit your credit card activity to a specific geographical area.

>> Choose Strong Passwords

Use different, strong passwords for each of your accounts and devices.

Bonus Tip: Use a secure password service, like Gizmodo, to create and store unique passwords.

>> Protect Your Computer

Invest in a strong anti-spyware program to protect your hardware from hackers.

Bonus Tip: Encrypt your hard drive for an extra level of protection.

>> Be Wary of Suspicious Emails and Websites

Don’t open suspicious-looking emails or click on links for unfamiliar sites.

Bonus Tip: If your inbox is flooded with promotional emails, unsubscribe from some of them. This will help you spot the truly bad apples in all that mail.

>> Use Two-Factor Identification

The extra log-in step will help ward off scammers and add another layer of security to your accounts.

Bonus Tip: Never elect to have a device “remember your password” for a site that involves payments of any kind.

>> Avoid Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi is 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.