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Protect Yourself and Your Family from ID Theft

Be extra careful with your full name and address, date of birth, Social Security Number, bank account information, phone number and your mother's maiden name. This is personal information that banks and other businesses use to confirm your identity, which can be very valuable to an ID thief wanting to pose as you to commit fraud.

Don't give out personal information in response to an incoming call or e-mail from a stranger or an advertisement on the Internet. For example, beware of what law enforcement officials call "phishing," a type of identity theft in which criminals use fake Web sites and e-mails to "fish" for valuable personal information.

Never share your passwords or ID numbers for your computer with friends or strangers. Be especially suspicious of new "friends" you've met through the Internet, such as through a Web site where people can post information about themselves and can contact others through that site. These people could be fraud artists.

Don't leave your birth certificate or documents with your Social Security Number unprotected at home, at school or anywhere else. For example, while you may need to provide your birth certificate as proof of your age when you sign up for a sports league or get your learner's permit, you shouldn't leave your birth certificate in your locker at school or any other place that may not be safe.