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When using cash was the only method of exchanging currency, it was very limited. When you went to the grocery, cash was the only method the store accepted, and the internet didn't even exist then so paying for goods that were purchased online was not even a concern. Things have changed, however, and the way we exchange money has made some changes as well. We were introduced to checks and then to debit cards. Credit cards, which helps to establish a good credit history and personal FICO score, were introduced also. Both credit and debit cards can be used to make purchases on websites or over the phone.

With these added benefits, however, the risk of compromising your identity and the security of your information is greatly increased. Because you are inputting your personal information on websites, there is always the risk of someone intercepting the information you are providing and then using it for their personal gains. Identity theft has exploded in recent years and even though companies, banks, etc. will produce methods of keeping your identity as safe as possible, hackers are still able to obtain this information in creative ways.

Phishing is one such way and involves the act of sending you an email concerning an account of some sort. For example, a phishing email might warn you that someone has tried to access your account multiple times or tell you that your account will be locked if you don't update your information. When you click on the link provided in the email, you will be taken to a site that looks just like the site you access to do your online banking. You might notice, however, that the address on your browser's bar is not the address of your bank. The site will ask you for all of your personal information, and if you filled it out without knowing it was a phishing email, you have just given away your identity.

Many companies and sites now utilize e-statements, which are bill statements that are delivered to your email and are available when you access your online account. Although this service is great for paper usage reduction and getting your statements in a more timely manner, there are many people who receive their statements traditionally: through postal mail. When you no longer need these statements or any other personal documents that includes your address, full name, social security number, medical records, etc., make sure you shred the papers. Tearing the papers into fours will not help because anyone can piece them together. Think about investing in a paper shredder and throw away pieces of the same document in different trash receptacles or on different days.

As always, do not give any of your personal information to anybody no matter how much you trust them. There have been many identity theft victims who were shocked to find out that their beloved best friend, favorite aunt, brother or sister, and even mother or father was the perpetrator behind the fraudulent activity on their account. Prevent your identity from being stolen.

Author: Aydan Corkern
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