A 2014 US Office of Justice survey reveals that over one in twenty Americans fall victim to identity theft. Bank accounts and credit cards are the main targets of these thieves. It is worth noting that the emotional impact is often more serious than the financial loss. Besides the time and hassle dealing with financial and legal problems, relationships with family, friends and colleagues are often negatively affected. For all these reasons it pays to take identify theft seriously.

1. Regularly Check Account Status

Those who spot suspicious financial activity at an early stage are in the best position to minimize the effect of identity theft. The Office of Justice reported that only 10% of victims knew when the offence occurred, for example during a transaction. About half of the victims only discovered the identity theft when their bank alerts them to suspicious activity in their account.

Nobody should rely on a financial institution discovering identity theft for them. The extra time it takes to regularly check bank account status, credit card usage and credit scores is well worthwhile. The information is readily available and often free.