According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft remained the top consumer complaint in 2014. Also, the Identity Theft Resource Center reported data breaches reached 619 as of October this year.

Sharing personal information online has become easier and more frequent, but it will take at least a year or two to untangle the impacts of identity theft. Do not expect this fraudulent act to go away at any time soon. However, there are ways to protect your identity.

Secure personal details safe at all times. The FTC said government documents and records are most susceptible to identity fraud. Fraudsters, who are Internet savvy, are expert in deceiving people. But safeguarding your Social Security is effortless. Never disclose it over the telephone, bring your Social Security card with you, or use it on unsafe sites. Also, if a person or a company sends you an email or calls to get your Social Security number, do a background check on that person or company. Remember, when in doubt, don’t.

Shred documents. People tend to throw out papers with important information such as account numbers and Social Security numbers, believing criminals won’t give much importance on their garbage. What if your trash falls into the wrong hands? Needless to say your identity can easily be stolen. The best thing to do is to shred these documents.

Protect passwords. The classic act of jotting down bank accounts, passwords, and other vital information on a notebook or paper goes a long way to protect your personal details. Most people store such information in a Word document on a flash drive or hard drive today. if you pay less attention to it, plus poor web browsing behaviors, hackers have infiltrated your device and stolen your passwords before you know it. Nothing is stopping you from storing such details on a computer though. You just need to implement additional measures, including encrypting data and updating security software. As much as possible, come up with complex, distinct password for each account, and change it regularly.

Be wary of unknown websites. Bad guys love tax returns during tax season. Be on the lookout for services proffering easier way(s) to file a tax return, especially if it is a mobile app. That site or app may be a fake one and steal your tax return details. They can claim a refund using that information.

Keep an eye on your credit report. One of the simplest ways to spot something amiss is to trail your credit report or score. If a person or entity opened up a credit card or applied for credit in your name, it will reflect on the report. Some services are designed to monitor your credit and alert you via email in case something changes. You also want to track your bills. In the event someone got hold of your credit account number, you may notice unknown charges.

Safeguarding your identity starts with you. Start now or lose everything.