Unauthorized people can steal your personal information and investment records several ways:
• A thief can rummage through your garbage, mail box, or computer or steal your wallet, PDA, or laptop.
• Anyone who has access to your home can copy down information that is not locked up.
• Someone can trick you into giving out personal information by misrepresenting themselves as someone entitled to your information.
Once thieves have your personal information, they can create documents that represent themselves as you. The documents they create can be your driver's license, a social security card, or a charge card. They can do substantial mischief with any of these documents.
This issue may be more common than you think. Did you know that you are twice as likely to have your identity stolen in this way during the next year as you are to be in an automobile accident and six times as likely as dying from any cause whatsoever? What precautions are you taking to reduce the odds?
You should lock up, shred, and encrypt. Put unobvious passwords on your computer and don't leave the passwords out where someone can get them. Keep out of harm's way - don't flash valuables or personal information where they may be stolen. And protect your children's information too, because your children probably have no bad credit history - their identity may be quite valuable to a thief.