Identity theft is now rampant not only in America, but around the world. Someone in Russia or Nigeria can easily steal your identity, or your Identity can be stolen from someone in your home city. Yet when it comes to protecting yourself from identity theft there are many misconceptions on how identity theft happens and how to protect yourself.

Identity theft can happen in a number of ways. Some identity thieves merely max your credit cards out before you realize it, but some identity thieves will steal your entire identity and drain all of your bank accounts. There are even horror stories of peoples 401ks being drained.

Many people think identity thieves are totally high tech in their operations, but the majority of identity thieves run very low tech operations. Online identity theft only accounts for roughly 11% of all identity theft cases. The majority of identity theft occurs from stolen documents, wallets, checkbooks and scanning of peoples credit and debit cards while using them in public places.

Here is some information on how identity thieves steal peoples identities, and how to prevent it from happening. Protecting your information today requires more than it has in the past, and knowledge on how to protect yourself will help to prevent ID theft from happening to you.

Identity thieves do not need your credit card number to steal your credit card and access your available credit. A good identity thief can use one or two pieces of your personal information to gain access to your credit card information, such as simply your name and address which are available anywhere and one piece of your personal information such as your birth date or social security number. Keeping your vital documents locked up in a safe place when not in use will help prevent this from occurring. When disposing of letters and documents with personal information on them, never simply throw them away, invest in a $40.00 paper shredder and shred anything with your personal information on it when disposing of it, as many ID thieves will gain the information they need from simply going through your trash as you sleep at night. shred anything that has any number, name, address on it

Good identity thieves can use information you would not suspect could lead to identity theft, in fact most of the information they use to get to your financial information is non financial information. Common methods identity thieves use are gaining your name, birth date and address or telephone number on social networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace and profiles on other websites. Avoid posting personal information on websites, even on job hunting websites.

You also need to be careful with your outgoing mail. Never leave mail behind for your carrier to pick up that contains any personal information. If you have had a billing statement not arrive, an identity thieve may have stolen it and be well on his way to taking over your identity. Anytime you have a statement, bill or other piece of mail not arrive on time, do not simply assume it has been lost ” In the mail” but take into account an identity thieve may have got a hold of it.

Identity thieves and scammers will often rig outdoor ATMs and store scanners with an extra piece of hardware to scan your credit card numbers, pin codes and other data. Always look over any terminal for an extra piece of extra piece of plastic or any unnatural feel to it. ID thieves make use a a device called a skimmer to swipe your information. You can also have your cards scanned while in your wallet with portable scanners that skim your credit card information. An RFID wallet can prevent this type of scanning and protect your credit cards.

Lastly try to go paperless on everything possible, from bank account statements, insurance statements, to credit card statements. Access these online and use very strong passwords with lots of special characters and avoid using simple passwords, as these are easy to crack. Change your passwords every 3 months. Make use of websites features to look at who and what location has logged into your accounts, for example Google and Yahoo email will show what IP address, state and what type of browser has logged into your account.