You wouldn’t leave the keys dangling in the door of your new Atlanta home for any passerby to take, so be careful not leave the figurative keys to your identity out in the open either. The credit experts at Equifax deal with the ramifications of identity theft everyday. They recently posted tips in the article “Avoid Identity Theft: Get in the Habit of Protecting Your Personal Information,” on the Equifax Personal Finance Blog.

The tips they offer seem very basic, but how many of us actually take the extra time to do them, even though the precautions may require only a few seconds? Are  you shredding mail with your personal information? Have you recorded all your account information and stored both electronic and hard copies in secure places? Have you changed your passwords recently? Are those passwords hidden away in a safe place or just tucked under your keyboard? Have you emptied your wallet of extra credit cards you’re not currently using?

Other things to remember include being careful about using a public computer – at a hotel’s business center or a library, for example – to pay bills or log into financial accounts. Guard your credit cards as you’re using them; don’t lay them on the sales counter where the customers waiting behind you can see or even take a picture with a camera phone. Be aware of your surroundings, and keep your purse or wallet close by. Make sure you have a secure place to store your belongings as you’re working, too.

Of course, there are identity-monitoring products you can buy, including one offered by Equifax. Generally speaking, these products will monitor activity on your credit report and credit accounts. If a new account is opened in your name or your balances change, you will be notified. If something shows up that you weren’t expecting, you’ll be able to address the issue right away.

The Equifax Personal Finance Blog offers more tips, too. Take a look, then come back and tell us your favorite measures for protecting your identity so we can learn from each other.

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