The Essentials: Prevent identity theft

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Want some tips on how to study for a test? Need advice on how to balance a checkbook?

Each week, The Essentials offers practical advice on life for teens.

prevent identity theft

It's bad enough to have an identity crisis, it's even worse to be a victim of identity theft. Here are some tips from Quest and the True Credit Learning Center to protect your wallet:

- Leave it at home. Don't carry extra credit cards, your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport with you unless needed.

- Disclose your Social Security number only when necessary. If your school wants to use your Social Security number as your ID number, ask if it can be changed to a random number.

- Guard your personal information. Password-protect your wireless phone, PDA and laptop, and don't store personal identification information on these and other devices.

Shred personal identification information before throwing it away. Never give out personal information over the phone.

- It's OK to say no. Don't lend any form of personal identification such as a driver's license or passport, even to a friend, and don't be intimidated.

Tell adults who ask for Social Security, driver's license or credit card numbers that you want to know how they'll use them and how they'll protect them from identity theft.

- Check yourself out. Check bank and credit card statements for irregularities, and monitor your credit reports at least once a year.

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