Identity theft definition: What is an identity theft?

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An expected 211 million Americans will make purchases online in 2016. Millions shop online, every single day. You’re probably one of them. You may have even purchased something today.

Did you know that online shopping is just one of the many ways our identity, including financial information, can be stolen?

Other “risky behaviors” include buying fuel at the fuel pump and connecting to public wifi.

But even if you only use cash and never connect to the Internet, your personal and financial information can still be stolen through a data breach, which you have no way to predict, avoid, or control.

And when that happens, your entire financial future can be jeopardized: Once these thieves have your social security number or your credit card information, there’s nothing stopping them from maxing out your accounts and opening new ones in your name.

The threat of identity theft is everywhere, and the fallout is tremendous.

What happens when your identity is stolen?

In 2014 (the most recent data available), 17.6 million U.S. reported stolen identities, and that number isn’t going down.

If you become one of the millions whose identity is stolen, there are a few things you need to do immediately to cut off the thieves and start undoing the damage.

First, call the fraud departments of any involved companies. If your wallet has been lost or stolen, you need to call the fraud department of every single credit card you carry.

You also need to report it to the FTC and your local police department. Identity theft is a federal crime and will be handled as such.

Once you’ve reported the theft, you can begin opening new accounts to replace the ones that were compromised.

This is all a hassle, but in most cases the situation will resolve itself eventually after you go through all the effort of proving your identity was stolen and replacing your accounts.

There’s one thing that’s not so easy to fix, though.

The lasting psychological effects of identity theft are insidious, and they’re often unavoidable.

Just think: your most personal information — the key to your financial security, your entire future — has been stolen right out from under you. You weren’t doing anything wrong. In fact, you probably didn’t even know there was any risk at all.

But just like that, your life was turned upside down.

No warning. No reason to expect it. Nothing you can do except clean up the mess.

When your privacy has been violated that way, it’s nearly impossible to rebuild the sense of security you had before the breech.

Every time you’re asked for your information, you become suspicious. Normal everyday tasks are now nerve-wracking. There’s a heightened sense of paranoia.

And what’s worse, the pervasive “if this could happen to me, what else could happen?” can keep you up at night.

Someone’s identity is stolen every two seconds, and you can’t always protect yourself.

While it’s difficult, it’s possible to avoid normal, everyday things like online shopping, using credit cards, and connecting to public wifi. But there’s nothing you can do to protect your data from being compromised in a major data breach.

The only way to have peace of mind in the age of identity theft is to know you’re covered, should the worst happen. There’s no way to protect yourself from identity theft occurring, but you can protect yourself from the fallout.

The best identity theft protection on the market today

We’ve surveyed all the identity protection agencies, and our conclusion is that Identity Guard is the best solution for identity theft. Identity Guard actively monitors your identity and notifies you the instant something suspicious is going on.

It also has built-in features — like a password vault and anti-virus software — to keep your information safe now and in the future.

And should the absolute worst happen, you’re backed by an insurance policy up to $1 million, which includes a top-shelf legal team that’s fighting on your behalf when your identity is stolen.

Identity Guard membership comes with a $5, 30-day trial, so you can see for yourself what it feels like to rest easy before deciding to join at the full membership rate.

You don’t have to live in fear. You don’t have to be a victim. If you want to take charge of your identity protection, give Identity Guard a try today. There’s no risk, and up to $1 Million in benefits.