The fastest growing crime in America is identity theft, and the best protection is prevention. Here are some tips to safeguard your good name: 1. Protect your Social Security number. Do not carry your card in your wallet. 2. Do not give out your personal information unless you made the contact. Scam artists “phish” for victims by pretending to be credit unions, banks, stores, government agencies, etc. They do it by phone, email, and snail mail. 3. Shred papers with personal information. Always shred credit card offers that you don’t use. Also, shred those “convenience checks” you don’t use. 4. Open your credit card bills and bank statements right away. Check for unauthorized charges or withdrawals and report them immediately. 5. Protect your computer from viruses and malware. Use firewall, virus, and spyware protection software – make sure it is updated regularly. Always use “strong” passwords. 6. Always click with caution online. Only enter personal information on secure Web pages with “https” in the address bar and a padlock symbol at the top or bottom of your browser window.