Don't carry your Social Security card or any documents with your SSN on it. Don't write your Social Security number on your checks.

Secure personal information in your home and protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software.

Don't give personal information over the phone, through the mail or email unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.

Remove your name from the marketing lists of the three credit reporting bureaus. Call 1-888-5OPTOUT or go to www.optoutprescreen.com.

Create tough passwords, use different passwords for each account and change them often.

Shred mail and other documents with personal information rather than tossing them in the trash.

Request a free copy of your credit report annually. Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.

When someone dies, provide a copy of the death certificate to all three credit bureaus, Equifax, Trans Union, Experian. Also, let the Social Security Administration know.

If you become the victim of identity theft or believe you may be at risk, call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free at 1-800-908-4490.

If you receive a notice of audit from IRS and believe someone may have used your SSN fraudulently, notify the IRS immediately by responding to the name and number printed on the notice. You will need to fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit. More at www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection.

Sources: IRS, Financial Planning Association of the East Bay, New England Financial, Ballou Plum Wealth Advisors