Make sure you have appropriate security on your computer, including virus scanners and firewalls. Keep updating your anti-virus software and scan your PC regularly.
2. Be password smart
When choosing a password, avoid any word or number combinations that can be linked back to you, such as your mother's maiden name or your birthday. Try a letter and number combination. Using the same password for everything is a bad idea. Never tell anyone your PIN or password and change your passwords regularly. Experts say this should be as often as every 30 to 60 days.
3. Monitor your accounts
Check your account and credit card statements thoroughly for transactions you don't recognise. One of the benefits of online banking, even though there are risks, is that you can regularly check your bank statements and identify any odd transactions. If your wallet is lost or stolen, notify the bank straightaway. Don't waste time looking around or hoping it will turn up, because theft will occur quite quickly.
4. Recognize and ignore e-mail scams
Never respond to any e-mailed request for your bank details and PIN/password — no matter how genuine the site and URL may appear. Financial institutions will never ask for this information via the Internet. Fake websites that look very real may ask you to "confirm" your details. Don't respond and don't click on any link provided on the e-mail.
5. Protect your personal documents
Keep personal documents such as your passport and social securitye number in a safe place and make sure you know where they are at all times. Don't leave anything in your car that may be of use to identity thieves, for example bills, registration papers, licences and other identifying information. If possible, pick up a new credit card from a branch rather than getting it sent out. Look after your cards as if they were cash. Don't leave them unattended anywhere. Be careful about disposing of statements and bills at home — a paper shredder is the safest prevention method. At least tear up the relevant document. Crooks are pretty lazy. Any barrier you put in place of criminals is likely to be effective.
6. Watch over your mail
Around the house, consider padlocks on mail boxes to prevent theft of bank account statements, bills, etc. Mail contains a large amount of personal information. Make sure your mailbox is big enough so it doesn't stick out. If you don't receive expected bills and statements, something may have been taken from your letterbox. Thieves may sometimes complete a change of address form on your home address to divert your mail to them. Contact the bank if you suspect your mail may have gone missing.
7. Practice safe ATM access
Be aware of what's around you when you use the ATM. Is there someone standing too close, is there anything strange on the actual ATM? Stand close and shield the keypad with your free hand so no one can see your PIN.
8. Don't give out details over the phone
You may need to give out personal information over the phone but be careful, particularly if you didn't initiate the call. Don't give out bank passwords or other sensitive information unless you know who you are dealing with. Hang up and get the relevant company's information from an independent source and call back yourself if you feel unsure.
9. Shop safely online
Shopping on the Web, make sure you know who you're buying from. If you're not familiar with the merchant, it's wise to do an online search to check recommendations and feedback from other customers. Your browser should be able to use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which scrambles or encrypts the purchase information you send over the Internet. You'll recognize this by the "lock" at the bottom of the website.
10. Monitor your credit file
Order a copy of your credit report at least once a year. You could pay for a monitoring service which will record new information such as credit applications, overdue accounts or court judgements. You will receive an e-mail notification, usually within one working day, of any change.