Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the nation. Citizens can easily become a victim of this crime without knowing it, until it is too late. The Hampton County Sheriff's Office advises citizens to take these precautions to protect yourself against identity theft: The first step to preventing identity theft is awareness of how and when you use your personal information. Make sure to keep close tabs on your personal information. You can reduce your chances of becoming an identity theft victim. •Memorize your Social Security number and passwords, using different ones when possible. •Don’t record your password on papers you carry with you. •Don’t use your date of birth as your password. •Shred pre-approved credit applications and other financial documents before discarding them. •Order credit reports every year from each of the major credit reporting agencies and thoroughly review them for accuracy. •Never give personal or financial information over the phone or Internet unless you initiated the contact. •Don’t carry your Social Security card or birth certificate with you. •Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately. •Check your monthly credit card and bank statements for unusual activity. •Use a firewall program on your computer, especially if you leave your computer connected to the Internet 24 hours a day. •Do not download files sent to you by strangers or click on hyperlinks from people you don’t know. Child Safety Summer is just around the corner and it is important that children remain safe, whether they are outside playing in the yard or going to a store with their parents or other adults. To help parents keep their children safe, the Hampton County Sheriff’s Office offers the following safety tips for children: 1) Always have a secret code word to be used in case of an emergency. If someone tells you that you need to come with them, you can ask them for the code word. If they do not know the code word, you should run away from them. 2) Stay away from strangers 3) If you lose your parents in a public place such as a store, find an employee of the store and ask them to help you find them. Let them know you have been separated from your parents and need help finding them. Some public places also have intercoms to help with paging parents who have been separated from their children. 4) Always get permission from your parents before going anywhere with anyone, including leaving the yard or play area or going into someone’s home. It is very important to get permission from your parents before you get a ride home with someone other than usual ride. Even if you are going to ride somewhere with someone you know, always make sure your parents know before you leave. 5) Once you have permission from your parents, always let them know where you are going, how you will get there, who will be going with you, and make sure they know what time they should expect you to return. Make sure you get back on time and if you won’t be on time, contact your parents to let them know you will be arriving at a different time.