Freeze your credit report: Freezing your credit report is the single most effective way to prevent identity theft, according to McLean. If you're over 30 and you're not getting married or divorced, you probably won't be applying for new credit cards, loans, or mortgages, so you don't need your credit report to be readily available.
To freeze your credit report, you must contact each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), fill out a form, provide proof of identity, and pay a small fee (around $10, depending on your state). You'll then receive a PIN or password that will allow you to "thaw" your credit report (either temporarily or permanently) if you ever need to use it. Temporarily thawing your credit report usually takes less than a minute, McLean says.
Credit report freezes are free in the United States for victims of identity theft.
Even a little security goes a long way
McLean suggests that taking minimal security precautions is like outrunning a bear: You don't have to be faster than the bear; you just have to be faster than your friend who's also being chased.
Hackers are smart, but they're also somewhat lazy. So unless you happen to be a high-profile target, a hacker will likely give up if your data defenses prove to be too difficult to breach. Mat Honan's hackers even admitted that their attack was nothing personalthey simply wanted to break into his Twitter account because the three-character handle "@mat" signified the property of a Twitter superuser. Nothing more, and nothing less.
Ultimately, even taking small security steps, such as creating an eight-character password instead of a five-character password, can protect your personal information just well enough to convince hackers to move on to the next digital door.