If you’re trying to sell your home, you should be thinking about ways to protect your identity. Identity theft can be a very real threat if you’re not careful. Strangers can easily rifle through your personal financial data if you leave it lying around. You have to be just as diligent about protecting your personal information when you sell your home as you are about keeping it neat and clean.

Identity thieves typically use victims’ names, addresses and social security numbers to create fake identities. If your personal information is stolen, you could be held responsible for accounts you did not open or purchases you did not make. There could even be long-term damage to your credit report and credit score.

A good way to help protect your identity when you sell your home is to put all your financial records in a locked safe or in a locked  cabinet hidden at the back of a closet. Don’t keep the key anywhere close, especially during a home showing or open house. If you’re holding on to records you don’t need, take some time to go through your files and shred unnecessary paperwork.

Since identity thieves could  also access your computer when you’re not looking, be sure to use a strong password to protect your computer.  Better yet, keep it turned off. If you have a laptop, tablet, smartphone or other mobile device, unplug it and make sure it’s well-hidden. Mobile electronics are so light and thin, someone  could easily slip them under a coat or in a purse.