Worried about identity theft? Turns out you can likely prevent it yourself, rather than hiring a firm who offers identity theft prevention services.

The Consumer Federation of America recently released an analysis of 16 firms that sell identity theft prevention services. The Web sites of the identity theft prevention firms did a poor job of describing the services. CFA’s report stated that the descriptions of the identity theft services were “confusing, unclear and ambiguous.”

So what can you do if you want to take steps to prevent identity theft? CFA offers these 10 tips:

  1. Practice mail security.
  2. Guard your Social Security number.
  3. Lock and shred.
  4. Stop pre-screened credit and insurance mailings.
  5. Keep private information to yourself.
  6. Be safe online.
  7. Look at your bills and bank statements promptly.
  8. Monitor your accounts online frequently.
  9. Check your credit reports regularly.
  10. Pay attention to debt collectors.

Just a reminder, identity theft occurs when someone steals your financial or medical identity and applies for bank accounts, credit card accounts and conducts other financial transactions claiming to be you. With medical identity theft someone may use your insurance for their health claims.

March 19, 2009