Identity theft and fraud is a growing problem in the United States that can’t be ignored. Identity fraud in the U.S. takes a new victim every two seconds and hit 13.1 million people in 2013, according to CNN Money. While you can’t prevent identity thefts from stealing your personal information, there are many ways you can safeguard your sensitive information from criminals. The first way is to be aware of the scope of the problem.

Here are some common myths about identity theft that I have debunked, so you can arm yourself with the real facts and better protect yourself:

Myth #1: Most identity theft cases occur online

A common misconception about identity theft is that most cases occur online. While data breaches do contribute to the growing number of identity theft crimes, most cases actually take place offline. Identity thieves can claim a lost wallet or checkbook, steal your mail, or snag your credit card at a gas station or restaurant. To protect yourself from these things, always shred sensitive documents, place a lock on your mail box and don’t carry your social security card or check book with you.

Myth #2: Identity thieves don’t know their victims

Many identity thieves have some kind of relationship with their victims, whether it’s a friend, neighbor, relative or coworker. For instance, medical identity theft can happen when relatives share an insurance account, and child identity theft can happen when parents abuse their child’s unblemished credit score. Think carefully before sharing passwords or financial account information with family members and people you know.

Myth #3: Social networking sites are safe

Social networking sites can be great platforms for connecting with friends, sharing photos or promoting something. However, when it comes to your identity social media can be dangerous. Thieves can use social media sites to steal your valuable information and know your whereabouts. If you use social media, be wary of oversharing, make your profiles private and never accept a friend request from someone you do not know.

If you suspect you have fallen victim to identity theft, our private investigator agency in New York City can help. New York Intelligence Agency can track down the criminal and help you take the necessary steps to recover.