By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – How safe is your personal information? The Federal Trade Commission estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. This Saturday kicks off National Protect Your Identity Week.

Identity theft is on the rise. You may not realize you’re a victim until it’s too late.

“People are seeing things that perhaps don’t belong to them and so they’re very confused as to how someone got their identity,” says Patty Hasson, president of Clarifi, a local non-profit consumer credit counseling agency.

“More and more of the information about you, about your financial life is available and people aren’t doing a good job of protecting their identity,” according to Hasson.

That includes while using mobile devices. 32 percent of smartphone users store sensitive login information on their phones yet 62 percent of them don’t even have their phones locked with a password.

“If you lose the smartphone or it’s stolen you may have access to a lot of your financial information,” Hasson says.

In fact smartphone users are one third more likely to become a victim of identity theft than the general public. So how can you avoid this?

  • Only use trusted secure WIFI networks, especially when doing online banking.
  • Be sure to set up a password for your cell phone.
  • Limit personal information on your phone to reduce your risk.
  • Use security software not only to protect your computer but mobile devices too.

And one other thing, as far as paperwork is concerned, “you need to shred documents, don’t just throw them away thinking oh who is going to go into my trash, people do it all the time.” Hasson says.

Speaking of shredding your documents, Clarifi is teaming up with Beneficial Bank and Citibank and hosting shred-it events this and next weekend.

Here are the details:

Saturday, October 20, 9am – 1pm
Beneficial Bank
2905 Whitehall Road
Norristown, PA 19403

Saturday, October 27, 10am – 2pm
2118 Cottman Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19148

For more information about protecting your identity visit and

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