DENVER (CBS4) – In a new Hollywood comedy called “Identity Thief” with Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy the crime is central to the plot.

But in real life identity theft is anything but funny. It covers a broad range of crimes, and the consequences are far-reaching. The thefts can take a long time to fix and cost consumers billions every year.

Experts recommend the following steps to avoid identity theft:

– Secure all of your devices with passwords. From smartphones to tablets.

– Clean your old devices. When you’re getting rid of your old iPad for the new one, it’s important that you remove all of your data. Install wiping software on your smartphone.

– Restrict access to your info on social media. Pay close attention to your privacy settings, and don’t “overshare.”

– Don’t give out your zip code to retailers. Knowing your zip code allows retailers to easily find your entire address so they can send you unwanted mail.

– Create a Google alert on your name. By placing that alert, you’ll be notified every time. This way you can monitor search engine results.

– Don’t use one password for every device. You should create strong passwords that are complex which include letters, numbers and symbols.

Jason Bateman, right, and Melissa McCarthy in a scene from, "Identity Thief." (credit: Universal Pictures)

Jason Bateman, right, and Melissa McCarthy in a scene from, “Identity Thief.” (credit: Universal Pictures)


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