First Jay-Z then his wife, Beyonce. Hillary Clinton has been there, too. The same with LAPD big shot Charlie Beck.

And now, the First Lady Michelle Obama.6603_protect identity

These notable names all have one thing in common – they’ve joined the estimated 8.572 million Americans who are victims of identity theft each year (1).

How Did This Happen?

According to a story in the New York Daily News last week, a hacker provided sensitive information to a website from the First Lady and others for publication. It’s unknown how much of the information presented on the website is accurate, but this site has certainly got the Internet buzzing with its list of notable victims. According to the story, the hacker is currently being sought by federal investigators. Perhaps it is time for the secret service to get a revamp?

While it’s unusual to have such high-profile names among the list of recent identity theft victims, it’s not all that uncommon. While we already told you of the millions that fall victim each year, here’s a look at more facts on identity theft:

  • The average financial loss of victims is about $5,000.
  • It impacts roughly 7 percent of all U.S. households.
  • People are most often victimized between the ages of 18-24, although thieves can strike at any time regardless of your age.

Needless to say, identity theft isn’t something that you want to risk happening to you. Fortunately, many people are victimized by not using common sense, meaning that protecting you and your finances is preventable in many cases.

Use Caution

Don’t ever give out your credit card information or social security number to a person or a website you don’t trust. For instance, only make credit card transactions over websites that you trust and make sure that when you do, you’re doing it from a secure computer with a secure Internet connection. You should also set your own wireless router and Internet configurations to be more secure.

Shred Sensitive Information

Bank receipts, credit card statements, mortgage statements— make sure they’re discarded of appropriately. Shred all old documents to prevent easy access to any of your information. If you don’t have a shredder, contact your local recycling center. Many of them have large shredders available for public use.

Switch Up Passwords

We know, passwords are a pain and that’s why you like to have just one password for all your online accounts. That’s not a good idea. Just think, if someone hacks one of your accounts, they have the password to all of them. So switch up your passwords between accounts and keep them encrypted with different characters, such as lower and upper-case letters, numerals and special characters.

Be Wary of Phishing Scams

If you get a suspicious e-mail, don’t click on anything within the message body. Don’t click on links, don’t click on attachments— don’t click anything, as you’re likely to be hit with a virus that makes it easier for cyber crooks to steal your information. For instance, if you get an e-mail from your bank that’s fishy, discard it and immediately contact your bank to see if it was actually them. Don’t fall into that trap of clicking.

Identity theft is a serious issue and as evidenced by the Michelle Obama hack, nobody is immune from it. Implement some— or all— of the above tips to keep your information safe.