Tips from a victim on protecting yourself from identity theft

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Identity thieves can take your cash -- and sometimes, you may not know for months. Besides shredding important documents, a victim of identity theft has some advice to help you avoid falling victim.

"The thieves knew my personal information, contacted my credit card company and pretended to be me," Christopher Hagler said.

The identity thieves got credit cards in Hagler's name, along with 19 other victims, and then went shopping.

"They tried to spend $250,000 on watches, jewelry, purses," U.S. Postal Inspector Eric Shen said.

To avoid having your credit card information end up in the hands of thieves, Hagler has some advice.

"Make sure you`re not using your mother`s maiden name or any family, genealogical information in your passwords, because a lot of that information is on the web and thieves know how to find it," Hagler said.

Another piece of advice:

"Don`t have too many credit cards. Check your statements," Shen said.

"It`s very unnerving to know that someone out there is pretending to be you. It`s chilling actually," Hagler said.

Even more chilling -- Postal Inspector Shen says once you're a victim of identity theft, there's the potential that you'll be a victim multiple times.

Your information is out there, and the thieves will pass it around, so it's best to never let it happen.