Online Identity Theft Protection
Internet identity theft is one of the crime's fastest growing areas. With millions of new online computer users
each year, the opportunities to take advantage of people has increased exponentially. Online identity theft
protection should be taken seriously. Consider these means by which you can decrease the likelihood of becoming a
Know Who You Are Doing Business With
Do not make an online purchase without doing a little bit of homework on the company from which you will be
buying. Make sure they offer a physical address and telephone number that you can access. Do a bit of additional
online research about the site and find out if others have had any problems. Although a pretty site is no guarantee
of legitimacy, a "bargain" site riddled with errors may be a sign that someone is simply hoping to catch an
unsuspecting person from whom they may steal.
Treat online purchases seriously and keep records of every charge you have authorized, who was authorized to
make it and the company to which it was made. Check statements carefully to make sure others are not charging your
card as well.
Protect Your Personal Details
Your personal information is incredibly valuable and you should treat it with the same level of respect that you
would afford to a favorite heirloom or a brick of cash. Be careful with your personal information at all times, but
particularly online. The United States Federal government has made the following sound recommendations about
protecting your information while online.
- If you are asked for your personal information including your name, email or home address, phone number,
account numbers, or Social Security number, find out how it is going to be used and how it will be protected
before you share it. If you have children, teach them to not give out your last name, your home address, or
your phone number on the Internet.
- If you get an email or pop-up message asking for personal information, do not reply or click on the link in
the message. The safest course of action is not to respond to requests for your personal or financial
information. If you believe there may be a need for such information by a company with whom you have an account
or placed an order, contact that company directly in a way you know to be genuine. Either way, do not send your
personal details via email because email is not a secure transmission method.
- If you are shopping online, do not provide your personal or financial information through a company website
until you have checked for indicators that the site is secure, like a padlock icon on the browser's status bar
or a website URL that begins "https:" (the "s" stands for "secure"). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof
and some scammers have forged security icons.
- Read website privacy policies. They should explain what personal information the website collects, how the
whether you have the right to see what information the website has about you and what security measures the
taking your business elsewhere.
Taking measures like these will help protect you from online victimization.
Phishing is the process of sending emails or otherwise directing a computer user to impart with personal
information by imitating a legitimate company with which the user may do business.
Mass emails are sent to millions of people hoping to find a handful of users who will willingly part with
critical information in response to an email seemingly sent by a legitimate company.
Don't fall for it. Never provide personal information in response to an email. If you are approached to do so,
instead call the official telephone numbers for the company and verify their need for the information.
Realize that no legitimate business will demand personal information from you anonymously via the internet. Even
if the email you receive of the site to which you hare directed appears legitimate; take the time and effort to
Protect Your Passwords
Treat online passwords seriously. If your passwords are compromised hackers and other potential identity thieves
may be able to access a great deal of personal information.
According to the U.S. government, there are some relatively simple steps you can take to enhance password
- Using passwords that have at least eight characters and include numbers or symbols.
- Avoiding common words: some hackers use programs that can try every word in the dictionary.
- Not using your personal information, your login name, or adjacent keys on the keyboard as passwords.
- Changing your passwords regularly (at a minimum, every 90 days).
- Not using the same password for each online account you access.
If you think that have become a victim of internet identity theft, report the offense immediately to the Federal
Trade Commission and/or local authorities. Not only does this increase the chance of your situation being resolved
in a favorable manner, it also provides law enforcement with information that can help them improve their detection