Identity Theft

Identity Theft

Those who have experienced identity theft, or known someone else who has know the experience is a traumatic one. It seems like it takes forever to clean it all up and get everything back in place. There can be many different ways that deceitful people can access your information and many more ways that they can misuse it once they obtain it. Not only have the instances of identity theft increased, the average monetary amounts for victims has increased as well. There are some steps that can be taken to help protect your personal information and prevent identity theft.

Phishing Websites

These websites are usually presented as a legitimate online business but they are really only looking for your personal information. While they are looking for a username and password, they are really interested in your name, address, social security number and other types of identifying personal information. Be wary of sites that ask for these types of information:

  • Driver’s license number
  • Health insurance id number or information
  • Bank account number
  • Credit card numbers
  • Social security number

Only offer information when it is legit; like when you are applying to get a credit card but if the site is just asking arbitrarily for the information that should be a huge red flag. If you think a site is questionable go to the main page of the organization and call their number to ask. If they do not provide a legitimate number or contact information they are likely not on the up and up.

Use Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware Programs

There are lots of backdoors viruses that can find a way into a computer system; and there are tons of ways that they can do harm. The only way to be sure that the computer system is protected is to install both an anti-virus and an anti-malware security program. Most vendors offer packages which contain both.

Website Passwords

Once a criminal logs into your email they can obtain your personal information. If your system is hacked and they obtain a password it is certain they well try it across the web. If a unique password is used for each of the sites that you need to log in to then it can offer that extra level of protection.

Use Reputable Sites Only when Shopping Online

Being able to purchase almost anything through an online resource or store is one of the most convenient aspects of the Web 2.0 world. Be very certain that the site is safe before entering your credit card information. If the site has elements that causes you to question if it is safe or not, it is better to not purchase anything until you are certain.

Sharing on Social Media Sites

Most of us do not know very many people who are not active on some sort of social site whether that is Facebook, Twitter, social bookmarking community or a regular blogger; nearly everyone we know is active in social media one way or another. It is essential that each person guard the type of information that is shared on these public sites. Banking information, phone numbers or any other personal information should never be divulged on a social media site. Recently, there were several people who were copy and pasting a post where it was asking everyone where they were born, like it would be interesting to know this about Facebook friends. The problem with this is many sites will use this information to confirm a person’s identity and this seemingly small piece of information is like giving your identity to criminals. Be very careful of the bits of information shared publically.

Wireless Network Security

One of the main reasons you want to secure your wireless network is to reduce the chances of fraud and identity theft. IF you do not have a network key an identity thief can access your network and view your website usage. This allows them enough information to build a pretty detailed profile of you and the sites you visit. Simply adding a password to your wireless network can protect against this type of activity.

Download From Reputable Sources Only

This is one of the main ways backdoors and Trojans can gain entry to your computer system. Keeping your antivirus updated and scanning regularly can help, but it’s best to not frequent sites that are of a questionable reputation. And certainly do not ever download any software, games, screensavers or anything else from a site that you are not sure about.