There are many ways someone can steal your identity, and the Internet has only made it easier and more widespread of a problem. Here are some tips that will help you prevent your identity from being stolen.
Email is one of the easiest ways for someone to trick you into giving them your personal information and passwords. That innocent looking email with the link from your bank, credit card company, eBay or Paypal, asking you to login to your account is usually a trick, it’s called “phishing”. The link is disguised so that you can’t tell you’re going to a completely different site. At the site, they’ll ask you to login or to confirm your personal information. You may be tricked into doing this, you hit submit and BAM! You’ve just given a hacker or scammer the keys to your account and whatever information or anything of value that may be stored in it, is now theirs.
Don’t click on links in emails unless you are positive that the link is legitimate. It’s as easy as right clicking on the link first and checking the properties of the link. If you ever get an email from your bank, credit card company or other important financial accounts, then open up your browser and login to the site manually yourself. This prevents you from being sent to another site. In addition, you can protect yourself by keeping Windows up to date, their latest version of Internet Explorer has anti-phishing capabilities built in and will warn you if you go to a fake site. You should also avoid opening email attachments until you have scanned them for viruses.
When you download any files from the Internet, make sure you scan them with an updated anti-virus program first. It’s a good idea to stick with downloading from trusted sites like Download.com or Snapfiles.com, as they offer programs that have already been scanned for viruses and malware.
Using Credit Cards Safely
When shopping online, use a dedicated credit card just for online purchases. This way you can more easily keep track of your purchases and monitor any suspicious activity. You should also check with your credit card company for any identity theft protection they have available for the card. A good credit card company will offer protection should someone start racking up unauthorized purchases and you would not be held liable. Even better, choose to use a credit card company that offers virtual credit cards for each transaction you make. These virtual credit card numbers are generated for one transaction only, and make it impossible for a thief to use it again.
You should have a good anti-virus software program installed on your computer, this can help prevent malicious programs from being opened up and damaging your computer or installing programs that monitor your activity. There are also specialty program that you can install such as anti-phishing toolbars and security programs. Having a good firewall can also help protect you.