How To Protect Yourself From Computer Identity Theft

How To Protect Yourself From Computer Identity Theft
The FTC estimates that over nine million Americans have their identities stolen each year .​
This crime has a​ huge potential to​ disrupt your life,​ you might be denied a​ loan for education or​ housing,​ you may miss job opportunities,​ or​ in​ extreme cases,​ you might be arrested for a​ crime you did not commit.
One of​ the​ most common types of​ computer identity theft is​ called phishing .​
This is​ when you receive an​ email requesting your personal information from someone pretending to​ be a​ financial institution .​
The email appears to​ be from a​ business or​ agency that you may have had a​ reason to​ do business with in​ the​ past,​ such as​ the​ IRS,​ a​ credit card company,​ or​ EBay .​
The email explains that there has been a​ problem with your credit card,​ or​ there is​ a​ pending audit,​ and you need to​ reply to​ the​ email with the​ correct credit card information,​ or​ social security number to​ correct the​ problem.
As soon as​ you respond with the​ requested information,​ the​ computer identity theft begins .​
Your information could be sold online,​ or​ the​ scammer may use your identity to​ make online purchases,​ apply for loans,​ or​ to​ clear out your bank account .​
They might have the​ bills sent to​ a​ different address,​ so you won't even realize there is​ a​ problem until your good credit is​ ruined .​
They could use your name to​ get utilities such as​ telephone,​ heat,​ cable TV,​ or​ use your information to​ access your wireless internet account,​ and run up your charges .​
Your name could be used to​ file a​ fraudulent income tax return,​ or​ to​ obtain government benefits .​
The list of​ ways that computer identity theft can affect your life appears to​ increase daily.
Awareness is​ the​ most effective way to​ fight online identity theft .​
Share the​ knowledge that you need to​ protect your personal information and the​ potential for this type of​ crime with your friends and family .​
You should become familiar with anti-spy software programs for your computer .​
Research different types,​ and invest in​ one that works best for you .​
Run the​ program before you do any online financial transactions.
Don't open emails from people you don't know .​
If you receive an​ email from a​ financial institution that you do business with,​ go to​ their website,​ and check for any warnings about unauthorized emails being sent .​
You could also phone the​ institution to​ see if​ the​ email is​ legitimate.
Lastly,​ only do business online with secure sites .​
They will usually have a​ small symbol in​ the​ bottom right corner of​ your browser to​ show it​ is​ secure .​
Never use your social security number on​ the​ internet.
Following these tips will help you to​ protect yourself against computer identity theft .​
Unfortunately,​ it​ is​ becoming far too common; don't let yourself become the​ next victim.

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