One of today's fastest growing crimes is identity theft. While you are online you need to be ever vigilant to protect your personal information. Identity theft happens when someone obtains someone else's personal information and uses it for their personal gain. Thieves can obtain credit cards, open bank accounts, get cash, or buy things on an individual's existing credit cards along with a number of other crimes. Personal information and PC security goes beyond using computer virus protection or the latest spyware and virus security protection. Internet security begins with being aware at all times of the possible ways that criminals can obtain your personal information and taking the steps necessary to prevent them from stealing your information.
Things You Will NeedVirus Protection Software, Removable disk for backup
Use anti-spyware and anti-virus software in addition to a firewall. Make sure your operating system and web browser software are set up properly with security settings set high enough to prevent your system from being hacked. Also, make sure you update them all regularly. In addition, beware when downloading free software, some come with spyware and/or viruses.
Protect your personal information. Do not share your personal information unless you know how it will be used and protected. Also, do not click any links in an email that asks for personal, bank or credit card information. When shopping online, look for the seller's physical address and phone number.
Keep your passwords in a secure place and do not share them over the internet, email or on the phone. Choose passwords that can not easily be associated with you. Do not use the name of your children, pets or significant other as well as your address or birthday or date.
Always back up your important computer files to a removable disk and store in a safe place.
Thieves can obtain credit cards, open bank accounts, get cash, or buy things on an individual's existing credit cards along with a number of other crimes. Remember, personal information and PC security goes beyond using computer virus protection or the latest spyware protection. Always be diligent in where and how you use your personal information.
Tips & Warnings
Criminals are always coming up with new tricks and scams. It is important to stay ever vigil and check your credit reports often. Stay up to date with the latest scams. Identity theft can happen quickly.
Remember, if someone really wants the information it is next to impossible to keep them from getting it but you can make it hard for them. Unfortunately, in many cases the perpetrators of these crimes are untraceable and are therefore impossible to locate and prosecute. This is in spite of the best efforts of law enforcement agencies at all levels.
www.consumer.gov/idtheft Federal government resource for identity theft information
www.annualcreditreport.com Website to request a free annual credit report