Identity Theft is one of the most serious problems facing Internet users. Identity Theft is exactly as the name states – someone steals your Identity and commits fraud in your name. It can result in untold financial and legal problems that may literally ruin your peace of mind and/or your life. Someone gaining control of your most personal details can wreck havoc and result in dire consequences for you and your family.
You must do everything in your power to prevent Identity Theft. Actually, if you follow some simple ‘common sense’ procedures – you can reduce your risk significantly. Follow these simple steps and you may prevent yourself from becoming a victim of Identity Theft.
Please keep in mind, any computer connected to the Internet can be hacked! The only way to be 100% safe from Identity Theft is to not use a computer or the Internet. Even then, many banking institutions and government agencies may have your vital information in their hands and possibly online – so no one is really safe!
Despite this grime prospect, there are many things you can personally do to protect yourself from Identity Theft. Stop would-be thieves in their tracks and make it really hard for anyone to misuse your well earned good name and reputation.Try these relatively simple steps:
If you do a lot of surfing on the web – set your own security standards! Most browsers will let you set the security level of your connections. If you’re using Internet Explorer, click on Tools in the task bar, go to Internet Options and set your level of security. Try to set this to as high a standard as you can.
Place a firewall on your computer or network. A firewall is a system or gateway that prevents unauthorized access to your computer or private network. It is usually the first line of defense in protecting your private information or data. A good firewall will help protect you from malicious attacks of spyware, adware, malware, worms, trojans, and hackers. There is no reason not to have a firewall in place, you can download a free firewall from www.zonealarm.com for personal use.
Get a good anti-virus software program that will help protect your computer against spyware, adware, malware and so on. Purchasing such a program that is updated regularly will save you money in the long run and will add an extra layer of protection for your PC.
Get proactive and start protecting your identity with a credit monitoring service that will provide you fraud alerts if any suspicious activity is detected on your credit reports. If you haven’t looked into credit monitoring as an option there are many paid and free services available that you may want to consider. SIF has the latest credit monitoring service reviews so you can determine which plan is right for your situation.
Don’t store your vital information (credit card numbers, family information, passwords, etc.) on your personal computer, instead store it on CDs or floppy disks or on a computer that is not connected to the Internet.
If you use passwords, make sure they are hard-to-guess passwords. You should have passwords that are at least eight characters long – consisting of a mixture of numbers, upper case and lower case letters. Many security experts suggest changing your passwords regularly.
Never open emails from people you don’t know. Especially, don’t open any attachments until they are properly scanned for viruses and spyware.
Be aware of phishing – this is where you get an official looking email from companies that you may be doing business with – never use a link in these emails to provide personal information. Always open a new browser window and type in your ‘own’ links you have for these companies or sites. Most secure connections will start with “https://”
Regularly check your operating system and download any updates that may contain security patches and fixes for your PC.
Use an encryption service if you can. This will help in protecting your vital data from prying eyes.
Always shut down your computer when its not in use – especially if you have a cable Internet connection. And make sure you know who is using your computer.Keep track of family members or friends who have access to your computer.
No doubt there are many more ways to protect yourself against Identity Theft but following and implementing the above steps will give you added protection and peace of mind. In the same light, don’t let your guard down – always be aware of your surfing habits and the information or programs on your computer. Keep a close eye on your PC; any slow down or unorthodox operations should be checked out immediately. Scan your computer regularly, and check out any unauthorized attempts to access your PC. Keep your computer safe.
Believe it or not, a little common sense will go a long way in stopping Identity Theft and keeping your good name safe!