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Protect Against Identity Theft Online

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes. Email and internet can be tools that can be use to steal your identity. Protect yourself online : 

  • Never give out your social security number, online or otherwise. No company you buy things from needs your social security number. If you do business on the web, obtain a Federal Tax ID number to use instead of your social security number. Once criminals have your social security number, along with your birth date and address, they have virtually everything they need to steal your identity.
  • Use a good anti-virus program. One of the ways criminals get your credit card numbers, passwords and other sensitive information is through Trojan horse viruses that log your keystrokes and transmit information to the scammer. The Bad Trans virus that has caused so much havoc is just such a virus.
  • Always use a "secure" server when transmitting credit card information over the web and know something about the company before handing over your information. You can feel pretty confident that you are using a secure server if a little lock displays in the status bar on the bottom of your web browser.
  • Don't use check cards. A popular new way to pay for goods and services online is to "use your checking account just like a credit card".  Be extremely cautious about paying this way through the web. By giving a company your checking account numbers you give away much of the information necessary to empty your bank account!
  • Don't give out unnecessary personal information. Never give out information such as your birthday, marital status, education level or other personal information. This additional information makes it extremely easy for criminals to make themselves appear legitimate when they pose as you. Websites should ultimately only require you to provide your name, email and billing information for a purchase. You should avoid any site requiring more information than that.
  • Be aware of online scams that ask for account information. Popular scams today include Phishing Scams, Nigerian Email Scam, Phony Identity Theft Protection or Credit Repair Scams. Never enter any account information or provide any financial details to anyone online or any website when prompted by an email. No legitiment financial service will ask you to update your records via email. Always validate the reason and source prior to providing any personal information. 
  • Shred all paper with sensitive information prior to throwing it in the trash can ! A paper shredder can be your best friend to help prevent identity theft, buy one today !! Bank statements, credit card receipts, anything with your personal information..Especially those unneeded printouts from the web ! SHRED ! Please get a crosscut shredder, it makes sure the information is unreadable.

For more information about Identity Theft see www.fightidentitytheft.com

For more information about Phishing Scams see www.antiphishing.org

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