Many of us have suffered from a recent plague called identity theft. This is not to say that identity theft is a particularly new problem; people have suffered from imposters since the beginning of humanity, but the situation has changed greatly in the last twenty years. The invention of the Internet has brought all sorts of wonderful changes in the way that we live and do business. We can socialize, buy products, apply to universities, and keep in touch with distant family members on the Internet. However, the new system for communication and commerce is creating some interesting problems when it comes to identity theft. Because personal information is so quickly shared over the Internet, and because much of what goes on is done with little personal interaction between parties, there is a tremendous amount of opportunity to fool people. Millions suffer each year across the world from cleverly designed schemes that put millions of dollars into the pockets of thieves. Because none of us want to live the rest of our lives in fear we should become educated about identity theft and help to prevent it. Here are some basic tips that will help to ensure that you protect yourself and your family from identity theft on the computer:
1. Beware of phishing or other email scams. Phishing occurs when someone sends you an email requesting personal information. Usually the thief claims to be an empoyee of a bank or government office who needs information about your account. They might also make some sort of handsome offer but claim that you cannot participate in their investment unless you provide personal information. You can prevent phishing or other email scams by simply never sending any personal information in the form of an email. Regardless of how good the deal sounds you should avoid communicating anything personal in an email, and this includes communications with friends or family.
2. Use anti spyware and anti virus software. Although it is difficult to prevent all of the attacks from identity theft by yourself, there is some excellent software out there that can really help you to prevent it from occurring. Investing a little every year in a good program could save you thousands in the long run.
3. Beware of phony shopping sites or clone sites. Hackers and identity thieves have gone as far as building fake sites to get your personal information. They will appear to be the real deal, including advertisements and logos. The best rule is to only shop at sites that you know are legitimate and have secure payment methods.
4. Be sure to encrypt your wireless Internet connection and do not use a connection that is unsecured. If you use an unsecured connection there is a good chance that someone else is watching. Although few of us think that identity theft could occur to us, act as though you know someone is trying to steal your identity all the time and you will do just fine.
These are just a few tips for protecting yourself from identity theft online. There are plenty of other options for protection, and they vary depending on your particular situation and needs. Be cautious of anything that appears suspicious and that asks for your information. Researching current methods for identity theft will also help you prepare for the next clever scheme. When you find something new inform your friends and family so that they can avoid the scheme. With a little effort and education we can virtually eradicate identity theft in the world.