How Someone Can Steal your Identity Through the Back Button on your Browser

by Barbara J. Feldman on January 8, 2009

Identity theft is a serious problem in our day and age, and largely because of the Internet. The Internet has provided us with so many wonderful opportunities for communication and business exchanges. Someone across the world can look at your website and purchase something that you make. They can also socially or professionally interact with you, thus increasing the total amount of communication that occurs in the world, which is a good thing, right? In most cases the Internet produces some great results, but it has also lead to a general increase in serious identity theft throughout the world. Each year literally millions of dollars are lost as a result of identity theft through the Internet. If you are not a tech savvy person you are a likely victim of these attacks, and even as an Internet expert you could easily fall prey to a clever scam. One of the most common and simple ways to steal someone’s identity through the Internet is by using the computer after them and getting their information through the back button on the browser. Pretty much all Internet browsers give you the option of looking at sites that have been previously viewed by simply clicking on an arrow. If someone who had used the computer before you had purchased something online and then did not shut down the browser, you could click on the back button and find their credit card information. This information could then be used to purchase items using your identity. Although many browsers have come up with ways to prevent this sort of thing from happening—for example by clearing identification forms when you try to get to them through a back button—nothing guarantees that this will happen. It would be almost too easy for someone to simply click on the back button (perhaps someone that was not even a real criminal) and to use your information to purchase some little item they wanted.

So how will you prevent this form of identity theft from occurring? The easiest way to avoid the problem is to turn off your browser whenever you are done with it. This means that when someone else starts up that browser on the computer they won’t be able to go back to the site you were on because they will have a totally knew Internet connection. Another way to ensure that no one tries to steal your identity through a browser is to delete your browser history after you are done using the computer. This can be done fairly simply by either deleting all of the sites in the browser history or by setting up your computer so that it automatically does so.

By following these basic guidelines you can help to prevent someone from stealing your identity. It is not difficult to take these basic steps, to turn off the browser when you are done with the computer, but it could save you thousands of dollars. Be especially careful when you are using a computer in a public location—in fact, it would probably be best to just not buy things on public computers. You never know who will be using the computer next and what information they might be able to retrieve. However, you should definitely be cautious at home, where children might be tempted to use their parent’s credit card inappropriately. It is terrible to think that your own child might steal your identity, but this kind of thing happens all the time. Be smart and protect your identity!

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "How Someone Can Steal your Identity Through the Back Button on your Browser." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 8 Jan. 2009. Web. 23 Oct. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/511/how-someone-can-steal-your-identity-through-the-back-button-on-your-browser/ >.