There has been a lot of talk about identity theft these days, and if you haven’t listened to it you should start now. Few people realize just how big the identity theft problem is these days. Millions upon millions of dollars are lost world wide as a result of identity theft. The problem has become much worse recently because of the wide-scale use of the Internet, an invention that allows us to do all sorts of things that we never were able to before, but which also makes us vulnerable in other ways. We can send information across the world in a single second, but we don’t always know who we are sending the information to. As more and more business is done online, it makes it difficult to assure yourself that you are doing business with the right sort of people. We used to sit down at a table with human beings and make a deal or at least go to a local store to make purchases. We knew who we were buying things from and they knew who we were. Now it is possible for someone to quite easily take our identity because the easier it is to communicate the less of our actual selves is involved in the communication. Sending an email is quite easy, but there are few guarantees that you are the one actually sending it. This has led to some serious problems with identity theft and email scams. Our email addresses are a hot itemâ€”many people will pay big money to get them because they can then send us advertisements and other information. Identity thieves love to get email addresses because they can use them to run a particularly insidious scam called phishing.
Phishing occurs when someone sends an email to you asking for personal information. Usually the emails are disguised as official communication from your bank, local government, or work. They might seem urgent, as though not getting your personal information could be very serious and produce some terrible problem. They might also suggest that if they had your personal information they could use it to benefit you in some way. Do not believe anything that they say, and do not send them any information. It is likely that they will ask you for things like bank account numbers, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, and possibly your social security number. They use this information to perpetrate identity theft, meaning that they pretend to be you in order to benefit themselves.
Many of these scams are easy to spot but some might be more difficult and more cleverly disguised than others. Whatever the reason they give don’t be fooled by the explanation. The best rule to follow to avoid identity theft through these sorts of email scams is to never send personal information to someone that you do not know well through email. It is probably even a good idea to not send it to people you know well through email because a record remains in their email and could be used by someone else. If you are concerned about an email you receive that is requesting personal information, contact the group that claims to be asking for it. If there is no contact information then wait to see if they contact you again. Most of these scammers just want to get money easily and quickly and they probably won’t go to the trouble of contacting you more than once. Be smart and avoid phishing scams or other email scamsâ€”your identity is worth more than you can imagine.