In an age where the Internet has radically changed the way we do business and socialize, it is good to know that there are some people concerned with the serious problem of identity theft. Identity theft affects the lives of millions of Americans each year, sapping billions of dollars of income that should have gone to providing for people’s basic needs.
The problem has become worse with the easy communication of the Internet and our tendency to purchase, socialize, and bank on it. While all of these could be good things, few of us realize the actual threat from identity theft lurking around the corner. I got a phishing scam the other day from someone claiming to be at a bank asking for my personal information so that they could register my account for some sort of special interest rate. The whole thing was obviously a scam, but you could see how someone with little knowledge of the Internet or current identity theft practices might get sucked in. I have also seen scams supposedly sent by starving people in various parts of the world asking for help, but really requesting personal information. Besides these sorts of dangers, now we have the threat of cloned sites and fake commerce sites. You might buy something on a site, assuming that it is the site of a legitimate business, only to find that you have just handed over your payment information to some identity thief. Because identity theft is as prevalent as it is, and because the consequences are so terrible, you need to know about some of the online tools that can help you to fight it.
One of the most basic and necessary tools for fighting the war against online identity theft is appropriate software. There are several brands out there that will help to fight spyware and phishing scams in fairly successful ways. What is great about these programs in terms of the Internet is that they receive automatic updates online in order to keep your software current. This is especially important in a world where hackers and thieves are cleverly designing new scams all the time.
Another thing you might want to do is switch to a different Internet surfing program. Internet Explorer has been the target of repeated attacks in recent years because it is used so commonly. Thieves design programs specifically to break into Explorer that might not work on a different program like Mozilla Firefox.
Use secured payment options such as PayPal, and never buy anything at a site using some payment method you have never heard of.
Finally, the Internet is both the problem and the solution because it such a great source of information. There are thieves out there trying to get your information, but there are also some really good people trying to protect you. If you read legitimate sites about identity theft you can stay apprised of trends in crime. For example, check out: Anti-Phishing and Fighting Identity Theft by the Federal Trade Commission.
By following these few steps you can help to ensure that you and your family will live identity theft free (at least when it comes to the Internet). Although it might be almost important to eliminate all identity theft from our lives, we can work together to make most of it a thing of the past. It only requires a little bit of education and some good habits to beat identity thieves at their game. Be smart, cautious, and stay informedâ€”there might be an identity thief trying to take your money right now!