The Basics of How to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft Online


by Barbara J. Feldman on February 12, 2009

Identity theft has become a terrible problem in our time. Although identity theft was a serious problem before the invention of the Internet, the problem has become much more severe with the often anonymous and free way that information is shared online. Few people realize that there are millions affected each year and in terrible ways. Not only are the financial hardships created by identity theft hard to deal with, but the emotional sense of violation and victimization is difficult as well. Many people start to feel like there is someone out there trying to get them all the time. Because none of us want to spend all of our lives looking over our shoulders or worrying when we go online, we need to find ways to protect ourselves from identity theft. Realize that by following just a few basic guidelines you can learn how to protect yourself from identity theft online. Here are a few of the rules that everyone should follow:

1. Never, ever send personal information in email form to anyone except well known friends or family (and you might not even want to do it in this case). Phishing is a common scam that occurs when someone sends you an email asking for personal information. Often the email appears as though it were sent by a bank, government office or some sort of official company. It can also appear to come from someone in a foreign country who needs help desperately. Do not be fooled by any of these sorts of scams! Realize that by simply never sending your information online you can avoid them altogether and help to eliminate online identity theft.

2. Always clear your log-in information or password after you have used one of your accounts. Clear your browser history after using any computer’s Internet connection. You never know who is going to use the computer after you and you need to be very careful.

3. Be aware of fake or “cloned” sites. Sometimes identity thieves use copies of legitimate sites to produce a fake site that requires personal information. These fake sites can be quie convincing, so be sure to only buy things at sites with secure payment methods and which are commonly recognized sites. You might also want to be suspicious of sites that appear to promise deals that are simply too good to be true—in most cases they are not.

4. Install proper software. There are dozens of software programs that will help to prevent identity theft. These programs covers things like fake websites and phishing scams, and they can also prevent you from disclosing personal information online. Investigate which software will best suit your particular needs and give it a try. Although software cannot prevent you from having identity theft perpetrated, you can help to make it much more difficult for criminals to do so.

These are just a few of the basic guidelines for preventing identity theft. There are many, many other ways to protect yourself and you should do some independent research to find out if there is a single method that might help you. The biggest key to fighting the war against identity theft is to become educated about the problem. If you learn something about identity theft be sure to make your family or friends aware of the problem. With so many scams circulating through the Internet you never know who will be the next victim. Make sure that you keep up to date on the latest scams by reading about them at trustworthy sites online.


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