Identity theft is a terrible problem in the world today with millions and millions suffering each year. Thieves collect our personal information with ease and then spoil our credit ratings, deplete our savings, and potentially ruin our financial future. Although identity theft might appear to be less harmful than a break in or mugging, realize that it actually takes the bread right out of people’s mouths. Identity theft is just as severe as any other form of theft and can actually be much worse because it tends to tarnish a person’s reputation forever.
Your identity is the very thing you use represent yourself in all facets of life, and if it is stolen and tarnished it can be difficult to recover. The problem has become much worse as the Internet provides us with opportunities to quickly and easily share our personal information. We never know who is really on the other end of an email, online purchase, or blog. In most cases the other party is honest and sincere, but with online identity theft on the rise you never know who you might be dealing with. The problem has been particularly bad with fake websites that appear to be legitimate shopping venues. These sites are cleverly designed to appear almost identical to a regular site, including advertisements and logos. Because many of the purchases we make are done online, we need to be able to differentiate between good and bad sites. Listed bellow are a few tips for recognizing bad sites and what to do if you encounter one:
1. The first rule is to always be very cautious when buying anything from a site that you have never bought from before. Inspect the site and watch for anything out of the ordinary. Is the text on the site well written and does it make sense? Is the over all design strange, and does it look like it was simply thrown together without any thought for composition? What are the pictures like? Do the logos look real, do they have trademarks or copyrights on them? Does the site include contact information, including address and phone numbers? Is there a secure payment method provided by a major company like Paypal? If not then do not purchase anything at that site. If a site does not have a secure payment method they are simply asking to fail.
2. If you feel a little strange about the site do not purchase anything on it or submit any personal information. Try to research the company is some other way. Are there online reviews for the company or any information about it on a consumer website?
3. A good general rule is to avoid purchasing things at small, independent sites. Although we would all like to support small businesses and entrepreneurs you might want to save this for local businesses. Only use large, well recognized sites that you and friends commonly purchase things at.
By following these basic guidelines you can help to ensure that your identity will be protected. It can be difficult to differentiate between good and bad sites but if you take the time to really look at a site you can usually get a feel for its legitimacy. However, even if you are great at sniffing out bad sites you should still follow the basic rule and only purchase things on well recognized sites such as Amazon.com. With a little bit of effort and education we can help to fight the war against identity theft.