Surfing the Internet is a daily occurrence for an increasing number of people these days, as technology expands and online services continue to grow. Many people go online to carry out banking transactions, shop, check e-mail, and catch up on news. That's why it's more important than ever to protect your identity while surfing the web. As identity theft becomes more prevalent, it's necessary for everyone to be extra vigilant in protecting personal information ñ before it gets into the wrong hands.
Every time you go online and conduct some type of transaction, whether it is monetary or an exchange of information, you put your identity at risk. Unfortunately, criminals use the Internet too, making use of the technology to perpetrate identity theft. This type of cyber-criminal gathers personal information online and either sells it to others for profit, or uses it to his/her own purpose.
Luckily, there are many things you can do to stay one step ahead of these bandits and keep your identity as safe as possible. The Internet landscape is always changing, so you need to keep on top of things if you want to remain as safe as possible.
The first thing you need to do is learn how to avoid phishing scams. Phishers use fake e-mails and websites to pretend they are actual, trustworthy companies and institutions, such as banks and insurance companies. When people receive a fake e-mail or are directed to a counterfeit website, they are tricked into revealing passwords, credit card numbers, and other such information.
Because many phishers use spam e-mail as a way to obtain your personal passwords and information, install a good spam filter to keep out as much spam as possible. If you filter out most of the problem e-mails from the get-go, you won't have to worry about dealing with too many suspicious messages on your own. Use common sense when dealing with e-mail as well. For instance, avoid opening e-mail or IM attachments that you deem suspicious. Only open files from someone if you know the sender and what they are sending you.
Another great way to prevent ID theft is by password protecting all your computers, laptops, and PDAs. For each item, come up with a unique user name and password. The same rule should be followed when selecting passwords for any online activity. Why? If one password is discovered by an individual with ill intentions, and all your bank accounts, credit cards, and other private logins use the same password, he/she could gain access to everything. When selecting passwords, create them with letters, numbers, special characters, and make up nonsense character strings not found in the dictionary. These will be much more difficult to decipher by a potential scammer.
Keep the amount of personal data present on your computer to a minimum. In the event that your computer is hacked or your laptop is stolen, you will be much less prone to ID theft because you won't be giving the thief much to work with.
Purchase antivirus software and keep it updated. A high-quality virus protection package can help prevent and eliminate viruses, Trojan horses, and other dangerous items designed to steal your personal information. It will also scan e-mail and IM attachments for viruses.
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