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Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Posted by cotojo on April 23, 2007


Identity theft is an very real problem and you need to actively protect yourself from it!

If your identity is ever stolen, it can be used in Fraudulent or Criminal activities, to obtain a job where you end up liable for the taxes, to make purchases of products and services that you WILL end up having to pay for, can completely devastate and destroy your credit, and take literally many years for you get it all straightened out.

Never give out personal information on the phone, through Postal Services, through e-mail or over the Internet in any other way, unless you’ve initiated the contact and you are sure you know who you’re dealing with.

Identity thieves can be skilled liars, and may pose as representatives of banks, government agencies, owners of a company, and yes, they can even pose as Internet service providers (ISPs) to get you to reveal identifying information. Before you divulge any personal information, confirm that you’re dealing with a legitimate representative of a legitimate organization. Double check by calling customer service using the number on your account statement, listed in the telephone book, or obtained via a Telephone Operator.

Your computer can be a goldmine of personal information to an identity thief. Here are some points on how you can safeguard your computer and the personal information it stores:

· Update your virus protection software regularly. Computer viruses can have damaging effects, including introducing program code that causes your computer to send out files or other stored information.

· Regularly check for security repairs and patches you can download from your operating system’s Web site.

· Don’t download files from strangers or click on hyperlinks from people you don’t know, especially when it comes to e-mail where the e-mail contains an attachment. Clicking a link or opening a file could expose your system to a computer virus or a program that could hijack your modem like a Trojan.

· Use a firewall, especially if you have a high-speed or “always on” connection to the Internet. A firewall allows you to limit uninvited access to your computer. Without a firewall, hackers can enter your computer remotely from anywhere in the world and even take over your computer and access sensitive information without you even knowing it.
I recommend the use of Online Armor Free Firewall

· To guard the safety of your online transactions always be sure the Web site you are on uses a secure browser software that encrypts or scrambles information you send over the Internet. When you’re submitting information, the address of the Web page should start with “https://” (apposed to the normal surfing address of http://), and also look for the “lock” icon on the status bar. It’s a symbol that your information is secure during transmission.

· Try not to store financial information on your PC or laptop unless absolutely necessary. If you do, use a “strong” password that is a combination of letters (upper and lower case) and numbers.

· Avoid using an automatic login feature that saves your user name and password; and always log off when you’re finished working in a password protected entry area. If your PC or laptop ever gets stolen, the thief will have a hard time accessing sensitive information if they need to enter usernames and passwords to access something.

· Delete any personal information stored on your computer before you dispose of it. Use a “wipe” utility program, which overwrites the entire hard drive and makes the files unrecoverable.

Use CCleaner freeware and when installed select ‘Options’ then select ‘Settings. Under the heading ‘Secure Deletion’ click the ‘Secure file deletion (Slower)’ radio button and change the setting to Guttman Algorithm (35 passes).

· Read Web site privacy policies. They should answer questions about the access to and accuracy, security, and control of personal information the site collects, as well as how sensitive information will be used, and whether it will be provided to third parties.

· Never provide personally identifiable information like a username and password, a government issued number that identifies you, financial details, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, or your home address in areas like chat rooms, forums, instant messengers, e-mail, or any other area over the Internet that gives others access to the information.

Remember, always back-up your system before making any changes. If using ccleaner make sure you know your passwords. I suggest you open a spreadheet or word processor, enter the site url, username and password and save it to floppy. Do NOT save this information on your hard drive.

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