Keeping Your Identity Safe Online

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Keeping Your Identity Safe Online Powered By Docstoc
					We are living in the age of technology where information is just a click away. We can
easily get access to journals, be in touch with our friends who are miles away, and
shop in the comfort of our homes. However, this easy access to information has some
disadvantages as well. This has led to security breaches and an increase in online
identity theft. The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) reported that 8 million
Americans were affected by breaches in the first quarter of 2008 and about 54 million
people were affected in 2007.
  If you are not cautious enough, you can easily become a victim of online identity
theft. It is booming because hackers are at a much lesser risk of getting caught. It’s
difficult to trace hackers in that they can access your confidential information while
being thousands of miles away.
  When you sign up for an e-mail account you provide essential information such as
name, address and e-mail addresses. For online banking, you need to provide Social
Security numbers to make your financial transactions.
  Thus, your system ends up storing confidential information such as your name,
telephone number, home address, bank account number, routing numbers, Social
Security number and history on every website you visit.
  This information is stored in your computer’s browser cache, browser history, hidden
system files, system registry, user directories, program directories, root directory and
recycle bin. An identity thief can easily access this personal information and misuse
your identity, causing severe financial loss. It can also hamper your social image and
personal relationships.
  To ensure your privacy, always erase your Internet data such as websites visited,
cookies, history, and confidential information including passwords, ID’s, banking and
credit card information. Choose strong passwords while surfing the Net and always
keep your passwords secret.
  While downloading files from the Internet you need to be extra cautious. Certain
corrupt files can make your computer vulnerable to viruses. Make sure that you only
download files that come from trusted sources.
  Trojans and other computer viruses can infect your computer and steal personal
information right from your system’s hard drive. Some Trojans and computer viruses
can track keystrokes and report your personal information to an identity thief.
  Use anti-virus and other security software to keep thieves away from your computer.
You need to regularly run your anti-virus and antispyware programs to scan your
computer for problems.
  It is a good idea to completely remove your chats from the Internet. Be careful while
sending and receiving e-mails or filling in survey forms that require your personal
information. Criminals use email hoaxes to lure victims onto fake websites. Never
respond to requests for personal or financial information.
  In case you become a victim of identity theft, immediately file a complaint with the
Federal Trade Commission and have a fraud alert placed on your credit report.
  This will prevent the thief from opening any accounts in your name. Immediately
notify credit card companies and banks to ensure your safety.
  You can reduce the possibility of becoming a victim of identity theft by
understanding how thieves access personal information and guarding yourself against
it. Following safe surfing practices and arming your computer appropriately can give
you the much needed security and also let you enjoy the immense benefits that
Internet offers.
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