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Crime Prevention & Safety for Individuals : Personal Safety | Safety for Children & Teens | Safety Tips for Seniors | International Student Safety | Social Networking and Internet Safety | Preventing Fraud | Identity Theft

Fraud

PREVENTING ONLINE IDENTITY THEFT

Your computer is full of all kinds of information about you and it's stored in files hidden deep on your hard drive. These files store information like logins and passwords, names, addresses and credit card numbers.

A thief can grab this information when it is being sent over an insecured transmission or he can install malicious software on your computer to collect everything he needs and automatically send it back to him.

Online Personal Safety Tips

  • limit your personal information on the web and restrict who can access it (see Social Networking and Internet Safety)

  • don't send personal information in email or instant messages

  • be suspicious of emails asking for personal, financial or sensitive information

  • use caution with links supplied in emails - do not click on links if you don't know the sender

  • monitor your credit and check any financial statements closely

  • set up a Google alert for your name and query it regularly; it's also a good idea to query your email address

Shop Smart

  • purchase only from stores you trust

  • ask yourself if their website looks professional, judging by the graphics, slogans and quality of information

  • do a business check with the Better Business Bureau

  • if you're not comfortable sending credit information online, make the purchase by telephone

  • check their site security before sending any information - click on the lock icon to view the certification and check the web address for an "s" after http (ie. https://)

  • consider getting a credit card only for internet use - monitor your statements carefully and keep a low credit limit

  • do not use the words Visa, Master Card, credit card, etc., in email headers, as thieves may be able to intercept email messages

  • provide your credit card number in an unusual manner (other than a 10-12 digit string of numbers), such as "My number starts with one, then two hundred thirty four, followed by 56 and then 78, then ninety, etc.

  • don't put your entire credit card information in one email - split it into two

Protect Your Computer - Protect Your Information

  • get a good anti-virus program and keep it up to date

  • keep your web browser updated

  • before you get rid of your old computer, wipe your hard drive - deleting files isn't enough to ensure all sensitive information is gone; if you need help, find a reputable company to do it

  • good passwords use a combination of upper and lower case letters, number and symbols and are changed regularly

  • secure your wireless network
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Signs You May be a Victim of Identity Theft

  • statements of accounts you didn't open or debits on your accounts you can't explain

  • you fail to receive bills or other mail

  • receive credit cards you didn't apply for
    being denied credit for no apparent reason

  • getting calls or letters from debt collectors or businesses asking for payment on purchases you never made

What Do I Do if I'm a Victim of Identity Theft?

  • report it to your local police

  • close any account you know or believe has been tampered with

More Safety Advice

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