Today, Friday, September 22, 2017

Don't Become a Victim of Identity Theft Online




Identity theft affects millions of people every year, costing substantial amounts of money from unsuspecting victims. Identity theft can happen to anyone, so it's important to educate yourself on what identity theft is and how you can protect yourself from it, especially online.

There are two primary forms of identity theft; that in which the thief will use your stolen credit card or banking information to make online or merchant purchases. This type of identity theft is generally more prevalent, as it is easier for predators to obtain and use information in this fashion. The second form of identity theft is when a predator will use your personal information to obtain credit by falsifying application documents. While consumers are in most cases protected against identity theft, recovering the stolen funds or repairing the damaged credit can be a lengthy and frustrating process.

While identity theft can occur in virtually any setting, online shopping is the most common forum for predators to obtain the information that they need. By taking the following steps, consumers can protect their information and in many cases, can prevent identity theft.

Use Credit Instead of Cash
When shopping online, use a credit card instead of a debit card for purchases. Using a debit card means that the funds will be immediately withdrawn from your account. When you use a credit card, you will often be given the opportunity to dispute charges that are not your own, allowing you to defer payment for the stolen charges until the situation has been resolved. If the funds are withdrawn from your bank account, you will often have to wait until the dispute has been resolved in order to have them returned to you.

Password and Pins
When shopping online, never use personal information such as your mother’s maiden name, last four digits of your social security number, birthday or ATM pin as passwords. In many cases, these small bits of information may be all an identity thief may need to complete the circle of information to steal from you.

Social Security Number
Avoid giving your social security number for any online transaction, as there are virtually no situations in which it would be required to complete a purchase online.

Firewalls and Home Computer Protection
Install firewalls on your home computer as well as computer protection software such as Spyware removers, McAfee or Norton. Each of these software programs serve as monitoring devices for software installation on your personal computer that was not initiated, phishing, viruses and worms.

Use Secure Sites
Before completing an online purchase, look to see that the site is secure. In most cases, there will be a notation or a lock symbol on the web browser. Also, use your common sense. If the site does not look or feel secure, it probably is not.

While online predators do exist and there is the possibility of identity theft occurring when shopping online, taking these measures will improve your chances of not becoming a victim.


 




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