Be Aware of Online Threats to Your Identity
Using your e-mail, shopping online, even visiting chat rooms can make you vulnerable to identity theft. Make sure you’re not exposing yourself to unnecessary risk.
Review e-mails carefully
- Never send personal information via e-mail unless you are certain the e-mail is encrypted.
- Always scan attachments. Even if the sender is someone you know and trust, e-mail attachments may be infected with viruses that can render your computer defenseless against hackers looking for your personal information.
- If you don’t know the sender, don’t open an attachment. Better yet, don’t even open the e-mail. Just delete it.
- Never respond to an unsolicited e-mail; especially if that e-mail is requesting account numbers or other personal information. Remember, no legitimate bank or credit card company will ever ask you to provide your personal information online.
- If you choose to buy online, make sure you purchase only from reputable, well-known retailers.
- Before you provide any personal information, be certain that the web-page is secure. Look for a notice on the page stating the area of the website is encrypted.
- Avoid saving credit card numbers and other personal information to retail shopping sites.
Protect your computer
- Set up your PC with a username and password that only you control.
- Check for spyware and viruses at least once a week; more if you spend a lot of time online.
- If you have a wireless connection to access the internet, secure it so only known computers can use it.
- Make sure your operating system is up-to-date. Don’t ignore update notices. Many times, those updates include patches to better protect your computer.
- If you use peer to peer networks to share files, restrict access to your private folders. If possible, do not store personal information on the same computer you use to share files via peer to peer networks.