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Identity Thieves

Identity theft in many forms is a growing motivation of many of the malicious attacks you will face on the internet.  

Phishing scams are probably the most prolific types you will encounter.  Most often you will see phishing scams in your email inbox.   Some of them are easy to spot like the person in Nigeria that just inherited $20 million dollars and is asking for your help to transfer the money.   Others are VERY well crafted.  They may look like they came from your bank, Pay Pal, your insurance agent, you name it.   They will be "alerting" you to a problem with your account and ask for your attention.   These scams have done everything from crafting clone websites, to setting up 800 numbers to collect information.   If you encounter any unsolicited emails about business you deal with, do not trust the email for contact information, look up phone numbers or web site addresses outside of email.  These thieves are becoming very sophisticated, they are able to learn who you know and what you and your friends, family, and business associates are interested in. 

In the past year, 100's of websites have been popping up and quickly disappearing that "sell" greatly discounted products.  Name brand software is the most common of these.  They claim to be selling a product though a much less know, but legitimate sales channel the gets you the product at pennies on the dollar.   These sites are selling anything except your credit card information.   Everything on them is fake.   Spam is often the marketing method for these websites.  Once again another reason to be suspicious of any email. 

Viruses and Trojans are another vector used to steal information from you.   Often they come in the form a cute program that will entertain you or a utility to make using or maintaining your computer easier.   They may sit silently on your computer waiting for you to log on to a website or collect every keystroke you type and send it off to be exploited. 

Protecting your identity is one of the most proactive defenses you need to take.  Your chances of being a victim of identity theft is higher than being in a car accident.   Most of us wouldn't even consider going without auto insurance, but almost no one carries identity theft insurance.   The reality is identity theft insurance only scratches the surface on the precautions you should take to protect your identity.  

ONCE THE CAT IS OUT OF THE BAG, AND YOUR IDENTITY IS STOLEN, YOU COULD SPEND THE REST OF YOUR LIFE FIGHTING IT.

Steps to take to protect your identity:

  1. Watch your credit report and other public records about yourself for unusual activity.

  2. If you want to use online banking consider using a browser appliance dedicated to this purpose.

  3. Never purchase anything online unless you are absolutely sure the computer you are using is 100% clean of malicious software.  (A clean report from your antivirus is not enough!)

  4. Always be suspicious of email no matter who it is from.

  5. Never purchase anything online that has a too good to true price.

  6. Keep your computer software up to date at all times.

The following services are excellent tools for tracking public records about yourself.  False information here could be an indicator that your identity is being used illegally and should be investigated.

 

 

 

Google
 
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