Top 10 Ways To Prevent Falling Prey To Online Thieves
The unfortunate truth is that there is no foolproof method from having your identity stolen online by a truly committed scammer, other than tossing your PC off a bridge. And even then, your identity information is present in so many different databases available from the world wide web that you don't even need to have a computer to fall prey to an online ID thief.
1) Shut down your MySpace/Facebook site. You would be amazed at how much personal information people place on their social media sites. A clever scammer can begin to clone your ID with just your birthdate, let alone your home address and much of the other confidential information that only a fool would put their online personal web page!
2) Consider that there is a scammer reading each of your emails and instant messenger transmissions. They very well may be. Emails and IM are very easy to intercept. Thus never give out any personal information such as Passwords, Social Security Numbers or Credit Card Numbers.
3) Only ever access your online bank account by entering the known URL into your browser, never by a link in an email sent by what you think might be your bank, but is most likely a Phishing Scam.
4) Don't enter your Credit Card Number online even when making purchases. Place the items you wish to purchase in your online shopping cart, then before checking out, call the toll free number of the etailer and give them your payment information by voice or fax. If everyone took this simple extra step it would save billions of dollars of losses per year.
5) You are entitled to receive a free copy of your personal credit bureau file once a year. Make sure you get that from all three agencies, Trans Union, Experian and Equifax, and check it carefully to ensure that all information is correct and you don't have any credit accounts on the file you're not aware of. I once had two duplicate files on each bureau
6) Check your online credit card running statement on an ongoing basis to ensure that all the recent charges that have been placed on the card are the ones you've made. That simple step allowed me to stop a scammer who had cloned my credit card a couple of months ago and was running around on the other side of the country getting $100 authorizations from gas station pump machines.
7) Use a paper shredder, or if you are in a rural area, burn your account statements, credit card receipts and voided checks, rather than toss them in the trash intact.
8) You are under no obligation to share your Social Security Number with anyone but the Government. No matter what they may say, no one else requires that information, not even credit granters!
9) Drop off your bills at the post office, not in a private mail box at your office or apartment building, where it has a much greater chance of being stolen.
10) Make up a fake identity for yourself, complete with matching email address. Then only ever use that identity to sign up with online forms, subscriptions, and all the other places where you are asked to cough up all your personal contact details.
Be careful, as there is a thief behind every internet node!