Identity Theft As a Social Problem
We are now in the Age of Information where identity theft is fast becoming a social problem. A lot of government agencies and entities are now working hand in hand to protect individuals and companies from this modern crime, as well as making each person and corporation responsible in taking necessary precautions to make themselves less attractive to identity thieves. However, the increasing accessibility and convenience of the World Wide Web has attracted more and more identity thieves, thus identity theft cases, committed online and in the real world.
Identity theft is best defined as the crime of stealing another individual's personal and identifying information for the purpose of using the obtained information for fraudulent purposes. Personal and identifying information being referred to includes social security numbers, credit card and bank account numbers, usernames, passwords, and medical records. If any or a combination of this information reaches the hands of identity thieves, they can open new credit accounts a different name, take out loans using the victim's name, transfer funds to their existing accounts and use available credit. More often than note, identity theft is done by organized crime rings or distressed individuals seeking immediate financial consolation.
A handful of reported identity theft cases were initiated online. Identities can be easily extracted from certain websites, thus enabling identity theft con artists to play more in the fields of the World Wide Web. If you do not want to fall victim to this modern crime, then here's some of the things that you can do:
1. Avoid sharing private and sensitive personal information online unless you are sure why the other party is collecting it and where they are going to use it.
2. Your username and passwords should always be kept confidential and avoid saving a list of your online username and passwords in a single file and uploading it online.
3. Avoid transacting with online retailers that do not provide an email address or those that do not have their own customer service web page.
4. Stay away from sites that promise you to earn "$50,000 a month without leaving home." More often that not, these are scams that will only increase your risk of identity theft. They are too good to true and maybe, that's all that they are.
5. Before typing your credit card number to make purchases, make sure that the website is using a 'secure' server.
6. Always double check your browser's encryption settings to ensure that you are always protected when you go online.
7. Do not take for granted the security that an anti-virus program can provide. However, it is important to keep your anti-virus updated or else, it will not serve its purpose.
8. Be mindful about downloading any ".EXE" program files. These are executable files that can contain malicious software or spyware that can make you prone to identity theft. If you want to download this particular file type, you need to check if its source is legitimate and clean.
9. If you can, install filtering software that will protect you and your family from inappropriate web site content that commonly contain spywares. The latter embeds itself in your hard drive and steals your personal information which makes you more vulnerable to identity theft.
10. In addition to anti-virus software, have an anti-spyware also installed in your computer. You can't have too much protection but only the lack of it.