With the advent of the World Wide Web, a whole new breed of criminals have surfaced, posing threats to more than just our material assets, but also to our very identities. Although there are a number of effective methods for protecting yourself from internet identity theft, not everyone takes the necessary steps to initiate such a plan. By tightening up your own personal security measures, you'll be far safer when you go online, and much less likely to become just another victim in the world of cyber-theft.
Securing your Channel
Anybody who's spent any amount of time online knows that internet addresses begin with "http://". This is used to electronically communicate the request for a line in which to jump onto the internet, and is what most people use for web surfing. Those who are a bit savvier know that a request can be put in for a secure channel, which will deflect attempts to capture any personal data that may be transmitted through the line, such as in the case of bank account numbers for those who prefer to do online banking. In order to request a secure channel, simply begin the web address with "https://" ? the "s" is a red flag to the system that you're requesting a secure channel.
Credit Card vs. Debit Card
Making online purchases using a credit card is a fairly common practice today, but is far different from using a debit card online. If you really must make a purchase in this way, don't ever use a debit card. Once the funds are removed from your account, you'll be unable to retrieve them, but a credit card charge can be disputed and ? in most cases ? the amount that was charged without your authorization can be retrieved.
While it's simply common sense not to provide anyone with your password to an online account ? or other information that might be used to access it by an outside entity ? some rather creative scams have been perpetrated, which are convincing enough to lure even the most cautious of consumers into their trap.
The best example of this type of scenario would be the receipt of an e-mail from your bank, payment service or online auction host that appears to be perfectly legitimate, telling you that you need to confirm your account number, password or balance due to some type of fraud investigation, etc., that they've initiated.
Typically, a link is offered that you're instructed to click onto, in order to verify that you are, in fact, the owner of the account. When you sign in with your screen name and password after clicking on the link, these electronic thieves capture that information and use it against you in the future.
The moral of the story is that, if you should receive any type of communication from one of these types of institutions, always use an outside internet line to contact them directly in order to confirm the fact that they've sent you this e-mail. In nearly every case, these messages are fraudulent.
Social Security and Credit Cards
Since cards such as these contain extremely sensitive information about your identity ? particularly in the case of the social security card ? then the best way to guard against internet identity theft is to avoid providing them online. If these are truly needed in order to process some type of transaction, then it's better to request that a hard copy form is sent to you through the postal service, and take care of the matter in that way.
Use Common Sense
Protecting yourself from internet identity theft is largely a matter of common sense. If there's a bit of sensitive information that no-one else should be privy to, then it's not a good idea to blast it across the internet ? unless you're feeling very, very lucky.
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Copyright ? 2005 Preventing Identity Theft.com All Rights Reserved.
About the Author: Nikki Greene is dedicated to helping you become better informed when it comes to preventing identity theft. Sign up for her "Preventing Identity Theft Newsletter" and keep up with the latest trends, identity theft in the news, and how you can safeguard your identity: http://www.preventing-identity-theft.com/