Identity theft is the act of a person obtaining information illegally about someone else. Thiefs try to find such information as full name, maiden name, address, date of birth, social security number, passwords, phone number, e-mail, and credit card numbers. The thief can then use this information to gain access to bank accounts, e-mail, cell phones, identify themselves as you, or sells your information.
Tips on preventing identity theft
- When entering any personal information on the Internet, make sure the connection is encrypted. A connection encrypted with HTTPS is usually indicated with a small lock icon in the address bar.
- When purchasing something over the Internet, unless you plan on buying something from that same company again, do not store your credit card or personal information on that site.
- Make sure to have an active and up-to-date spyware protection program and antivirus protection program.
- Be aware of fake e-mails and phishing e-mails that claim to be a company, such as your bank, requesting any personal information or login information.
- Make sure your computer is secure.
- If you're a victim of a stolen computer, read through the steps on what to do if a computer or laptop was stolen or lost.
- When entering answers to the secret question or forgot password question, don't enter something that can be found online. For example, a common security question is, "What is your pet's name?" because a stranger might not know the answer. However, if on your Facebook wall you're constantly talking about your dog Fluffy, an attacker could use this information to guess the answer and break into your account.