Identity theft or online identity theft is the act of a person obtaining information illegally about someone else. Thieves 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 access a bank account, e-mail, smartphones, identify themselves as you, or sell 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. For further information, see: How to protect yourself while on the Internet.
- 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.
- Never send confidential information over e-mail because it is not encrypted.
- 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.
- If you're a victim of a stolen computer, see: What can I do if my computer or laptop was lost or stolen?
- When entering answers to the secret question or forgot password question, don't enter something 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 you're constantly talking about your dog Fluffy on Facebook, an attacker could use this information to guess the answer and break into your account.
What should I do if I'm a victim of identity theft?
If you believe you're a victim of identity theft and are a citizen of the United States, visit the following link to report identity theft and get a recovery plan.