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Internet Identity Theft: Helpful Tips To Protect Yourself Against Online Scams 

By: Robert A. Coffman|LRL Editor

Identity Theft On The InternetInternet identity theft is ranked as one of the most-reported types of fraud, for five years in a row according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Any way you look at it, identity theft is huge these days. The fact is, these criminals have an edge and take full advantage of all situations and opportunities, especially on the internet. Protecting yourself from identity theft online is possible. However, the facts are truly astounding. About one in six persons living in America alone will be victims of identity theft just in this year! Unfortunately, this problem can be difficult to resolve. So, it is important that you be responsible with your personal information.

That means that you have to do the right thing in every situation. With the internet, you have to be secure before you do anything. For example, Phishing is a very serious problem. Phishing is a scam that criminals use to acquire your personal accounts and information.

These scams are so cleaver that they often go unnoticed until it is too late. They get your information by including links in emails where they are asking for information updates, for example. If you click on the link, you may be in for some trouble. To avoid this from happening to you, type the URL address of bank on your own and do it from there. Also, you should inform the institution if you believe there was a phishing scam, and provide them with all the details.

It's important that we all work together and be good Samaritans when it comes to fighting identity theft on the internet and other identity fraud scams. Just because you didn't fall for it, it doesn't mean that someone else won't. And the damages can be costly to that individual. But, it doesn't end there. The fact is that all these crimes cost all of us a lot of money. For example, banks are paying exorbitant amounts of money to avoid these things from occurring. Obviously those costs trickle down to the consumers.

Computer Safety and Protection:

There is a simple way to make sure that your computer system is protected, scan your computer for sensitive information. Install software that scans your computer regularly for spyware. You can use a program called spy bot, which will scan much like a virus scanner and it will find any kind of spyware that's logging your credit cards or website accesses that you go to and it's shipping them off to other servers for people to access. Erase and permanently delete emails, files, images, sites, web browsing history, remove cookies from sites and internet tracks.

Other ways to protect your personal computer against viruses, spyware, worms and trojan horse applications (which let hackers manage your computer), you must use antivirus, anti-spyware and anti-malware software and keep those applications up-to-date. To keep intruders out, connect to the internet via a properly configured firewall, keep administrative names and passwords updated, set wireless networks to "no broadcast" and be sure to power down your personal computer when not in use. By no means do not open an email spam or other emails from unknown sources and avoid using public computers for online banking, email account access, or other sensitive exchanges of information, as keystroke loggers, web "cookies," or cached pages can be capturing your data.

Another recommendation is to use complicated passwords for all your accounts. Passwords are always case sensitive, so it's best to use capitals as well as lowercase letters and always include some numbers. Never use the same password twice. Additionally, every so often you should change your passwords.

Finally, when shopping online, it's important that you be cautious. Obviously, there isn't a problem everywhere; otherwise people wouldn't be shopping online anymore. The important thing to remember is that the website you are purchasing anything from is secure.

If you follow these tips, you probably won't have a problem. However, identity theft occurs in different places and with different types of scams. Therefore, the best thing you can do is monitor your credit report. That means that you should take the time to review it a few times a year. Catching any problem early on will help to resolve it quickly and effectively.

Being irresponsible with your personal information and your credit report is just opening doors to future problems, and giving criminals the opportunity to take what doesn't belong to them. Instead, take the right approach and learn everything you can about internet identity theft in order to avoid and protect yourself from becoming a victim.

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