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Internet Safety

Internet Security

Identity theft is quickly becoming the Internets worst security nightmare. What is an identity and how could it get stolen you may ask? In the simplest terms, an identity is some method that verifies that you are the person you say you are. Identity is the distinguishing attributes that only you can provide to authenticate yourself. It can be a set of numbers, such as a Social Security number or something more complex like an encrypted key. This key or set of numbers associates you with a certain set of attributes that contains information about you. The information might be your email address, your name, PIN number, your username, password or credit card number. If this information is well protected, it can make your Internet experience easier by identifying you to certain sites and services on the Internet.

The loss or theft of personal data such as credit card and Social Security numbers have soared to unprecedented levels, and the trend isn't expected to turn around anytime soon as hackers stay a step ahead of security and laptops disappear with sensitive information.

Now think about what could happen if somebody stole your identity. Someone could open new charge accounts, order merchandise or borrow money using your identity. Consumers targeted by identity thieves usually do not know they have been victimized until collection agencies pursue them to pay accounts they did not even know they had, or they are denied credit because of unpaid debts run up by the criminals. Nightmare isn't it. Here is a Typical Tax Time Phishing Scam.

Identity theft happens more often than you may think. According to the National Association of the Attorneys General identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the nation with an estimated 700,000 victims each year. The average victim spent $808 to clear up discrepancies related to identity theft in the year 2006 - imagine what it would cost now. On average, a victim of identity theft spent 175 hours restoring their reputation by notifying credit bureaus, canceling credit cards and negotiating with creditors in the year 2006. In This year those numbers have skyrocketed to $1,495 in out of pocket expenses and an average of 609 hours to clean up their credit. Don't let this happen to you. There are many ways to protect yourself from identity theft. The following are a few best practice guidelines to follow.

1. Always protect your personal information.

Only share your credit card, social security number or other personal information when making purchases from a company or financial institution that you know and trust.

2. Never send personal information to email requests.

Beware of "Phishing" scams. Phishing is a term used to describe what the scammers do to try to get your personal information by sending you an official looking email asking for your personal information. See an example here. We recently recieved another fraudulent email supposedly from the IRS. See that one here. You should never be asked for a password, credit card number or social security number from a legitimate source via email. Beware official-sounding notices that require you to "give up" your personal information due to supposedly dire consequences.

3. Verify any transaction.

If a Web site address looks different from the name of the organization that you're dealing with or if you have doubts about your transaction, look for a phone number on the Web site and call the organization to verify that the Web site is valid. Don't deal with any financial organization that doesn't clearly state its name, physical address and phone number on its Web site.

4. Catch identity theft early

Sometimes an ID thief can strike even if you have been very careful. One of the best ways to catch identity theft is to check your credit report. The FTC advises monitoring your Credit Report activity on all three major credit bureaus. You can order your free 3-bureau report any time, day or night. It is advised that this is done each year and make sure all of the information is correct. Also, follow up with creditors if your bills do not arrive on time. A missing credit card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your credit card account and changed the billing address to cover his tracks.

In this day of fast acting cyber criminals, stealing identities happens in seconds. The only way to prevent identity theft is to use a proactive solution stopping Identity Theft before it happens. LifeLock uses that approach for identity protection.

Protect against Identity Theft with LifeLock. 10% off plus 30 Days Risk Free


LifeLock does not wait for identity theft to happen; the service prevents it from happening in the first place. Once you have enrolled in the LifeLock service, they automatically start monitoring your personal information for threats to your identity. If an attempt is made to exploit your identity, LifeLock immediately contacts you to correct the situation before anything happens to your reputation and identity. LifeLock also scours the known malicious sites on the Internet for your personal information to see if it is being used for fraudulent activity and alerts you of any bad intentions.  Find Discounts and See our review of the LifeLock Service.

More Information

Take the first step toward taking control of your credit!

Getting your Credit Report & Credit Score is the first step in knowing your credit. Monitoring your credit report allows you to stay on top of your credit on a daily basis. Credit bureau scores are often called “FICO scores” because most credit bureau scores used in the U.S. are produced from software developed by Fair Isaac and Company. FICO scores are provided to lenders by the major credit reporting agencies.

What to do if Identity Theft has already happened to you:

1. Call your local law enforcement agency and file a report. Get a copy of the report for your records.
2. Get a copy of your credit report for your records.
3. The Identity Theft Resource Center has made a very comprehensive Victim Guide that walks you through the steps you need to take.
Identity Theft Victim Resources

Even if you take all of the necessary precautions you are still at risk if your computer isn't properly protected. Hackers randomly barrage Internet connected PCs with "pings" or "port scans", probing to find unprotected PCs. Once found, a hacker can compromise your PC with a dangerous Trojan horse or malicious worm. They can also access all of your credit card numbers and passwords that you have used or stored on your computer. They can take control of your computer and delete system files so you have to reinstall everything. Or they could just get curious and just look at all of your personal stuff. They can even use a keystroke program and see exactly what you are doing. In reality, any personal computer connected to the Internet is a potential target without the proper security measures in place.

But there is help. You need a security program to block potential hackers from attacking your system and stealing your vital information. Remember, the Internet is a dangerous place. Hackers are constantly looking for ways to steal your passwords, credit card info and your identity. And because your home PC is exposed to hacker threats every time you connect to the Internet, you are at risk. Scary isn't it?  

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