As much as identity theft has been in the news lately, there are still hundreds of thousands of people who either think it is no big deal, or who believe that it could never happen to them. The reality, however, is quite the opposite from what these folks believe. The Bureau of Justice reported that over 17 million Americans had their identities stolen in 2014 alone. That is an increase of over a million cases since 2012 and there was even a 33 percent jump between 2005 and 2010. The numbers don’t lie folks – identity theft is a serious issue and one that everyone needs to be on guard against; especially when it comes to what most people do online.
People in Denial about Identity Theft
It is easy to understand why people would choose to believe that online identity theft could never happen to them. It is so much easier to believe this than to think about what you would do if you were a victim of an identity theft scam. It is very unnerving to think that some hacker or scam artist could get a hold of your sensitive personal information and wreak havoc on your life. Like we said, though, this trend is on the rise and will not be slowing down any time in the near future.
The cold, hard truth is that anyone who has ever made payments online could be at risk. Microsoft even mentions that the only way people can stay 100 percent protected is to stay off of computers and away from any network. This, of course, is simply not possible for most of us. We use the Internet daily and many people spend more time on computers or smart phones than they do interacting with the physical world. From banking to taking classes, we all rely on the Internet.
How then can people stay protected from online identity theft? Here are a few simple, yet proven effective tips that should help you to beef up your own personal line of defense.
There are plenty of viruses and other types of malware that can infect your computer and steal your sensitive personal information. Once one of these bits of code begins to go to work on your computer, it may already be too late to prevent the inevitable damage that will be done. Use a trusted anti-virus/anti-malware program and run scans frequently. Be sure to keep the definitions updated and make any changes required by the software to keep your personal system as secure as possible.
Be Wary of Phishing Scams
Email messages or even pop-up ads can show up on your computer to ask you to input a username/password or other personal information. Do not fall for these scams. Your bank, for example, would never send you an email telling you to input your credentials blindly. If you notice these types of messages, alert your ISP and delete those messages immediately to avoid making the mistake of clicking on one and opening up your personal information to scammers.
If someone manages to steal your identity, it can cause you financial problems that you simply don’t want to have. You may wind up with your credit score getting dinged, or even have bills sent to your house for bogus credit cards that scammers have opened up with your personal information. Stay safe online, avoid any links/emails/webpages that try to solicit you for personal information and keep your anti-virus software up to date in order to stay as protected as possible from online identity theft scams.
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