How you can prevent identity theft

By | March 28, 2011
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Helping you prevent identity theft while on the Internet

There’s so much misinformation going around on the Web about identity theft it’s hard to know what’s fact and what’s fiction. It’s too bad that people will spread misinformation in order to sell you a security suite or a firewall you don’t need. It’s all about the money.

Here’s some facts: Anti-virus and anti-spyware don’t protect you from the biggest cause of identity theft. They may protect you from Trojans, worms, rootkits, bots, viruses, spyware, adware, and malware, but these aren’t the reasons why so many people get their identities stolen. Firewalls don’t protect you from identity theft – regardless of what some tech sites and vendors try to sell/tell you – it’s just not true. In fact, you can’t rely on security applications to protect your identity while online.

It all comes down to you and your common sense. The number one way identities are stolen on the net is because people give their identities to criminals either by typing in their passwords and user names on bogus sites that are created to look like the authentic site or by clicking links in phishing emails that lead to these bogus sites where the proceed to input all their personal information. The number one way people have their identities stolen on the Internet is not by malicious software but by trickery and deception.

Your common sense and  your brain are the two most important software applications you can use to protect yourself from fraud and identity theft while you’re on the Internet. Antivirus vendors, anti-spyware vendors and especially firewall vendors, would have you believe that their software eliminates the risk of identity theft. These kinds of applications do not eliminate the risk. If anything at all, they may reduce slightly your risk of identity theft. Again, fear-mongering sells and some vendors will pull out all possible stops, even prevaricate, to get you buy their products. And we’re not saying you don’t need a good antivirus or antispyware program – you certainly do. But the reasons you need them have nothing to do with identity theft.

Here’s the best tip we can give you to protect yourself from identity theft while using the Internet – When logging in to your bank account, credit card account or any place that has sensitive personal or financial information, never go to the site from a link in an email, always type the address in your browser. After you type the address in your browser’s address bar, double-check it carefully to make sure there are no typos. Many bogus sites are squatting in the background on the Web waiting for you to make typos in URLs. To save yourself time, once you’ve verified the site you’re on is the correct one (secure sites always show https:// in the URL and you’ll see a lock icon in your browser).  It’s vey easy to transpose a letter or two when typing in a URL, so double check what you type into the browser’s address before proceeding. And once you’re sure you’re on the correct site, bookmark it or add it to your favorites. No bogus site or phishing site is going to display https:// – period.

We cannot remind you enough:  many phishing sites will look exactly like the real site – but no bogus, look-alike site’s URL will start with https:// . When you’re on the authentic site you will see a lock icon displayed in your browser’s address bar. Never assume because the site looks authentic that it is.

Despite the misinformation being propagated by those who have a profit motive – or those who just don’t know – you cannot rely on a software program to protect your identity. Educating yourself and using your common sense will keep you safer than any software program ever will.

We’re not saying you don’t need good anti-virus and anti-spyware software – you do. But these programs will not protect you from giving your information to criminals. Only you can do that.

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