Thursday, August 28, 2008

5 Simple Steps to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft When Online

Although the Internet is a very convenient resource to use and can offer you opportunities for amazing deals, you also put yourself at risk of identity theft every time you use it. Therefore, it is important to take a few steps to keep your computer and your personal information properly protected so you don’t become a victim of identity theft. With these 5 simple steps, you can reduce your risk identity theft while still enjoying the use of your computer.

Step #1: Install a Firewall

A firewall prevents hackers from being able to gain access to the personal information stored on your computer. If you use the Internet, your information is particularly vulnerable to attack if you do not have a firewall installed.

Step #2: Install Virus Protection

Without virus protection, viruses and worms can attack your computer and cause significant damage to your system. In addition, these viruses can seek out personal information and then send it out to people you don’t know. Be certain to install a quality virus protection program that updates on a regular basis and be sure to keep it updated on your computer.

Step #3: Use Passwords

When it comes to accessing account information on the Internet, the company you are doing business with will likely force you to set up a password before you can access your information. When setting up passwords, be certain to choose ones that are not easy to crack. The password should contain at least six to eight letters and should incorporate both upper case and lower case letters. You should also use symbols or numbers in your passwords.

In addition to password protecting your online accounts, you should also assign passwords to any personal and financial information you have stored on your computer hard drive. This way, if a hacker is somehow successful or if your computer is lost or stolen, this information will be protected.

Step #4: Only Do Business with Companies You Trust

While you may come across some great deals on the Internet and you may feel tempted to make a purchase, you should never do business with a company you are not familiar with. It is very easy for a thief to set up a fake website in order to collect your credit card information. In addition, make certain all transactions you make are on a secured website. You can easily tell if a website is secured by looking at its address. If you see the letter “s” after “http,” you are on a secured site.

Step #5: Ignore Phishing Emails

Many con artists send out “phishing” emails in hopes of catching a sucker. These emails are often written to look as if they are coming from a trusted financial institution. They might ask you to click on a link in order to verify account information, but that link will take you to a fake website where the thief will steal the information you provide in order to gain access to your account. Legitimate companies do not send out these types of emails. If you are still concerned, however, contact the company directly and check on the status of your account.

About the Author: Shannon Kietzman is a well known author and trusted resource. Shannon regularly writes for . For more info and to order your credit report with FREE credit score please visit

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