Friday, March 14, 2008

Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft

"Spoofing," "phishing" and "dumpster diving" are some of the electronic and physical techniques used to gather personal information that can be used to steal a person's identity for the purpose of accessing bank accounts or making purchases in the individual's name.

The federal Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Department issued an information note on the best ways to prevent online identity theft:

  • Install and frequently update proven anti-virus software.
  • Ensure web browsers and operating systems are up to date and security patches are applied.
  • Be suspicious of any e-mails with requests for personal, financial or sensitive information.
  • Don't fill out forms in e-mail messages that ask for personal, financial or other sensitive information.
  • Use caution with links supplied in e-mails.
  • Always verify you have the correct website address for sites that require users to authenticate by providing information such as a password.
  • Change passwords regularly. Use those that are hard to guess. Never share passwords with anyone.
  • Use caution when locating a website through an Internet search engine. It isn't always possible to distinguish a fake site from a legitimate one.
  • Look at the company's privacy policy when visiting its website.
  • Ensure that a secure website is used when submitting credit card or other sensitive information by way of your web browser. Look for secure symbol in the status bar.
  • Contact the organization by telephone, not the number listed on the website, if there is any doubt about the validity an e-mail or website.
  • Report suspect e-mails to the organization or to local law enforcement agencies.
  • Identity theft would not be as successful a criminal pursuit if e-mail and Internet users learned to be more vigilant and constantly protect themselves.

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