Guide 2 Identity Theft - How To Protect Yourself

   
Guide 2 Identity Theft

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Basic Information
 What is Identity Theft
 How It Happens
 Types of Identity Theft
 Warning Signs

Commercial Identity Theft
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Watch Out For
 Credit Card Risks
 Public Records
 Debit & ATM Cards
 Passports
 Spoofs & Phishing
 Stolen Checks
 Unsolicited Card Offers

Security Tips
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 If Your Identity Is Stolen
 Secure Passwords

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Guide 2 Identity Theft   >   Spoofs & Phishing

Spoofing For Your Identity Details


Identity thieves sometimes used spoofs and trickery to obtain personal information. Identity thieves using these spoofing methods pretend to be an official authority, bank or company in order to build up your trust, and may go to considerable lengths to reproduce company logos, correspondence and web sites so that they appear to be the real official organization.

It is particularly common for thieves to take advantage of telephone, mail surveys or emails, as this minimizes their risk of being caught by the authorities, and because it allows them to catch people off-guard. However, you should be aware that these methods of communication are not secure, and are not generally used by governments, banks or companies to obtain personal identity information. Any approach by these means ought to raise a "Scam!" warning in your mind.

One such scam that has become common in the internet age are so-called "phishing" scams. These campaigns use official-looking emails to request your confidential information. A particularly common tactic is to use such emails to send people to a fake web site (that looks exactly like the official web site) and get people to "log-in" (thus capturing their account user ID and password).

For trusting people encountering them for the first time, these phishing emails can be difficult to deal with, because they usually imply threats of account closure or similar consequences if no action is taken. They have become a routine part of using email for most of us "old hands", and it is easy to overlook how credible they may appear to people who are new to using emails and who have had few exposures to identity thieves in the "offline" world.

Some simple methods of reducing your risk of being taken by such phishing scams are:-
  • Be suspicious of all emails that you receive purporting to be from your bank, credit card company or other financial institutions. Sender addresses can easily be faked! If you have any doubt at all about any such email, contact the relevant organization directly, and confirm the email is genuine, before responding

  • Many of the spoofing operations are carried out from non-English speaking countries, and so look out for spelling or grammar errors which give the game away.

  • Do not click on links in emails. Instead manually type in the bank of financial institution's URL into your web browser's address bar.

  • Before entering personal information (especially logging in), carefully check your web browser contains the correct company's URL in the address bar. Phisphers will often try to use URLs that look superficially similar to the real company's, for example, the number 0 instead of the letter O.
Identity thieves do target the more trusting and innocent of us, and perhaps those of us who are more naive or gullible. For a long time business has been built on trust and honest face-to-face dealings, but the internet particularly has opened up opportunities for identity thieves to reach out to us anonymously across international borders. People new to the internet have to learn to manage these risks.

Another way that you can also lose your credit card details is by unintentionally giving away your personal details to an identity thief. Make sure you have confidence in vendors you deal with over the telephone or internet. Ensure the transaction is through a reputable company, and in the case of internet transactions, make sure it uses a secure transaction page (beginning https://)?

Merchants accepting credit cards have their reputation to take care of, as well needing to perform honestly if they are to continue to deal with the card issuing companies, so they have strong incentives take a lot of care over providing a secure and honest service. By far the majority can be trusted. The risk is greatest if you are not dealing with a genuine merchant but with an identity thief pretending to be a merchant.

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