Who CAN you trust? With the Internet expanding at an alarming rate, there are some places on the web that resemble a dark back alley: an area you simply wouldn’t tread for fear of personal safety and security. But it’s hard to tell when you should be aware of your personal information being stolen – you might think that you are safe, but there are a great deal of people everyday whose identity is taken without warning.
What can you do in such a globalized setting; where someone half a hemisphere away can take you to the cleaners overnight? Be knowledgeable. Be aware. Know the following tips, and you’ll never have your identity stolen.
Number one places where you can lose your identity
One of the leading problems in Internet security is how easy it is to get someone’s e-mail address. There are a number of e-mail spoofs that can take your credit card number away from you in the blink of an eye. These are:
-Paypal e-mail spoofs
– E-bay e-mail spoofs
– Tricks, like those e-mails that claim they are a long-lost third uncle or cousin of some important figurehead in a third-world country, and they would like to give you $4,000,000 or some ridiculous number.
If you know what you have to watch out for, it definitely helps. Never send anyone any kind of important personal data in an e-mail; not even if they claim they are Paypal, E-bay, or some other company you trust. No one should ever ask you for something like your driver’s license, social security card or credit card over e-mail.
A Paypal spoof site can steal your Paypal login information by simply having you put your username and password in as usual; but in reality you’re not submitting it to Paypal, you’re sending it to scammers so they can steal your account information and of course your personal information, such as credit cards. Never login to Paypal except anywhere other then http://www.paypal.com
In fact, if you use a spam-blocking utility like Qurb, it makes a world of difference. You might still get the odd scam or two, but you’ll be able to tell now that you know how they look.
The next avenue of personal data theft evolves around…
Pop-ups, unsafe URL addresses and third-party installers
The next area that personal data theft can occur is simply by being in the wrong place (and not even necessarily at the wrong time!) While most pop-up windows and URL addresses are safe, there are some forms of malicious software out there we know as “auto-installers” or “self-installing software.” You can recognize what I mean by this if you use Internet Explorer and if you have some toolbars across the top that either you know you didn’t put on there or simply can’t get rid of. That is an example of self-installing executables: that install themselves without asking you.
Some of this software is harmful, but most know it is ad-ware/spyware most of the time. It’s just blatant advertising, but the worst self-installing software can access your cookies and attempt to transfer that data to a remote server.
So how do you steer clear of this junk?
Easy – use Firefox, or if you find yourself enduring pop-ups, get a pop-up blocker. DON’T get a third party program – get something reputable like Google Toolbar, because a third party “pop-up blocker” can ALSO be a form of spyware/ad-ware if you don’t know what you’re doing.
You can also maintain some basic ad-ware/spyware prevention tools on your system. Avast Anti-virus is excellent at detecting a self-installing script and shutting it down before it finishes. So is Microsoft Antispyware, should you have a genuine windows version. Routine scans with a program like Lavasoft ad-aware or other good spyware/ad-ware suites will also help.
And the last spot where you can have your credit card or debit card information is stolen is at your local store. Should someone ever drop your card while handing it back to you, make sure when they bend down they are only retrieving your card. There have been reported cases where shopkeepers (especially disgruntled gas station workers) have “dropped” a card only to swipe it through another machine below.
While it’s less likely you’re going to be scammed locally, the possibility still exists for a disgruntled worker unhappy with their earnings taking your card information and running up some bills in your name. Although, typically people who try this sort of scam run up small bills over a large number of accounts in order to stop the customer from noticing.
Don’t worry – and don’t get paranoid. The first step of personal data theft prevention is awareness. If you’re smarter about the secure and unsecure world, you’ll be identify scams from the get-go. It may even pay to let a company like Paypal know who the spoofers are, if you have a minute to report them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember, you the user control your level of security on the Internet. There is no one to blame when data thievery occurs but yourself.