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Id Theft On The Internet
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The internet has changed the way we find facts. It's hard to believe that I can type in a few words or a question and have immediate answers appear on the screen. For Americans the internet connection is an expectation and almost a necessity. This vast amount of information also includes you, i.e. your personal information. Your name, address, phone number, social security number, and credit card number are all available on the internet. It may take some digging but those who desire to get the information can obtain it. I am going to focus on the danger of identity theft on the internet and common sense solutions, many of them without cost.

So what are some of the dangers of identity theft on the internet?

Phishing

This is the first danger of identity theft on the internet. Wikipedia states that phishing is a way to acquire sensitve information by possing as a trustworthy site. The name comes from the idea of fishing that the fish thinks the bait is food while it is really a deception to take the fish out of the water. Taking all that you have could be the end result of phishing which is usually done through email or instant messaging.

Social Networking

Another danger of identity theft on the internet is from social networking sites. A story was told of a man who was on a social network site and was contacted by a former co-worker. After some basic chat time, the co-worker mentioned that he was out of state and needed to get back home but ran into some financial trouble. Could the man loan him several hundred dollars to return home?

This started to sound fishy to the man, so he mentioned a fictitious boss at their company. The co-worker took the bait and made comments about the non-existent boss. Only then did the man know for sure that this was not his co-worker.

How did this stranger find out the information? As I mentioned above the internet provides great amounts of information. In this case, the man's profile provided the business he worked for and enough information to make this stranger seem like a long forgotten co-worker.

Key Logging

Another danger of identity theft on the internet is keylogging. This is a hidden program that may have come with a free game or other free software downloaded from the internet. As you work on the computer it logs all your keystrokes It specifically targets account names and passwords. These then are sent to a hacker who will use these to his financial advantage.

Fraudulent Transactions

Recently I placed a local ebay item on sale. I was thrilled to have an offer and had the item ready to send off. The person called me and verified when I should receive a Western Union payment. It did not come. I called the number of Western Union and was surprised it was a money laundering operation. The buyer had said he made the check out for more than the agreed upon price and I was to take out the money for the item and for shipping and handling and send the item and the balance of the money back to him. Fortunately, Western Union caught the fraud or I would have been out the of the item and extra money. This could have just as easily been credit card payments I did not agree to, or unknowing agreed to in the small print of a checkoff box.

While I did have greater exposure to sell my item, than from an ad in the local newspaper, this also opened me up the greater potential for fraud. It is much hard to lie to a person face to face than computer to computer.

Danger of identity theft on the internet is great. However, there are simple, free ways to protect yourself mentioned in another article in Street Articles. I have also found an effective way to protect my self from identity theft on the internet from whatever source it may occur.


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