Defend Yourself Against Online Threat

by : Dan Preston

There once was a time when the only option people had when shopping was to either call in or snail mail in a catalog order form or to jump in the family car, fight through traffic, and wait in long checkout lines to complete the purchase.

Well, nowadays there’s still a few major mail order catalogs floating around and we all still visit our local retail outlets, but time has also introduced the internet as one of our options to shop from the comforts of home.

The internet has made shopping at home a breeze and along with it has unfortunately brought the so called "Evil Doers" who I believe have such little happiness in their own lives that they must leech pleasure from the hardworking and innocent individuals of our wonderful and surrounding nations.

And yes, I am speaking of the ever growing problem known as Identity and Credit Card Theft.

As an online and offline consumer it is in my best interest to protect myself while at the same time wanting to help others protect themselves as well.

Below is a short yet thorough list of ways that you can follow to help yourself stay safe and be a happy consumer and keep “Evil Doers" at bay.

1) Always shred sensitive materials such as bank statements before throwing them away in the regular trash. Just because the paper documents are in the garbage doesn’t mean they are safe from peeping eyes.

2) Contact your local bank or credit card provider to request a card with a low limit. This can make you feel more at ease about shopping at those not so familiar places and can reduce the damages caused by such an ill intended individual if they get hold of your number.

Also never give out the 3-letter Card Identification Number found on the back of the credit card unless you absolutely trust the merchant you are dealing with.

3) NEVER give out your social security card number for any reason! If capable you are best to obtain a tax I.D. number from the Internal Revenue Service or local tax agency.

If any “Evil Doer" gets hold of your personal information such as home address, birth date, and Social Security Number you are at great risk of being victimized.

4) Only purchase items online through secure order pages which is typically indicated by a small, yellow, “Padlock" image usually located somewhere near the bottom of your internet browsers window.

5) If you ever receive an email asking for sensitive information and claiming to be from a company that you have an account with, NEVER supply the requested information and never click any links or hit reply to send such personal information back to the “company".

Many legit companies will not ask for sensitive information via email.

If you get such an email you are better off to make a copy of the letter you received then close that browser window and then open a NEW window and access the company directly from their website address.

You should then submit the email you made a copy of to the company so that their anti- fraud personnel can take the necessary steps to send out warnings of possible fraudulent activity to be aware of to its members.

6) Be cautious about downloading and installing unnecessary programs onto your computer. If there are programs that you indeed must download ALWAYS scan the files for viruses and make sure that your anti-virus program is up to date.

There’s a wide variety of viruses that are distributed to unprotected computer systems and some of which are known as “Key Stroke Loggers" that record your sensitive log in names and passwords and then are made known to the trouble maker.

7) If possible try to utilize 2 different computers when using the internet.

One computer should only be used for general internet surfing just in case it was to obtain a virus such as a Key Stroke Logger so there would be little threat of someone getting your personal information.

Only use the second computer to access more sensitive information such as online banking or other important websites that require passwords and important information.

8) Finally, if there are young members of the family that have computer use privileges be sure to monitor and restrict the sites and programs they are allowed to use.

Many fraudulent individuals love to prey on the unexpecting and inexperienced web surfer.

In any case just be certain to contact the police or appropriate authorities the INSTANT you believe that you have become a victim of Identity Theft or Credit Card Number Theft.

The sooner you tell the authorities the better the chance they can help you recover from a financial catastrophe.