This is the fourth in a series of articles which will increase your awareness about Identity Theft.

It is quite disquieting for you to know that aside from the irritating viruses that plague your computers, there is another, bigger and more pressing problem in existence and growing rapidly on the Internet.

Yes, it is true, whether you will like the news or not, you have to be aware of Identity Theft, which is considered to be the fastest growing crime both on and off the internet.

The main difference between Identity Theft and On Line Identity Theft is that the latter is surrounding you every day when you are working on the internet.

We know that Identity Theft occurs when your personal information including your name, bank account information, address, date of birth, social security number etc. are stolen by someone else, who then uses this information to steal and or commit fraud.

When working on the internet you need to very aware of what is happening with your personal information. If you are completing a purchase on line, make sure that you know the organisation from whom you are making a purchase. Most valid websites offer you a secure page to provide your personal information and complete your purchase. Make sure that the website is in fact secure. You will usually see a padlock showing on the site and also the page you are using should start with the letters “https” and not “http”.

Identity thieves frequently duplicate web sites belonging to reputable companies, and post this information on their own websites, that differ slightly from the website of the reputable company. Always look for tell tale signs, like poor spelling or site set up with no secure pages to order from.

Also always look at the company name on the web site page to see if it is in fact authentic. If in doubt, do not use the web site. If you call the company, do not use a phone number appearing on the website, as this will be suspect if the web site is suspect.

Spoofed emails are e-mails sent to you, asking for your personal information, in exchange for you obtaining a winning prize, vacation, lottery win or some similar scheme.

Some emails will ask you to click on a hot button, which will bring up a website that purports to belong to a financial company, bank, credit card companies, retailing websites like eBay, PayPal etc. that you have dealings with. You are then asked to input your personal identity to access your account or to help the financial institution restore their data base. These are almost never legitimate web sites, but if you provide the required information, watch out, you could be in deep trouble.

As a rule of thumb, most financial institutions never ask their clients to provide personal information over the internet. If you have made arrangements to access your bank or other financial institution’s website over the internet, then ensure that you always open a new browser page before you input the website information for the company that you wish to visit into the address bar.

The writer receives in excess of 50 emails a day that require him to provide personal information in return for something. Even though the emails areI reported as “spam”, they still turn up in his in box, day after day. So be prepared to wrestle with these problems but remember. Only provide personal information to someone you know and then only if it is requested through a secure web site page. Also be on the lookout for all the junk emails that will attempt to entrap you.

John Ritchie,

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This is the fourth in a series of articles which will increase your awareness about Identity Theft.It is quite disquieting for you to know that aside from the irritating viruses that plague your computers, there is another, bigger and more pressing problem in existence and growing rapidly on the...