Identity theft is a federal crime that has claimed the “life” of millions of individuals. On the average, there are 9 million identity theft victims that are being reported annually with billions of dollars as damages. Identity thieves often use high-technology devices to perpetrate their crimes including the computer and the internet.
It is very disappointing to note that despite the advancements in internet and computer security, identity thieves are still able to penetrate individual computers and gain access to various personal information stored therein. It is also very unfortunate to note of the fact that a lot of identity theft criminals actually knows more about the computer and they are way knowledgeable than you’ll ever be. This can be attributed to the fact that most identity thieves are also computer hackers or they work closely with the latter. They may be skilled in a lot of internet deceptive strategies but there are still ways that you can do to protect your personal information.
1. When you are selling or giving away your computer, remove the hard drive or destroy it totally so that no one will have access to the computers stored therein.
2. Ask knowledgeable computer suppliers how you can safely overwrite the files or how you can totally wipe out the data saved.
3. Use a quality hard disk cleaning program that will clear your hard disk before selling them out.
There are also a couple of things that you should delete individually and manually. It may sound like a daunting task but compared to what you will lose if you become a victim of identity theft, it would seem minute. Here’s a lit of the files that should be deleted before you give your computer away or sell it:
1. Email contacts saved in your email client
2. All email messages saved in your computer or email client
3. Important word documents, spreadsheets, databases or anything that may contain sensitive information.
4. All files that have been deleted but is still saved in the recycle bin or trash folder of the operating system.
5. Clear all temporary internet files as this may show the sites that you’ve visited as well as the information that you typed like credit card numbers, email addresses, and passwords.
6. Your internet search history which is saved in a temporary future.
7. Cache of your web browser
8. All non-transferable software that have been installed in your hard drive.
Once you have your computer, you have to ensure that everyone who uses your computer practices identity theft prevention. Your children, especially, should be protected from identity theft and you have to teach them that they should not give out their real name, address, phone number or any personal information online, especially with people that they do not know. Also inform them that they should not use their real name when joining social networking sites. Children are primary targets of identity thieves because children have a very good credit record. Once your children’s identity is exposed, then you can be as well.