It’s one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. The theft of your identity and the proliferation of smartphones and tablets like the iPad are only making it worse. Thieves steal identities for a variety of reasons. The most common is for financial gain by assuming your identity and gaining access to all of your financial tools, including credit card accounts.
The rise of social media sites like Facebook also have dramatically impacted online identity theft. After all, Facebook is a treasure trove of personal information. ZoneAlarm, an Internet security firm tags the value of a stolen identity at $5,000. According to ZoneAlarm, about 9 million Americans’ are victims of identity theft each year. An alarming statistic from ZoneAlarm says that 43% of theft victims know the criminals who steal their information.
There are some key things you can do to protect yourself. Here are some ideas:
- Consider Clear Creek’s MySecurity Internet security product , which offers protection from hackers and phishing scams that can gain access to your personal information.
- Protect your cell phone with a screenlock password, so if lost, no one can gain access to your phone.
- Make sure your online passwords have a number and a character (like $). This ensures your password is very difficult to crack.
- Be careful what you share on social media networks. Don’t give out personal information like birthdays and phone numbers. Also make sure the security settings don’t allow just anyone to gain access to your profile. Your profile should only be visible to your friends.
- Don’t do any personal or sensitive web surfing (like online banking) while using a public WiFi hotspot.
- Don’t share your passwords or PINs to anyone. Never send this information in an email.
- If you discard an old computer, cell phone, or hard drive, make sure you erase everything on it first.
There is certainly more you can do. A good resource for online identity theft is the National Crime Prevention Council website .