Identity theft – The crime of obtaining the personal or financial information of another for fraudulent use and/or gain.
You need to be aware that your identity should be kept secure at all times. All it takes is someone knowing your full name, birthday and address to change mailing addresses for utility providers, which is one way of stealing your identity for later fraud. Much of this type of general personal information can be found on most people’s Facebook or Myspace pages.
Securing your Computer
Smart Online Habits
- Ensure that the anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall protection on your computer are all turned on and are up-to-date
- Ensure your Internet browser has the best security level set for your purposes
- Change your passwords at least every month
- Use a spam-filter to reduce unwanted and potentially harmful emails
- Never open emails from unknown sources and never opening attachments
- Watch out for and delete hoax emails or phishing that seem to be from your bank
- Think before you click
- Be wary of a website or email if the owner and contact details are unclear or are dubious, or if they make generous offers that seem too good to be true
- Don’t buy from websites that you feel unsure about
- Only type your credit card details into websites that you are certain about, where the address of the page in which you are entering your details starts with https:// and displays the locked padlock symbol in the bottom right-hand corner
- Always close down your connection to the Internet when finished. This is really important if you are connecting to the Internet via broadband.
Smart online banking
- Make sure your computer is secure
- Always type your financial institution’s website address into your browser-never use a link to your financial institution that has been sent to you by email or that is on a website: these may lead to fraudulent websites.
- Confirm that your data is encrypted between your computer and the financial institution by looking for the https:// at the top of the screen in the address bar and the locked padlock symbol on the bottom right hand corner of the browser window. Click on the padlock and make sure it’s current.
- Always log out from your Internet banking session when you have finished.
- Close your Internet browser after logging out at the end of each Internet banking session.
- Ensure that you are aware of the security advice provided by your financial institution.
- If any windows ‘pop up’ during an Internet banking session, be suspicious, especially if it directs you to another website which then requests your customer identification or password.
- Keep private information out of chat rooms e.g. passwords, credit card details.
- Don’t send your financial information via email to anyone.
Social Networking Sites
- Think about the amount of personal information you share online -do not post information that would make you vulnerable (e.g. your address, information about your schedule or routine). Adjust your privacy settings to control the amount and type of information you want to share, so that people you don’t know very well can only see certain parts of your profile.
- Actively manage your public messages noting you are in a public space -delete old messages and only put information on the website you are comfortable with anyone seeing. This includes information in your profile, in blogs and other forums. Once information is online, it is not easy to remove it. Even if you remove the information from a site, saved or cached versions may still exist on other computers.
- Be wary of strangers -the internet makes it easy for people to misrepresent their identities and motives. It is a good idea to limit the people who are allowed to contact you on these sites. If you interact with people you do not know, be cautious about the amount of information you reveal and don’t agree to meet them in person.
Be sceptical -don’t believe everything you read online. People may use false or misleading information about various topics, including their own identities. This may be unintentional, with malicious intent or just a joke. Take appropriate precautions and try to verify the accuracy of any information.
- Check the sites privacy policies -some sites may share information such as email addresses or user preferences with businesses. This may lead to an increase in spam. Also, try to locate the site’s policy for handling referrals to make sure that you do not unintentionally sign your friends up for spam.