Identity theft, phishing, viruses – oh my! Online users face many challenges in protecting their finances and privacy.
Q: What is identity theft? How does it happen?
Identity theft is a fraud committed or attempted using the identifying information of another person without authorization. Using someone else’s identity to make unauthorized charges or bank transfers, open new accounts, take out loans, send email, or file taxes; these are all examples of identity theft.
Q: How often does it happen?
Last year approximately 10 million people were victims of identity theft.
Q: What should I do to protect myself?
Monitor your accounts frequently - the longer a breach goes undiscovered, the more costly it can become. Check your bank and credit card balances often, and choose unique passwords for your accounts.
Q: What should I do if I think my identity has been stolen?
Close any compromised account, and contact your bank or credit card company, as well as your local law enforcement. Also contact the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – and ask them to place a fraud alert on your account.
Q: How can I protect my computer?
Install all security patches as soon as they’re available, run antivirus software frequently, and set up a firewall to keep intruders out.
Q: What are spoof and phishing?
Spoof and phishing (pronounced "fishing") are terms for emails or websites that look like they're from a legitimate company, but are actually from identity thieves. The emails warn of account problems to trick you into entering your information either in the email or on a spoof website. Here is PayPal’s Spoof Tutorial to learn how to identify fraudulent emails.
Q: Does being phished or getting a spoof email mean my identity was or is going to be stolen?
No – as long as you didn’t enter any information, your identity probably wasn’t stolen.