Identity Theft and Online Crime Prevention Tips

Identity Theft and Online Crime Prevention Tips

Watch for fake emails that may try to "phish" you for information. You may receive an email that appears to be from a website that you use, such as EBay, Amazon or a credit card company. But be aware, these may be phony emails that will take you to a duplicate site.

If you input your personal information, the criminal who created the mirror site will have it and be able to use it. This is why you should always log in directly at the home page of any website you visit. Never input your personal or log on information after clicking on a link to any website.

Unless you know for sure it is for a legitimate reason from a legitimate site, do not fill out forms or surveys that request personal information. Many of these sites are designed to collect your private data. At best it might be used to spam your mailbox, at worst it could be used to steal your identity.

Only make online purchases with websites that you know offer secure checkout procedures. If you are not certain, do not give out your credit card details. It is better to be safe and buy from a reputable site where your information will remain secure and private.

Do not give out personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or know whom you’re dealing with. Identity thieves will pose as bank representatives, Internet service providers, insurance companies and even government officials to get you to reveal identifying information.

Shred all documents, including pre-approved credit applications received in your name, insurance forms, bank checks and statements you are discarding, and other financial information. Do not use your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your social security number, or a similar series of numbers as a password for anything.

The impact of identity theft and online crimes can be greatly reduced if you can catch it shortly after your data is stolen or when the first use of your information is attempted. One of the easiest ways to get the tip-off that something has gone wrong is by reviewing the monthly statements provided by your bank and credit card companies for anything out of the ordinary.

You should also order your credit report at least twice a year. Reports should be obtained from all three major sources: Equifax at 800-685-1111 or www.equifax.com/fcra

Correct all mistakes on your credit report in writing. Send the letters return receipt requested with a copy of the credit report back to the credit reporting agency.

All consumers are entitled to one free disclosure every 12 months upon request from each nationwide credit bureau and from nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies.

See www.ftc.gov/credit for additional information or pick up a pamphlet at the University Police Station.