Everyone with access to a computer has access to the Internet. Through the Internet, thieves are able to steal your personal information from your own computer or large companies with long lists of clients. By being able to recognize identity theft Internet style, you can prevent becoming an identity theft victim.
Recently an identity theft ring in New York was broken up. Their three year span of identity theft involved over 3000 victims. This criminal ring stole credit card numbers, bank accounts and personal information used to apply for loans. The thieves stole more than $2.7 million from innocent victims. Most of their identity theft occurred on the Internet. This was only one ring of thieves. According to the 2008 Internet Crime Report, most identity theft comes from criminals living in California (14.6%), Texas (7.2%), Florida (7.1%), and New York (5.4%).
A personal computer stores all types of files on the hard drive. These include files containing personal passwords, credit card numbers, and other personal information. Thieves can steal this information quite easily. If you sent personal information over an unsecured connection, a thief can intercept and grab the information. Another identity theft Internet style is installing spyware or other harmful software on your computer without your knowledge. This malicious software actually sends personal information from your computer back to the thief. According to Symantec, by 2006, 6 million computers were infected by identity stealing software commonly known as bots. Protect yourself from this type of identity theft by only providing personal information over secured websites. Also, installing identity theft security software on your personal computer will help.
Phishing scams are also a popular tool thieves use to steal identities. A con man will send what looks like an official email, out to innocent victims asking for personal information. When the victim responds with the information, the thief makes use of this information and steals the identity. These emails can take the form of an email from your bank including the bank logo and even the name of your local branch manager. Or the email can appear to have come from your credit card company, cell phone company or other company you do business with. Remember, all legitimate companies will never ask for personal information in an email or phone call as most of them already have the information in file.
The Trojan Horse
Four out of five computers that have identities stolen are victims of Trojan horses, according to congressional research reports. Basically, a Trojan horse is malicious software that records your keystrokes that you make on your keyboard. From these keystrokes, the thief is able to figure out your passwords for your credit card accounts, bank accounts and other personal information. This is the most prevalent identity theft Internet style. By installing firewalls and other protective software you can prevent these Trojan horses from invading your computer.
By being aware of the types of identity theft Internet style you are now prepared to counteract its effects. Remember, never answer an email with personal information and install safety software in your computer to fight off spyware and Trojan horses.