How to Protect Your Identity Online

Though you could physically have your personal information stolen, we are more likely to experience online identification theft now that the majority of us participate in internet shopping and social networking websites. Because the theft is virtual, detection is tricky and fraud can happen at a blink of an eye: unauthorized electronic transfers using stolen information could potentially empty your bank account(s) or someone could establish new credit lines with your personal information.

In any case, prevention is a good way to start. Here are a couple of steps that can help protect your identity online.

1. Avoid obvious passwords such as birthdates, pet names, etc. and use a mixture of upper and lowercase letters followed or preceded by numbers or symbols.

2. Use anti-virus and firewall programs and keep them up-to-date.

3. Check your credit report online via Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion.

4. When a website requests information, fill out the required boxes only and uncheck the boxes related to permission to share information.

5. Feel free to lie if the registration information isn’t essential to the transaction. You can find ready-made answers at www.bugmenot.com.

6. Be sure that you see a lock icon anywhere on your browser when you submit sensitive information. Though the lock icon isn’t a safety guarantee, its absence guarantees the possibility of unauthorized access to your information.

7. Be aware of phishing. Phishing is a fraudulent tactic used to extract sensitive information in the guise of a legitimate source via instant messaging, email, etc. If you receive a suspicious message of this sort don’t click any of the links provided and notify the bank which it purports to be from.

8. Internet Explorer and Firefox both have anti-phishing features. Be sure to use them.

9. Optionally, surf with a proxy server. A proxy server acts as a middleman and facilitates the connection between you and the website you wish to access. During this process your identity and IP address remains anonymous. Free proxy servers and paid services are both available online.


Source:

Rubenking, Neil J. “Fraud Alert, Twelve Simple Steps to Protect Your Identity Online: Learn How.” FOXNEWS.com. 29 May 2007. PCMAG.com, Web. 18 Sep 2009. <http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,275583,00.html>.

Charles Park

From an early age, I've always imagined myself in a role that served people in need. My sole satisfaction would be the knowledge that lives were better off thanks to my services. These musings didn't stem from careful deliberation nor obedience to a certain philosophy. Of course, there clearly was naivete within these musings. My service needed to be acknowledged and appreciated and for such service to be worthy of appreciation it needed to be grandiose in scale. Adoring crowds seemed to be the main purpose seemingly as the ultimate goal. As I spent most of my younger years in a small town, Macon, GA, these musings remained musings as I conveniently reasoned that there was a lack of an appreciable crowd. Yet, the unquestioning urge to serve still remained through high school. I became interested in volunteering for the less fortunate. I avidly participated in an organization called Meals on Wheels which home-delivered meals to senior citizens and the invalid. Through this experience, I was exposed to a vast clientele with diverse backgrounds. The clients that struck me most were those burdened both physically and financially by illness. While weaving through the clutter of life-sustaining equipment in a cramped apartment, I still can't forget the smile the bedridden gentleman gave as I delivered his dinner. Safe to say, from then on, I started to understand and appreciate the significance of such seemingly small and trivial acts in people's lives. I have been committed ever since. I'm currently a junior majoring in Chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill and still strive to serve the less fortunate in small but significant ways. I am currently volunteering as staff in the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. I also volunteer as a companion with the non-profit group A Helping Hand. A Helping Hand is a companionship service for senior citizens and temporarily or permanently disabled citizens. When I don't muse about the various differences I could and should be making in people's lives, I enjoy hiking and playing tennis. I am deeply interested in the current health care reform debate and hope to pursue a career in medicine. I also wish to continue writing about the evolution of health care and its socioeconomic impact on the lives of everyday Americans.

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