How to Beat On-Line Thieves

The Better Business Bureau recommends taking five steps to discourage online identity theft:

1. Beware of phishing email.

Emails by thieves can look legitimate, with official logos and graphics, but they typically include links to a malicious website that installs viruses or solicits for account numbers. (examples follow)

2. Make strong passwords and protect them.
Get in the habit of changing passwords regularly. Use a combination of numbers, capital letters and symbols. Do not use obvious numbers like your birthday, street address, or social security number. Don’t use the same password in case one gets compromised.

3. Be wary of computers that aren’t yours.
Wi-Fi connections are great conveniences for you—and for thieves. Public computers and Wi-Fi services can be set to record your passwords, so avoid using them for secure websites such as online banking.

4. Keep personal computers secure.
Use good anti-virus software and anti-spyware, and keep them updated. Enable and maintain firewall protection. If you have a home Wi-Fi network try to set it up so that the does not broadcast the Service Set Identifier (the network name.) Always use password protection on your home network. A clever crook with a laptop could access your computer as well as the internet without such security.

5. Use only secure servers
Make sure you transmit sensitive information only over a secure server so personal data is encrypted. You can tell if it’s a secure server by the URL—it will begin with “https” instead of just “http.”