To be a victim of phishing is not a pleasant experience for anyone involved with any online transaction.
To be a victim of online identity thefts is definitely not pleasant.
There have been stories of people, bloggers and non bloggers whose online earnings or savings accounts have been violated and their monies victims of theft.
So how should one protect his online accounts?
- When suspicious emails arrive and there are links to open, check first if the links are legit. Put your cursor over the link and see what is being seen in the browser. If these are not matched, then it is suspicious and might be fraud.
- Now, why would you open a mail that asks you to confirm about an item that you ordered when you know you didn’t order anything? That is suspicious too.
- Change your passwords every now and then, every two weeks if need be. Go for passwords not associated to you and use letters and numbers and characters in the password. Do NOT store these passwords in your computer.
- There are identity thieves that use keystroke-logging software to know the usernames and passwords through emails, freeware and yes, instant messaging.
- Be careful when downloading anything from unknown sources for these files may contain malicious software programs that might be accompanied by spyware.
- Do not respond to emails requesting for your personal information.
I remember this episode from Psych, one my favorite (very funny) detective tv series. They were in a speed dating club and had to sit with other people and get to know them by asking questions. Shawn noticed that one woman’s questions were different. She was asking about these things:
- hometown where the guy grew up
- mother’s maiden name
- favorite color
So naturally, Shawn’s interest perked up. They finally got this woman and her husband who was also working in the dating club for identity theft.
These are just some of the things one has to look out for in order to protect online accounts. I am very sure there are a lot more different ways these thieves have that will enable them to do their illegal activities.
I did not write these things because I assume I know everything. I wrote these things as a reminder that I too, need to beef up what I need to do to protect myself from identity theft.
If financial institutions and government offices have been victimized, we can be too. I hope not me, of course.