Identity Theft - Head Matters

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2. Preventing Identity Theft


Be on guard when using the Internet
The internet can give you access to information, entertainment, financial offers, and countless other services. However, at the same time, it can leave you vulnerable to online scammers, identity thieves and more. For practical tips to help you be on guard against internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information, visit www.OnGuardOnline.gov. Always get anti-viral and anti-spyware software for your computer and keep it updated! You wouldn’t leave your credit cards or Social Security card out for anyone to see, right? Not protecting your computer carries the same risks.

http vs. https
Have you ever notices that some website addresses (URLs) begin with http, while others use https? Check out the website address in the address bar at the top of your web browser. The difference is an important one for your online security! The "s" in https indicates that the site is secure. Any site asking for your personal information should use this security feature on pages where you enter your personal information. If it doesn't , think twice about providing any personal or financial information! Look at the URL for this web page—it begins with http. That's ok, because you're not entering any personal information on this page. However, next time you log-on to Education Cents, check out the URL on the log in pages. You'll notice that those pages begin with "https."

Select strong passwords

Use passwords to protect your credit card, bank, and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security Number or your phone number, a series of consecutive numbers, or a single word that would appear in a dictionary. Combinations of letters, numbers, and special characters make the strongest passwords. When opening new accounts, you may find that many businesses still ask for your mother's maiden name. Find out if you can use a password instead.


Verify a source before sharing information

Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or on the internet unless you've initiated the contact and are sure you know the company. Identity thieves are clever, and may pose as representatives of banks, internet service providers (ISPs), and even government agencies to get people to reveal their Social Security Numbers, mother's maiden name, account numbers, and other identifying information.

Before you share any personal information, confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate organization. Check an organization's website by typing its URL in the address line, rather than cutting and pasting it. Many companies post scam alerts when their name is used improperly. Or call customer service using the number listed on your account statement or in the telephone book.

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Identity Theft

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