People use the Internet for all types of activities: to buy and sell things, keep in touch with family and friends, play games, or keep up on the latest news and events. No matter what you choose to do, you could be exposing your personal information to fraudsters, which can result in identity theft and financial loss.
How does it happen?
It is far easier than you might expect for hackers to access information on the Internet. Every day, people share or expose their personal information, sometimes on purpose, but other times without meaning to do so. It is important to take precautions to prevent hackers from stealing your personal information.
Ways your information can be stolen online
Some of the more common ways that people expose themselves to fraud include:
- using public or unsecured wireless Internet
- sharing too much information on social networking sites
- entering personal information on unsecure or fake websites
- downloading viruses, spyware or malware. These programs are designed to damage or do unwanted things on your computer. For example, a keylogging program can track every key you press on your computer keyboard, store that information and send it to fraudsters who may be able to figure out your passwords for online banking or credit card accounts. Another example is a virus that can take over your email address to send spam or phishing emails to your contacts
- allowing your computer to save your password or personal information
- creating an online profile that includes your credit card or banking information
- saving your passwords on your computer in a file that has not been encrypted, or protected by a key or password.
You may think the information you enter on the Internet is not enough to steal your identity. However, there is an underground market where people sell the information they have stolen. There could be enough information available about you in these markets that, if combined, could build a profile and allow someone to steal your identity and access your financial accounts.
Always question why a company needs your information. Even if you are dealing with a well-known, trusted company, hackers can break into their databases and steal your information.
Find out about how to prevent identity theft and fraud when using: