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Computer Identity Theft - How to Avoid Phishing Scams

Apr 26, 2008
As more homes get hooked up to the internet the potential for identity theft increases. In previous years, your identity might be compromised because you threw out personal information in the trash. A potential identity thief may go through your trash looking for such information and then use it for illegal purposes. nowadays, this can be done with a computer and the sending of fraudulent emails. The crime of identity theft is increasing at a massive rate because this is so easy to do and opens up the entire world to this kind of scam.

At first glance, you may think that computer identity theft is a high tech crime that is perpetrated by some evil genius or misanthropic computer nerd but the reality is that most of it is very simple. Most computer identity theft is a simple confidence trick that uses a number of techniques that understand human nature.

So, by far the most common form of identity theft relies on triggering a persons fear or greed. These two emotions are incredibly strong for many people and will compel them to take some kind of action. Once these emotions are raised, the identity theft simply tells the potential victim what needs to be done to rectify the situation and gives them an easy way to do this.

Many people that use the internet have some awareness of computer hackers and how they try to gain access to personal information. They try to remain wary of any strange things going on when their computers are running and install firewalls and anti virus software. So when they get an email from their bank saying that their bank account was hacked into, this fear is realized. The email goes on to say that you must enter login to your account to change your password immediately.

It comes as quite a shock. Has money been taken out of my account ? What did the hacker do ? The email goes on to say that you should login to your account and immediately change the password by filling in the form at the bottom of the mail.

Some of these emails are obviously fakes. They don't look very convincing. The email has no genuine logo or header of the company in question. The wording in the email may have spelling mistakes in them or bad grammar. The sending email id may come from a free email id source like hotmail. However, some are incredibly accurate and quite convincing. It is important to remain wary of any such emails regardless of how official they look.

This is the scenario of the common phishing scam. An identity theft works to gain your trust or confidence by presenting you with an official looking document or email. Once they have gained your trust they present a problem and an effective way of solving this problem. Many people will take the bait and act on the problem. Once the thief has your personal details they can do all sorts of fraudulent activities.

The common practice for most companies is never to ask for personal details via an email. If you receive anything like this it is a hoax and you are best advised to delete it. If a website does ask for personal information it should be secure. A secure website will have a lock logo on it which will lead to information about how they secure their website. Also the name of the particular web page will start with a 'https'.
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Learn more on how to prevent identity theft and how to determine what is the best paper shredder .
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