The Internet has made it possible for people to pay their bills and do their shopping and banking right from their homes. And many of these people find it convenient to store a lot of personal data on their computers or PDAs, including their credit card and banking information and even their user names, passwords, and PINs. This information may seem safely stored away, but the truth is that it's not difficult at all for a savvy thief to access the information he wants by hacking into your computer, even from a distance.
It's not just the money in your account or the available balance on your credit card you need to worry about being stolen. What you really need to be worried about is your identity being stolen, because once thieves have your identity they can use your name to apply for loans, credit card, and other things in your name. The amount of damage that can be done to your credit can be devastating if a criminal is able to get his hands on your electronic data. I am going to give you some valuable steps that you should take right away to protect yourself from this type of destructive crime.
1. Set up your computer, PDA and laptop so that they require a password in order to gain access to any files.
2. Also make sure that your passwords are not stored in the computer. A lot of people have chosen the convenience of having their computer remember their passwords and enter them automatically. But of course that means that they are also there for an identify thief to use to access your accounts.
3. If you use file sharing, where information can be transferred wirelessly to another computer, this feature makes you more open to a hacking attack. If your network allows file sharing and you use it, make sure you are protecting your password.
4. Another layer of protection is to change your passwords and any security questions that are used by some sites at frequent intervals.
5. Use antivirus software and a firewall, and make sure they're always running.
6. Be alert to phishing, a popular method of collecting confidential information illegally. The criminal will send you an email message that appears to be from a legitimate organization, usually a bank or credit card company. Typically you will be asked to verify your PIN number, password or other account information. If you fall for this scam, the information is captured and used to access your accounts.
7. If you shop online, only reveal your credit card number to trusted merchants that are verified to be secure. The best option for online shopping is to use PayPal or another third-party company that can transfer funds securely.
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