Equip Your Computer to Help Prevent Identity Theft

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How can I prevent online identity theft?

Equip Your Computer to Help Prevent Identity Theft

Your virtual world is increasingly vulnerable to online predators and identity thieves, but there are things you can do to equip your computer to help prevent identity theft.

  • Invest in security software for antivirus, anti-spyware and firewall protection. Firewalls block computers outside your network from gaining access to your machine. Set your security levels high for maximum protection and reduce them only when necessary.
  • Set your computer to automatically accept operating system updates.
  • Configure your router to encrypt data. If you use a wireless connection for the Internet, make sure you set it to encrypt data so that it locks strangers out of your network. Most routers have the option to set it at WEP or WPA. Choose WPA.
  • Rethink those easy-to-remember passwords. Use different passwords for different accounts and change them periodically. The strongest passwords are long and combine both letters and numbers. Avoid using your name, kids' names and pets' names, or anything that someone who knows you would be able to guess.
  • Clean out the ‘cookie' jar. Whenever you surf the web, your browser collects and stores ‘cookies' that remember the sites that you visit, leaving a history of your activity. This log (cache) is accessible to anyone who looks at your browser. Use the Tools function to clear out the cache. It's usually an easy one- or two-click cleanse.

Lastly, remember that avoiding identity theft online has as much to do with your actions as it does with arming your computer with anti-theft devices and software. Always assume that e-mail attachments, embedded links and free download offers from a website are at high risk of containing dangerous programs.

   

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