Downloading Information and Software Can Increase Your Risks

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Am I at risk of identity theft from free downloads from the Internet?

Downloading Information and Software Can Increase Your Risks

The “information superhighway” is fast becoming the “information super ‘scam' way” for anything from hijacking credit card information to online credit report identity theft.

Downloading free software, music, video, and even ring tones for your cell phone seems innocent enough. Yet attaching “trojan horses” to free downloads is a common tactic thieves use to nonchalantly swoop in and grab the personal information exchanged whenever a download occurs. This “crimeware” runs unobtrusively in the background and the crime typically goes undetected – UNTIL you are rejected for a bank loan or new line of credit because your credit history has been trashed. What can you do?

Avoid e-mail offers from unknown sources. E-mail is the online version of junk mail – it is sent by both legitimate companies and thieves “phishing” for people to fall for their enticing offers. If you can't bring yourself to simply delete the offer, before you click on a link, take a few minutes to search for reviews of the site or company that is making the offer. You can often find warnings via online watchgroups and blogs.

Install protective software. Anti-virus and anti-spyware programs will help to warn you about potentially dangerous web sites and downloads. New viruses and Trojans are being created every day so be vigilant to keep the software updated.

Subscribe to identity theft protection services. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes today, and both offline and online id theft carry heavy consequences for the victims. Identity theft protection services use sophisticated technology to protect subscribers by seeking out and exposing the financial “black market” of the Internet and regularly checking credit reports for suspicious activity.

While there is no 100% foolproof way to guard against identity theft, the more precautions you take, the less likely you'll become a statistic.



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