How Identity Theft Occurs in the Virtual World

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How does online identity theft occur?

How Identity Theft Occurs in the Virtual World

There's no denying that technology has changed how we work and play. The world is quite literally at our fingertips with computers, cell phones, and PDAs leading the way in gadgetry that we rely on each and every day. These devices allow us to bank online, pay bills and file taxes electronically, buy and sell products and services, and communicate with anyone, anytime, anywhere in the world.

All this convenience and interconnectivity also brings with it security challenges, and ID thieves are more than happy to take advantage of the opportunities we leave open to them. Viruses, spyware and keylogging software helps thieves destroy or capture information stored on our computers. Some of these programs are sent as attachments to e-mails, others may be bundled in tandem with a free offer downloaded from a seemingly legitimate site. If your computer isn't equipped with anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall protection, you're an easy target. Think of it as leaving your doors and windows wide open in a high-crime neighborhood. You may not be inviting criminals to steal from you, but you're not doing much to deter them.

Online phishing crimes are committed in a similar way as offline pretexting crimes… we volunteer our personal information. Phishing e-mails land in our in box with active links embedded that supposedly will take you to your personal account update page. These links redirect you to a fake site where you enter your login and password, and other personal account information. You've just given away everything a criminal needs to steal your identity.

The more you understand how online thieves attempt to steal your identity, the more you'll be able to do to prevent and protect against it.



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