Now that internet shopping is a very common pass time, there has been a rapid increase in instances of online identity theft. Thieves are moving off the high street and, with a little knowledge of web programming, have broadened their horizons to include a much larger amount of targets.
One of the most common, and thankfully easily avoided forms of online identity theft is a technique known to the industry as ‘phishing’. A phishing attack involves sending out huge numbers of emails which pretend to be from a popular online retailer, an auction site such as eBay, or a bank or online wallet site. The email will usually say that the customers account has been suspended, or that they need to update their details. When the user clicks a link in the email they will be taken to a fake page that looks just like the login page of that company. When the user logs in, they will be giving away their personal details to the identity thief.
Some of the emails give themselves away instantly through spelling mistakes and poor grammar, others are very convincing on first glance, and it is easy to understand how these attacks manage to fool a huge number of people.
Do Not Trust Emails Asking For Personal Information
When you click a link in a ‘phishing’ email, the page you are taken to will ask you to enter account information, password and other personal information such as a credit card number, checking account information and social security number along with other items. Entering this information and submitting it will give the person committing online identity theft all the resources needed to access your accounts, or open new ones in your name or even change your mailing address.
Most online companies tell their customers that to prevent online identity theft always log on to their website by typing the address in yourself, not by clicking a link in the email to see if the requested information is really needed. Chances are it isn’t, and you should then forward them the email so appropriate action can be taken.
Failure to take even the simplest of precautions can open the door for online identity theft which will attempt to cheat you out of your money by establishing transfers from your checking or savings account put charges on your credit card or simply add a new address and have all merchandise of cash advances sent to the new address.
Most banks will work with victims of online identity theft to help them get their money back, however it can take a lot of time for them to trace transactions and verify the things you tell them. Make sure you check your credit report and your bank statements frequently, and query any unusual transactions with your bank. If you suspect that something is wrong, act immediately, and contact the Federal Trade Commission to make the first steps in regaining your financial identity.