Don't Let Your Identity Get Hijacked

If you've been reading the news lately, you may have heard about a new kind of sophisticated identity theft scheme that involves the Internet.
Earlier this month, Corey Thompson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to file false claims and one count of aggravated identity theft. After hijacking the cable and internet access they had installed, Thompson and his co-conspirators filed more than 27 fraudulent 2011 tax returns totaling more than $90,000 in refunds. Thompson worked as an independent contractor for a cable company. As an independent contractor, Thompson installed cable and internet access. While installing cable and internet service at people’s houses, Thompson hijacked the internet service of customers for whom he had performed work.
Thompson used his expertise and technology to take over - customers' networks and Internet connections, steal important information and then file false tax returns that appeared as if they were coming from the customer. These tax returns, which were placed on pre-paid debit cards, were intercepted by the U.S. Postal Service.
This incident is just one example of the many cases of identity theft that occur on a daily basis. Recent statistics cite that, on average, there is one new ID theft victim every three seconds. With the rise of the Internet and mobile devices, this crime is occurring on a more regular basis.
Here are a few ways to keep your information safe on the Internet:
·         Memorize passwords and log-ins - Commit all of your passwords and login information to memory instead of writing them down. Use different logins and passwords to ensure that if one gets compromised, you’re still protected elsewhere.
·         Pay direct - When buying items online, always try to pay the seller directly with a credit card, so that you can dispute any charges, false or other, that may occur later.
·         Be careful with prizes and giveaways - On the whole, websites offering free prizes or giveaways may be fishing for your personal information in return for an unwanted "prize."
·         Child safety features - Activate parental safety features for when your children are using your computer. This will guard against unwanted and potentially dangerous downloads and visits to malicious websites.
·         Limit personal details - Limit the amount of personal details you are sharing via social media. Identity thieves can easily leverage personal information you publicize via Facebook, Google+, and other popular social sharing sites.
·         Encrypt your computer and Internet connection -This will make it harder for hackers to access your information. There are a number of good encryption tools available.
·         Identity theft services – There are a number of services available that provide identity theft protection, as well as restoration, insurance, and support. Identity theft, once it happens, can be costly and time consuming to fix on your own.
The safety of your identity should not be taken lightly. Protect yourself from unethical people that will try to make a buck on your identity. Take all the necessary precautions to safeguard your personal and financial information online.