IDENTITY THEFT PREVENTION GUIDE
This guide's sole purpose is to explain many topics to you so
that you can stay safe, you may want to bookmark this and digest it
slowly. It is written to be comprehensive.
Educate yourself with identity theft on the Internet
Identity Theft Statistics
This is a rapidly growing threat, as the Internet continues to grow. There
is 6 billion people on the planet, and there are about 1 billion people
now using the Internet.
- 9,000,000+ ID Theft victims last year
- $50 billion cost to businesses and victims annually
- 28% identity theft committed by credit card fraud
- 635,000 fraud and ID theft complaints made to the Federal Trade
Commission in 2004
- 5th consecutive year that identity theft has been the top consumer
complaint reported to the FTC
- 61% of the victims did not notify the police
Sources: Federal Trade Commission,
California Department of Consumer Affairs
The techniques used to steal people's identity are continually evolving,
so unfortunately there is not any 1 silver bullet to keep you 100%
protected. You must be alert / educated to what is going on, that's
the best way to stay safe. Here I have done lots of research on the
Internet and used many of these tools listed below myself that will
combined with your understanding from this guide keep you out of harms
If you are inexperienced with the threats on the Internet, then I
recommend you bookmark this page and re-visit here to fully absorb all the
information here, or print it out, and take it with you. The information
is free, and centralized in 1 location for your benefit. The objective is
to raise awareness BEFORE you become victim. As the saying goes:
...an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of
Never Click on Hyperlinks within emails
Scammers obfuscate links into emails to appear like legitimate websites
when they are really not. Never click a link from an email. Always go to
them directly by typing their website into your web browser.
Remember, deception is this type of individuals most powerful weapon. They
make their living off deception, they're going to try and look as
official as possible, so don't let them scare you into giving up any
personal information, fear is the tool most commonly used to drive
consumers into their trap.
Keep in mind when it comes to emails, most real companies will address you
by your real name, not a generic "Dear verified member" or the equivalent.
This is one of the most simple and effective ways to spot a scam from a
mile away which requires no technical knowledge whatsoever!
Use Anti-Virus Software
Anti-virus software can protect you against worms and trojans before
they're even ran on your computer. It's important to make sure your
anti-virus software is kept up to date with the vendor to stay current
with the latest threats.
If your not running a firewall (explained below), and someone manages to
exploit your computer and start loading your computer up with trojans
viruses and worms, a anti-virus program such as this will stop them before
they are permitted to be ran on your computer.
Use a Personal Firewall
A firewall is a piece of software that gives you complete control over
what communication your computer sends and receives. This way no hidden
communication is permitted to happen whatsoever without your expressed
Firewalls makes it easy to spot when your computer is infected with a
trojan, even if it's a new strain that none of the anti-virus programs you
may be running may not yet recognize (remember new viruses come out every
day). Firewalls will alert you, and give you the chance to deny any
program from connecting out to the Internet, whether hidden, or not. This
in turn can protect your identity, as well as alert you that something is
happening that should not be.
A firewall can also block unauthorized incoming traffic and malicious
individuals scanning for exploitable computers to hack into your computer,
where they may try to plant their malicious software that allows them to
steal your personal information and move onto the next guy. Firewalls can
also be useful if your computer is not kept up to date with the latest
security patches from vendors.
Always look for "https" and a padlock on sites that request
This is another important and simple thing you can check without technical
Website addresses that start with https:// and have a padlock icon
indicate your sensitive data is protected from interception by a 3rd
Always look for these two items on websites when submitting
personal and confidential information. A website without these items is
definitely not secure, and most likely not legitimate.
2 ways to check for
Checking for https://
http:// = insecure
https:// = secured
Checking for padlock in bottom right corner of web browser
Check Your Credit Report
If you have responded to a fraudulent email or submitted any personal info
to a fraudulent website, you should check your credit report to make sure
you are not a victim of identity theft.
I'm sorry to say identity theft doesn't stop there. Some emails contain
viruses that can transmit your personal information over the Internet as
well, if you've tried to open any suspicious attachments, or have not kept
your computer up to date with the latest patches, then listen carefully.
Stealing of your personal info can happen while you are accessing a
legitimate website if you are infected with a virus/trojan through
keystroke logging. A firewall would prevent a program of this type from
being able to transmit this type of data over the Internet.
Keep your software up to date
New bugs and exploits hackers can use to gain access to your system and
personal files are being discovered all the time in modern computer
operating systems, especially this day in age as more and more
inexperienced computer users are introduced to the Internet. As new
software is written, new bugs are introduced. It is essential that you
keep your software up to date and current with the latest versions
available as possible. We highly recommend you enable 'auto-updates' on
Use Spam Filtering
One study concludes that
all email sent is SPAM! SPAM is not only time consuming, but costs
money. SPAM is also the delivery method for many other malicious types of
programs and attachments too.
Spam Arrest - Put a stop
to spam, and malicious email viruses.
Spam Arrest is very easy to use, and brings spam to a halt. You don't have
to install any software. You run your mail through it's service, and it
will begin working for you instantly. Spam Arrest has a 30 day free trial
so you can check out how useful it is, and draw your own conclusion. Check
it out this hot service's offerings.
It's a simple yet extremely effective concept requiring users to do a 1
time verification that they are a real person before they are allowed to
send you email. Don't worry, your mail won't be lost either, it's easy to
perfect your lists of who is allowed to send you mail. You can still
receive any emails from mailing lists or company mailings.
Spam Shield allows you to not get unwanted spam without filtering your
mail through another service. It is an application which runs on your
Spam Arrest - Put a stop
to spam, and malicious email viruses.
Keep your computer clean from malicious software
Spyware and Adware allow companies to monitor your computer usage, and
force advertisements on you to try and make money off of you. These guys
will usually be very sneaky on how they get these programs onto your
computer. Even "experts" can be surprised to find that they have fallen
victim to the will of these malicious acts. The Internet never sleeps,
and is continually advancing.
If you've downloaded from the Internet and noticed your now getting
annoying pop up ads, this definitely sounds like you are infected with
spyware or adware, especially if you notice it happening when you are not
actively surfing. Yes I too have fallen victim to this.
The most common place to acquire these dangerous programs, is through
emails, and peer to peer file sharing networks.
It's also possible to get infected due to not keeping your computer up to
date with the latest security updates. Hackers are constantly scanning the
Internet for un-updated/unpatched computers to hack into, and install this
software. New bugs come out all the time, it is imperative you stay
up to date.
Many of these guys do this for a living, literally survive off
unsuspecting users! If you have adware/spyware installed on your computer
via this method, there is MUCH more dangerous things hackers can be doing
with your computer, such as identity theft, logging your passwords to
sensitive sites, even commanding your computer to attack other computers
(blackmailing companies / obliterating internet-business competition).
This is stepping beyond the line of trying to make a dollar off you, and
outright stealing or using your computer to commit crime.
If your computer is used in this method, you are at risk for identity
theft, and also as a catalyst for acts of computer crime to be committed
from your computer. This is not a scare tactic by any means, I see
this all the time. If you catch someone doing this by taking the proper
precautions in this guide, it is certainly punishable by law. If your
interested in a success story, here's an article for you:
These programs will scan your computer for free:
For eBay and Paypal scams
Ebay spoofs can be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org
Paypal spoofs can be forwarded to email@example.com
These organizations DO check these email accounts. We highly
recommend you forward your emails to these common targeted companies to
the above appropriate addresses every time, even if you know without a
doubt the email is a scam. Informing them helps them get the scammer shut
down, and perhaps can save someone else from getting ripped off.
Also remember, Paypal/eBay and many others will always use your real name
when they send you an email, nothing like Dear Verified Member or
For more information on how to protect yourself in the future from these
types of scams, you may find this site of use:
Report spoof sites, get them shut down at their source!
This is from eBay: To help our members better protect themselves from
spoof Web sites, we have developed a new feature for the eBay Toolbar
called "Account Guard." Account Guard includes an indicator of when you
are on an eBay or PayPal Website, buttons to report fake eBay Websites,
and a password notification feature that warns you when you may be
entering your eBay password into an unverified site. To learn more about
the eBay Toolbar with Account Guard, open a new browser and type
into the address bar. Note that eBay will never send you an email that
includes a download as an attachment or a link that goes to a page with a
If in doubt, Google it!
If you think you have received a fraudulent email, you can usually do a
quick Google search with a few key words from the email and many times,
find a reference to the email.