Identity Theft – Tips to protect yourself online

Throughout the world, identity theft is one of the quickest growing crimes. It is relatively simple for anyone to commit this crime and there is an even greater chance that they won’t be caught. Identity Theft can cost you time and money.  It can destroy your credit and ruin your good name.  The Net has made the task of identity theft even simpler for such people. It may take up to five years or longer for victims of identity theft to recover from this horrific crime.

Many fear that their identities will be used in the wrong way. However, one can help protect themselves from succumbing to online identity theft in several ways.

1. Do NOT download PUP or file sharing programs – There’s several file sharing sites that are available for free. However, free comes at a cost which makes it so easy for thieves to get a hold of your personal information from these file sharing sites. Never, ever download any file sharing program or PUP program unless you clearly know the companies privacy policy on sharing and security.

2. Stay away from phishing frauds –  If you ever receive emails stating, “You have won a GaZillion Trillion Dollars!”, beware! These are all scams to entice you to give away your personal information. Do not reply to such mails. Do not give your personal details like bank details, credit card details, PIN codes, etc. Let me repeat that: DO NOT EVER give your personal details like bank details, credit card details, etc. in an email message.

3.Never ever, ever, ever click on a link from inside an email to visit a web site.  Open up your browser and type in the address directly into the address bar and go to that site yourself.  Let me repeat that: NEVER EVER, EVER, EVER click on a link from inside an email to visit a web site.  Open up your browser and type in the address directly into the address bar and go to that site yourself. It’s so easy for a business to look legit online.  If you are ever in doubt about a business online or off, verify the company with the Better Business Bureau

4. Do NOT use simple easy to remember passwords like your birthday, your Mother’s maiden name, your pet’s name, abc, 123, #1grandma, #1mom, #1grandpa, or the last four digits of your Social Security number, or any of those spelled BACKWARDS!   Your password needs to contain special characters such as @#$%^&-?!.  Your password must be at least 8 characters in length nor should it be any word in the dictionary (including the word “password”) 🙁 . Your password must contain both lowercase and capital letters and have at least a couple of numbers.  You password must be totally unique for each and every online account.  Never use the same password for different online accounts. This is to ensure that if one of your accounts is ever hacked into, your other accounts won’t be!  You must be asking yourself how you’re ever going to come up with and remember all these passwords? Well, you will have to get a spiral notebook and write them all down and keep them in a safe place. Here is an example of how to create strong passwords.

  1. Think of an event or phrase that has at least eight words in it. For Example: My Dogs Name is Sasha and was born October, 2001.
  2. Take the first letter of every word in your sentence
  3. mdnisawbo,01 (We’ll use 01 for 2001) & O for October
  4. Capitalize the first letter and or every other letter (optional, but recommended to not have two lowercase letters in order.)
  5. Leave the comma if allowed in your online account login.
  6. Also, replace the a with @
  7. Replace the S with $
  8. Replace the 0 (zero) with the Capital letter O.
  9. Replace “i” with ! (an upside down i)
  10. Replace the “o” with “0” (Zero).
  11. This is my example password:  MdN!$@wB0,O1 (This is also known as “Salt (cryptography)
  12. Go to Password Meter and test the strength of your password. If your password is not strong enough, you will see a list of items that you can improve on.

This is the result of the above password example from Password Meter:

Exceptional: Exceeds minimum standards. Additional bonuses are applied.

5. ALWAYS HAVE A SECURITY PROGRAM INSTALLED AND UP TO DATE – Your computer must have security program installed in it. Lots of people neglect this basic principle of using the Net. These people have increased risks of online identity theft. Virus protection, Malware, Spyware & Adware protection and firewalls are available in free or paid versions that you can install on your computer.

The internet is a medium that can be used as well as misused. This is a world where you are alone, and it is your responsibility to be cautious about yourself. Take care of the way you interact with people in the virtual world and your online identity will stay protected.

Report online fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at

To Learn more about Identity Theft and how to deter, detect and defend against it, go to: By Phone: 1-877-438-4338.

Reduce the amount of marketing material and credit applications you receive via mail or email by contacting the Direct Marketing Association.  Note: The Direct Marketing Association may charge a fee for this service.

If you think you have become a victim of Identity Theft, report the incident as quickly as possible to each of the credit reporting agencies and ask that a fraud report be placed on your file.

Experian                 888-397-3742

Equifax                   800-525-6285

TransUnion             800-680-7289

You can also contact these credit reporting agencies to receive a copy of your credit report.  Go to: or by calling any of the credit reporting agencies.

Experian                 888-397-3742

Equifax                   800-685-1111

TransUnion             800-916-8800

Please note that this page is being provided as helpful information.  The Working Mouse cannot guarantee the effectiveness of any of the services mentioned.

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