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Protect Your ID Online

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Guard Your Computer
  • Keep virus protection software up to date.
  • Install a firewall.
  • Secure your wireless router and use the built-in encryption mechanism.
  • Check your computer for “spyware” and install software that will protect against spyware downloads such as “key-logging” spyware that records your keystrokes.
  • Use a password to protect your computer and smartphone.
  • Don’t store financial account information on your computer or smartphone.
  • Don't store Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) or account numbers on a computer that is accessible to the Web.
  • Use Wi Fi wisely.
  • Wipe your computer or smartphone clean before you sell, donate or recycle it.

Guard Your Email
  • Never send your Social Security number (SSN), bank account or credit card numbers by email, and never give out personal financial information in response to an email unless you encrypt it.
  • Beware of emails that ask you to confirm your personal information or account number, even if the email appears to come from a business, bank or charity you know.  This is called phishing.  Forward these emails to spam@uce.gov.
  • Don't respond to emails that ask for your help transferring money, especially from overseas.  This is a form of the Nigerian letter scam.
  • Delete emails that contain confidential information.
  • Check with your Internet service provider about security features such as how to block spam.
  • If you suspect hacking or email tampering, report it to your local law enforcement.
  • Be careful about following links provided in an email, and never follow links sent by someone you don't know.
 
Guard Your Personal Information
  • Only provide your SSN or financial account numbers online through valid, secure websites.  Secure websites often have a lock icon in the lower right-hand corner.  A secure website's address will change from http to https.
  • Be cautious about providing any personal information online, but keep in mind that some government sites and the credit bureaus require such information. Read privacy policies and ask how your personal information will be used.
  • Don’t post personal financial information on social networking sites or in chat rooms.
  • Beware of websites that ask personal questions or require a credit card number to enter the site.
  • Before you do business with a company online, check them out with the Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or check with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Use one low-limit credit card for all online purchases, or request a one-time-use number from your credit card company.
  • Choose an alias as a user name and use an alternate email address for online shopping, Internet auctions and other online transactions. 
  • When selling goods online, watch out for counterfeit checks and money orders.  Never agree to wire excess payments back to the buyer or to someone else.
 
Guard Your PINS and Passwords
  • Avoid using easily available information for your PIN or password such as your mother’s maiden name,  your birth date, SSN, or phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers (for example, 1234).
  • Also, avoid using information for your PIN or password that could be easily guessed based on information you post on social networking sites, such as the names of your children or pets.
  • Don’t use the same PINs or passwords for more than one account.
  • Don't share your passwords or PINs with other people.
  • Don't carry PINs or passwords in your wallet or purse.
  • Ask banks, insurance companies, credit card companies and other firms that you do business with online to keep your information private. Ask them to change passwords from your SSN.