For everyone out there worried about identity theft, here’s an odd one. In this situation, someone realized that a phony shipping account had been set up in their name. Dozens of packages were mailed out under the account – some that included checks. The shipping account was set up entirely online using only the victim’s name, address and phone number.
The victim’s information could have been obtained anywhere but one likely culprit was the Internet. Most of us nowadays are connected to the Internet 24-7 and unfortunately, although it’s convenient, that puts us at greater risk of identity theft.
Being connected to the Internet when you are not online is like leaving your door unlocked when you’re not home. It’s an invitation…and once they’re into your computer, they have access to any information you store on it. That could include social security numbers, credit card numbers, bank accounts, tax returns, etc.
Using the Internet is great, as long as you protect yourself. Probably the best way to do that is to install a firewall and keep it enabled at all times. Additionally, it is a good idea to have anti-spam and anti-virus software – and keep them updated. Leave email addresses off of applications whenever possible and most important, when you are not using it, turn your computer off.
A locked door isn’t a guarantee, but it’s a deterrent just like a car or home alarm. Just like in the real world, in the online world, if you don’t make it easy for them to get in, you are less likely to be the victim they choose. For more information on firewall protection, here are some informative resources: