Every Monday Matters: Protect yourself with Internet safety
By Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT)
TAKE ACTION TODAY
1. Create a password that has a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols for unlocking your computer and for accessing websites. Use a different password for each site.
2. Never use an automatic log-in feature that saves your username and password.
3. Always log off the Internet or your computer when you're finished.
4. Avoid storing financial information on your computer.
5. Find and use anti-virus software and a firewall.
6. Do not open e-mails sent to you by strangers.
7. Forward spam that is phishing for information to email@example.com and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the phishing e-mail.
8. Order a free credit report every 12 months.
The emotional impact of Internet identity fraud has been found to parallel that of victims of violent crime. Remain cyber-safe by protecting your computer as if it were your wallet. Practice safe surfing. You'll be glad you did.
"I obviously knew about identity theft and Internet fraud, but I never thought it would happen to me," admitted
Unfortunately, like thousands of Americans every day, Mike is a victim of Internet fraud, and he is still paying the price today…6 months later.
"This has been such a painful and frustrating process for me and my family," said Mike. "It's one thing to have thousands of dollars stolen from you, but it's another thing to default on all of your payments, have your credit score killed, and have to fight tooth and nail just to try to reverse the damages."
Six months ago, Mike walked into his bank to withdraw some money and was surprised to find out that over
"After the initial shock of it, we immediately went to work trying to track down the perpetrator and figure out how they did it," said Mike. "We found four wire transfers to a mysterious company all in the amount of roughly
Well, Company X was just that … a company that no longer existed. Strangely enough it was a company that did business with the same bank but had filed for bankruptcy and shut down. In other words, Mike's money was gone.
"After retracing my steps, I realized that I checked my bank accounts on a public computer at a photo copy shop," recalled Mike. "I am not sure if I forgot to log out or if they were somehow able to get back into my account and steal my user name and log in information. Regardless, that's where I made my big mistake."
Cafes, photo copy centers, and public libraries have made it as easy as possible for their patrons to enjoy free Internet by having online computers available, but these are danger areas and hot spots for Internet perpetrators. It is highly recommended not to enter user names, passwords, or any other important personal information on computers in these locations. One never knows who is watching or who will be sitting at that particular computer next.
"I wish I had known this before because it could have saved me a huge hassle," said Mike. "I have been able to get some of the money back, but my credit score has been a huge problem. It takes so much effort to achieve and maintain a high credit, and, over night, mine was ruined."
Being violated like this not only has its financial repercussions, but it is also an emotional violation and can ruin relationships.
"Everyone knows that times are tough these days," said Mike. "Our economy is not great and stress levels are higher than ever. Having this happen to me has put a ton of strain on my marriage and my family. That's been the worst part of the whole thing."
Internet fraud is not a joking matter. Practice safe surfing. It matters.
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© 2009, The Modesto Bee Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services