Gone Phishing and Identity Theft

One thing that really disturbs me are those unseen predators, who refuse to make an honest living, and steal another person’s name and identity, doing great harm to both. Any work is dignified and respectable as long as it is earned and exchanged for a service or labor. Others refuse to make an honest living and instead, make a living off of other’s lives. The sign on their door says “gone phishing.” My wife got an e-mail message from the “Administrator” of her Hotmail. It asked her to re-verify her e-mail user name and password so that some security measures could be updated. Another asked her for the same information but said that if she didn’t respond, her e-mail account would be terminated. I am so glad that she asked me about if because on your e-mail account on our computer, we are, in fact, the Administrator.

On Microsoft Network’s Hotmail, the browser and e-mail options allow you to report phishing schemes, which are invariably defrauding attempts. They figure if they make enough contacts, at least some of them will take the bait, and reveal sensitive information like birthdates, Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, driver’s license’ numbers…the list is considerable. They may only solicit your name, address and phone number first, then to “ secure the offer”, just e-mail or fax us some more about you so when can make arrangements to …and so on.

When enough people hit the link on Hotmail to report a suspected phishing site, your junk mail will warn you that “this site may be dangerous” [their words]. Whatever you do, do not open the link or enter “OK” when the computer asks you to unblock this site. These links can include spyware, which can take over your browser, unknown to you and unable to remove it if you do find it. This happened to me once and I have to hit “Restore” to a particular day on your tools system and I was able to go back in cyber-time (relatively) and eliminate the bug, sp ware included.

To stay up on the latest spyware updates, log on to: OnGuardOnline.gov. They can recommend the latest firewalls, anti-spy ware and anti-virus software. Despite what people might believe, viruses can attack your computer quite easily through e-mail, especially unsolicited e-mail or spam. When you access or open a link in this Internet age, about anything is possible. Here is a plan of action:

Think before the link: Was there a warning about this Web site or address the computer warned me about? Is it too good to be true? Is it worth opening the link to put your computer at risk? Is your Social Security number anywhere on your computer (ie, a document or letter)? Even over the phone, this information should never be shared. You can find current warnings of the latest phishing, viruses and identity theft schemes at ftc.gov/idtheft .

Protect and check: Don’t share your Social Security number, bank account or credit card number’s, etc, with anyone, even if they say they need it for identification purposes or processing purposes. It ‘s not a good idea to carry your Social Security card or several credit cards around. Cash is always safest.

Shred it, don’t trash it: Sensitive information is in a lot of trash these days…account numbers, Social Security numbers, old deposit slips, old tax returns…are all vulnerable to the Dumpster Divers (as they are called). Shred all old bills, documents, cancelled checks, tax returns, etc.

Warning signs of identify theft are when denials of credit occur, with unexpected credit card bills arrive with different account numbers, bills that arrive that you can not recall making a purchase for, calls or letters about delinquent accounts or overdue statements or notices. Our home has included Anti-Theft Protection from our insurance company for only about $3 a month. That is money well spent these days, with a worldwide web of deception and deceit. Be careful out there, for what a tangle web they weave, when they first practice to deceive.

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