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Online Identity Theft

Online identity theft is growing as hackers become more expert at accessing “secure” databases. And the information these online identity thieves want is there for the asking.

Consider how many websites you use each day that “recognize” you. Some automatically enter your user name and password when you click over. Some automatically insert your credit card or bank account numbers when you make a purchase or a payment. When thieves access this data, they have enough information to use your credit.

But then it gets worse, because hacking isn’t their only method of stealing identities. And when they combine your account numbers with the other information they find about you, they can almost “be you.”

Phishing is online identity theft in which confidential information is obtained directly from the individual. It includes deceptive tactics, which trick consumers into going to fraudulent sites or answering questions that they believe are coming from legitimate service providers.

Crooks also use “malware” which inserts itself into your hard drive to send information back to the online identity thief.

Trojan horses are another method of online identity theft. These drop key loggers onto your computer and transmit credit card numbers, user names, and passwords back to the thief.

Unfortunately, consumers are playing into the hands of thieves by giving away information in their online profiles and “talking too much” in online chat rooms.

According to a new study, social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace have become prime targets for hackers and identity thieves. The amount of personal information consumers leave on these sites make it easy for online identity thieves to fill in the missing information about you and your life – right down to information such as the kind of car you drive, your birthday, where you buy your groceries, and the names of your pets. 

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