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How to Avoid Being a Victim of Online and Credit Identify Theft

Beware some of those credit cards that banks are offloading to many of us. The information they contain, which allows you to conduct electronic business is not foolproof. It is also store online as back-up and can be accessed by unscrupulous hackers and fraudsters.

This is more so in Internet trade where computer wizards may take advantage of programming loopholes, unsecured sites and personal greed to clean out your account. eCommerce is the way of the future fast, convenient and flexible but it is full of technical hurdles.

An example of an identity theft story, is computer wizard Raphael Gray, who hacked into a website in 2001 and downloaded all the details of credit cards including Microsoft Bill Gates'. He then send him a consignment of Viagra, just to show him he meant well. Globally, the fastest growing crime is identify theft. It is getting more sophisticated by the day. Once your identity has been phished such as through a lottery syndicate, hardly a coin will be left in your account.

Identity theft entails legal transaction of business using illegally acquired means. It is the backbone of cyber-crime, and mainly happens using online and credit card identity theft.

Online Identity Theft

Lotteries are the most popular bait. The intended victim receives an e-mail from a lottery firm informing them of their luck. The detailed e-mail has the sender's personal address (from a free mail website), their personal and fixed valid phone number (in most cases overseas) and their website address (designed to look like that of a genuine lottery).

The sender asks for your particulars such as full name, occupation, age, sex, country of residence and contacts, in order to make a certificate to help you claim your money.

If you fall for this, the tricksters will send another e-mail asking for your bank account number "to deposit the money into". they may tell you to scan and send then a signature for the certificate or the cheque. Or to physically travel overseas on your own expense to claim your money. The danger of the latter is that you could be held hostage or blackmailed to surrender your passport, which could be used for other crimes like money laundering.

No genuine lottery asks a winner to travel on their own expense to claim a prize. when you send their signatures and bank account numbers, their identity is stolen.

Another swindle involves bogus funds for natural calamities, US Green Card lotteries. The fraudsters design websites and post fake advertisement for Tsunami or green card competition. These website resembles those of genuine charities like the Red cross or Government departments. You are asked to pay online (thanks to e-banking). Whether they do this or not, they unwittingly give out their particulars.

Other Internet and e-mail scams are as follows:

Nigerian e-mail racket: It's probably the oldest and most popular. the basic line goes: "I represent a high-ranking bla bla, who wants to get a lot of suspicious money out of my country, and we need help from you to do it. We'll pay you (large) amounts of cash to be a front person." The plot thickens until you've got lots of cash sunk into the rcket. Soon, the crooks ask you to personally visit the country in question.

Initially, the scam was centered on Nigeria, but with recent events, you may hear about Taliban leaders wanting help, or people from other war-torn countries. Do not respond to this e-mail. Delete it and empty the trash bin.

Fake scholarship: In their efforts to pay bills, many students and their families fall prey to these swindles. Beware of offers claiming: "The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back." "You can't get this information anywhere else." "I just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship." "You've been selected by a national foundation to receive a scholarship" or "you're a finalist" in a contest you never entered.

Investment fraud: These scams promise outrageously high return with no risk. One version asks the investor to help form an off-shore bank. Others do not verify the nature of the investment, only stressing on the rates of return. Most of them are chains, in which current investors are paid with money contributed by previous investors.

This makes the current one believe that the system actually works, and encourages them to invest more. The subject line, or first part of the e-mail, says: "This is highly confidential information". The e-mail is sent to millions of addresses ina trial and error frenzy.

Lottery rip-offs: Like the scholarship ones, they you by e-mail, saying, "you have been shortlisted in an international lottery competition" that you didn't enter.

Hackers may also create malicious programs such as viruses and send them to random e-mail addresses. When opened, the e-mail siphons vital information to its creator and reports on all activities done, including online transactions. Here are tips to safe online Banking.

Credit identity Theft

When you give out your credit card to pay for goods and services, many things can happen when the card is out of your sight. Skimming is the most common. It involves downloading of the card's information. the card is swiped through a skimmer and the information is downloaded to a computer. the particulars are downloaded again to an emboser.

For many cyber-crooks, getting cards from banks is not a dig deal. Neither is getting your details. they make sure they have wide links. Once they get the information and the blank cards, they use an emboser to put the genuine cards' code onto the fake.

One way for banks to curb this malice is proactive monitoring of its clients' accounts. Some banks call, send SMS to their clients when purchases are made under their names.


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