Protecting Your Personal Information

By: Nick Makaryk

Sad as it is, there is the danger of being victimized by criminals everywhere these days. You may not even see them, but they are there waiting for an opportunity.

One of the biggest threats to your security is identity theft over the internet. For tech-savvy criminals around the globe, stealing credit card information is rapidly becoming the most popular crime to commit.

This is an easy crime for the perpetrators since they can be on the other side of the world from their victims. They can get online using false information, making it very difficult to track them.

The scam most commonly seen is called "phishing". This involves sending out fake emails from financial institutions and credit card companies. The email will say that the customer must take some action in connection with their account. Other emails will state that the customer must act immediately since someone else has been accessing their account.

It is often no problem at all to spot these fake emails - for instance, if you get an email purporting to be from a company with which you do not have an account or credit card.

There's another easy way to spot these scams. Move your cursor over the "from" line in the email. Click the right mouse button and you'll see the email address of the sender; if it doesn't match your credit card company's address, it's a dead giveaway.

Many people are unaware of this method, although it is a standard feature of any email program.

The fake emails will have links to a spoofed version of the credit card company's website - these will look nearly identical to the actual site, including the use of company logos and other design elements.

Copying a website in this way is not a terribly difficult feat; it can be accomplished by even relatively unskilled criminals. You can find the real email address from which a suspicious email was set by using this right click method. However, it is better to simply delete a suspicious email and call your credit card company if you have doubts rather than click anything in one of these emails - they can infect your computer with spyware ad viruses, so be warned.

A very large number of people do fall for these email scams - once they enter their credit card information, they've given the criminals exactly what they want: access to their accounts. If you give these criminals your social security number as well, there is almost no limit to the damage they can do.

For them, this means a vacation or some expensive shopping - for you, it could mean financial ruin!

Criminals are everywhere today and you can't necessarily tell who they are. You have to take steps to protect yourself from their scams. If you get an email claiming to be from your credit card company, call them and ask if it is legitimate. Don't call any telephone number given in the email - use the customer service number from your credit card statement.

For the sake of your financial health, it is imperative that you take precautions and keep yourself safe from these scammers.

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