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How to keep your identity safe

Identity theftThis past Monday the US brought criminal charges against a hacker that allegedly hijacked 130 million credit and debit account numbers in a series of cyberheists. Unfortunately, this indictment will not slow down the occurrences of identity theft.

So far this year the number of computer users affected by malware engineered to steal personal information has risen by 600% compared to the same period in 2008, according to a PandaLabs report. Hackers are using phishing emails and spoof sites as well as social networks and services like Facebook and Twitter to distribute identity-theft malware. Here are some tips to help you from falling victim to identity theft:

  • Be suspicious of any unsolicited email requesting personal information
  • Don’t open or respond to spam
  • Whenever you access an online bank, store, etc., always type the URL directly in your browser
  • Check that the page offers secure transactions and read the privacy policy
  • Never give your personal information to anyone unless you can confirm who they are and why they need it
  • Protect your social security number
  • Memorize your passwords and PIN numbers
  • Security needs to be multi-layered; install and keep antivirus, antispyware and antimalware software up-to-date
  • Check the WOT Security Scorecard for ratings

See also Adware, Browser exploits, Malware, Phishing, Spam and Spyware to learn about safety on the Web.

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