Identity Theft: How to Avoid Becoming a Victim.

identity theftElectronics such as tablets, smartphones and MP3 players were some of the hottest gifts this Christmas season. Although these gadgets are fun to use and provide easy access to the internet, they can also become tools for identity theft if you’re not careful. There are phishing websites that imitate legitimate companies. They will send an email or text with a link to their website, all with the intent of stealing your identity and credit card information. One such scam recently happened in Utah and was reported on a local news station (found here).

Many consumers in Utah recieved a text message on their phone stating that as a valued Best Buy shopper, they had won a $1000 gift card. The message had a link attached to it. This link took the customers to a Best Buy website. Only this website wasn’t Best Buy, it was a fraudulent website made to imitate Best Buy. Although the website looked legit, customers became leery when they were required to enter a lot of personal information to claim the prize. It turns out that the website was part of a phishing scam designed to steal customer’s identity and credit card information. The link of the text was registered in the Bahamas.

Best Buy is not the only company to have their name used in identity theft scams.

By following these guidelines from Windows Help and Support, you can avoid becoming the next victim of identity theft.

  • If you arrive at a website from a link in an email message, verify with the sender of the email message that the website is legitimate before you provide any information to the site. Phishing websites can sometimes send email messages that mimic, or spoof, legitimate email addresses.
  • Make sure that the website’s address begins with HTTPS, and that a lock icon Picture of lock icon appears in the Address bar. You can click the icon to view security information and certificatedetails.For more information on secure websites, see How to know if an online transaction is secure in Internet Explorer 9.
  • Check the web address in the Address bar and in the certificate details to make sure it matches the address you want. Phishing or fraudulent websites will often use similar website names to trick visitors into believing they’re visiting trusted sites.
  • If you’re visiting a retail website, check the site for a phone number or street address so you can verify that it’s legitimate. If the site only provides an email address, send a message to the address to request additional contact information. Don’t provide personal information to a website that has no contact information.
  • Check to see if the website displays an Internet trust organization logo or trust seal. The logo indicates that a site has a privacy statement and allows users to choose how their information is used. Example organizations include TrustGuard, TRUSTe, BBB Online, and WebTrustwebsite. Note, however, that many legitimate websites aren’t registered with trust organizations, and some websites display fraudulent logos. If you aren’t sure whether a trust logo is legitimate, contact the trust organization to see if the website is registered with them.

The most important thing is for parents to know what their kids are doing with their hand-held devices and to make sure that you know for certain that the website you are on is authentic and has the proper security measures set up before giving any personal or payment card information.


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