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Your ID Theft Prevention TO DO List
Identity Theft is a PRIMARY element of Internet scams and Spam emails. You are at serious risk. Identity Theft is devastating and your personal information is extremely valuable to scammers. Criminals are determined to steal your personal information from you and your computer so it can be sold on the black market to illegal aliens, drug runners and other criminals.
The object of scam letters and scam email is not just to get you to send the scammers money for false reasons, but to obtain your identity. This is accomplished both by asking you personal identity questions and by downloading spyware and viruses (Trojan Horses) onto your hard drive when you open their emails.
Very, very little personal information is required for a personal information harvester to fill in the blanks.
Some scammers then take whatever information they have harvested from you and your hard drive and enter the information into "detective" software easily available on the Internet. Those who know what they are doing can obtain your Social Security Number or National ID information, plus property information - real estate, car, boat, motorcycle, etc.
Everything you do on the Internet is automatically stored on your hard drive for the hackers to steal with their malware, including all your usernames and passwords, purchase information such as credit cards and e-checks, access to your online banking, email address books, etc.
Even if the emails you are opening do not contain any malicious code, when you open the email a receipt is sent to the scammer. He or she now has your IP address and the malware is off and running at your computer.
Once they have your email address, it is sold into scammer mailing lists. Your inbox will begin filling with scam emails and Spam.
Once they have your physical address, it is sold into scammer mailing lists. You may receive fake lottery winning notifications, other solicitations, loan offers, and counterfeit checks and/or money orders.
Here is the list of what you must do:
Your Computer and Online
1. Cease all correspondence with the scammers IMMEDIATELY. (What to do if you are receiving threatening phone calls or emails.)
2. Change all your passwords. Keep a record of your passwords off line.
3. Run both your anti-spyware and anti-virus programs on deep clean, which means all files and folders. Do this regularly, once a week at the very least.
4. Internet Explorer browsers: Go to Tools > Internet Options > General (this is the first tab) > Cookies: Delete. CAUTION: if your browser is set to remember your passwords, they will be gone; however, your Home setting may remain, as well as cookies for those pages you view most frequently. This is okay.
5. Tools (continued) - click on each tab and review the contents. For instance, you may want to reconsider the amount of information you have stored in your Profile and in your AutoComplete options. Do not change any of the settings in the Advanced section without advisement.
6. Netscape and other browsers - most browsers have Internet Options in one of the pull down menus in your browser; if you cannot find the button, please refer to your browser's Help file usually located to the far right of the browser toolbar.
7. Windows users: You can also follow the same directions by clicking on Start > Control Panel > Security Center (or similar term, depending on your version) > Internet Options.
8. If you use PayPal, BidPay, or any online funds transfer system (other than your online banking), see if you can close the accounts and open new ones since they are attached to either your bank account or one of your credit cards.
1. If you use credit cards to make online purchases or to load an online pay system, contact the credit card issuer (see the phone number on the back of each card) and ask for new numbers. You should do this regularly anyway.
2. If you do online banking, monitor your account once a week at the very least and immediately report any unauthorized activity. NOTE: Be sure to view each transaction you consider to be unauthorized against any recent purchases that may be appearing on your statement under a different name. For example, you purchased a monthly service named XYZ News Service which is being billed to you by something called InfoUnlimited.
3. Online banking (continued) - If your bank account is used by scammers for illicit purposes, such as depositing money in your account without your permission, or transferring funds from your account without your permission, contact your bank IMMEDIATELY. If your personal funds are transferred out of your account without your knowledge or permission, those funds will be returned to your account. You will not lose the money. If funds are transferred into your account without your knowledge or permission, contact your bank IMMEDIATELY. Your account is being used by scammers for money laundering and you could be held liable.
4. If you sent a copy of any of the following to the scammers, contact the issuing agency and ask for a new document if possible. If you cannot obtain a new identity document, ask that the one you have been assigned be Fraud-flagged. NOTE: This means that should you be stopped and asked to produce your current identity document, you will need to produce additional forms of identification to prove that you are the authorized carrier.
National Identity Card
Social Security Card (fraud-flag)
Any other form of identification issued by a government agency
5. If you sent a copy of your Birth Certificate to the scammers, you must inform local law enforcement immediately and get it on record that you filed a report. This won't be easy without actual evidence of stolen identity activity, in other words, that a crime has been committed. Your Birth Certificate may never be used, but don't count on it.
6. Go to www.freecreditreport.com and get a copy of each of your credit reports. Monitor them on a regular basis. NOTE: You do not need to monitor your credit reports monthly unless you really want to. Consider your needs before signing up for monthly service. However, if you know you are already an ID Theft victim, then monthly reports are highly recommended.
7. Credit reports (continued) - should you discover unauthorized activity on one of your reports, please keep in mind that you must contact all 3 agencies individually with the information. The credit reporting agencies do not communicate and compare credit reports.
8. If the scammers send you any checks or money orders, DO NOT CASH THEM, DO NOT DEPOSIT THEM. They will be stolen, forged, or counterfeit and you could go to jail for taking them to the bank or a check cashing facility. Write VOID in your language of residence across the front and take them and the envelope to the police. Read this: How to Really Verify a Check or Money Order.
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