This time we complete our list with five more tips. Most of them specifically relate to identity theft. You can find out a lot more about this evil crime by checking out other Scambusters articles and by visiting our Identity Theft Information Center.
Now, on with our tips list...
Tip #6. Protect your identity
Again, it may sound obvious, but you'd be amazed at how many people are careless with information that can be used by criminals to pass themselves off as their victims. For a start, that means taking special care of documents and other items you carry around with you -- like credit and health insurance cards. Keep them out of sight and out of reach. Never leave them in your car, and leave those you don't need, like your Social Security card, at home. Equally, don't be too generous with information about yourself on the Internet, especially on social networks liked Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter. Disclosing info like your address or phone number, your employer and your educational and career history, all provide valuable background for ID thieves.
Tip #7. Monitor yourself
In Tip #3 we mentioned the importance of checking the details of your bank and credit card statements to provide early warning of identity theft. Well, that's just the start of the whole process of monitoring the activities of those who keep records about you. You also should take advantage of your entitlement to get a free report on your credit rating once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies -- again so you can spot anything unusual. Also check out your medical and employment records and keep a close eye on your tax records -- all of these are used by scammers in building up stolen identities and, sometimes, even assuming the full identity of victims. Sound like too much trouble? Don't have the time? Then consider enrolling with a company that will monitor your credit activities and issue an immediate alert if someone tries to pass themselves off as you.
Tip #8. Stay up to date
Crooks want to break into your computer, usually to steal confidential information they can use for identity theft, and sometimes so they can take control of your PC and link it into their network of spamming and scamming machines. To beat the scammers, it's not enough to have Internet security installed. It must be completely up to date, since new viruses appear every day. Make sure your security software (you do have it, don't you?) is set to automatically update. But sometimes even that isn't enough. Hackers can worm their way into your computer using what are known as "exploits" -- techniques that take advantage of security weaknesses in other programs like Internet browsers, email programs and even the commercial office and graphics programs we use. To keep ahead of the rogues, software firms constantly update their applications. Make sure you either auto-update or regularly check -- usually via the Help menu -- for new versions.