The growth of online retail sales has had the undesirable result of a proliferation of online identity theft incidents. In their ever-expanding roles, thieves have realized that with a little bit of web programming, they have opened the doors to gain access to personal information at an alarming rate.
One of the largest schemes of online identity theft uses what the industry refers to as phishing. This works on unsuspecting customers of some of the larger online retailers, auction sites and money transfer sites. The customer will receive and email from a company they normally do business with, claiming their system’s security has been compromised and to protect you against potential online identity theft, they need you to verify your personal information.
The email may appear to come from the merchant itself, but it’s easy nowadays to send email anonymously, which gives creditability to the request. Clicking on the provided link will take you to a website, which may have the same look and feel as the one you are used to seeing. In cases of online identity theft, this is where the similarity ends.
Beware of Information Requests
The page will ask you to enter account information, password and other personal information such as a credit card number, checking account information and social security number along with other items. Entering this information and submitting it will give the person committing online identity theft all the resources needed to access your accounts, or open new ones in your name or even change your mailing address.
Most online companies tell their customers that to prevent online identity theft always log on to their website to see if the requested information is really needed. Chances are it isn’t, and you should then forward them the email so appropriate action can be taken.
Failure to take even the simplest of precautions can open the door for online identity theft which will attempt to cheat you out of your money by establishing transfers from your checking or savings account put charges on your credit card or simply add a new address and have all merchandise of cash advances sent to the new address.
Unfortunately, while many banks and retailers work with victims of online identity theft, it will still take time to straighten everything out. Checking your credit report frequently as well as banking and credit statements can give you a heads-up if anything unusual is happening to your finances. If you suspect online identity theft, contact the Federal Trade Commission to get started or regaining your financial identity.