Computing Tips: More on How to Avoid Identity Theft

Thieves are no longer only after your wallet, jewels, artwork or other precious belongings. Instead, they want you. With the proliferation of online transactions and the trend toward a cashless society, the number of identity thefts is on the rise. Being a victim can not only wreak havoc on your credit—preventing the ability to buy a house or car—it can take years to overcome.

Don’t let your computer be hijacked and become a “spambot”

Hijackers are hijacking thousands of PCs to spy on users, shake down online businesses and steal identities. If you think your computer is safe, think again.

Check your credit

Make sure there is no irregular activity. Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, you may request a free credit report from each credit bureau, each year. To obtain these reports, go to https://www.annualcreditreport.com, call 877-322-8228 or mail a request to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, Ga. 30348-5281 (request forms are available online).

Avoid the bait from “phishing” emails

Many identity thieves send official-looking e-mail messages that appear to come from banks and other companies you’ve done business with. When in doubt, verify by phone or through the company’s Web site that the e-mail is real.

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Updated: 22 Jan 2007

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