Watch out for e-Threats that could affect your Identity

An e-Threat is a type of identity theft that is handled electronically. This type of threat is directed specifically to obtaining your personal information for illegal purposes. There are several types that could affect you. Here is a list of types and some explanations of how they work. The first three don’t even require a computer for you to become a victim of identity theft.

1. Vishing (Voice Phishing) – You may come home one day and see a message on your answering machine. This message indicates that you should call your bank or credit card company. Even the caller ID shows the bank or credit card company’s name. So you call the number and are asked to punch in your account number, your pin or other personal information. Then the message might indicate that the problem is resolved and thank you for your prompt attention to the matter. But when you get your statement, you will find that there are lots of charges on your account that you never made. If you get a message like that, compare the number to the number on the back of your card. If they are not the same, call the number on the back of your card and report what happened to you. The Credit Card Company or Bank might be aware of the Vishing problem already, but you may be alerting them to a new threat. If there is truly a problem, then calling the number on the back of your card will get you legitimately transferred to the correct department and then you can work to solve any issues you have.

2. Bank-Card Skimming – There are two types of theft under this category. You need to watch pulling money out of an ATM Machine. A thief may install a device over the ATM machine that will allow your card to pass through their device and into the ATM Machine. They will also have some type of camera pointed so that they can record your entry of your pin into the ATM. This will give them all of the information they need to completely empty your account plus get as much as possible leaving you with an overdraft and all of those fees. The second type of skimming is done at a store or restaurant that has a dishonest employee. The store or employee might have a portable card reader. They will swipe your card so that they have all of the information they need for most online purchases and might possibly steal your pin information. They can take that information and transfer that information to any plastic card with a magnetic stripe. I have even seen a hotel key card used as a credit card. They transfer the information to the card, and then go make a purchase. Most stores have the card device for the consumer to swipe their own card. So no one has to see the card (thus allowing the use of the hotel key card). Make sure that if you use the ATM, watch and look for any changes to the machine. Additionally, watch your card when you use it at a store. Try to keep an eye on transaction to keep the dishonest worker from illegally swiping your card into a portable device.

3. Simple theft of your identity – If your wallet or purse gets stolen, report this immediately. Keep a list of your credit cards and phone number to those cards someplace where you can access that quickly. Do not throw any personal information away in your trash and watch your mail for any theft. These are the easiest ways to have your identity stolen.

4. Spyware – The first type of computer based theft. Spyware is software designed to record your keystrokes. By obtaining that information, they might be able to access your credit card information, bank account information and the appropriate personal information including pin information. This will allow the thief to use information online and make purchases using your information. The spyware can also be used to access information on your hard drive. Getting a good security software package can protect you from Spyware.

5. Spoofing – This type of theft is also known as Pharming. A computer hacker may redirect a legitimate web site’s traffic to another site known as an imposter site. From there you will be asked to enter your personal information. Once you have entered your personal information into the imposter site, you will become a victim of identity theft.

6. Smishing – This type of theft is fairly new and could become a big as more consumers are using smart phones. This is done by sending a text message to your cell phone and then will instruct you to visit a website that will request your personal information. Of course, this is done with lots of glam and glitter so that you are not suspecting anything illegal. You may be thinking that you are buying something legitimate but in actuality you are getting your identity stolen.

7. Phishing – This is one of the most common types of identity theft online. You will receive an email that will look completely legitimate (mostly from ebay or paypal). You will click on a link in the email and it will take you to an imposter website and ask you for your personal information. Since everything looks legitimate you will punch in your information and then it will be used for illegal purposes.

These types of identity theft are becoming more common as more people are using online shopping. Protect yourself by using common sense and paying attention to the information you are providing. If you become of victim of identity theft then you will have some credit problems and possibly bad credit. Some online shoppers have been doing business online for years and have never been a victim of identity theft. This does not mean you can let your guard down, but you must be diligent in what information you are providing to anyone.

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