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Tackling Identity Theft Issues

Identity theft is easily one of the biggest threats faced by people who surf the web. The term identity theft is used when someone makes use of your personal information to take financial advantage of your assets or commit frauds and other crimes. Social security numbers, birth dates, names and credit card details are some of the most commonly targeted data for this.

As per the government statistics, about 10 million identity theft cases are registered every year in North America alone. The theft can take place in numerous forms and you may never find out about it till you receive your monthly credit report. For all you know, the thief may rent an apartment in your name or make purchases using your money. Some of these cases can be resolved quickly while others may require a substantial amount of time and money. You can never be completely safe from the threat of such thefts, but you can take steps to minimize any chances of such attacks.

Be cautious while recycling data

A lot of thefts take place when users discard their old computers or PDAs without removing the personal data. Even USB sticks and hard disks that have not been properly sanitized can be used for identity thefts.

If you are getting rid of hard disks, memory sticks or servers, you should never rely upon the quick format option. In such formats, the disk directory structure is rewritten but the data still remains on the disk. So instead, you should completely erase the data by using utilities meant for this job. There are many such utilities which randomly write 1s and 0s on the disk and remove your old data completely.

You should also be very careful while using a USB drive that you obtain from a random place. Sometimes identity thieves install viruses in these sticks, which can give remote access of your machine to the thief.

Using social media carefully

Social media platforms have become tremendously popular today. Facebook has about a billion registered users, which is one sixth of the world’s population. This explosion in social media use has also resulted in an increase in the amount of information that is being shared. Identity thieves have started using these social media platforms to gain information from profiles of users who have kept the data public.

Most of the social networking sites provide you the freedom to choose which information can be shared with the others on the network. To prevent identity theft, it is best to keep your personal information private to your friends or friends of friends.

Using proxy servers

Proxy servers are great tools for maintaining online anonymity. There are many proxy servers that can help in masking your IP address from the outside world. Your IP address is essentially the identifier for your system and by masking this, you can ensure that your personal information and browsing history remains private. Not only that, proxy serves also enable you to go for anonymous social media surfing.


Phishing is a very common method used by online thieves to get your personal information. These attempts are usually in the form of emails, which appear to be from a trustworthy source. The mail will ask you to enter certain details into a site (which is usually fake). Most of the times, phishing mails claim that they are from banks, auction sites, or social media sites.

The best way to fight such online identity theft attacks is by being very careful. Never give out your personal information on an e-mail or on phone. Never click on suspicious link in e-mails, but always type the links in the URL bar in your browser. Choose secure passwords and always sanitize the hardware that you throw. Follow these simple steps and preventing identity thefts will not be that difficult anymore.

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