The constant complaint of law enforcement officials worldwide is not how skillful their criminal adversaries are, but how much the public unwittingly plays into their hands. Unlocked doors, open windows, unsecured valuables, and generally making it easy for even a moderately competent criminal to target and acquire your property.
When it comes to laptop security people always think about security against some hackers who want to use the power of the internet to get inside of their laptop. Well, we have news for you, it is not the hackers that you should be afraid of, but the people who want to steal your laptop from you.
There are far more cases of laptops stealing than any hacking attempt in the world. So, knowing this, you need to look for some solutions that will allow you to protect your personal information from thieves. Thieves, don’t need any special knowledge to power on your laptop and steal information.
The same problems hold true for identity theft. Yes, many identity thieves use sophisticated software and computer techniques to hack into our lives. But sadly, many times it is our own carelessness that makes it possible for these criminals to make their dishonest living. A large, and largely preventable, percentage of identity and information theft was achieved with very low-tech methods.
Despite the proliferation of electronic information, we still retain a large amount of critical data on paper. Loan applications, credit card and bank statements, restaurant and store receipts, all have key data that can be used to compromise our identity.
Keep sensitive information out of site, preferably in a locked container. There are a variety of modestly priced products available that can protect your important papers. Many offer the added advantage of protection against fire damage. Don’t be misled, these are not burglar proof. In fact, most would yield to a five-minute session with a sledge hammer. But it is very unlikely that anyone will go to those lengths.
If you have information that is truly crucial, get a safe deposit box. The bank has spent millions of dollars more than you ever could to make sure that your box is secure.
If you must take critical papers along with you, make sure that they are not easily seen or recognized. Manila envelopes are perfect cover for your secret papers. And be sure that you don’t leave them lying on your car seat where they can be seen. Remember document theft, like many other robberies, are often crimes of opportunity.
Make sure that you store or destroy receipts that could give someone an insight and details on your identity. Your trash could literally become someone else’s treasure.
Hackers can also place programs on your system that will scan the hard disk for passwords, account numbers, pin numbers and other data useful in identity theft. Don’t store important information on your PC. Make sure that you have a good virus scan system that also scans for malware (Adware and Spyware).
Another way identity thieves get your identity information is to simply ask you. This is a technique known as social engineering, and could be viewed as a low scale version of the con. Basically, they will prey on your fear, greed, or trusting nature to get you to tell them information that otherwise you would keep to yourself.
The famous Nigerian Bank Account scam is a classic case of social engineering. Posing as a distressed member of some deposed foreign royal family, the thief will ask you for help in securing their family’s legitimate fortune from the hands of the evil minions who have usurped their countries throne. If you let them transfer the funds to your bank account for a short time, they will provide you with a generous share of the wealth once they have reclaimed their funds. All you need to do is give them your bank account information. And there is the problem. Funds will be transferred all right, but out of your account rather than in. Even though this scam has been around for years, hundreds of people each year fall for it and its numerous variations.
An online version of Social Engineering is phishing. You may get an email or a popup notice on your PC alerting you of a problem with your bank account, credit card, or loan account. To prevent damage to your credit and loss of funds, you must fill out the attached form and email it back to the sender. This form, of course, asks you for things like your account numbers, billing address, phone number, social security number, date of birth, etc. All things needed to apply for a loan or credit card in your name.
A variant of this approach is for the phisher to pose as a government officials or bank officer trying to locate people who are perpetrating bank transfer scams (like the one above.)
The phisher will try to enlist your help by asking you to pose as a decoy so that they can observe and swoop in on the miscreants.
Don’t be fooled. No bank or government representative will ask for your information online. They already know who you are.
To prevent this kind of abuse, remember common sense.
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
If it seems hard to believe, don’t believe it.
Find someone you trust that you can consult on these matters before you give up any info. It could be your family lawyer or financial adviser.
A cheaper option will be to talk to someone at your personal bank. The account representatives are trained to deal with these kinds of situations and, since the scam will most likely involve accounts at their institution, are more than happy to prevent the problem from happening rather than having to solve it later on.
The world can be a wonderful place, but not everyone in it is as wonderful as we would like them to be. A little common sense and self-discipline will go a long way towards making sure that you remain the only you that there is.