|Without the proper protection, it can be this easy for online thieves|
First, make sure you have yourself a great antivirus software program installed on your computer. There are many great free online anitvirus programs that easily accessible and most of them will do more than enough to keep sensitive information stealing viruses and malware at bay. It's so easy to protect your computer that you simply have no excuse what so ever to not have an antivirus program that is up to date on your computer.
Aside from an antivirus, get yourself a malware scanner. While technically virus is malware, malware scanners can scan of viruses, trojans, adware, spyware, worms, and other malicious programs that ready to wreck your computer and steal your sensitive information. Personally, I prefer to have both a malware and antivirus running at the same time. Some of you may consider it to be overkill, but it's better to be safe than sorry, right?
Lastly, get a credit monitoring service. If your identity is stolen, being alerted right away will increase your chances of limiting the damage. Imagine what would happen if you didn't catch suspicious activity right away? Credit card charges, online purchases, accounts opened under your name... the list of damage can be a mile long and you WILL have to spend hours trying to sort it out with the credit bureaus as well as the companies involved. It's a nightmare! And that's not mentioning the money that could potentially be lost while you're trying to sort everything out. Not many financial institutions will credit your accounts right away if you suspect fraud. Missing funds could easily mean missing your bill payments or worse yet, missing your rent or mortgage payment!
Once again, it sucks to have your identity stolen. It's happened to me and it's an experience that I do wish on anyone. Hours on the phone, printing out documents, providing statements to prove that it was not me can be a daunting task. No one may be 100% protected from online thieves but by following the above guide, you'll be closer to it. Don't let it happen to you, friends. Be protected! Later!