Last week we discussed how Internet in the 90's has spawned a new
variety of crooks called identity thieves whose stock in trade is
your everyday transaction. This week we examine safeguards and list
Internet resources on identity theft.
How to Minimize the Risk
While you probably can't prevent identity theft entirely, you can
minimize your risk. By managing your personal information wisely,
cautiously and with an awareness of the issue, you can help guard
against identity theft. Here are some suggestions:
Place judicious passwords on your bank account,
credit and debit cards, mailbox, domain name, web-site and various
other objects of daily use. Please exercise caution on selection
of password - birthday, name of spouse or children, place of
birth etc. are very common passwords and easy to crack. Avoid
using words from dictionary - use a combination of letters (upper
and lowers case), numbers and symbols.
Secure personal information in your home, especially
if you have roommates, employ outside help or are having service
work done in your home.
Ask about information security procedures in
your workplace. Find out who has access to your personal information
and verify that records are kept in a secure location. Ask about
the disposal procedures for those records as well.
Don't give out personal information on the phone,
through the mail or over the Internet unless you've initiated
the contact or are sure you know who you're dealing with. Identity
thieves may pose as representatives of banks, Internet service
providers (ISPs) and even government agencies to get you to
reveal your personal information like PAN number, mother's maiden
name, account numbers and other identifying information. Before
you share any personal information, confirm that you are dealing
with a legitimate organization. You can check the organization's
website as many companies post scam alerts when their name is
used improperly, or you can cross-check the credentials of the
person by calling Customer service of the organization.
Shred or carefully tear your mails, letters
from bank, insurance papers, credit card slips etc. Guard your
trash from theft.
Promptly remove postal mails from your mailbox.
If you're planning to be away from home and can't pick up your
mail, request a friend or neighbor to collect it.
Before revealing any personally identifying
information (for example, on an application), find out how it
will be used and secured, and whether it will be shared with
others. Ask if you have a choice about the use of your information.
Can you choose to have it kept confidential?
Don't carry your PAN card, credit card, passport
or ration card unless required - leave these in a secure place.
Carry only the identification information and
the number of credit and debit cards that you'll actually need.
Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow
up with creditors if your bills don't arrive on time. A missing
credit card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over
your account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks.
Be wary of promotional scams. Identity thieves
may use phony offers to get you to give them your personal information.
Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at
Precautions for Web-Site
- While surfing secure sites like your bank computer - don't
use an automatic log-in feature which saves your user name and
password so you don't have to enter them each time you log-in.
Always log off when you're finished - do not be in a hurry to
move to another site or close your browser without log-off.
Without proper log-off - your secure data remains vulnerable
tell you about security, and control of personal information
collected by the site. It should also explain how information
will be used, and whether it will be provided to third parties.
elsewhere or do not volunteer any information.
Next Week - How to Protect Your PC and Where to look
for more information on Identity theft
- Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad
Vol: 3, Issue 45
March 6' 2003
Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee
(Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various
capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development,
MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce
venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of
his own. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org