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Understanding the ups and downs of the Internet and online transactions is one of the best ways to start practicing "safe computing". Armed with a good understanding of common threats and a few practical tips to help you and your information stay secure, you can click to your heart's content.
Don't fall for e-mail scams asking for your Social Security Number, bank account number, passwords, or any other private information. Any kind of personal information should be protected, but most commonly, identity theives are in search of:
Some systems can be accessed remotely by scammers who want to gather and misuse users' personal login and password information. If you have a weak password, your information is vulnerable to dictionary attacks, rapid automated guessing of common passwords. This is of special concern on systems where you've set yourself to log in automatically and may be unaware of a totally blank administrative password.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Spyware is software loaded on your computer without your consent, and often without your knowledge. The goal is to monitor or control your computer use—you might receive a large number of pop-up ads, be directed to Web sites you don't want to view or lose use of your computer's systems. It might take a long time to open or save files, or you may receive strange error messages. Sophisticated spyware programs may even record your keystrokes to steal your passwords or other sensitive personal information, leaving you vulnerable to ID theft or other fraud.
To lower your risk of spyware infection:
Here are some helpful links to learn more about how you can protect yourself from identity theft, and be an informed user of e-commerce and a wise e-bidder. The Justice Department also has some helpful tips at http://www.internetfraud.usdoj.gov/.
The Federal Communications Commission's Consumer Information Bureau (CIB) offers "one-stop-shopping" for all consumer issues—whether it's to get more information or to lodge a complaint.
If you believe you have been the victim of identity theft, you can send a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
You can also file a complaint regarding any e-crime at the Internet Crime Complaint Center or click here if you believe the online transactions involved a foreign country. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).
The Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Indiana Attorney General works to safeguard the rights of Indiana citizens every day. If you have questions or complaints regarding safe computing or other consumer issues, contact the Consumer Protection Division at 800.382.5516.