When using the Internet, it is important to be aware of the potential to become a victim of identity theft, which is one of the most common types of crime that happens in cyberspace. Being a victim of identity theft doesn't always mean that large amounts of money are stolen or charges are racked up in a person's name... it can also mean that someone is pretending to be an individual and using their name or likeness in a fraudulent manner. Some of the types of activity that can be lead to identity theft cases are listed below - try to ignore them if at all possible!
Clicking on links in emails from unfamiliar senders is dangerous. These links can lead to pages which will install tracking cookies or adware and spyware onto computers. This type of unauthorized download can be the way that thieves gain access to a specific computer or account, which can turn into theft. In addition to these occurrences, these links often lead to pages run by "companies" which are really just fake pages set up by thieves in an attempt to get as many people as possible to fill in personal information and submit it.
Using unsecured sites is not a good idea, either. Many of these types of sites mimic real ones in terms of visual appeal and design, which can be confusing. If a site is unsecured, it means that information is not secure - it could be transmitted across the web and accessed by a variety of people that should not be able to do so. Think about this each time a form, survey, profile or even message is sent... and reconsider as necessary.
Sharing information can lead to identity theft. While many people utilize social media pages to connect with others, it's important to realize that even the smallest bits of information can be used as ammo by identity thieves to break into an identity that is not theirs. When considering identity theft, it's important to think about the types of information that could be useful to others - and then to limit the release of this information for public consumption. Names, addresses, favorite stores and the names of family members all fall into this category.
In addition to online actions that may lead to becoming a victim of identity theft, things can happen offline in "real life" that are potentially damaging to the livelihood of people as well. These types of actions include throwing away pre-filled credit card applications, old paystubs, tax documents, bills or even receipts. If someone goes through another person's trash and finds a useful piece of information, it could lead to one of many types of identity theft. Luckily for victims and potential victims, there are companies that have developed solutions meant to help people from becoming victims of these crimes - and these services and programs are just as up to date as the thieves themselves, meaning that they are capable and adept at catching cases of identity theft when correctly used.