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Danger on the Computer and What to Do If You Are the Victim of Identity Theft

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The first step in reducing your vulnerability to identity theft through your computer is learning where you are vulnerable. However, assessing your risk is not enough. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to guarantee that you will not become a victim of identity theft, so it is also important to know what to do if you become an identity theft victim.
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Sometimes it is hard to remember what life was like without personal computers, smartphones, and iPads. Imagine life without Angry Birds. E-mail, shopping online, and surfing the Net are only three of the uses of personal computers that are taken for granted in our everyday lives. But as much as computers have enriched our lives, they have also made us much more vulnerable to identity theft. The first step in reducing your vulnerability to identity theft through your computer is learning where you are vulnerable. However, assessing your risk is not enough. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to guarantee that you will not become a victim of identity theft, so it is also important to know what to do if you become an identity theft victim.

Spyware

The Good: The I Spy television series that ran from 1965 to 1968 and starred Bill Cosby and Robert Culp.

The Bad: The I Spy movie released in 2002 starring Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson.

The Ugly: Spyware, computer software that can be used to gather and remove confidential information from your computer without your knowledge.

Everything you do online, including your passwords, might be vulnerable to spyware. Spyware can put you in great danger of becoming a victim of identity theft. To make the problem even worse, some forms of spyware can be installed on your computer from a remote location without the identity thief ever having physical access to your computer. You would think that it would be difficult for the ordinary person to find spyware, but it is not. Typically it is used by employers monitoring employees’ computer use and parents who monitor their children’s computer use. It has been rumored that sometimes it is even used by a not-too-trusting spouse who wants to know what his or her spouse is doing online. In addition, some file-sharing programs also contain spyware. Sometimes this information is used merely to send you advertisements for products and services that might interest you. “Cookies” planted by the spyware can be used to monitor your Internet use. Although cookies invade your privacy, they might have no more insidious intention than to tailor advertising to your specific interests. Although spyware does invade your privacy, you might have actually agreed to have spyware installed on your computer when you went to a particular Web site and accepted that Web site’s user agreement, which can be long and filled with fine print that hardly anyone reads. Unfortunately, identity thieves looking to steal your identity and maybe your money also use spyware.

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