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Protection Tips if You've Shared Your Personal or Financial Information

With the amount of scammers out there trying to steal personal information from the unsuspecting, it's not surprising that some people still get tricked into giving away their personal financial information. Victims range from those who are using the Internet for the first time or have limited experience with it to the highly technically savvy. There's no shame in admitting you've been victimized this way, and the sooner you acknowledge it the sooner you'll be able to protect yourself.

The first step to protecting yourself is to assume that the scammer will use your personal information to steal your identity, commit bank fraud or fraudulently use your credit card. Federal laws for different countries and different sections in each country vary, but here are a few things you can do to protect yourself.

General Personal Information

If you've discovered that you've given your personal information to a phisher instead of a legitimate company or person, it's important to be proactive to protect yourself. Personal information includes your entire name, social security or social insurance number and address as well as financial information like a credit card number.

· Let your bank know. While many banks will automatically freeze your account if they notice unusual financial transactions and contact you to figure out what's going on, it's better to let your bank know so they can watch for the opening of other bank accounts in your name without your consent and immediately close them. If your ATM card was stolen, go to the bank and get a new card, PIN and account number.

· File a criminal report with the local police department and a complaint with your country's Internet Fraud Complaint Center.

· Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles to make sure a license number has not been issued in your name. If they're aware of the theft, they can block anyone from doing so.

· Contact the passport office to block anyone ordering a passport in your name.

Financial Information

If you've given out your credit card or debit card number, contact the bank immediately using their emergency 24-hour service line and report the theft. They'll immediately freeze those accounts and no one will be able to use your card.

Cancel your current account and open a new one if you've given out your bank account information. You'll likely need to go directly to the bank and do this in person and show several pieces of personal identification.

Always monitor your statements and account activities closely.

If unauthorized charges have been made, bank insurance will often reimburse you what you lost. You may need to provide a notarized statement of your theft.

Online Shopping or Selling Accounts

If your account has been hijacked, someone could be using your account to make purchases or leave feedback. This is common with hijacked eBay accounts. First try to long-in and change your password and hint. Remove any bogus sales or purchases. If you can't access your account, the company will typically freeze your account as they complete their investigation.

Hijacked eBay accounts are common and the company has set up links to help specifically with this problem. Some other companies also offer this type of service. Follow their instructions after you've informed them of the problem.

 

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Spyware has many ways of getting onto your computer, such as:

When you download programs - particularly freeware, or peer-to-peer sharing programs.

More covertly, spyware can install itself just by you visiting certain sites, by prompting you to download an application to see the site properly.

ActiveX controls. These pesky spyware makers will prompt you to install themselves while using your Internet browser