Online identity theft comes in many forms and involves the use – by someone else – of your computer and/or the information on it.
Some identity thieves use an array of techniques known as social engineering to try to manipulate you into performing certain actions or divulging confidential information. Or, they may access sensitive information without you even being aware of their presence.
For instance, a thief may attempt to acquire sensitive information – such as user names, passwords and credit card details – through fraudulent e-mails and instant messages by pretending to be a legitimate business or government agency. This type of scheme, called phishing, typically tries to manipulate people into entering sensitive information on websites or replying to e-mails that often look almost indistinguishable from the genuine article.
If you suspect phishing, do not reply to the e-mail or respond by clicking on a link within the e-mail message. Instead, contact the entity identified in the e-mail as soon as possible to determine whether the message is valid and/or to report a suspicious e-mail.
Some e-mails and websites will attempt to install malicious software, known as malware, on your computer. Types of malware include: viruses, spyware, worms, trojan horses, and keystroke logger or key logger.
-Look for these clues to determine if your computer is infected with malware:
-A sudden increase in pop-up ads,
-A browser that takes you to sites other than those you type into the address box (also called hijacked browser),
-Sudden or repeated changes in your computer’s home page,
-New toolbars or icons,
-Keys that suddenly don’t work,
-Sluggish or slow performance when opening programs or saving files.