Identity Theft Affects Internet Marketers and Business Owners Too!
Identity theft has been called "The Designer Crime of The New Century" and it is living up to its name and reputation, where someone takes someone else's identity and use it to commit crimes or other acts of fraud. It seems that only one side of this issue has been focused on, the consumer side. It is time for Internet business owners and Marketers to really take a stand and get involved in combating Identity theft before it goes too far.
You might be wondering "why should I care?" or thinking ID theft doesn't affect you. But, if you're an Internet vendor or consumer it should. If gone unchecked, everything from bogus purchases to charge-backs and other penalties and costs will eventually affect your reputation, profits and even the way you do business as new online and offline laws are passed to fight this crime.
Many identity theft transactions are done with stolen credit cards or compromised PayPal, StormPay or other payment provider accounts. Usually the vendor doesn't find out until it's too late that their last $200 received order was placed with stolen account information. To make it worse, the victim usually blames the vendor for taking the order. Several angry phone calls and emails later and you (the vendor)still ends up paying some or all of the associated costs created by this act of fraud.
Be sure to pass these tips on to your customers and readers.
Here are some common-sense Internet based tips to follow at home and when travelling.
1. Be careful of who you give information to when you're online. For example, don't respond to financial related offers received via unsolicited email. Don't trust Spam related messages asking you to place orders by credit card or by payment resources such as PayPal. The spammer might be an identity thief waiting for you to divulge your details at their bogus web site.
2. If you get a request from a known web site asking for financial information, don't click the link within the email. Instead type the url (www.whatever.com) yourself and go directly to the web site. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, then call your bank or financial institution directly and ask them to verify the email.
3. Don't respond to any email claiming that the writer wants to send you millions of dollars as a helper's fee, if you will help them take care of some form of inheritance. These messages are often referred to as a form of the Nigerian Oil scam. Don't think that this only comes from Nigeria. Just substitute your country's name before the word oil and you get the picture...
4. Don't click on any links in email supposedly sent from PayPal or eBay asking you to verify your account info (if you have one of these accounts). These messages are often filled with misspellings and poor grammar (an obvious, but often ignored, indicator that it was not eBay or PayPal that sent the message).
5. Don't click on unsubscribe email links sent in un-requested (unsolicited) spam email. The fact that you were sent the message without your asking for it, is a great indicator that the sender might not be trustworthy.
6. Beware when downloading file-sharing software (often used to trade music and movie files). They are notorious for delivering viruses, SpyWare and keyboard loggers as well.
7. Update your Anti-Virus, Firewall and Privacy software frequently to make sure you have the latest versions. See the free guide mentioned at the end of this list for more info
9. Review your email carefully, many viruses and Trojans are sent by crooks and hackers who use fake email addresses, or legitimate email addresses of reputable companies. So it can look like it came from a known company, when actually it didn't
10. Be careful when using computers in Libraries, Airports, on Airplanes and other Public places. It is not safe to use computers in these places for financial or other high-risk
transactions. You never know what these machines are storing, in their logs, as you type and you never know who's looking over your shoulder.
11. Be sure to download the latest Internet browser and customize your Browser's security settings to protect you while you surf. Just visit your browser manufacturer's web site and look for information on setting your browser preferences or options.
12. Avoid leaving your laptop unattended, especially in hotel rooms, convention room floors, restrooms, restaurants, etc. Try installing passwords on important files and folders, just in case your laptop or stolen.
13. Disable your email program’s ‘preview pane or panel’ to prevent email spam from reporting back to their senders. If the report goes back (usually by simple code or loading of images embedded in the message), they will have confirmed your existence and the spam will increase.
14. Finally, Remember, if a situation smells fishy, it might just be.