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Monday, 20 July 2009

Since we are on the subject of ID theft...

Since we are on the subject of ID theft...

Normally when I watch Carte Blanch, I am emotionally detached from the stories they show. It is stuff that happens to other people. However Sunday evening’s Carte Blanch episode struck a cord with me – identity theft. It happened to a friend of mine and it destroyed his business and he nearly faced criminal charges. 

While on holiday this friend of mine received a phone call from the police – he is under investigation for fraud. As you can guess, that phone called ruined his holiday. 

In his spare time he traded on the Bid or Buy website, making a nice income on the side. It takes time and a lot of dedication to build a solid reputation as a good trader online and it all of it was destroyed with one single phone call. 

The police officer informed him that he has received several complaints about him. All of the complaints where basically the same, they bought merchandise from him but then never received it. 

Trying to log on to Bid or Buy he found that his password has been changed and so has the password to his email account. How and when it happened he does not know. All he knows is he has some very angry customers and that Sergeant-Police-Officer-man is looking intensely at all business deals he has done in the past. 

He went through a long and painful process to prove his innocence and his name was finally cleared but his online reputation has been destroyed and all credibility he had on Bid or Buy. In short he was very lucky not to face criminal charges and he has lost his business. 

The moral of the story is identity theft can happen to all of us and we must act to protect ourselves! I will not pretend to be an expert on the subject but I do know that it is important to get the basics right if you want to defend yourself against id theft online.
Make sure that your operating system, anti-virus and anti-spyware is updated with the latest patches and security updates. This will help prevent most (but not all) Trojans / Viruses and Spyware from getting on to your computer.  

Passwords – choose good passwords. In other words, choose a password that is eight characters or longer. Use lower and uppercase letters, numbers and punctuation in your password. This protects against dictionary and brute force attacks against your account. 

There are lots more do’s and don’ts, for more information on how you can protect yourself:

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