How To Prevent Identity Theft Online

Identity theft is a huge criminal business online. Crooks obtain your personal information and use it to gain access to your bank accounts, your online shopping accounts, or they setup new credit cards using your name.

You may think that it could not happen to you but it can happen without you ever knowing until it is too late and the collection agency or worse, the police are pounding on your door.

You may mistakenly think that identity theft results from hackers breaking into computers. Actually, hacking into a company computer to obtain useful information is very rare. It is extremely difficult to hack into a computer. It requires a great deal of specialized knowledge and it takes a lot of time. Professional criminals do not waste their time on scams that are difficult or have no guaranteed results. Professional criminals will go after victims directly. They know they can obtain personal information from you much more easily than hacking a computer database.

Criminals have devised a number of methods to steal your information, but they all come down to basic psychology. The criminals setup elaborate trips to trick you into giving up your information freely and willingly. They send out millions of phishing emails. These emails are Fishing for information. The emails may offer fake jobs, they may appear to be from legitimate companies, companies you trust.

You may have received an email that appeared to be from your bank, PayPal, eBay,, or any other name you know and trust. Criminals can easily make fake look-alike emails that look exactly like the real company emails. These fake emails then lead you to a spoof website which looks and works exactly like the real website but there is one major difference! This spoof site is run by a criminal.

When you type in your bank password, your PayPal password, your eBay password, or any other information, you are giving it to a criminal. The criminal will then log into your PayPal account or bank account and transfer out as much money as they can, then use your account to scam other people. They will login to your eBay account and sell expensive items, collect the money and disappear leaving you holding the bag and trying to explain to detectives why they should not arrest you.

The old advice about checking for your real name in the email or verifying the email address in these phishing messages no longer works. More industrious criminals are now using eBay and other sites to collect basic information like your name and email address and sending customized phishing emails which sometimes look more convincing than the real emails.

Some websites only want to obtain your name and phone number. They will then have criminal associates call you and offer loans, claim you have won a contest, ask for a donation to charity, claim they are with the police or a major company, or anything else they think will trick you into giving them your credit card number or personal information by phone. Even if you are very careful online, these scammers can sound very convincing and even fake Caller ID information to make themselves look legitimate. They collect only basic information online and go for the real illegal payoff by phone or mail.

Fortunately there is a solution to the problem which is free, easy, and will protect you from not only phishing sites, but thousands of other known fraudulent sites on the Internet. The My Little Mole Toolbar has more than a cutsie name and logo going for it. This is a free toolbar that works with Internet Explorer or Firefox to warn you if you are tricked into going to one of these spoof websites or a known fraudulent website. The software pops up a warning if you go to a known crooked website so you immediately know if you are in danger.

The toolbar also has built in search features which allow it to replace several other toolbars. It has a built in search box for Google, eBay, and Amazon. I know those are the three sites I search the most. It also allows eBay and Amazon users to select which country’s website to search so it is internationally friendly.

There are anti-phishing features built into Internet Explorer, but according to Michael Ford, the toolbar designer, "The IE anti-phishing feature is useless. It depends on people reporting phishing sites which means thousands of people can be scammed before it is disabled. My Little Mole will warn you every time and does not depend on anyone reporting anything. It is completely automatic. IE also does not warn about the thousands of other known fraudulent sites that are only setup to steal credit card numbers or other information. The same is true with any anti-phishing/anti-virus software I have seen. They simply do not work to protect the user until thousands have been scammed. I have seen some scam sites that have been active for months with no one else warning about them but My Little Mole."

Mr. Ford went on to say that the My Little Mole toolbar uses an intelligent fingerprinting system which will catch fraudulent sites even if they move to a new domain, and even if they change their site completely, it will usually still warn the viewer before they enter any information they should not.

This toolbar could also end spam as we know it.

According to Mr. Ford, the toolbar designer, "The problem with other anti-spam efforts has been in trying to stop the spam email itself. I want to take away the profit motive and make spam unprofitable. When anyone goes to a dishonest website that advertises by spam, or a scam site that is only setup to steal credit card numbers or personal information, they will receive a warning telling them not to use the site. If crooks cannot make money sending spam, then they will stop because it becomes a waste of time for them."

I cannot stress how important this toolbar is for every Internet user. If it only prevents you from being scammed once, or having your identity stolen once, it is more than worth the price which is FREE!

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