When someone gains access to your personal information, such as your Social Security Number, credit card account information, your mother's maiden name, your driver's license number, and other important information to impersonate you, that person is committing identity theft. Once the thief has this information, he can attempt to open new credit cards, cellphone, and other types of accounts in your name. In legal terms, these activities are considered "true name identity theft." A thief can also use your information to access your existing accounts in a crime that the pros refer to as "account takeover." Report Identity Theft.
When internet fraudsters impersonate a business to trick you into giving out your personal information, it’s called phishing. Never reply to email, text, or pop-up messages that ask for your personal or financial information. Don’t click on links within them either – even if the message seems to be from an organization you trust. It isn’t. Legitimate businesses don’t ask you to send sensitive information through insecure channels. In addition to general email and website awareness, find out how to recognize and protect yourself against phishing. Tell Me More
Additional Phishing Information
Malware includes viruses, spyware, and other unwanted software that gets installed on your computer or mobile device without your consent. These programs can cause your device to crash, and even worse can be used to monitor and control your online activity–including your financial accounts. They also can make your computer vulnerable to viruses and deliver unwanted or inappropriate ads. Criminals use malware to steal personal and financial information, send spam, and commit fraud. There are many methods and types of malware.
Malware may target only one browser or it may target many browsers. It may be beneficial to have multiple browsers installed on your system. If you see something strange like a prompt for your credit card number, close the browser and try another. If it doesn’t appear in the other browser it is likely you have malware on your system. Popular browsers include Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.
Learn more about Malware
If you think your computer is infected:
- Contact each financial institution that you accessed on the infected computer.
- Change your passwords and ask if any of your account information has been changed (such as address or phone number.)
- If you provided credit or debit card information to someone, report the card as compromised to have it blocked and a new card issued.
- Do not use your computer for financial transactions until it has been cleaned.
- Follow up with your anti-virus vendor or computer service vendor for the best methods of getting your system cleaned.
Scams are a constant threat to your finances and identity. There are literally hundreds of scams popping up every day over the internet, through email, mail, and by phone-- fake trips and prizes, fake invoices, arrest warrant threats, you won a lottery, you name it. With scams getting more creative and convincing, it’s a good idea to occasionally check current alerts to ensure you don’t fall victim.