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Protecting yourself from online identity theft

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Stealing identities online has become big business for cyber criminals.  You might not always be able to stop them from targeting you but it's possible to minimize the damage. 

This week in your Protecting Your Cyberturf report, Theresa Payton gives us her checklist of the four things you should do if you think you've been a victim of online identity theft.

Theresa also defines our word of the week which is "botnet".

What to do if you think cyberthieves are after you:

Seek help.  Call your PC support desk or seek out a local expert to assist you with your computer to find and isolate the virus.

Microsoft provides free virus and spyware removal support to Windows customers who think they have an infected computer.

Call:                    1-866-PC Safety for phone support.

Online:           Microsoft customers can also visit http://safety.live.com for

free online virus and spyware removal.

Apple provides help to computers users that believe their Mac may be infected.

Call:                    1-800-APL-CARE (1-800-275-2273)

Online:         Set up a phone appointment

http://www.apple.com/support/expert/ or,

request an in-person appointment at your closest

Apple Store's Genius Bar: 

http://www.apple.com/retail/geniusbar/ .

Actively monitor your bank and credit card accounts.  Look for suspicious charges, even if they are for very small amounts.

Tip:  Most banks offer online alert services where you can set up alerts to notify you if a transaction takes place or if a transaction is over a certain amount.  Go to your online banking page for more information.

Freeze Fraud:  request alerts on your credit reports. Ask if your credit file can be frozen.

You are entitled to a free credit report once a year from all three agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.   Experts recommend that you space out your requests so you can have one from each at different times during the year.

Online:

Equifax:                  http://www.equifax.com

Experian:                    http://www.experian.com/

TransUnion:                  http://www.transunion.com/

North Carolina offers a free credit freeze for victims of identity theft and a nominal fee for people that want to request a freeze.  Go to the following website for more information:

http://www.ncdoj.gov/News-and-Alerts/Alerts/Freeze-your-credit-for-free.aspx.

Engage authorities.  If a theft has occurred, file a police report with your local police and file a theft form with the Federal Trade Commission. 

Federal Trade Commission:

Call:                    877-IDTHEFT or 877-438-4338

Online:          http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft

A fantastic resource to use is the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse which is a nonprofit organization that provides in-depth information on your legal rights and how to cope with the aftermath of being a victim.

Online:          http://www.privacyrights.org/

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