A recent study, penned by U.S. senators on the Select Committee on Intelligence, found many online consumer mistakes are preventable. Protect your personal information and prevent identity theft by practicing “cyber self-defense”.
Today we use computers to store personal information, conduct business and for recreation. Criminals are exploiting this, so as consumers, we need to be safe and smart. Identity theft happens most often when consumers are careless with their information.
Closely guard all information about yourself, such as your name, address, phone number, Social Security number and financial information like bank account details and credit card numbers. Criminals that want to obtain your information for the purposes of identity theft sometimes pose as official representatives or employees of some business to for your personal account details. No legitimate business would ever ask you for this kind of information without you giving them prior cause to do so.
Another important aspect of keeping yourself from becoming an identity theft victim is making sure all of your software, from anti-virus protection and firewall programs to those that connect to the internet for other reasons, is up to date. Experts have found hackers will exploit vulnerabilities in older versions of programs that may have been fixed in later updates; thus it's important to make sure you always have the latest version of whatever programs you use, particularly your web browser.
You should also make sure to not download anything from the web, including email attachments, unless you know for sure what it is. This includes attachments on emails.
By practicing smart web behavior, consumers can avoid downloading any crippling viruses or malware.