Identity theft scams are on the rise in the United States. The Internet is easily one of the most insidious tools used to steal personal and credit information from individuals. "Phishing" and "spoofing" are two of the most common types of identity scams used by criminals today. These online scams usually involve fake e-mails which are designed to trick consumers into sending personal information over the Internet. Consumers think they are receiving the e-mails from personal friends or other trusted sources. They may also believe they are sending information through a secure internet connection.
Some types of online scams include e-mail spoofing, where the source of the mail is misleading, IP spoofing, where e-mails are sent directly to a secure IP address, and link alteration, where clicking on the return address sends the user to a hacker's website. These high-tech scams are difficult to identify, and you may not even know your identity has been stolen for months.
As a rule, you should generally not provide identifying information such as your social security number, address, or passwords to any unsolicited sender. If you use the Internet for banking or account management and you need to update your account information, be sure to open a new window and retype the IP address before you enter any new information. If you think you've been the victim of identity theft, order a credit report immediately. Look for changes in personal information, new accounts, late payments, and inquiries into your credit file.