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Prevent Identity Theft Online

You don't want personal details getting into the wrong hands so it's crucial to take care when surfing the web. Lets see where to get the best advice to protect your ID

Use Google's expert advice 

Google has teamed up with the Citizens Advice Bureau for its 'Good to Know' campaign, which offers tips on staying safe online. One of the things you can do on the site, under the 'Manage your data' tab, is control exactly what personal information you share with Google and other search engines, websites and advertisers. The tips explain how you can delete your cookies across the web, change the privacy settings in all your Google accounts and edit what advertisers can learn about you. The Jargon Buster (ht tp://bit.ly/jargon281) is very useful, too.

Create simple but strong passwords 

A recently released list of the most common passwords showed that easily guessed terms such as 'password' and '123456' are still alarmingly popular. To avoid using an obvious password, read Microsoft's excellent online advice, which offers tips such as using the whole keyboard when creating password (letters, numbers and symbols). There's also a secure password checker, so you can see how safe your new secret word is, and advice on how to make a complex password easy to remember.

Prevent ID theft on your phone 

The Android and Apple security app Lookout has a great blog packed with tips, including advice on the safest shopping apps, how to avoid the latest malware threats and how to back up your data effectively. If you want to use your phone for mobile banking, Lookout's Top 10 Mobile Banking Security Tips are a must.

Prevent ID-theft insurance 

For an extra level of protection; you can buy identity-theft insurance using Moneysupermarket's credit-monitoring price-comparison service. Many companies' packages include a 24/7 fraud-monitoring service that checks your online accounts and credit report for signs of anything unusual, sending you text or email alerts, and offering free fraud insurance. If you still fall victim, the company can assign a case worker to clean up any mess on your behalf.

Protect the identity of a deceased relative 

Criminals sometimes use the identities of dead people to commit fraud. If you're worried this might happen to one of your relatives, read ldentitytheft.org's helpful guide on how to register a death and make the accounts secure. The site is run in partnership with the Home Office, Royal Mail, Identity and Passport Service and the Financial Services Authority, among other organizations. It aims to give advice on all aspects of protecting your identity both on and off line.

Know who to contact if you're a victim 

If you find yourself hacked or you've been ripped off by an online scammer, visit Action Fraud. The site, created by the National Fraud Authority, is the place to officially report a fraud, but also has links to useful organizations where you can get further advice. Helpfully, it has the latest information on fraud and scams that are currently doing the rounds. If you're worried about whether an email or post is dodgy, check this site first to see if anyone else has f lagged it as being dangerous.

Check the latest scams 

Millersmiles has a huge archive of phishing and identity-theft email scams, but its best feature is that it's updated weekly, so visit it regularly to check the latest online threats. It’s Scam Alert Email RSS feed sends you the latest scams as and when they're identified. The site also lets you search for scams by subject, content and, most usefully, by sender (for example, 'Lioyds Bank').

Report late or lost post 

You can be careful to always shop from a trustworthy site, but there's still a risk that your post could get lost. If the items are being sent by Royal Mail, you can report them as late or missing using the official form. Your package will be checked against the sorting lists and, where applicable, a tracking number. This will give you an estimated time for delivery, or provide information you can give to the retailer to claim a refund or a replacement.

Take the Identity Theft Challenge Quiz 

Do you know the difference between phishing and key logging? Or what SSL stands for? Test your knowledge of how to protect your online identity and what to be wary of while surfing or shopping with this 10 -question quiz from HowStuffWorks (www.howstuffworks.com). A couple of the questions have a US bias, but they're still worth answering.

'Spot the phishing scam' quiz 

You may know what a phishing scam is, but are you confident you could always spot one? This tricky 'Phish or No Phish' quiz from VeriSign presents a series of official sites and phishing sites side by side, and asks you to identify which is genuine. The quiz sounds straightforward, but there were a few phishing methods used that even we didn't spot straight away. For each answer, the quiz explains how that particular technique works, and includes tips on spotting them. It explains the various techniques used by scammers to try and fool you.

Download the Rough Guide to Staying Safe Online 

This free PDF guide from GetSafeOnline is a great starting point if you, a relative or a friend are just getting started on the web. It explains technical jargon, tells you what to look out for when shopping and banking online, and highlights the pitfalls many people encounter, especially when buying holidays and tickets.

The Future of ID Protection

Here's what we could be using in the future to prevent ID theft

One-Time Passwords

After logging into a service with a username, you are sent a password, usually in a text message or email, that can only be entered once and expires after a certain time.

Single Sign-On (SSO) 

Rather than typing a different password for each account, you use just one password to access everything via a single sign-in page or an authentication app, such as GriDsure's Solo Login (www.gridsure.com/solo.shtm). You configure and verify your data and online accounts within the application.

Two-Step Verification

To log in using two-step verification you need to use 'something you know', such as a password or an answer to a memorable question, with 'something you have', such as a smartcard, token, key fob or code sent by text. Smartcards contain chips that can only be read by dedicated readers built into PCs and laptops, while tokens and key fobs have small screens with changing numerical codes. To access an account, you need to enter your password, then the code displayed on the device.


Biometric technology will be built into computers to identify the user by reading fingerprints, or recognizing voices or faces.