by: Kathleen Pickering http://www.kathleenpickering.com
Will the real Kathleen please step forward?
While we may seek to keep our identity private, either by costumes or maintaining a low profile (the latter of which I have no idea how to do!), I learned a really hard lesson over this weekend.
I learned that the potential for identity theft could even happen to me.
Early Saturday morning I was awakened by an urgent phone caller telling me that my computer (which was in “sleep” mode) was downloading dangerous viruses that would soon crash my hard drive.
I questioned the caller. He said he was with Microsoft Windows and that I was wasting precious time by asking questions. Now, I’d like to say I was half asleep, but my gut reaction was to hang up on this dude and I ignored myself.
What an idiot!
When will I learn to trust my gut? I’m telling you. No more Ms. Nice Piks in this corner. No. No. No.
I am embarrassed to tell you that I trotted into my office and gave this clown remote access to my computer so he could show me the infected files which turned out to be error and warning messages typical of Microsoft files. Then he proceeded to try to sell me an antivirus program for $130.
I said, no. He bullied me some more then I hung up. But no, that wasn’t enough. He was still remotely connected. When I notated on the screen that he should exit my computer, he had the audacity to tell me to wait--twice!
In hindsight. I should have turned the darned thing off, but hindsight is 20/20—and the slimy dog had control of the mouse. Sheesh!
I posted the episode on Facebook and folks responded saying they’d had the same or similar experience and the guy really was trying to get me to by an expensive antivirus program. I hope that was all. Others offered advice on restoring my PC before the event to eliminate any viruses he may have planted.
Then, I went and purchased an Identity Theft system to monitor my PC. I learned some interesting info and want to share it with you.
There are plenty of sites out there to give info on how to protect against identity theft. Nextadvisor.com is a good place. Here’s a link to compare Identity Theft services: Compare IT Services.
I also found tips to prevent Identity Theft. One point of vulnerability is storing your data on Cloud or DropBox—remote sites to hold files instead of on your own computer. You end up trusting your on-line server to protect your stored files from hackers. Word is that the law is nebulous over who is liable for data theft on these sites. Since Cloud and similar services are free, the user is usually held responsible for any breach of information. Do your homework before placing valuable information out there!
Here are a few tips to avoid Identity Theft:
1. Instead of signing the back of your credit card, write “request ID”.
2. Shred everything that has your name on it.
3. Destroy Digital Data. Erase any info on discarded computers, smartphones, etc. that hold data on you. Break them, if all else fails.
4. Read through statements carefully. Be sure your being billed for items/services you purchased.
5. Don’t leave mail in the mailbox. Easy target for looters.
6. Check your credit reports at least once per year.
I bought Identity Guard for my computer because not only does it monitor my SS#, bank accounts, loans, credit cards and the use of my name, phone and address, Identity Guard monitors my PC with an anti-phishing and virus protection called Zone Alarm for the duration of membership. I feel pretty confident that I’ve protected my security at last.
Another site, 5Identity Theft Protection, offers tips to protect social media activity and internet passwords. Here’s the link. This site is loaded with info: Identity Theft Protection
Here are some additional warning signals I found on 5Identity Theft Protection to tell if your identity has been compromised:
- you are denied credit or loans for no apparent reason
- monthly credit card statements, utility bills, etc. stop arriving
- you receive a credit card without asking for one
- you receive bills from places you haven’t been
- you receive notices from collection agencies
- some of your mail is missing.
Hope this info helps and encourages you to think of me if someone asks for access to your computer. If they call you, the answer is, NO! (I know, you already know this!) Be sure to think twice before putting your valuable information into the ether-net for purchases and signing up at different sites. Always check that the site is secure. In closing, I wish that your identity only be lost as far as the next costume you wear!