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There are many things you can do to reduce chances of having your identity stolen off of the internet.

1. First, never use email to send your social security number or credit card numbers over the internet.

2. Only shop online with companies you know. And make sure the site you are shopping on uses security or encryption software to process credit cards. You can identify sites like this by looking for the little padlock in the lower portion of your browser. This icon is not a guarantee of a secure site, but might provide you at least some assurance. Also, look for sites that have security verification by companies like Verisign or Thawte.

3. Never use a debit card while shopping on the net. Instead use a credit card with which you can dispute the charges if something goes wrong.

4. Be careful of what sites you give your personal information to. Never give anyone your bank account number, social security number, or other personal information that isn't absolutely necessary to complete your transaction.

5. Never give out your Internet passwords. Change your passwords often, and memorize them instead of writing them down. And don't make the passwords obvious.

6. Be sure and check your credit rating at least twice a year. And if you feel someone might have gained access to your credit card numbers, place a fraud alert on your credit with the credit reporting companies. With this you will be notified if anyone tries to sign up for credit in your name for a period of about 6 months. There are also several services available that provide the ability to keep an eye on your credit and also alert you of attempts made to use your credit fraudulently.

Here are some helpful links online for more information on internet identity theft.

www.ftc.gov
www.consumer.gov
www.privacyrights.org
www.ifccfbi.gov