Your identity is unique to you: it’s your name, address, social security number, financial status, credit history, mother’s maiden name and credit card numbers. It’s all you have to identify who you are other than your fingerprints. The problem is, identity can be stolen and with the wide usage of the internet, it’s becoming easier and easier to gain other people’s supposedly private information.

If you become a victim of identity theft, there are many consequences. You’ll literally spend years clearing your records (possibly credit and criminal). You’ll probably be denied credit and might even be denied jobs. You could also even be arrested for crimes you didn’t commit.

People who want someone else’s information have several ways to gain it. They can steal information from records where they work or they can look over your shoulder at the checkout line and memorize the information on your check or the numbers on your credit card. Some criminals are starting to go more high tech. They can use devices called skimmers to gain credit card numbers when the information is being transferred to the company. They also often use the internet to scam unsuspecting people into giving them private information.

Phishing is the term used to describe the act that some criminals use to gain account information from people. What they do is send emails posing as respected and established websites that often deal with money (such as eBay) asking for information. They are generally worded to get the people worried that there might be illegal activity on their account and then they ask them to follow a link and enter their personal information including account name and password. The link brings them to a site that mimics the original site (which is actually quite easy to do). When the people enter their personal information, the thieves then use it to go into the accounts and change the password so that the owner is no longer able to access their own account. The criminals then use the account to transfer money from bank accounts (if they are linked to them) or use the credit card information that people have stored there.

You can protect yourself from internet identity theft in the following ways:

- If you think you’ve received a phishing email, do not click on any links given in the email. Instead, open a new browser, type in the address to the website in question and find contact information to call or email them about the email. Remember, they already have your information and will not need you to provide it back to them.
- Be sure to use an anti-virus program as well as a firewall to protect your computer from damaging files and spyware that can track your internet movements.

Tips to Help You Prevent Identity Theft (for you and your family)

1. Limit access to your family’s social security numbers by never providing it on non-essential forms and by finding out why people are asking for it. If they want it for identifying purposes, simply request that they assign your or your family member a different identifying number.
2. Always shred any papers that have social security and account numbers.
3. Never give out your personal information over the phone or internet.
4. Protect your credit card numbers and checks when shopping so that people are not able to see them and memorize the information while waiting in line behind you.
5. Teach your children to not give out personal identifying information to anyone, especially over the internet.

www.RubyStone.com has several products to help keep you protected:
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Author's Bio: 

Ruby started RubyStone Enterprises aka
www.rubystone.com to help keep you and your little ones stay safe and secure. At
www.RubyStone.com we offer a wide range of Free Safety advice, Newsletters, guides and tips as well as the very latest in unique safety products to help you protect yourself and loved ones.

We have a variety of emergency preparedness items including a battery free cell phone charger, a power failure nightlight, solar radios, ponchos, blankets and water purification systems.

We've got the solutions to help you cope with all of these situations. Your life becomes easier and safer when you have unique safety and protection products from Rubystone.

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Copyright 2007 by Ruby Aragon. All rights reserved.