Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when personal information is stolen and used for another person's gain. It can be as simple as credit card theft or as complicated as someone assuming the victim's complete identity. With an increase in online shopping and banking, identity theft has become a major concern. In order to protect customers, many businesses conduct transactions through secure web sites. SSL (Secure Socket Layer) technology encrypts data preventing anyone without a website provided certificate key from viewing it. When sending personal or credit card information over the Internet, it is reassuring if you can verify the web site uses SSL technology. SSL confirmation can be verified one of three ways:

1. Security is associated with locks therefore many browser windows use a padlock icon in the bottom right side of the status bar to represent secure status. If the lock is closed the window is secure. You can also click on the padlock for further information and verification to make sure it is not just a deceptive picture.

2. Look at the prefix part of the web site address. Most addresses start with the http:// prefix followed by the www address such as http://www.familysafecomputers.org. A secure web site denotes the letter "s" in the prefix such as https://.

3. SSL certificate providers/vendors usually provide a logo or seal to the web site using its' product. This recognized seal is to be placed in plain view and intended to provide peace of mind for customers who may be more familiar with it than the web site they are patronizing. The seal should be interactive by providing security information when clicked or hovered over. Some primary SSL certificate providers are: Verisign, GeoTrust, Thawte, InstantSSL, Entrust, Baltimore and SSL.com. If in doubt, research the provider on the Internet to ensure legitimacy. It is important to understand that even these indicators can be mimicked to trick potential users. However, I would rather give my personal information to a website with these characteristics than one without.

More info about identity theft:

http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft

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