Identity theft is big business on the Internet today. Hackers are paid for obtaining individuals’ Social Security numbers, credit card and bank account numbers, medical insurance card numbers, names, and addresses. Be vigilant when providing your personal information—know who you’re giving it to, and what they’re going to do with it—by following the tips below.
- Watch out for phishing. Phishing is an identity theft scam that uses “spoofed” or fake emails and web sites to trick people into giving out personal information such as user names and passwords, credit card numbers, or Social Security numbers. The emails or web sites usually look official at first glance, which is what makes them so successful. To avoid phishing scams, we recommend that you:
- Always be suspicious of e-mails asking for sensitive information. Email is not a secure form of communication. Organizations you do business with (including The New School) already know your account information, and will never request it from you via email.
- Never respond to an email request for personal information. If you think the message might be legitimate, look up the organization’s phone number (don’t trust the phone number in the email), call them on the phone, and provide the information that way.
- Never click on the links in an email you suspect might be phishing. If you’re unsure about a link to a site you receive in an email, hover your mouse over it. If the link text in the email doesn't match the link address, do not click on the link.
- Don’t send personal information via email. Instead, enter it into the organization’s secure web site (make sure the URL starts with “https” instead of “http”), or call them on the phone and provide the information directly to a company representative.
- Be careful sharing personal details on blogs, forums, and social media sites. Anyone can read your blog and forum posts, so don’t post personal information that could be used to impersonate you, and don’t post information about where you’ll be at a particular time. When using social media sites like Facebook and Google+, make sure that personal information is only viewable by people you know and trust.