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Because you can control the information you choose to release, you are the single best person to protect your personal information. There are some easy ways do this like keeping anything with any personal or account information in a safe place and providing your information only to trusted sources.
Always be skeptical when providing your personal information. If you can't verify the legitimacy of the government entity, business or person requesting your information by calling the parent organization and verifying their contact with you, or if you don't understand why a certain piece of information is needed, do not provide it.
A criminal may send you an email that looks like it has come from a legitimate government entity or business. These phony emails ask you to go to a Web site that also looks legitimate and provide your personal account information. Some of these phony e-mails even caution that if you don't do this, your accounts may be suspended or worse. But the website is as fake as the email and is a fraud attempt.
This is one of the most common types of online fraud, and is called "phishing or spoofing." Criminals send these phony email messages or direct someone to a fraudulent Web site for one goal: to steal your personal and financial information. Legitimate entities will never ask for your personal information via email.
If you should ever receive an email that appears to be suspicious, do not reply to it or click on the link it provides. Simply delete it. To report a suspicious email that uses the Commonwealth of Virginia's name or the name of one of its agencies, you can forward it to CommonwealthSecurity@VITA.Virginia.Gov
Spyware, viruses, worms and trojans are all malicious programs that are loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and commonly referred to as malware. Whether the goal of these programs is to capture or destroy information, to attack other computers or to swamp your computer with advertising, you don't want them.
Viruses and worms spread by infecting computers and then replicating. Spyware and trojans disguise themselves as a legitimate application and embed themselves into your computer, to monitor your activity, collect information and deliver it back to online criminals.
All are serious threats to the security of your computer.
You don't have to be an expert in computers to protect yourself from online fraud and identity theft. Make certain that your computer has the tools it needs to protect you! Make sure that you have up to date anti-spyware, anti-virus and a personal firewall installed on your computer. There are many of these products available that will help you prevent criminals from gaining access to your computer and stealing your personal information.
You are subjected to endless pop-up windows
You are redirected to Web sites other than the one you typed into your Web browser
New, unexpected toolbars appear in your Web browser
New, unexpected icons appear in the task tray at the bottom of your screen
Your browser's home page suddenly changed
The search engine your browser opens when you click "search" has been changed
Certain keys fail to work in your browser (e.g., the tab key doesn't work when you are moving to the next field within a form)
Random Windows error messages begin to appear
Your computer suddenly seems very slow when opening programs or processing tasks (saving files, etc.)
There are several easy ways to protect your computer against malware: