Online Identify Theft More Common Than You May Think

Feb 24, 2009

It’s not too surprising to note that online identity theft is actually a much worse problem than you might think. The question becomes what do you do to protect yourself?

Being aware of what is going on while you are online is crucial to being protected against those who would vampire your identity. Spammers nab your email and find out lots of information on you just by plugging your email address into Google.

Then of course, there are the phishing schemes designed to get you to innocently cough up items like your bank account information, or your PayPal account information. That’s one of the latest phishing schemes, a note supposedly from PayPal about your account being frozen because allegedly some “unauthorized third party accessed your account three months ago and transferred funds.”

You do have to give spammers and pfhishers some credit for their ingenuity. One wonders how successful they may be if they attempted to get money the legitimate way instead of through backdoor chicanery?

Despite the dangers of being online and potentially having your identity stolen, protecting yourself is a bit like being smart offline. You wouldn’t just hand your bank account number or PIN over to any Tom, Dick or Harriet in the offline world, so why would you do that online? This dilemma all boils down to self-protection. This doesn’t mean you need to be totally paranoid about it, but there are some things you should look for before you divulge certain information.

Prior to clicking that YES button to buy something, check the bottom of your IE window for a gold lock icon. If you see it, good stuff, you are in a highly secure area. If you don’t see that icon, DO NOT click that yes button, instead call the company if they have a contact phone number listed online.

Look for signs that your transaction is being processed by a secured socket layer (SSL) and encrypted. You will see claims on the site boasting payments are processed by SSL. Many of the larger online retailers have this service; for example, PayPal, eBay, etc. One other thing you should watch for is the address bar in your browser that shows where you are when you are online (the site address). Look for the designation for the address to start with “https” (the “s” means secure) rather than the usual “http”.

There are ways to legally deal with people who have stolen your identity online, but realize that they need to be caught and charged first in order for that to happen. If you have had your identity stolen online and charges have resulted, speak to a competent lawyer to find out how to proceed.

Daniel Wannamaker is a board certified criminal law specialist and has 24 years of criminal trial experience with proven results as a Dallas criminal defense lawyer practicing in Austin criminal defense and Houston Texas. To learn more, visit

Dallas criminal defense lawyer, Houston criminal defense lawyer, Austin criminal defense lawyer.