Sunday, June 3, 2012

Internet Identity Theft and How PayPal Can Help You

(Note: the author has no affiliation with PayPal other than an active account)

There is no escape from internet identity theft it seems, or is there? You know the problem. Everyone is telling you that your identity is going to be stolen and how you may come home one day to find someone has taken out a personal loan in your name, without you knowing anything about it.

Now that is seriously scary, but there is a lot that you can do to prevent identity theft. Let me give you a quick example of how this can work.

A few years ago I had a call from someone claiming to be from my credit card company. They said that first they needed to go through some of my security details, and that immediately put me on my guard! I declined to speak with them any further, but I did ask for their telephone number, a name and a reference or log number.

Having got the telephone number, I then contacted my local branch for the bank and asked them to confirm if it was one of their numbers, and it was as it happened. I then returned their call and asked why they were calling me. It turned out that someone had tried to order some windsurfing equipment from overseas, and with my card details.

We discussed my recent purchase history and decided that it may have been a firm in my own country where I live that I had given my details to for an on-line purchase. Someone there might have tried to use my details; after all they had my name, my home address and my card details, including the security number from the back of my card.

Fortunately for me and for you who are reading this, the credit card company concerned flagged this particular transaction as suspicious on two counts. The first was, it took my card over the credit limit, and the second was the fact that it was for an overseas purchase at some ungodly hour of the early morning. Turns out the credit card company's monitor our spending patterns and if something abnormal shows up it is flagged and often stopped. Now that is the sort of "spying" I do not mind!

So what has all this got to do with PayPal and Internet Identity Theft you may ask? Well, let me tell you why you should consider using PayPal as a safety net to prevent identity theft yourself.

PayPal acts like a safety net in the sense that the person or company that you are dealing with never gets to see any more of your personal details than the bare minimum to conclude the transaction. Obviously they need to know your name and address in order to know where to send your goods.

You open a free, PayPal account and you register your bank account details and your credit card details with them. They are secure and only known to you and PayPal. This is a great layer to prevent internet identity theft and stops you having to reveal any more than necessary to a supplier.

More and more companies that do business online offer the usual well know cards as payment options and PayPal as an alternative. You simply choose the PayPal option when you buy something and you are taken to your PayPal account where you log-in with your username and password, check the transaction details and then pay the invoice.

You do not even have to use a credit card if you choose not to. You simply make your debit card the primary source of funds for payment.

PayPal is not available for use in every country or every venue, so you do need to check, and they probably have very good reasons for that.

It is so easy today to become complacent when it comes to sharing our information online, and the criminals are so aware of that. At the same time, there is no need to get paranoid about it, but taking a few easy steps to protect your information can go a long way to safeguarding you from identity theft and all the heartache that comes with it.

I have always found it easy to get hold of PayPal by telephone and their staff has always been able to help me with any issues as a customer.

If you really want to prevent internet identity theft you can do no better than putting an extra layer of protection on your personal information. At the end of the day, if the thief has nothing to steal then you are much safer.

Jon Gould is the publisher of Computer Protection Gazette, a free newsletter, focused on showing you how to protect yourself from Internet Identity Theft. For a free analysis of your computer and a free subscription to the Computer Protection Gazette, drop by today.

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