Chapter 34. Securing Your Accounts

How safe do you feel with all your online accounts? I know when I really think about all the financial data I have on the Web —technically accessible to anyone — I get a little queasy. In thepreceding practice, I discuss spam, including the most dangerous of allspam — the phishing e-mail. It's a kind of e-mail that tries to get you toreveal your passwords and important data about your accounts. I getthese e-mails regularly and try to never click the links in e-mails that saythey lead to "secure" sites. But just when I think I'm careful (and lulledinto complacency), an e-mail comes along containing a link that I click. When I soon realize that I've almost logged on to a fake financial site, thepanic sets in.

Yep, I've done it — been caught by a phishing e-mail, that is. Should this same thing happen to you, the best course of action is to immediately log out and close your browser window. As fast as you can, open a new window, type in the legitimate Web site URL — whether it be PayPal, your bank or your investment advisor — and log in again. Change your password and your heart will stop feeling like it's about to jump out of your chest.

You've seen the commercials on TV poking fun at the very real problem of identity theft. If you ask around your circle of friends, no doubt you'll find someone who knows someone who's been in this pickle. It can take years to undo the damage caused by identity theft, so a better plan is to stay vigilant ...

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