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Understanding privacy issues and protecting oneís privacy in todayís technologically advanced world should be a major concern for all. Identity theft and credit card theft are on the rise. Over eleven million people were victims of identity theft in the U.S alone as of 2009. Computers are everywhere - more than 80% of Americans now have at least one computer in their homes, and almost all (92%) have internet access. This makes internet privacy a relatively new concern but one that is very important. With just a few simple steps, protecting your privacy online will become second nature. You should not be afraid of using the internet for shopping, etc., - just be aware and learn a few tips to keep your personal information safe and secure. Credit card protection is another privacy issue. If your credit cards are lost or stolen, it remains usable until you notify the issuer, so itís vital to do so as soon as possible. Most credit card companies have free 24-hour customer support service. Unfortunately, itís possible for a thief to potentially charge thousands of dollars on your card before itís cancelled. There are credit card protection steps you can take to minimize the risk of your cards being stolen (please see special section on this topic.)

To prevent identity theft, shred, shred, shred all documents with your credit card numbers on them, ATM numbers, even any papers with your name and address on it. Go paperless is a good idea. This means signing up with your bank and credit card companies to receive your statements online. This way, there will never be a need to throw away anything in the trash that might give thieves access to your account numbers. Some people are worried about doing this online, but itís becoming more and more common and should be safe - as long as the website is a secure one. All secured websites will have a small lock in the lower right corner of the page, or in the status bar for the page. Look for this lock whenever you visit a website and if it doesnít appear - do not offer any type of personal information, do not use the website at all.

Young adults are especially at risk for identity theft because they tend to engage in riskier activities that leave them vulnerable. Also, college students often use shared computers, such as at a library. Be especially careful anytime youíre using a shared computer. If at all possible, do not shop or do any type of personal transactions in this scenario. If you must use a public computer, be observant and make sure no one is looking over your shoulder. Another tip - with cell phones so commonplace in todayís world, be aware of whoís around you when making business or private calls. Either wait until you are at home, or in the privacy of your car to call your bank or other financial institution. By being aware and following just a few safety tips, the threat of your credit card and other personal information being stolen is much less likely to happen.


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