EDS' Eight Tips for Consumers to Protect Themselves from Identity Theft



    PLANO, Texas, Aug. 7 /CNW/ -- Every four seconds, an identity is stolen
in the U.S. Victims can spend years recovering from theft and attempting to
clean up the mess it leaves behind, including lost job opportunities, refusal
of loans for houses and cars and even jail time as a result of false data in
law enforcement records. The recent news that the Justice Department will
prosecute 11 hackers who gained access to more than 41 million credit and
debit cards is proof positive that precautions need to be taken by consumers
to protect their identity. At the same time, consumers and businesses alike
want to utilize the convenience of electronic payments, online commerce and
other technology-based exchanges.
    To help you keep your identity in shape without overly restricting your
daily transactions, EDS Security and Privacy experts have identified EDS'
eight tips to help consumers protect themselves from identity theft while
still being able to share relevant information with those who need it:
    Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited
request.
    Be wary of calls or emails you receive from organizations which ask for
personal information. Always ask or look for contact information on
unsolicited requests to ensure the caller or sender is not a part of an
identity theft ring. If you believe the content may be suspect, contact the
company yourself to check on the request and the need for this data. Reputable
companies will rarely ask you to divulge this information when they call you,
and are always willing to verify their identity to you.
    Review your account statements regularly to ensure that all transactions
are in order.
    Identity thieves typically use stolen information for only a short period
of time to avoid being caught.  By reviewing statements when they arrive, or
utilizing your bank's online account options, you could detect a theft and
limit its damage. If you suspect a security breach, act quickly by contacting
the companies you do business with immediately. They want to help their
customers have a positive experience, and will work to make sure the problem
is resolved -- for you and for future consumers.
    
    Check your credit report regularly.
    
    It is good practice to check your credit report on a regular basis to
ensure you are not a victim of identity theft.  Consumers can now get a free
copy of their credit report annually through one of the three major credit
bureaus: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.  The Identity Theft Web site set
up by the United States Federal Trade Commission
(http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft//) is also a great source of
information about identity theft, including advice and guidance on the steps
to take if your identity is stolen.
    
    Beware of "phishing" e-mails.
    
    Many legitimate companies are utilizing e-mail as a quick and convenient
way to connect with their customers and quickly launch new products and
services.  It's a great vehicle for communication.  Unfortunately, identity
thieves are taking advantage of this virtual tool as a way to steal personal
information and target intended victims. "Phishing" is one of the
fastest-growing forms of online fraud for identity thieves. Phishing emails
look increasingly similar to the sites they are trying to emulate, such as a
banking institution or credit card company, and will often address you by
name, making them even more convincing.  It is important to be wary of e-mails
you receive from organizations asking for personal information. Reputable
businesses will never ask you to divulge personal information from an
unsolicited request. Thieves sending these e-mails usually ask you to click on
a link in the email that takes you to a phony Web site. Once on the phony
site, your computer can be infected with spyware or a virus without you being
aware of it.
    If you are interested in further exploring the contents of such an email,
it is best to go to the site yourself by typing the Web site name directly
into your browser (rather than clicking on the link provided in the email) to
ensure you are not being directed to a phony Web site. A slightly skeptical
attitude toward unsolicited e-mails is always the best policy, especially if
you've never done business with a company before receiving an e-mail
solicitation from them.
    
    Do not use personal information for passwords.
    
    Passwords are one of the best ways to make sure that the right people are
accessing the right information.  They allow you to quickly and easily enter
into your online banking account, exchange personal information and make
electronic transactions. But using information such as Social Security
Numbers, account numbers, birth dates, names, e-mail addresses or telephone
numbers as passwords can make you an easy target.  Be sure your passwords
contain at least eight characters and include numbers or symbols. Do not write
down passwords or PINs to avoid misuse.
    Update anti-virus and firewall software on your PC and apply critical
security patches to your PC's operating system on a regular basis.
    If your anti-virus software does not have built-in spyware detection,
invest in a spyware scanner as well as an anti-virus package.  Run scans once
a week and remove any unwanted viruses, adware or spyware that is detected.
Also, check with the operating system vendor's Web site at least monthly and
install any new critical system patches and updates. Many vendors now offer
automatic updates to your software; this is usually a good idea. Taking these
steps will reduce, and in most cases, eliminate the potential for your PC to
be infected with new viruses and worms.
    Take advantage of the fraud prevention services offered by your financial
institutions.
    Most financial service companies today offer a variety of services to
help minimize the risk of identity theft, but still allow you to access your
accounts and transaction history whenever and from wherever you need it. These
services include simple email alerts regarding unusual or irregular activity
such as transactions over a specified limit; downloadable tool bars designed
to help identify scam websites; and the ability to establish temporary
one-time account numbers for on-line purchases.
    Review privacy and security policies of the companies you do business
with.
    All reputable companies post a privacy and security policy or statement
on their Web site. This should tell you what information the company collects,
how it is used and what is shared. If you are concerned about your information
being shared with other companies, make sure there is an option to keep your
information confidential. Review the Web pages carefully to see if you can opt
out of having your information shared.  If this option is not offered,
consider whether you want to do business with this company.
    
    About EDS
    
    EDS is a leading global technology services company delivering business
solutions to its clients. EDS founded the information technology outsourcing
industry more than 46 years ago. Today, EDS delivers a broad portfolio of
information technology and business process outsourcing services to clients in
the manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, communications, energy,
transportation, and consumer and retail industries and to governments around
the world. Learn more at eds.com.

    
     CONTACTS:
     Annabelle Baxter - EDS
     972 605 0978
     annabelle.baxter@eds.com

    




For further information:

For further information: Annabelle Baxter of EDS, +1-972-605-0978,
annabelle.baxter@eds.com

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