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Don't fall for Internet scams

Sept. 1, 2009

KALAMAZOO--More than 9 million Americans will have their identities stolen this year. Western Michigan University wants to make sure you're not one of them.

Personal security is an afterthought for many college students. In a recent survey conducted by the Identity Theft Resource Center, only 21 percent of college students said they were concerned about having their identities stolen. Yet the 18-29 year-old age bracket continues to account for almost 30 percent of all identity theft complaints.

There are many tactics used for stealing personal information. Thieves rummage through trash looking for bills and papers that contain personal information. They steal credit card numbers, mail, purses and wallets. More recently, they've put the Internet to work for them, using electronic data breaches, computer viruses, phishing and Internet scams to siphon billions of dollars each year from unsuspecting, ordinary people just like you.

You can avoid falling victim to identity theft and other Internet scams by protecting your personal information and following these guidelines for safe online communication.

  • Never send sensitive information such as your Social Security number, passwords, or credit card or bank account numbers by e-mail. Don't reply to messages asking you to provide this information.

  • Never publish your full address, date of birth or phone number on social networking sites. Everything you post is public information, regardless of the privacy restrictions you have set.

  • Never make an online purchase before first verifying the legitimacy of the company or individual making the sale. Search for complaints and scam alerts on the seller and the item you're looking to purchase.

  • Always use passwords that are not easily guessed and contain a combination of letters and numbers. Change your passwords often and don't share them with anyone.

  • Always logoff and exit the browser completely after viewing your account information, paying a bill or making an online transaction.

  • Always use an up-to-date browser with all current security patches applied.

If you receive a questionable e-mail message, forward it to abuse@wmich.edu, then delete it immediately, advises Thom Myers, WMU director of electronic communication.

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Media contact: Tonya Durlach, (269) 387-8400, tonya.durlach@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400