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Protect yourself on the Internet

June 17, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Some 9 million Americans will have their identities stolen this year. Western Michigan University doesn't want you to be one of them.

It can take years to reverse the personal and financial damage caused by a stolen identity. Avoid falling victim to identity theft and other Internet scams by safeguarding your personal information and following these guidelines for smart online communication.

These same steps can help protect you from sexual predators, stalkers and other people looking to take advantage of you.

  • 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 kind of information by e-mail or by following a given link.
  • Never publish your full address, date of birth or phone number on social networking sites. Everything you post on social networking sites is public information, regardless of the privacy restrictions you have set on your account.
  • Always use passwords that are not easily guessed and contain a combination of letters and numbers. Change your passwords often and don't share your passwords with anyone.
  • Always logoff and exit from the browser completely after viewing your account information, paying a bill or making any other online transaction.
  • Always use an up-to-date browser with all current security patches applied.

Students, faculty and staff members who receive questionable e-mail messages should delete them immediately, advises Thom Myers, WMU director of electronic communication.

"Even if the sender claims to be from WMU, the IRS, or your bank or credit union, do not reply and do not provide any information to the sender," Myers says. "No legitimate organization should ever ask you to provide or confirm sensitive information via e-mail or a third-party Web site."

Learn more

To learn more about how to avoid identity theft and what to do if your identity is stolen, visit the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft site.

For more tips on protecting yourself and your personal information on the Internet, visit OnGuardOnline.gov.

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