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There are people who make their living pretending to be someone else. Celebrity impersonators entertain us and law enforcers mislead people in order to further their investigations. Both are legal. Those people who assume the identity of another in order to commit fraud, however, are impostors engaging in a criminal act, one that may put you at risk of identity theft. Impostors on the internet will try to gain your trust or trick you into giving them your personal information.
What can I do?
Impostors can use personal data to commit fraud quite easily. When was the last time a clerk actually confirmed your credit card signature? It doesn't take much use a stolen userid and password to hack an email account and send out correspondence that might later haunt you, or use personal information to apply for a credit card.
As much as possible, keep your personal information (userids, passwords, bank accounts, credit card numbers, SIN etc) PRIVATE.
Read privacy statements on the web sites you use. Understand how your information will be used, shared, stored and/or archived. Will it show up later on search engines like Google or on other, yet-to-be-invented, web pages?
Don’t reveal everything about yourself on social networking sites like Facebook and take some time to understand and implement security options. The more information an impostor can gather, the more credible and successful their fraudulent activities will be.
If you are asked for any personal information online – contact information, financial information or any personal details – take steps to ascertain that the person seeking it is who they say they are. For example, ask them for a business phone number, an email address and some independent verification of their identity. In general, if you are providing information to a commercial web site or a site run by a large organization, they will provide specific information about privacy protection and about what they are doing to safeguard the information you are giving them. Knowing this, fraudsters will often try to imitate the logos and trademarks of other companies in order to steal from you. If you get unsolicited emails from your bank, for instance, that ask you to update passwords and the like, call your bank. It is extremely unlikely that any company with which you regularly do business would contact you in this way.
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