If you were one of the 450,000 Yahoo.com computer users who had their credentials (read: sign-on ID, password, personally identifiable information) stolen, would you be at risk? The answer is: it depends…on how much personal information you placed on your profile page. If you were careful to not divulge personal information on your Yahoo profile, your probability of identity theft will be minimal; and changing your password will probably be enough to protect you. See Your Internet Profile: And What You Should Know About It for some background information.
If, on the other hand you filled your profile with personal information such as your name, address, and date of birth; that’s not good. Your “credentials” have enabled a cyber crime organization to impersonate you to credit card companies to take out credit in your name, and most likely have approached your banking institution to withdraw funds…all of your funds! This scenario, let’s term it the “what were you thinking” scenario; will require years of credit monitoring, letters to creditors, credit bureaus, and hiring a lawyer.
If you are not one of the 450,000 Yahoo users whose credentials were stolen, take a deep breath, thank your lucky stars, and get to work “de-personalizing” your profiles…all of them…right now. In spite of what the social networking sites such as Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, and LinkedIn say about being social and sharing your personal life; you must resist the temptation to be open, friendly, and trusting with your personal information. It’s as simple as that. Easier said than done for some folks, I’m sure, but nonetheless it must be done. Your future may depend on it.
As always, I appreciate your comments on this subject…so please do. And be careful out there…it’s extremely dangerous these days.
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Home computing is a blast…keep it safe, productive and enjoyable.
lubicp(at)yahoo.com and @paulsinternet on Twitter.