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Five Ways You Can Safeguard Your Credit and Identity

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According to the latest numbers, the FTC received over 250,000 complaints about identity theft in 2010. That are just numbers reported to the FTC. Identity thefts that are reported to the FTC only represent a small portion of total identity thefts in America. Statistics report that there are over 10 million cases of identity theft in 2010. So yes, identity theft is something you should definitely worry about. However, up to an extent, identity theft can be mitigated by taking precautions. Below are tips to help protect you from identity and credit theft. Follow this guide and it will save you a huge headache later on in life. Yes it is true that you will never completely shield yourself against identity theft. But by following these steps, you can definitely decrease your risk by a large amount.

1. Be wary of people near you, especially those who look like they are snooping. These are people who like to always glance at what you are doing. Also, be aware of your surroundings when you are working in public. Try to have a protective screen whenever necessary. I am especially careful in library because I am connected to a public network and there are a vast amount of people there.

2. Make sure to completely destroy all digital data. Shred paper documents containing any information about your accounts. Thieves have been known to retrieve sensitive information from recycle cans. In the same manner, if you want to get rid of your computer, make sure that you thoroughly erase all data and also try to break the harddrive, if possible. When I give away stuff or sell hard drives, I always make sure to do a software wipe at least twice over.

3. Always protect your digital devices (such as laptops and phones) with a password. Internet access is abundant and so you definitely do not want unwarranted access to your stuff. Speaking of which, also always protect your home network with a firewall and a password. People who pry on open networks can steal personal information on your system. On my mobile phone, I have a password to unlock the phone and another password to unlock my sensitive apps.

4. Have an alarm system. Even a sign that you have a home security system is usually a good deterrent as thieves are very wary of houses with security system. Once the alarm goes off, they have to make a run for it or else they will get caught. Alarm systems usually take awhile to disarm and so are often-times not worth it.

5. Sign up for a credit monitoring service such as MyFico. They will alert you of any odd transactions or anything new on your credit. Also, sign up for fraud protection with your credit card and bank if they don’t already provide one for you. They come in very handy as they will alert you of odd activity on your account. Also make sure you have fraud protection on all your credit and debit cards.

By using the tips I posted above, you can largely decrease the chance of having your identity stolen and your credit profile ruined. Remember, the biggest repercussion of a stolen identity is the lasting effect it has on your credit. So save yourself the hassle and protect yourself because it is a big hassle having to repair your credit profile after an identity theft. Use the tips above and it will greatly reduce your chances of having your credit ruined and your identity stolen.

If you like to learn more about improving your credit score or possibly removing bad items from your credit report you should definitely check out Your Credit Score Range


Written by Trent Johnson

July 27th, 2011 at 8:53 am

Five Simple Tips That Can Protect Your Identity

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Statistics show that every three seconds someone’s identity is stolen. This means that every one of us is a target and we must learn how to protect our lives, credit, and identity. If you choose to look away thinking it will never happen to you, you could be asking for trouble. Someday, a creditor or the IRS could call you to inform you that you owe a lot more money than you thought. Then you will have to go through the time-consuming process of proving you are innocent. Why go through that when there are things you can do proactively to ensure your identity remains safe?

Here’s what you can do:

1. Know where you stand with each of the three major credit bureaus. You are entitled by federal law to obtain a copy of your credit reports free each year.

2. Opt out of unsolicited credit card offers. The Federal Trade Commission offers a phone number you can call to stop all unsolicited mail and telemarketing calls, including pre-approved credit card applications. Avoiding these can help you avoid identity theft.

3. If you suspect you’ve already become a victim of , put fraud alerts on your credit report. This will require lenders to follow extra precautionary measures prior to opening any new accounts for a credit card, car loan, cell phone, etc. in your name. It can help protect you from credit fraud and identity theft; however, keep in mind that not only is the law difficult to enforce, it only protects you from new account fraud. So consider it just one part of identity theft protection.

4. Buy a paper shredder and make a habit of using it regularly. Shred everything that could give someone else personal insight into who you are, including any and all correspondence that mentions your valuable personal information.

5. Possibly the most important thing you can do is hire professionals to help you protect your identity for you. There are many services, such as www.IDENTITYGUARD.com, that can offer you the affordable credit monitoring protection you need.


Written by Shawne M.J. Patrick

May 26th, 2010 at 10:17 am

A List Of Benefits Resulting From Credit Monitoring

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Because your credit can affect such a large amount of different parts of your life – from getting other credit cards and loans, to securing a rental property or even a job – many people are now making an effort to discover what theirs is. Credit monitoring can help because gives you access to your credit report and credit ratings.

If you discover the information in your report is not correct, you can work to fix the errors. In fact, many of these services will immediately update you when certain changes occur, so you can simply keep on top of your report and guarantee its accuracy.

Employing a credit monitoring service is also helpful as it can supply a kind of identity protection. Why is that important? Because, nowadays, identity theft has become a common fear – and is beginning to become a standard problem. Knowing somebody is keeping an eye open for indications of ID theft can help you to avoid being impacted by it. Even by simply monitoring your credit score frequently you can help spot accounts that should not be on it – a sign that somebody else could be using your identity.

In addition, reviewing your credit report can help ensure that changes in your basic information, such as your name, are properly passed on to the credit offices. Credit monitoring can also give you confidence. You will know that you do everything you can to keep your credit protected and your identity safe from others. Plus, knowing somebody is helping you keep an eye fixed on things – someone that might catch the details you miss – can be reassuring and take some of the pressure off you to discover any issues on your own.

Just be certain to do the research before you sign up with a credit monitoring service. Some offer more benefits than others, and the pricetag can vary greatly. To get the most for your money, check out buyer reviews about the services you are considering. See which one has the best reviews and reputation.

There is no point in enrolling for a cheap service that doesn’t offer you much – it is usually easily worth paying a bit more to get better credit monitoring.


Written by Shawne M.J. Patrick

February 26th, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Health Care Fraud And You

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Millions of Americans feel the effects of health care fraud without ever being aware of it. This is a growing problem that takes each and every one of us to fight. If you know of anyone who has committed this type of crime then you should report them to the proper authorities immediately. This is a problem that will only grow worse unless we work together to put a stop to it.

Even our insurance premiums may be affected. When someone files a false claim and insurance companies pay out on it then they have to get that money back. They don’t get it from the person who files the claim but from everyone who has insurance with them. No matter who files that claim it is all policy holders who pay in the end.

Government run programs are often the target of fraud. These programs are paid for by each and every one of us through tax dollars. When someone commits fraud it not only costs us but it could mean others are not getting the care they need. It may also mean the programs won’t be around when we need them our selves.

Because of fraud in the health care system, some procedures and medications may not be available to those who need them most. Some of these could be life saving but instead people suffer and possibly die because of those who take advantage of the system or abuse narcotics. No person should have to live in pain because of other peoples addictions.

Health care providers are guilty as well. Every time a bill is padded or they charge for a procedure that wasn’t done this is fraud. Some doctors and hospitals have even invented ghost patients to get more money. Fraud of this type could even be as simple as performing procedures that are not medically necessary.

While you may not be able to prove weather or not a procedure was necessary you can prove weather or not it was preformed. What one doctor considers legitimate another may say was unnecessary. This is a gray area and not all doctors will agree on what is best for a patient. More often than not this is left at the doctor’s discretion.

Another form of medical care fraud is medical identity theft. This occurs when a person uses another’s identity to gains access though their medical coverage or you may find huge medical bills in your name that aren’t yours. They can also use your name to get narcotics due to an addiction. This can affect your medical records and be very dangerous.

The simple fact is that fraud affects each and every one of us. Imagine not being able to get medical coverage for your child because of other peoples fraudulent activities. Worse, imagine your child being given the wrong medication because of medical identity theft.

You can help prevent fraud simply by knowing what is in your medical files. Help insure that all people who need medical coverage can have access to it. Report any suspected fraud to proper authorities.

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Written by Adriana Noton

February 8th, 2010 at 10:50 am

How to prevent identity theft

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Identity theft. 

You think it can’t happen to you?  Well it can.

The loss of a purse or wallet can result in checks being written, credit cards being used, and what is even worse – they may even have your social security number and/or your medical information.  So now not only are you a victim of identity theft, but of medical identity theft.

Do you think you are safe because you haven’t lost your purse or wallet?   No you are not.

If someone really wants to find your personal information they will find it.

To begin with – invest in a shredder and shred every important piece of paper you need to dispose of INCLUDING all that junk mail you get telling you that you are reproved for credit cards, insurance, etc.  Most of that junk mail has your name, address, phone number, date of birth – a good start for someone who wants it.  ALWAYS shred all financial information.

Don’t be too quick to throw out what looks like junk mail it could be a letter alerting you to new accounts opened in your name, or an address change that you did not authorize.

As far as shredders go – I prefer the ones that “chip” the paper so small you could  never paste it together to see what it was to begin with.

You can view your bills, bank statements, and credit card statement on line – just don’t use WiFi – scamsters are right there to grab all they can from you.

And when it comes to your credit cards – check the activity on line on a daily basis to catch any problems immediately.  Do the same with your bank statements.  Don’t wait a month for a statement to arrive and to be checked.

Protect your social security card – don’t carry it with you.  Many times  you can give your driver’s license number in place of it.

If you suspect fraud – immediately contact one of the three major credit bureaus and file a fraud report – DO NOT WAIT.  Once you report it to one company, they will alert the other two companies.  And you will be able to obtain one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus.

Go over each report and check each and every detail.  Anything suspicious, immediately alert the credit bureau.  Also, file a police report.  You will at least have it on record and it could help in catching the thief.

The down-side of this – although you may act quickly, it could take months or even years to fix and it is a time-consuming process.

Any company that offers to fix your credit after identity theft be wary of.  You would be better off doing it yourself.

Did you know that you can put a freeze on your credit files (unless you are currently looking for a loan or credit card) which would prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name?  There may be a fee involved, depending on the state you live in – but it is worth it.

When it comes to medical identity theft – there are different types.  Your identity could be stolen so that someone can get a prescription, or it can be used to falsely bill Medicare and Medicaid.  Someone could be billing the government for equipment or care that was never received.

Once your medical identity is stolen, false information can appear on your medical reports.  You may not think much about that – but – think about this:  Your blood type is A, someone steals your identity and has a blood test showing their blood type as B. That is entered on your medical record and if you end up in the emergency room your records will say type B and that could be disastrous if not corrected.

Try to protect yourself by giving your personal information to doctors and health care workers ONLY.  And don’t be afraid to ask for records from anyone who has treated you.

Check any requested medical records thoroughly and if there are any errors, immediately let them know so changes can be made.  If your records have errors, they have 90 days to respond.

Only a few states have considered or passed laws to help protect against medical identity theft. Those states are California, Florida, Nevada, Arkansas and Delaware. For now, it’s your responsibility to review your own records.

If you think someone has stolen your medical identity, call one of these numbers:
The U.S. Health and Human Services Fraud Hotline at 800-447-8477
The Federal Trade Commission’s ID Theft Hotline at 877-438-4338

Protect yourself now!  Don’t let someone take advantage of you and your family.  Learn how to protect your family easily – click here.


Written by Editor

September 6th, 2009 at 2:15 pm

How to get rid of spyware, viruses, phishing, adware, etc.

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Let’s start with some terminology for those that may not know these terms:

SPYWARE:  Spyware is software that downloads itself to your computer without you even knowing it.  It can be automatically downloaded by a website owner that has gotten paid to install it on your computer, or just by visiting a site you can get infected.  Sometimes it is installed on your PC when you install another piece of software.   Spyware will change your system configurations, monitor your on-line activity and broadcast the information back to an outside party (usually advertisers.)  It will collect your personal information, user names, passwords, account numbers, driver’s license number, social security numbers, etc.  Spyware is not a virus.

SPYWARE INFECTION:  Usually carried by freeware or shareware programs that can be downloaded from media-supported sites and worms its way into your computer to monitor and report what you are doing.  This additional tracking software on your system, is continuously “calling home”, using your Internet connection and reporting statistical data to the “mothership” (a company or person you do not know).

ADWARE:  Adware is a type of software that collects information about the user in order to display targeted advertisements to the user.  (Advertising Supported software)  This is the way for shareware authors to make money from a product, other than selling it to the users.  There are several large media companies that offer them to place banner ads in their products in exchange for a portion of the revenue from banner sales.  This way you don’t have to pay for the software and the developers are still getting paid.  If the banners are annoying to you, there is usually an option to remove them by paying a regular licensing fee.

MALWARE:  Malware is malicious software that has been designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system and includes, computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, most root kits, spy ware, dishonest adware, crimeware, and other unwanted and malicious software.  Malware is also known as a computer contaminant.

CRIMEWARE:  A computer program or a set of computer programs designed to facilitate illegal activity online.  Many spyware programs, browser hijackers, and keyloggers can be considered crimeware.  A phishing kit is a common type of crimeware.
 
SPYWARE TROJANS, REMOTE ACCESS TROJANS (RATs), TROJAN HORSE:  Malicious programs that run on your computer, permitting an intruder (cyber criminal) remote access to your computer.  Trojans are the first stage of an attack and their primary purpose is to stay hidden in your computer while downloading and installing a stronger threat – such as a BOT.  Trojans cannot spread by themselves like a virus or a worm can; they are usually delivered to a victim through an email message, coming through as an image or a joke, or a malicious website, which installs the Trojan horse on your computer through vulnerabilities in web browser software such as Microsoft Explorer.  Once it is installed, the Trojan horse will lurk silently, invisibly carrying out it misdeeds, such as downloading spyware.

STALKING HORSES:  Spyware that is generally bundled into many programs and can also be presented in the installation as desirable additions to the main software, the Trojan horse that you are installing.

BOTS, INTERNET BOTS, WEB ROBOTS, WWW BOTS, BOTNETS:  Software applications that run automated tasks over the internet; performing at high rates and used mostly in web spidering.  BOTS take control of your computer and make it participate in networks called BOTNETS that harness massive computing power and Internet bandwidth to relay spam, attack web servers, infect more computers, etc.

WEB SPIDERING:  The use of bots, for fetching and analyzing files information from web servers.
 
BROWSER HELPER OBJECTS (BHOs):  A plug-in designed by Microsoft for Internet Explorer to help developers customize and control the browser and improve it with new features.  Most BHO’s are helpful but they can also be exploited to install features or functions that are malicious.  To view the BHO’s that are currently installed in Internet Explorer click on TOOLS, then MANAGE ADD-ONS.  BHODemon can be used to detect and remove malicious BHO’s.  If you are worried about BHO’s, you can switch to Firefox which BHO’s cannot impact.

KEYLOGGERS, KEYBOARD LOGGERS:  A keylogger is a program that logs all the activity of your keyboard and reports this information back to a remote computer.  This information is used to steal passwords, bank information, etc.  This program runs in the background and records every keystroke.  The attacker then peruses them carefully hoping to find passwords, or other personal information that can be used against your computer or you.  Some keyloggers capture screens instead of keystrokes. Keyloggers are also used as a surveillance tool by employers to ensure employees use work computers for business purposes only.

MODEM HIJACKER, PHONE DIALER:  This is an application that changes the phone number dialed when using a dial-up internet connection so charges are incurred on your phone bill.
 
IDENTITY THEFT:  Identity theft is a crime involving fraud when someone pretends to be someone else in order to steal money or other things from another by wrongfully obtaining and using another person’s data – Social Security number, your bank account or credit card number, your telephone calling card number, and other valuable identifying data ­ can be used, if they fall into the wrong hands.

HIJACKERS, BROWSER HIJACKERS:  A form of malware or spyware that replaces your existing internet browser home page, error page, or search page with its own.  Usually you are forced to a particular site for advertising or marketing purposes.  You can do a search in Google and instead of getting the results back from Google, your search request is hijacked and sent to another search engine.

BACKDOORS, BACKDOOR SANTAS:  These are programs that you can download off the internet and contain valid uses, but they do collect information and statistics on the sites you visit, the type of hardware, etc. and this information is transmitted back to the servers.  They usually do not work with adware products.
 
ROGUE ANTI-SPYWARE:  Software that is mostly used by those that are running Microsoft Windows to detect and remove spyware.  Many anti-spyware programs are fake alerts and false promises that trick you into buying the software.  Antivirus System PRO can install itself on your computer without your permission through trojans and browser security holes.  It configures itself to run automatically every time your computer starts, scanning your computer and listing a lot of threats to trick you into buying the paid version of the rogue.  The threats are all fake – you can ignore them.  This is the display you may see:
Windows Security alert
Windows reports that computer is infected. Antivirus software
helps to protect your computer against viruses and other
security threats. Click here for the scan your computer. Your
system might be at risk now.
Antivirus System PRO will also install an Internet Explorer BHO module (iehelper.dll) that will hijack Internet Explorer and randomly shows a message “Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage.  Needed Powerful PC Protection” and uses a fake address (security.Microsoft.com) instead of the site you are trying to browse to:
Internet Explorer Warning – visiting this web site may harm your computer!
Most likely causes:
The website contains exploits that can launch a malicious code on your computer
Suspicious network activity detected
There might be an active spyware running on your computer
What you can try:
- Purchase Antivirus System PRO for secure Internet surfing (Recommended).
- Check your computer for viruses and malware.
- More information
Once again the warning is fake and should be ignored.
You can uninstall Antivirus System Pro from your computer.

VIRUS:  A computer virus is a program that reproduces itself.  It can attach to other programs or create copies of itself; it can damage or corrupt files and data, change data, etc.
A BOOT SECTOR COMPUTER VIRUS:  Your computer will not successfully boot, the virus stays in memory and infects floppies and other media when they are written to the infected computer; becoming less common now that floppy disks have become rarer.
MASTER BOOT RECORD (MBR) COMPUTER VIRUS:  Similar to boot viruses, except they infect the MBR (Master Boot Record) instead of the boot sector.
FILE INFECTOR VIRUSES:  Infect files that have executable codes such as .EXE and .COM files.
MACRO VIRUSES:  Infect certain types of data files such as Microsoft Office files, word documents, Excel spreadsheets, Power Point Presentations, and Access Databases – usually using the Visual Basic macro language built into Microsoft Applications.
MULTI-PARTITE VIRUSES:  These share the characteristics of more than one virus type, possibly infecting both the boot record and program files.

WORM, COMPUTER WORM:  Malicious software applications designed to spread through computer networks.  They are one form of malware associated with viruses and Trojans.  Worms are usually sent through email attachments or messages that contain executable scripts.  They can penetrate most firewalls because they are embedded inside everyday network software and they spontaneously generate additional messages containing copies of the worm. 
 
BADWARE:  Software that disregards a user’s choice regarding how your computer will be used.  Badware can be spyware, malware, or deceptive adware.  One common example of badware includes free screensavers that generate advertisements, malicious web browser toolbars that take over your computer.  In general, badware is the term that includes all spyware, phishing, botnet, and other related terms.

ROUTES OF INFECTION:  The source of infection is primarily when the spyware downloads itself from the Internet.  The Internet is the route of contamination.  Storage devices and local area networks can also contribute to this.  We would never knowingly download spyware into our computers and they know it.  That is why spyware needs to deceive us by loading itself into the computer by attaching itself to other software programs.
 
STEALWARE:  Stealware is a new name given to products that modify affiliate tracking codes in order to change the person to which the payment is due.  You’ve worked hard on developing a site that generates a modest revenue from cost per action referrals to other sites.  You get the traffic,  the visitors to the site follow the link you’ve set up to other sites and purchase things – and you receive a referral fee.  And someone else resets the tracking codes to their own and get the payments due to you.

BROWSER COOKIES, TRACKER COOKIES:  Cookies are small text files (.txt) that will not hurt your computer.  Every website your visit, on every visit will give you more cookies.  Delete them today and return to the site again tomorrow and they will be back.  Cookies will not slow up your computer, are not a virus, are not spy ware, etc.  They are third party cookies from advertising servers – tracking your movements around the web to send  you specific advertising that you would be interested in.  If you feel that these cookies are a threat to your privacy, and you are using Internet Explorer, you can permanently block all third party (tracking) cookies by going to TOOLS, INTERNET OPTIONS, PRIVACY, ADVANCED, and check mark OVERRIDE AUTOMATIC COOKIE HANDLING, THIRD PARTY COOKIES, BLOCK, OKAY.

UNWANTED SOFTWARE:  Unwanted software is the spyware, adware, malware, etc. that you do not want in your computer.

PHISHING:  Phishing is sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft.  Usually the e-mail will direct the user to visit a website where they will be asked to update personal information, including passwords, account numbers, credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc.  The legitimate organization already has this information – the website you  just visited to update your personal information is bogus and is only set up to steal your information.
 
POPUPS, POPUP ADS:  This is a form of on-line advertising used to attract web traffic or capture e-mail addresses.  Certain websites will open a new web browser window to display advertisements.  If you have a popup blocker and you are still seeing popups, then the web developers have found a new way to get around your popup blocker.

There are five known types of popups that you might see even with a popup blocker enabled:
1 – Popup ads from adware.  If you see popups promoting explicit web sites, you most likely have some web site or program that has installed adware on your system.
2 – JavaScript debugger windows – usually showing you a run-time error and asking if you want to debug. Don’t respond to this.
3 – Windows messaging service – these popups are “messages” for advertisements.  Don’t respond to this.
4 – User-requested popups cannot be blocked.  If you click on a link and that link is supposed to open a new window, your popup blocker assumes that since you clicked on the link, you wanted the popup.
5 – Yahoo! Feature tips – That purple and gray panel that is sliding down from the top of your Internet Explorer window, is not a popup.  It’s a feature tip from Yahoo!  You can disable them.

FIREWALL:  A firewall is software or hardware that checks information coming from the Internet or a network, and then blocks it or allows it to pass through to your computer, depending on your firewall settings.  It’s design is to block any unauthorized Internet users from accessing private networks connected to the Internet, especially intranets.

INTRANETS:  The generic term for a collection of private computer networks within a corporation that share information.

EXTRANETS:  An extension to intranets, opens to provide controlled access to outsiders.

Spyware and your computer is a very serious thing!  Spyware can cause much damage to your computer and the data that is stored on it.  It can be just sitting there right now, disrupting your data, and possibly even stealing your identity.  It can be a part of various programs or it is hidden in another program.  It hides itself very well. And even if you have removed the program or the virus it could still be there.

Spyware is so sneaky – installing itself so secretly so that it can take over your computer without your consent.  These programs collect all types of information from you, personal, business,  every site you have visited while interfering with your user control in other ways, such as installing additional software, redirecting Web browser activity, accessing websites at random that will cause more harmful viruses, and even passing all your information onto a third party -  usually advertisers.  It can change your computer settings, slow down your connection speeds, change your home pages, make you lose your internet or other programs.  It can download porn on your computer as well.  It will also load adware and viruses.  The new term for it is “privacy-invasive software.”

Trojan horses are especially bad.  They get into your computer and steal things like passwords.  Stealing a password to a site you visit regularly isn’t as bad as the Trojan horse being able to collect the information you need to give when logging in to your bank account and then transferring it to whoever created the Trojan so they can steal your bank account details. A Trojan horse accounts for a large part of identity theft.
How would you know you have spy ware infecting your computer?  Your internet connection begins to slow down, popup windows appear in unexpected places, and your computer may be crashing regularly.  You can still be infected without any of these happening.  You will need a quality spyware remover that is reliable.  Check various product reviews to see what others have said about it.  Once you find a spyware remover that you feel comfortable with, download it and run it.  Be sure to keep up with updates, those that write these spyware programs find ways of breaking through anything they can.  If at any point you do not like it, remove it and get another one.

It may be to your advantage to use two different spyware removers.  The new spyware programs find the sneakiest ways of infecting your computer and are even better at hiding.  No one program can remove all spyware.   There are just too many different types of malware for just one company to be able to deal with all the time.
 
For added protection, have an anti-virus and a firewall.  No matter how careful you are at what you are downloading into your computer, you can never be 100% sure.  Get a reliable spyware remover that will also remove infections and get a second one to remove anything the first program may have missed.
 
Do this on a regular basis and keep up with all updates to be safe.

If you don’t know the source that is sending you an attachment – do not open it.

By doing all the above you will keep your computer safe.

Do not worry about having spyware or adware on your computer – and if you are running Windows, you have at least one malicious program on your computer right now.  It can be removed, and there are even free downloads available for your use.

With spyware reading your documents, tracking your internet use, reading your address book, and returning all this over to a malicious third party, malware – including adware – makes popup advertisements appear out of nowhere.  One thing you should not do is download any spyware removal program that is advertised in a popup ad – it won’t be spyware removal that you are downloading!

Type “spyware removal software” in your internet browser and search.  Download the software and install – then scan your computer for spyware doing a full scan.  This may take 30 minutes or more depending on the number of files on your hard drive.  Restart your computer and run the spyware removal program again.  If the program detects spyware once again do an internet search of “spybot search and destroy”.  Download and install.  Spybot will scan your computer and remove any spybots that are detected.  Reboot your computer IN SAFE MODE and run Spybot a second time.  To do this, restart your computer and as the computer is turning on repeatedly press F8 (function key 8).  Choose SAFE MODE from the DOS menu – press ENTER.  Run Spybot in safe mode; then run the Spybot software again and remove any spyware that is found.  When finished, restart your computer and run both programs again.  You should now have a computer that is spyware free! 
 
The companies that distribute spyware do not want to give you the option of uninstalling it making it almost impossible to get rid of.  You don’t know when it is installed.

Maybe you have downloaded some free software – like the Weatherbug or Kazaa and you didn’t notice that in the terms and conditions you were allowing “free” software to install extra “helper” applications which may change your home page, search page, add a toolbar on Internet Explorer, popup ads at odd times, or cover up your favorite web page with a big ad. 

Maybe you clicked on a popup add or “Yes” to a dialog box while surfing the web.  Maybe it was a warning of error message, but in fact it was false advertising luring you to install some adware.

If it’s a “free” download of “free” software from the Internet, be sure to read all license agreements thoroughly before downloading.    For instance, you may sign up for a free music service, but “pay” for the service by agreeing to receive targeted ads.  You understand the terms and agree to them.  You  may have also agreed to let the company track your online activities to determine which ads to show you.

Always be sure to read disclosures, including the license agreement and privacy statement.  Sometimes the inclusion of unwanted software is a given software installation is documented, but it may appear at the end of a license agreement or privacy statement.

Always back up your data – anything that is important to you – that you would want to save if your computer should crash.  Do this on a regular basis.

If you do not want to be a victim of identity theft, stop all banking, shopping, etc. online that involves user names, passwords, social security numbers, account numbers, driver’s license numbers, etc.

Of you computer has spyware the FTC wants to know.  You can file a complaint with the FTC:

For cross-border scams file a complaint at econsumer.gov

To report identity theft file a complaint at ftc.gov/idtheft

To report any unsolicited email offers go to spam@uce.gov

If your computer gets infected with malware, notify your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and file a complaint with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

If you’ve been a victim of online investment fraud, send your complain to the U.S. Securities and Exchange commission, using the agency’s online complaint center.

For online shopping fraud, contact the Attorney general in your state, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the FTC.

Forward spam that is phishing to spam@uce.gov and also reportphishing@antiphishing.org

If you believe you’ve been scammed, file a complaint at FTC.gov