Computer Troubleshooters Offer Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft
Added: (Thu Oct 02 2003)
Pressbox (Press Release) -
Identity theft is the top fraud complaint in the country. One of the ways thieves gain access to personal information is by hacking into your computer and grabbing vital information, like your name, social security number, or credit card account numbers. Computer Troubleshooters, a global franchise specialising in computer service and repair, says there are measures small businesses and homeowners can take to avoid becoming victims of identity theft.
The US Federal Trade Commission says identity theft accounted for 43 percent of the complaints lodged with the FTC's Consumer Sentinel database — 220,000 in 2001 to 380,000 in 2002.
The FTC says the average victim will incur $10,000 in credit card losses and will spend 60 hours straightening out the mess with all the agencies and companies involved. The total loss to businesses, including financial institutions, was $33 billion in the last year.
“With the continuing rise in identity theft cases, it’s important for PC owners to backup their digital information, stay updated on virus protection, and install a firewall,” said Donald Marshall, UK National Director for Computer Troubleshooters, a national franchise that provides a full range of computer services, including repair, networking and upgrading — basically whatever needs done — at the customer’s location.
For those who file their taxes online, it’s vitally important to remove the tax information from the hard drive. The IRS says nearly 51 million Americans e-filed their 2002 tax return; some 11.7 million e-filed from their home computer.
“Many PC users don’t realise how vulnerable they are; all it takes for a hacker is a couple of pieces of information like your name and social security number,” said Donald.
Computer Troubleshooters underscores the importance of a series of tips offered by the FTC, including:
• Update your virus protection software regularly, or when a new virus alert is announced. Some viruses can prompt your computer to send out files or stored information — some of which may contain your personal information.
• Don’t download files you receive from strangers. You could become exposed to a virus.
• Use a firewall program, especially if you have a high-speed cable, DSL or T-1 connection, all of which leave your computer connected to the Internet 24 hours a day. A firewall program will prevent uninvited guests from accessing your computer. Otherwise hackers can access your personal information.
• Use a secure browser that encrypts or scrambles information you send over the Internet, like making purchases online.
• Try not to store personal information on your laptop — just in case it gets stolen.
• Before you get rid of your computer, delete all your personal information using a “wipe” utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive and makes the files unrecoverable.
Computer Troubleshooters UK is the ideal answer for small businesses, which often can’t afford to hire a full-time IT staff person. There were some 3.8 million small businesses in existence in the United Kingdom in 2002, according to the DTI’s Small Business Service, an increase of 1.4 per cent. A large percentage of these companies conduct business over the Internet, making it crucial that computer systems perform optimally and connectivity remains intact.
With a quick phone call, Computer Troubleshooters will show up at your business or home and quickly tend to your IT needs, allaying your nerves when your computer is acting up and you’re on deadline and potentially losing business by the minute.
The company has more than 250 franchisees worldwide, including more than 20 in the United Kingdom. In January 2002 Entrepreneur magazine ranked Computer Troubleshooters USA the #1 Tech Support franchise. Computer Troubleshooters USA specialises in providing services to small businesses — companies with no more than 50 computer systems.
For more information on Computer Troubleshooters UK, visit www.comptroub.com, or call 01355 521135.