Communications and Media

Privacy and Reporting Internet Activity

The term internet reporting refers to the discovery and disclosure of information about an individual on the internet. In addition to the basic process of discovering information about an individual, there is the question of who may use information and for what purpose. Each year, internet crime costs consumers millions of dollars.

Examples of common internet crimes:

  • Credit card fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Investment fraud
  • Cashier's check fraud
  • Ponzi schemes

Common Ways that Internet Crimes May Strike You

When you become active on the internet, certain risks follow. Most people have an email address, exchange photographs, have instant messenger programs, and enjoy keeping in contact with friends and relatives. The thing to remember is that the internet is like a public bulletin board. Whatever you type is saved somewhere, because it has to be in order to be received by your intended recipient. Unfortunately, others may be able to gain access to your data. Computer experts say that computer compatibility is the enemy of computer security. In order for your friends and family to be able to receive your communication, they need compatible computers. The unscrupulous among us also have compatible computers that they may use to gain unauthorized access to your information.

Methods of committing internet crimes include:

  • Phishing or spoofing
  • Employment or business opportunities and work from home offers
  • Fraudulent lotteries
  • Spam e-mails

Phishing or spoofing involves receiving an email from what seems like a useful address. A good example is a bank. A phishing scam involves receiving an email from what you believe is your bank. The email asks you to click on the "bank's" web address and enter your account information. Read all such links very, very carefully. Usually one letter or number is different from the bank's name or web address and you will be sent to a dummy website where you will be asked for private information. If you give the information at a phishing website your information may be compromised. Remember, that any news that is too good to be true probably is false. This also applies to employment opportunities and investment opportunities. Finally, don't open spam e-mails, don't respond, and don't download files from suspicious emails because downloaded files may contain computer virus programs.

How to Protect Yourself

Some protection may be offered by commercial protection programs, but there are some things you can do for yourself. Obviously, don't share sensitive computer information such as password entries, vary your passwords between websites, and change your password often. Review your credit card statements and bank statements and keep a record of all of your credit cards in a folder or envelope. A good thing to do is to be certain that you retain a monthly statement from each of your credit cards and each bank account so that if your information is compromised you can find the toll-free telephone number of the card issuer or bank and contact their office immediately.

How a Lawyer Can Help

If you think that you've been the victim of an internet crime a lawyer may be able to help you track down the culprits. Often internet crime involves credit cards and a lawyer may be able to help you deal with your credit card companies. In addition, your credit rating may be negatively impacted and a lawyer may be able to help you deal with the credit reporting agencies.

Questions for Your Attorney:

  • Have I been the victim of an internet crime?
  • Is there anybody that is responsible that may be arrested or from whom I may recover?
  • How can I get my credit card companies to listen to me and to cancel transactions?
  • What are the time limits for reporting suspicious activity?
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