Update your virus protection software regularly. Computer viruses can have damaging effects, including introducing programs that cause your computer to send out files or other stored information. Update the security protections on your operating system by downloading any security updates or patches.


Don't respond to unsolicited emails that ask for personal information, even if it appears to come from a legitimate bank or other business. ID thieves will replicate emails and websites from legitimate companies, including banks and other financial institutions, to try to trick you into revealing your personal information. This tactic is called "phishing."

Don't download files from strangers or click on hyperlinks from people you don't know. Opening a file could expose your system to a computer virus or a program that could hijack your computer or modem.

Your Computer

Use a firewall, especially if you have a high-speed or "always on" connection to the Internet. The firewall allows you to limit uninvited access to your computer. Use a secure browser. When you're submitting information on the Internet, look for the "lock" icon on the status bar. It's a symbol that your information is secure during transmission.

Avoid using an automatic log-in feature that saves your username and password, and always log off when you're finished. Try not to store financial information on your laptop unless absolutely necessary. If you do, use a password that is a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.