1. Safety Center: Security

How Can I Prevent Identity Theft?


Scammers can steal your identity if they get pieces of your personal information such as your full name, birth date, email address, street address, phone number, credit card number, Social Security number, bank account number, driver's license number, or similar data. They don't need all of this to cause you trouble — just a few details may be enough for them to charge your credit card or take out a bank loan in your name.
A lot of identity theft happens through in-person scams or by theft of wallets and purses, but some can happen online, too. This is why it's important to keep your information on the Internet private.

Don't use email for sensitive data

Never send your credit card number, Social Security number, bank account number, driver's license number, or similar details in an email, which is generally not secure. Think of email as a paper postcard — people can see what's written on it if they try hard enough.
Be suspicious of any company that asks for this type of information in an email or instant message. Most legitimate companies will never ask you to confirm sensitive data in an online form or in an email; instead, they'll use postal mail to request this information.
Yahoo will never ask you for your password in an unsolicited email or phone call. And we'll never ask you to send your password or credit card information by email.

Don't take the bait from phishing scams

Fraudsters send fake emails or set up fake websites that mimic the sign-in pages of trusted companies, such as Yahoo, eBay, PayPal, or your bank or credit card company, to trick you into disclosing your username and password. This practice is sometimes referred to as "phishing" — a play on the word "fishing" — because the fraudster is fishing for your private account information.
Typically, fraudsters try to trick you into providing your username and password so that they can gain access to an online account. After they gain access, they can use your personal information to commit identity theft.

Learn how to identify a phishing website
Learn how to identify a phishing email

Socialize safely online

Message boards, community sites, blogs, and social networking sites are great places to express your views and socialize with people. But remember, these sites are usually public, so anyone can see what's posted. Whatever you say there will be published immediately, and it's almost impossible to remove. If you put your name, email address, and other contact information on the Web, anyone online can see it and use it.
Posting photos online can be fun and social, too, but they can also be public. If you don't want your photos seen by everyone, post them on a website that lets you restrict who can see each photo. People will need to register with the site to view your pictures. And when you do want to post photos publicly, do not post pictures that show personal information.

Why your privacy on the Internet is important

Other resources

What to do if your identity is stolen (Federal Trade Commission)
Keeping your personal info private (GetNetWise)