“Computers and the internet have become integral to our lives, and we must use them safely,” Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve Lee said. “Online security threats – from hacking personal information for the purpose of identity theft, to unwelcome invasions of privacy – are becoming ever more sophisticated. But consumers can prepare and protect themselves by taking several basic steps.”
The Division of Consumer Affairs protects consumers against identity theft, unlawful invasions of privacy, and other computer-related violations by enforcing New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act, the Computer Related Offenses Act, the Identity Theft Protection Act, and other statutes.
Cyber Safety Basics
The following basic tips can help prevent identity theft, monetary theft, or other types of harm that can be caused by malware – malicious software such as viruses. Additional information on each of these tips can be found on the Division of Consumer Affairs Cyber Safe NJ website, www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov/cybersafe.
Identity Theft: If You Become a Victim
While the “Cyber Safety Basics” provide good protection, identity theft can still strike anyone through data breaches, the theft of personal documents, or other mishaps.
Fortunately, it is possible to resolve the financial and credit problems that result from identity theft. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the majority of identity theft victims in 2012 were able to resolve these issues in less than one day, once they became aware of the crime and took concrete action.
All New Jerseyans who believe they were exposed to identity theft are advised to take the eight steps for self-protection that are outlined in “Identity Theft – If You Become a Victim,” a Consumer Brief developed by the Division of Consumer Affairs.
Further information can be found in the “Preventing Identity Theft” section of the Division’s Cyber Safe NJ website.
Controlling Your Privacy
Web browsers, mobile devices, and social networking sites have the ability to collect a great deal of information about their users, and to transmit that information to advertisers and other third parties, for whom that information is extremely valuable.
Many consumers are concerned about the collection of personal information and about “behavioral profiling” for advertising or other purposes, and wish to have greater control over how their information is collected and used.
The following steps can help consumers protect their privacy online.More information is included in the “Controlling Your Privacy” section of the Division’s Cyber Safe NJ website.
The Division of Consumer Affairs provides these and other tips – along with links to additional resources that provide alerts on the very latest emerging threats – can be found on the Division of Consumer Affairs’ Cyber Safe NJ website.
Consumers can find additional information in the following, free publications available on the Division’s website:
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling (800) 242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or (973) 504-6200.
National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) is a coordinated campaign that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. NCPW 2015 will take place March 1 through March 7 2015. Additional information is available at www.NCPW.gov.