The internet is extremely useful yet extremely dangerous. You read about phishing scheme and scams, and the dangers of viruses and adware. But you may not be thinking of the things you might be doing to increase your odds of identity theft.

If you have a blog, a MySpace page, participate in a forum… anything where you’re talking about your personal life, you might say something that you think of as innocent but in fact increases your odds of having your identity stolen.

For example, lets say you post that you are going on a vacation. You do this so that people don’t wonder where you vanished off to. It makes you feel good that you’re letting people know what you’re up to.

This may actually be a bad idea.

Posting that you will be gone means that if someone knows where you live, they know your house will be empty for a time, and that you may not be checking your mail. This leaves you vulnerable to having your home broken into or your mail stolen, either of which can put you at more risk for identity theft, in addition to whatever else may be taken.

Don’t assume that just because you didn’t post your address you’re safe. If you own a website, your address may well be in your registration information. Or your address may have been discovered another way. With so much as the city or town you live it, it is not impossible for a determined thief to figure out where you live.

When I go on vacation, first of all I rarely announce it. If I’m where I can check on my sites in the evening, there’s no need to. I stop my mail if I’m gone longer than I want to ask my sister to come pick it up for me. If I can’t check my sites, I have one of my sisters handle it for me.

To protect yourself online you have to be very careful about the information you share. Be vague, and be very careful about revealing when you won’t be home. It’s for your own good.

[tags]identity theft,vacation,blogging,myspace,forums[/tags]