Credit card companies also look for duplicate accounts that may have been opened using your identity by an ID thief.
One of the companies that is under attack constantly is eBay and its subsidiary PayPal. PayPal handles financial transactions over the Internet and is the preferred way of payment on eBay.
PayPal has 123 million customers with accounts. Its parent company eBay has 212 million people with accounts worldwide.
The company focuses on educating customers about protecting their accounts and their password.
"The thing about the password that I think is key and a lot of people miss is that nobody knows your password except for you," PayPal spokeswoman Amanda Pires said. "The only way that someone can get your password is if you give it out. So actually, the power is in your hands."
Pires warned that customers should not give out their information or make passwords easy to guess.
The company echoes some of the things that Visa and other financial companies do. Its fraud department tracks spending habits of members.
eBay and PayPal members often find phishing e-mails that lead them to "spoof" sites, or sites that are designed to look like a legitimate sites, but are there to gather personal information.
One tool that eBay has created is a toolbar that users can download. The toolbar lights up red when a member logs into a site that is made to look like eBay or PayPal. When a member is on a legitimate site, the bar turns green.
The company has developed relationships with Internet service providers to target the fraudulent sites. ebay's fraud department contacts the ISPs to shut down the illegal sites.
Pires said that once a fraud site is found, the company works to get the site shut down as soon as possible.
"We also work closely with law enforcement and we have been successful in tracking down some of these bad guys who are sending these fake e-mails and actually making arrests, especially in countries in Eastern Europe like Romania," Pires said.
There are cases where people's accounts have been wiped out after having their password stolen or having given out the information. PayPal will reimburse the funds, but Pires warns that keeping track of your password will keep from having your account taken over or funds stolen.
"Nobody likes (having their identity stolen). Of course we don?t want that to happen to our customers, so what we're really focusing on is education and prevention," Pires said.
Tips: What To Do When Your Identity Is Stolen
The Federal Trade Commission offers four tips on what to do if you believe your identity has been stolen.
- Contact the fraud departments of any one of the three consumer reporting companies to place a fraud alert on your credit report.
- Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
- File your complaint with the FTC.