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Understanding computer fraud may be key to staying safe online

Few can argue that computers have changed people's lives for the better, connecting the entire world via a convenient communication platform as well as providing a boundless source of both information and entertainment. Along with the numerous benefits of computers, however, there are drawbacks, some so severe that they can endanger an Illinois resident's identity, credit score and overall safety. Those who use computers regularly should be especially vigilant about what they share online in order to avoid potential fraudulent use.

According to computer security experts, there are many ways individuals can protect their identity and personal data when going online. No matter if one is utilizing a home, work or public computer, passwords should not be shared, and they should be as complex as possible. Individuals should install an antivirus program and make sure that it's updated regularly. In addition, experts recommend that people never download attachments from, or share personal information with, any unknown company or individual.

It may also be beneficial for people to understand the definition of computer fraud, which may change and evolve as technology advances. Fraudulent use of a computer can include seemingly small acts such as using spyware to gather information and sending deceptive email messages with the intent to frighten or coerce an individual. Major types of computer fraud, most of which are considered a felony under both state and federal laws, range from hacking a system's mainframe in order to steal or change information to violating copyright laws and soliciting minors.

Those who are accused of federal crimes may be subject to severe penalties upon conviction, including a lengthy period of incarceration and hefty fines. A felony conviction can also have negative long-term consequences on one's reputation, personal relationships and employment opportunities, and thus having the assistance of an attorney as soon as possible after charges have been filed can be advisable.

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Law Offices of Damon M. Cheronis
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