Identity theft: you talkin’ to me?

tsj column writers - identity theftBy Jim Eastin

One of the most famous lines comes from “Taxi Driver” when Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) says to himself in the mirror, “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me?” He is practicing dealing with someone he wants to fight.

I want to suggest you do the same thing before you go on the Internet. That is because most of the trouble people get themselves into on the Internet is by responding to what something someone else sends them. I doubt anyone would purposely browse to a website called, but an amazing number of people will click on a link in an email from a friend. They will click on it when it comes from an advertiser. They will click on it when a pop-up says, “Click here to update your software” or “You have malware, click here to remove.” They will click on it when it comes in an e-card. That is the moment to stop and say, “Hey, you talkin’ to me?” and refuse to click.

Since the introduction of Windows Firewall, it has gotten harder for bad guys to directly attack your computer, so for years the better attack has been to got you to go to them. This is called “link bait” and it is very easy to fall for. Link bait is simply a plausible scenario that gets you to click on a link instead of typing in the URL or googling for it yourself.  t can be in ads, emails, pop-ups, or e-cards. The only thing you have to do to defeat it is say, “I don’t respond to links that are talking to me.” If I did not go seeking them, I do not click on them.”

Of course, the majority of links you get in your email or ads are not link bait. Most of the time you will get exactly what you are expecting. But an ever increasing number of Internet users are getting bitten by this hack. Spend some time in front of the mirror and you won’t be one of them.

If you have any feedback about this column, suggestions about a topic you would like me to discuss, or want me to come do a free identity theft seminar at your church or social club you can contact me at

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