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As more Indians are logging onto the Internet, cases of identity theft are also on the rise and a survey by Microsoft has found damages from such acts to have costed individuals about Rs 7,500 on an average.
According to Microsoft's third annual Computing Safer Index (MCSI), 20 per cent of respondents from India said they had fallen prey to phishing attacks.
"About 12 per cent Indian respondents said they suffered identity theft at an average cost them Rs 7,500," MSCI added.
Globally, Microsoft said identity thefts has cost as much as USD 5 billion overall.
"Annual worldwide impact of phishing and various forms of identity theft could be as high as USD 5 billion, with the cost of repairing damage to peoples' online reputation higher yet at nearly USD 6 billion or an estimated average of USD 632 (Rs 39,000) per loss," MSCI estimates.
The survey, released on International Safer Internet Day, measures the online safety behaviour of about 10,500 consumers in 20 countries and was conducted between March-May 2013.
Globally, only 34 per cent said they limit what strangers see on social networks and the amount of personal information online, while 38 per cent said they adjust their social network privacy settings, the survey results showed.
Only 35 per cent respondents said they use PIN (personal identification number) or a password to lock their mobile device.
Viewing the growing threat landscape around identity thefts, Microsoft has started a new interactive website to offer guidance about how consumers can avoid online risks.
"Internet users can prevent intrusions and thefts by using a unique four-digit PIN for mobile devices and strong passwords for online accounts," Microsoft India National Technology Officer Prakash Kumar said.
Kumar advised that users should perform sensitive transactions over secured networks, which includes paying bills, banking or shopping.
Search engine giant Google, as part of its efforts, has partnered with Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and Voluntary Organization in the Interest of Consumer Education (VOICE) for organising a series of online safety workshops for schools, NGOs, consumer and industry groups across India.
"Through the 'Good to Know' campaign, we want to help equip millions of new Internet users coming online in India with the knowledge and tools needed to become responsible digital citizens," Google India Country Head - Public Policy Chetan Krishnaswamy said.