Hello, I cannot guarantee what they have but they got info and then they do what they want .. I would appraise the Financial institutions of this.. Working from a clean PC is safe. Fortunately only a small percentage of ID theft occurs online.This is becoming very popular unfurtunately. Music and photos and text docs are usually safe.. I have included a list of risky extentions below. Questions are not a problem.
Not an unwise decision to make. In some instances an infection may have caused so much damage to your system that it cannot be completely cleaned or repaired. Wiping your drive, reformatting, and performing a clean install of the OS or doing a factory restore removes everything and is the safest action but I cannot make that decision for you.
Reformatting a hard disk deletes all data. If you decide to reformat, you can back up all your important documents, data files and photos. The safest practice is not to backup any autorun.ini or .exe files because they may be infected. Some types of malware may disguise itself by adding and hiding its extension to the existing extension of files so be sure you take a close look at the full name. After reformatting, as a precaution, make sure you scan these files with your anti-virus prior to copying them back to your hard drive.
The best proceedure is a low level format. This completely wipes the drive. Then reinstall the OS.
Use the free version of Active@ KillDisk
Or Darik's Boot And Nuke
The best sources of Information on this areReformatting Windows XPMichael Stevens Tech
Of course also feel free to ask anything on this in the XP forum. They'd be glad to help.
2 guidelines/rules when backing up
1) Backup all your important data files, pictures, music, work etc... and save it onto an external hard-drive. These files usually include .doc, .txt, .mp3, .jpg etc...
2) Do not backup any executables files or any window files. These include .exe/.scr/.htm/.html/.xml/.zip/.rar files as they may contain traces of malware. Also, .html or .htm files that are webpages should also be avoided.
Download Belarc Advisor
- builds a detailed profile of your installed software and hardware, including Microsoft Hotfixes, and displays the results in your Web browser.
Run it and then print out the results, they may be handy.
Since we don't know exactly which infections we're dealing with here, we should take some precautions before we attempt to move files from the infected machine. Run the following on your clean computer, and make sure you insert your flash drives at the prompt.Download and Run FlashDisinfector
Please download Flash_Disinfector.exe
by sUBs and save it to your desktop.
Note: As part of its routine, Flash_Disinfector will create a hidden folder named autorun.inf in each partition and every USB drive that was plugged in when you ran it. Do not delete this folder...it will help protect your drives from future infection by keeping the autorun file from being installed on the root drive and running other malicious files.Reinstall Windows Vista
- Double-click Flash_Disinfector.exe to run it and follow any prompts that may appear.
- The utility may ask you to insert your flash drive and/or other removable drives. Please do so and allow the utility to clean up those drives as well.
- Hold down the Shift key when inserting the drive until Windows detects it to keep autorun.inf from executing if it is present.
- Wait until it has finished scanning and then exit the program.
- Reboot your computer when done.
Here are six things you need to know to fight back against identity theft:
1. Keep your private information private.
Half of all identity theft in which the thief is identified is committed by a friend, coworker, neighbor, in-home employee, or relative of the victim. So make it a habit not to leave things lying around at home or in the office -- specifically your wallet, checkbook, or anything else containing private or financial information, including your mail.
Also, before you toss anything in the trash containing your private information, be sure to shred it. This isn't new advice, but I'd be remiss not to mention it.
2. Get a copy of your credit reports.
Often, victims of identity theft have no idea their credit is being used or destroyed until they apply for a loan and pull their credit score. So pull your credit report now, and make a plan to check it regularly.
By law, you're entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion -- once every year. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and stagger your requests so that you'll receive one report from each credit bureau every four months. Put the dates on your calendar so you don't forget. Keep in mind that this is for your free credit report only, not your credit score.
For your credit score, you'll need to go to myFICO. While you're there, you may want to check out their Identity Theft Security Deluxe product, which monitors your credit score and credit report automatically for $49.95 a year.
3. Find out if your state has a credit freeze law.
Here's a virtually foolproof way to prevent a thief from stealing your identity and using your personal data to get approved for credit. With this new law you're able to block ("freeze") all access to your credit report and credit score.
It's not necessarily the most convenient solution to protect yourself from fraud. Anytime you need to have your credit checked -- for instance, if you're buying a car or cell phone or even interviewing for a job -- you'll need to lift the block ("thaw" your record), which takes about three days. But if you have real concerns about identity theft or perhaps are already a victim, this is an option you may want to consider.
Some states will only grant a credit freeze if you're already a victim of identity theft. Find out if your state has a credit freeze law, including what it costs, by visiting FinancialPrivacyNow.org.
4. Check your bank statements weekly.
One of the great things about online banking is that you can log on and check your account at any time. Make a point of checking your bank statement weekly to be sure there aren't any red flags.
The same goes for your credit card statements. In fact, you may want to consider canceling your paper statements altogether and opting for online statements. After all, you're more likely to have personal information stolen from your mail than from the Internet.
That said, be sure to always use a secure computer. Using a public computer, like one at your local library, is risky due to tracking software that thieves can use to steal your passwords.
5. Be computer savvy.
Even though a relatively small percentage of identity theft occurs online, you should still take necessary precautions.
In addition to being careful about surfing the web on public computers, you should also be aware of the risks involved when using a wireless connection. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are becoming increasingly popular, and as a result, there is bound to be an increase in wireless hacking.
Wireless connectivity is the perfect platform for thieves to get your personal data. If you have a wireless network at home or work, make sure you are incorporating password-protection and encryption. When accessing public hotspots, use a personal firewall.
Also, keep your computer safe by updating your antivirus and anti-spyware programs regularly. Use passwords so that others can't log on to your computer, laptop, or even your PDA, and be sure to change your passwords often.
Be smart about phishing scams, too. That's when you're sent an email that requests your personal or financial information, or that prompts you to click a link to provide your personal or financial information. If you're unsure of the legitimacy of such a request, call the company that it was supposedly sent from. If an email seems suspicious, it usually is.
6. Be aware of "deleted" data.
The Washington Post recently ran an article on mobile phones -- specifically "smartphones" like the Palm Treo and BlackBerry -- that was quite an eye-opener.
According to the story, resetting your phone to wipe out personal data doesn't exactly delete information. It turns out that your phone's operating system never actually deletes data, only the pointers to where the data is located. Anyone with the right software can recover information that was stored on your phone once you sell or discard it
You need to do is contact the device manufacturer for complete instructions on what to do to wipe your data clean. You can also visit WirelessRecycling.com for instructions. And think twice about what information you store on your device in case it's ever lost or stolen.
If Your Identity Is Stolen
Take the above steps and -- should you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position of having had your identity stolen -- you'll commend yourself for being proactive enough to identify a problem before too much damage was done.
Don't waste a minute once you've discovered suspicious activity -- go directly to the website of the Federal Trade Commission to file a complaint and access their comprehensive guide on the steps you'll need to follow to resolve the situation.
If you only use your computer for music/games etc, your better option would be to clean it of infections rather than do a reformat. The decision must be made by you.