Your Web mail account stores invaluable private and personal information. Therefore it is a potential treasure trove for online thieves. Tech-savvy Internet users can access and read your email and make money from it. You won’t even know you’ve been robbed. Some email which has been read by others will still retain the ‘unread’ status, unbeknownst to the owner.

The best way to prevent losing money is to avoid keeping important information about financial matters in your email account. You can also use the free Stanford Password Hash browser which provides additional protection through unique passwords.

Another way to keep a close eye on your personal information is to create an electronic trip wire that will trigger whenever someone reads a rigged e-mail. Here’s how to set it up according to PC World:

1. Head over to OneStatFree.comand register for a free Web counter account. You can list anything for the site URL, and use a disposable e-mail address to complete the registration process (click for tips on using such e-mail accounts).

2. Look for an e-mail from OneStat sent to the address you used when you registered. It will come with an attached file named OneStatScript.txt. Save that file, and note your account number. Then delete the e-mail, which has your account details.

3. Give the .txt file a name that will catch a spy’s eye, like “BankPasswords,” and make it an .htm file so it opens automatically in a Web browser (and trips the counter).

4. Send the file as an e-mail attachment to the Web mail account that you want to monitor. Use a similarly baited subject line, like “Account log-ins,” for the message. Just be sure not to open the file when you send it–you don’t want to set off your own alarm.

5. Sit back and wait like the patient spy-catcher you are. If anyone opens your rigged attachment, the hit counter will reflect that fact and will record information about them, including the IP address of the accessing computer. To check the counter stats, just log back in to your account at OneStatFree.com.

By keeping an e-mail message in your account that includes the code for the counter, an intruder or snoop who opens the attachment will trip the counter, thus alerting you that someone is snooping. The setup is easy to use and practical.

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