Archive for the ‘Articles Concerning Identity Theft’ Category
Email “phishing” has become a very popular way to try to get consumers to enter personal information on invalid websites. Many times someone will receive an email from what looks to be a valid source, however, it has actually been sent by a thief! These type of emails are being sent from hackers claiming to be from various companies like UPS, FedEx, IRS, eBay, PayPal, Bank of America and hundreds of others. It is important to know how to spot a phishing scam from any company, however, for those who use PayPal, there is a higher level of protection needed because of the services they provide. How does one protect themselves against this type of scam?
One way is to take a challenge provided by PayPal.com. At this website, it will give a 5 question challenge to see if you are on your toes when it comes to this type of scam. It helps you to spot whether or not a senders email address is legitimate, what type of information they will NOT ask for in the form of an email, whether or not they will include attachments in their emails, and whether or not you should click links in emails from them.
This is a very helpful challenge for everyone who uses email to take, just to be sure that they are aware of what phishing really is. Paypal provides an email address to forward questionable emails to, should you receive one. To learn more, go to the website for PayPal and read the Security and Protection topics.
Remember the days when you could leave home without an electronic device in hand? When people had to wait until you got home to reach you on your home phone or had to write you a letter and pay for the stamp to mail it?
With the convenience of the email, cell phones and even social media, many no longer have “land” lines in their home. Each family member has their own phone number and email address. Many no longer know the mailing address of family and friends since they have the option to text, email or chat with them online or on their cell phone.
Advances in technology are great, but they also come at a price. With the invention of smart phones that include cameras, you can take photos and email them to show them off. Photos of the kids, the dog, your latest toy or gadget. Many also use their phones for online banking, bill paying and shopping.
Identity thieves who are good computer hackers find them helpful as well. They can use computers to view what someone is viewing on their cell phone. Whatever website the cell phone user is visiting, will show up on the screen of the hacker. If the cell phone user thinks they are only securely entering their credit card information on the website they are viewing, they are mistaken. The hacker can see what they are typing in as well and has the users credit card information.
Hackers have also found a way to call cell phone users using phony caller id information. It may appear that your bank or a friend is calling, when it is really a hacker “phishing” for personal information about the user.
How do you protect yourself from these predators? First, unprotected voicemail can easily be hacked and might provide hackers with information that you don’t want them to have access to. Set up your voicemail so that a password has to be entered to retrieve messages. Also, if you use your cell phone to do online baking or to shop online, do not use unprotected, free WiFi spots to do so. Use only secure networks that you know and trust.
Fraud has become such a large problem, that a week has been dedicated to fraud awareness around the world – November 6-12, 2011. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) is urging organizations around the globe to focus awareness toward this growing problem. Businesses are asked to take a proactive approach by promoting anti-fraud awareness and education.
There have been recent articles by The Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker.com and Consumer Reports that offer helpful information on how to protect yourself on and off-line. Many identity theft blogs offer tips as well. It would even help to read accounts of those who have had their identity stolen, just to see the impact it would have if it were to happen to you one day. Have you ever received a letter from a company, agency or institution informing you that their data records have been accessed and that you are being notified so that you can take the proper precaution? They might even offer you a year of free identity theft monitoring services, to help put your mind at ease. However, did you know that identity thieves will often keep and either sell or use that sensitive data long after they have acquired it? An identity thief could steal your social security number and not use it for several years. They are waiting for victims to let their guard down, before using the data. After all, will your social security number change in 2-5 years from now? Will your name change? You get the point.
LifeLock has been offering not only identity theft protection services to consumers, but also educational instruction to law enforcement officials nationwide for several years now. This is in an effort to help combat this growing problem of identity theft. There is much work to be done, and many people are unaware of the impact that this can have on them personally and on their families. It is important to be aware of this problem and to join the many that are working to help with the effort to detect and prevent identity theft and fraud.
Whether you choose to monitor your credit yourself, or to use a credit monitoring service, be sure that you don’t ignore this growing problem. Have you seen your credit report lately? If so, did you recognize all of the items listed? If you did not, take steps to report any theft of your credit. Also, regularly check bank and credit card statements for any unusual activity.
With the internet having moved into the age of “social media”, people need to be aware of the dangers that lurk with seemingly “innocent” websites, like Facebook.
Many enjoy the ability to be able to connect with friends and family on Facebook, but they don’t realize the amount of risk associated with their habits. Many Facebook users, especially the younger generations, tend to be willing to (more…)
A 15-year victim of identity theft is finally able to see some closure to his problem.A Las Vegas resident has spent the better part of the last few years working on resolving an issue with his social security number. Turns out that his number was stolen as far back as 1979 and the thief was recently caught.
ABC News reports that the thief stole the identity of a then 35 year old victim. The now 73 year old thief has lived under his “stolen” social security number since 1979 and has been also filing tax returns.
The problem was recently recognized once the victim moved to another state, which prompted the IRS to contact him in regard to unpaid taxes on additional income he was receiving.
It took the victim a long time to convince the IRS that he was not responsible for additional earnings being reported in his name and social security number. He had to personally track down the thief and then contact his local senator for additional help.
The full story is quite interesting. View the full details here at ABC News.
Many of reported data breaches involve computer hacking. Once computer data has been stolen (credit cards, social security numbers, addresses, etc) those affected have no control over whose hands their personal information will end up in.
At that point, if your personal information has not already been compromised (one can check their credit report to see if any new accounts have been opened that are unfamiliar to them) it is good to have some sort of monitoring service that will alert you when new credit is opened in your name or when derogatory credit actions are taken against you. This will give a person time to report any illegal activity to the authorities and begin to clear up any fraudulent accounts long before waiting for their annual credit report “checkup”. If your monitoring service offers it, take advantage of the help they will provide in clearing your name when someone else is using your credit.
One advantage that is not being wisely used is (more…)
There is abundant evidence that people today are very concerned with protecting their identity. Several online identity theft forum threads and blog article comments show that today’s society has yet another threat to contend with, identity thieves. These can show up in the form of online criminals selling credit card information as well as social security numbers. There are several whose identity has been stolen either by someone they are closely related to or someone they once roomed with or had a relationship with.
Whatever the case, being concerned with protecting personal information is common among millions of Americans. Whether you have received a letter from an institution whose records have been compromised or have found your bank account drained, you want to know how you can prevent this from happening again.
There is no easy answer to this dilemma. Due diligence is necessary in order to at least be informed once your social security number has been used, whether you used it or not. With your legitimate credit and debit cards, once they have been used at a store, restaurant, for an online bill payment or run some other way, they are at risk of being stolen, even if you physically hold the card. It might be necessary to log in to online banking and credit card accounts several times weekly to be sure that all charges are yours. If not, contact the card issuer immediately to cancel and replace the card and to report unauthorized charges. Since this is a crime, it is also necessary to file a police report with your local police department. They will give you more information on how to handle the theft and resources you can turn to.
It might help to switch to using cash for most transactions. While a checking account and debit card might be necessary for some online purchases and for paying bills, it could cut down on the probability of your card number being stolen if you don’t have one to use or only have a limited number of transactions on the one you have. Try only having one card (debit) and don’t place all of your funds on that card. Keep funds in an account not accessible by a debit card and only place funds in the debit card account that are needed for purchases you plan to make.
Identity theft is not a crime that one expects to become a victim of, just as one doesn’t expect to become a victim of a burglary or a carjacking, However, it happens around us (if not TO us) more often than we care to think. Many become the victims of someone they know. It is being reported by Javelin Strategy & Research that over 11 million adults fell victim to ID theft in 2009 alone and we aren’t far from finding out how many in 2010.
An article posted on Yahoo’s finance site summarized how terrible the after effects of this crime are. Long after it has taken place, the victims still deal with the aftermath. One such victim received a rude awakening when he got a “thank you” card from a jewelry store he did not purchase a Rolex watch from. This snowballed into him finding out he rented an apartment that he had fully furnished. He also found out he purchased electronics and his tab was over $30,000.
The victim was able to get the phone number to the thief using his name and found out that his identity was purchased on the black market. The thief was later arrested for identity theft and sentenced to five years in prison. The victim, however, was sentenced to 160 hours of phone time and an 8 inch thick file of documents to clear his name. He also still owes $4,000 that he did not charge and his credit rating dropped by 280 points.
One single criminal operation was responsible for two-thirds of all phishing” attacks in the second half of 2009 and is responsible for a two-fold increase in the crime, a report published by the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) stated. Over the last three years, the Anti-Phishing Working Group’s semiannual Global Phishing Survey has become a widely cited source of information about the state of phishing and its effect on Internet users.
“Phishing,” is the process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as user-names, passwords, social security numbers, credit card numbers and other personal and financial information by masquerading as a legitimate sender in an e-mail or other electronic communication. Messages that purport to be from popular social web sites, auction sites, on-line payment processors or web-site technical administrators are commonly used to lure individuals into responding. Phishing is typically done using e-mail or instant messaging, and messages usually instruct the reader to enter personal information at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the one it mimics.
There were 126,697 phishing attacks during the second half of 2009, more than double the number in the first half of the year or from July through December of 2008, the APWG report said. Avalanche, which was first identified in December of 2008, was responsible for almost one-quarter (24%) of attacks in the first six months of 2009 and for almost two-thirds (66%) over the remainder of the year. Avalanche targeted more than 40 major financial institutions, online services, and job search providers.
The APWG report stated that, during the attacks, “ … target institutions, the relevant domain name registrar(s), a domain name registry, and other responders and service providers to all be aware of the campaign and working on mitigation at the same time …” Oddly enough, the very scope of Avalanche’s early coordinated attacks may have resulted in the greater ability of the Internet community to neutralize the group’s later efforts.
The Avalanche gang’s infrastructure was briefly shut down in mid November, and ever since then phishing attacks generated by the group have dropped precipitously. Last month, the gang was only able to launch 59 attacks.
Identity theft is a complex crime. It usually starts with some grain of information about you, and a thief will use that grain to obtain another one, and another one, etc. Once he’s got enough information, the thief will be able to impersonate you, gain access to your credit accounts and create havoc in your life.
The key to preventing identity theft is to pay attention to the details, such as what you carry in your wallet and how you create passwords. These can make all the difference in the world when it comes to preventing identity theft. Passwords, in particular, can be a huge factor.
Your passwords online really are the key to your identity. Behind the passwords is personal information that’s worth a fortune to the right buyer. If you’re protecting that information with your date of birth, your child’s date of birth or your anniversary, you’re not as protected as you could be.
When creating your password, be sure to use letters and numbers; at least eight characters. Don’t use whole words. One of the best ways to create a strong password is to think of a phrase that can be represented numerically. Think in terms of personalized license plates.
Avoid sequences and repeated characters. Longer isn’t better if the letters and numbers you use are sequential or repeated. Use the entire keyboard when creating your password, and include symbols.
And finally, don’t use the same passwords everywhere. Even a strong password is useless if it’s cracked. Create a different password on every Web site that you access, even though it’s a lot of work.
But making things harder for identity thieves is the name of the game when it comes to the safety of you and your family.