Author Archives: joe

Identity Theft Rises – Protect Yourself From Identity Theft!

The FTC released their annual summary of consumer complaints earlier in 2016 and identity theft complaints took the second spot – behind only debt collection complaints. What is even scarier is the increase in identity theft. There was a 47% increase in reported identity theft complaints since 2014! A 47% increase, it’s time to learn how to protect yourself from identity theft!

They have rolled out a new site that can allow those victims of identity theft to put together a recovery plan, but once you are a victim trying to fix the problem is much harder than avoiding it in the first place! The fact that identity theft is on the rise only reinforces the fact that you must be proactive when looking to protect yourself from identity theft.

There are a number of different ways you can do this. There are many companies out there today that specialize in helping prevent identity theft. At the end of the day, it really comes down to actionable items you can put into place, and knowledge about how you can protect yourself, as well as red flags to be aware of. Sure, you can spend a lot of money monthly or annually to have a little peace of mind, but really putting yourself in a long term position to protect yourself from identity theft means taking personal action.

We offer a no frills way to go on the offensive. It is instantly downloadable and you can start taking action that will be meaningful immediately. Also, there is an unconditional money back guarantee, and for a fraction of the cost of these firms looking to lock you into their product for life to protect you there are no ongoing fees. Take a look at our product, you can view our enhanced identity theft protection website to learn all about it. Don’t become another statistic, take action now. Identity theft is on the rise, get protected today!

Identity Theft Deterrent – Quick Tips on How to Protect Yourself

Identity theft is on the rise. With the digital age there are many more ways for criminals to steal your identity than there have ever been before. While taking care of your digital information is important, overlooking deterrents that have been common practice for years would be a mistake. Today we are going to look at a couple of identity theft deterrent quick tips, both online and via paper.

For online purposes, perhaps one of the strongest things you can do is create strong, unique passwords for your accounts. This seems to be common sense, but it may surprise you to know how common it is for people to create easy to guess passwords. Also, common passwords, such as 1234 and password.

Using a mix of upper case and lower case letters, as well as numbers and symbols is key. Creating a long enough password is also important. It is tremendously more difficult for a cyber criminal to hack into an account with a 6 digit password as it is to hack into one with an 8 digit password. The longer the password you can create, the more secure it is going to be. Keeping your sensitive online accounts locked down with strong passwords is a great identity theft deterrent – plus it is something quite easy to do.

To take this one step further, you should consider opting in to all the two step authentication processes as possible. Not all sites offer this two step authentication, but it is becoming increasingly common and should be a tool you use to deter identity theft. Two step authentication essentially means that you must enter a password as well as a temporary password that the site will text you when you log in. It may seem like a hassle, but the texts come quite quickly when you attempt to log in, and the short amount of time you add in logging in could save you a tremendous amount of time in the future trying to clean up after having an account hacked.

With regards to protecting your identity the old fashioned way, the top tip we have to offer is to purchase and use a paper shredder. This also seems like common sense, but many people simply throw their account statements in the garbage. Getting a cross cut shredder and running your statements through it before discarding them is a key deterrent to identity theft. Everyone should be doing this, it takes only seconds and can save you a lot of time and trouble in the future.

For more information, check out our identity theft deterrent ebook at http://identitytheftdeterrent.com.

Social Network Sites Responsible For Identity Theft Outbreak In Toronto

Toronto Police believe the city elite – CEO’s and wealthy entrepreneurs – are having their identities cloned by criminals who are using Linkedin and similar social networking sites to find their victims.

According to a report in today’s Toronto Sun:

Toronto Police fraud officers said several “high profile” members of the city’s business elite have been defrauded recently after their information were stolen and used to create identities to obtain credit cards or services to accumulate cash or credit.

Insp. Bryce Evans, of the force’s financial crimes unit, said he couldn’t reveal names of the “high profile” Torontonians who were allegedly scammed due to ongoing probes.

He said the investigations requires time and resources since the high-tech crooks are usually in other countries and use a range of false addresses.

“Some people are posting way too much personal information on websites,” Evans said on Thursday. “Thieves are stealing this information to create identities and commit fraud.”

Toronto Det. Alan Spratt said some thieves use Linkedin data and a photograph from another person to create identities, which are used to befriend others online before scamming them for cash.

“People should always verify independently what they are told on the Internet,” Spratt said on Friday. “Never accept what people say and verify information yourself.”

Joe says: Whether a CEO or a 14 year old high school kid, you should always be careful about what personal information you put on social networking sites such as Linkedin and Facebook.

Take a look on Facebook and you can quickly find people who have their personal info open for anyone to see. Info like name, when its their birthday, where they live, school they attend or place they work. All this could easily be used by a criminal to clone their identity. How hard do you think it would be for a criminal to find out where you live if he had your name, photo and the name of your school or place of employment?

Go log in to your Facebook account and any other social networking sites you use right now and make sure privacy settings are set to ‘only show my personal info to my friends’ (or similar depending on the network).

Don’t think that will make your personal information secure though. Although it will keep out casual browsers, any determined criminal won’t be put off by something as trivial as a privacy setting. Facebook has been coming under fire for security breaches and breaking various privacy laws around the world for years and it has long been known to be vulnerable to hackers.

“On July 28, 2010 the BBC reported that security consultant Ron Bowes used a piece of code to scan Facebook profiles to collect data of 100 million profiles. The data collected was not hidden by the user’s privacy settings. Bowes then published the list online. This list, which has been shared as a downloadable file, contains the URL of every searchable Facebook user’s profile, their name and unique ID.” Source: Wikipedia

Just one of the many reasons you won’t find me on Facebook.

Long Term Effects Of ID Theft

long term effects of ID TheftIt’s been over 2 years now since Robert Bryant discovered he was to appear in court for a DWI in Grain Valley even though he had never been arrested for DWI and certainly not in Grain Valley – he’s pretty sure he would have remembered.

Turns out he had been a victim of ID theft and the real person who had been arrested for drink driving had given Bryant’s details and set him up as the criminal.

Luckily for Bryant the resulting mugshot proved he was in fact the victim of ID theft and wasn’t the man arrested but his problems didn’t end there.

Months later a Missouri law firm began chasing him for $11,000 in damages. They had his name, SSN, address details and when he asked where they had got all his personal information from they dropped the bombshell that he had been involved in an accident on 40 highway in Independence, Missouri.

“They started reading off all my personal information, my drivers license and social security number, and I’m like how did you get this information? They said you were in an accident on 40 highway in Independence, Missouri,” Bryant told Fox4 News.

A little more digging and he then discovers there are 2 more warrants out for his arrest. The criminal who had been involved in the accident had provided Bryant’s name and address yet again at the scene of an accident and as there is no law that requires someone to produce any ID when asked to identify themselves by the police, the officer had to accept the criminal was telling the truth.

Bryant had covinced the prosecuters that it was a case of ID theft and they dropped the case soon after. Unfortunately the law firm weren’t so easily convinced and continued to hound Mr. Bryant for damages until eventually he was forced to hire his own lawyer who got the lawsuit dropped – seems lawyers believe lawyers.

Robert Bryant now carries special papers that prove he has been the victim of ID theft. If he should ever be pulled over or actually be involved in an accident without those papers, then he would almost certainly find himself locked up on an outstanding warrant or two.

Joe says: A case that shows just how the long term effects of ID theft can keep coming back at you for years. It’s not just a case of having to close your bank accounts and cancel your cards, someone can be out there ruining your good name for years to come.

While there may not be a law in Missouri requiring a person to produce identification to the police, giving false details is classed as forgery and that’s a felony. Of course, if the criminal knows there are outstanding warrants for them and they are going to prison if they provide their real details they are likely to provide false information.

I believe in most states a driver is required to produce a drivers license if so asked by a police officer.

Source: Fox4

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Online Safety For Young Gamers

online saftey for young gamersMillions of parents will be buying their children computer games this Christmas – Over 15 million copies of ‘MW3’ and 8 million copies of ‘Battlefield’ alone are expected to be sold during the build up to the holidays.

These and other games appeal to our kids (and not so young gamers) because of the online gaming capabilities. They are able to team up with others from anywhere in the world and battle against other teams of gamers.

This teaches them how to work as part of a team and interact with other gpeople and is a good thing. Not knowing the other people that they are chatting to or teamed up with though is the down side to online gaming.

Most parents are aware of the dangers of predators online and the risks of online bullying but you also need to be aware of hackers and identity thieves who target children.

Only this summer the Sony Playstation network was attacked by hackers and millions of accounts were compromised. This should act as a warning to parents because if they can successfully attack a company gaming network such as Sony then how hard do you think it will be to get onto your hard drive?

Here’s some tips on keeping young gamers safe online.

  • Make sure the user names they choose don’t give clues to their whereabouts, age or even sex. You don’t want any personal info in their at all
  • Most games that feature live voice chat include an option that allows the user to disguise their voice so others won’t be able to tell where they are from by listening to their accent, how old they are, their sex etc.  – if it doesn’t I would suggest not buying it
  • Always make sure they use an avatar rather than a picture of themselves
  • If your child is using a computer for their gaming make sure you have an up to date anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall installed and set up – you should have these on all computers but they are absolutely essential for PC’s used for online gaming
  • Be with them when they first set up a new game so you can be sure they use a strong password when they set up their gaming account. The longer the better, random letters, numbers and throw in a symbol or two to such as a * or a !
  • Use the parental controls that are included in your browser to prevent them from trying to download cheat programs. These are often malware programs set up because they know the kids will be searching for “how to’s” for the popular games
  • Make sure they know to not to send anything to other gamers as it may contain private data an hacker can use
  • Webcams are a definite no unless they are only gaming with actual friends
  • If another gamer wants to send them something to help them it’s almost certainly a virus or trojan designed to either do harm or allow them access to your computer. Make sure they know not to accept any files from other gamers.

As well as the above you should also keep the gaming computer downstairs in the living area rather than their bedroom so you can monitor how long they play for.

Have a go yourself so you can get a feel of the game and the type of gamers playing and make sure they know they can come and talk to you if they feel another gamer is bullying them.

Online gaming is great fun but because certain games attract a particular age group the game network can attract undesirables looking for kids and teens who will have their guard down. Talking to your young gamers and explaining how not everyone is who they say they as well as making them aware of the dangers of viruses, trojans and online identity theft will lower the risks considerably.

You can find more useful information about protecting children online as well as protecting your home network from hackers and identity thieves at the National Cyber Security Alliance.

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Avoid Identity Theft This Christmas

avoid identity theft this christmasThe number of reported cases of identity theft is fast approaching 10 million a year say the FTC so the odds of it happening to you are continually shortening.

Now clearly having your identity stolen at any time of the year is never going to pleasant but with the FTC estimating the average victim spends $500 and around 30 hours sorting out the damage left by the thief, stress levels are sure to be even higher should you fall victim over the Christmas period.

Unfortunately it is an irony of modern life that as the holiday season approaches, your chances of avoiding identity theft shorten even further. We are out shopping a lot more than usual for all those presents which increases the chances of us losing or having our wallet or purse stolen.

It’s the same online – the credit cards will be taking an even bigger hit this year as most families are struggling through the recession and will be putting Christmas on the plastic.

TransUnion have some precautions they recommend you take to help you avoid identity theft during the holiday period:

Monitor your credit. Consider enrolling in a credit monitoring service that will alert you via email to changes in your credit report. This way you will know quickly if someone else has tried to open a new credit account in your name.

When holiday shopping, only carry essential documents with you. Only take your driver’s license and the credit card or cards you intend to use that day. Do not carry your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport, and consider leaving at home other types of cards that may have identifying information on them, like wholesale club cards or library cards.

Before you surf the “Net” on Cyber Monday, consider changing your account passwords and keep a list of them in a secure place. Passwords and PIN numbers should be a random mix of letters, numbers and special characters, which makes it harder for identity thieves to guess.

The holidays mean plenty of extra trash. Shred everything that contains personal, identifying information before throwing it out.

Keep a close eye on your credit card bills. This is especially important during the holidays, when close attention can help you catch any charges you don’t recognize on your statement. An added bonus – you’ll also be more aware of how much you’re spending and be better prepared to stay within your holiday spending budget.

When shopping online, only do business with websites that have security measures in place to protect you. Before you provide any personal or payment information, look for a URL that begins with https (not http) and a lock emblem on the page, typically next to the address bar.

The above are all excellent tips and I would add changing your online passwords once you have finished your Christmas shopping to the list.

If you have been caught out by a phishing scam it can be some time before the criminal gets around to using the info because they use automation to send out literally millions of emails so changing your passwords makes the data they have collected worthless and they will move on to the next victim.

If you are someone who uses the same password for everything and it is made up of initials and a date of birth or house number, add an usual character to the end to prevent it being guessed – A single & sign or a * added to the start or end can increase their strength hundred fold.

Simply by being someone who is aware of the dangers of identity theft you have already lowered your risk considerably so don’t obsess so much that it spoils your Christmas – Just take some reasonable precautions to avoid identity theft happening to you as you shop for your presents this year.

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Child Identity Theft 51 Times More Likely Than For An Adult

child identity theftA new study has found that a child in America is 51 times more likely to have their identity stolen than an adult.

Carnegie Mellon Cylab looked at over 40,000 juveniles and found 4,311 of them had been a victim of identity theft. That’s a huge 10.2% for our kids while as an adult we have a 0.2% chance of being a victim based on 2009/10 figures.

Stealing a child’s social security number is the jackpot as far as idenity thieves are concerned because the child is unlikely to become aware of the problem until they reach adulthood and go to open a bank account or apply for a credit card. – then of course the sh*t hits the fan but it’s far too late.

According to the Cylab report, another reason the criminals go after a child’s social security number is that there is no way for anyone to check what name belongs with the number.

“one reason that minor Social Security numbers are so valuable is that there is currently no process or organization, like an employee or creditor, to check what name and birth date is officially attached to that Social Security number. As long as an identity thief has a Social Security number with a clean history, the thief can attach any name and date of birth to it.”

The report includes several identity theft stories that will shock most parents such as the story of Kentucky youngster Nathan. At just 14 years old it was discovered he already had a credit history going back over a decade.

In his credit history his parents found a foreclosed mortgage and several credit cards all in the name of a suspect from California. The thief had looked after his new credit file and established a good credit history for the first few years.  So much so that he was then able to buy a $605,000 home in California.

Soon after the home loans and credit cards began defaulting and eventually the bank foreclosed and credit card debts were handed to collection agencies and the identity theft came to light. Police estimate the fraud is for over $607,000

Child identity theft isn’t always about starting a new credit history though. Many are stolen to be used by illegal immigrants so they can get utilities switched on and are able to start work with no questions asked.

Joe Says: At the moment requesting a juvenile’s credit file is usually a waste of time because a credit file is attached to a name, date of birth and a social security number. Because the identity thief attaches the SSN to a new name and DOB any credit check returns a blank.

You can however take steps to lower the chances of it happening by taking a few sensible precautions.

Of the 4311 children that had their identity stolen, over 40% were in their teens. As all parents know, teens want to be treated as adults and as such will want to fill their wallets with as many cards as they can so as to mimick Ma and Pa. For their own good do not let that include their social security card. Many identities are stolen when a wallet or purse is lost and falls into the wrong hands.

For this reason you should really set an example by not carrying your own SSN either.

Never give your child’s personal details unless you know what will happen to them. It is your legal right to ask if they will be stored, if so for how long and where? What security is in place to protect the info? If they are to be destroyed wil they be shredded?

Watch the video below to see just how the criminal steals and then uses your child’s identity.

AllClearId who supplied the video above offer a free check on your child’s social security number which reports all records associated with it regardless of DOB or name attached to it. I’ve had a look at it and at the moment it seems to be an excellent method of finding out whether your Son or Daughter has already fallen victim to child identity theft. I have no affiliation with the company and haven’t used any of their services so use your own diligence.

Source: Cylab

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Mailbox Thief Charged With Identity Theft

mailbox thiefA man faces 2 years for aggravated identity theft and 15 years for fraud after he stole a credit card in the mailbox of one of the homes he visited whilst carrying out his job delivering a local newspaper.

Andre Tyler from Germantown, Maryland, took the Discover credit card from the mailbox and then activated it. He then used the card to go on a shopping spree in his local town. The Maryland Gazette reported the case saying:

According to the plea agreement, Tyler took a Discover credit card from the mailbox of a house on Griffith Road in Laytonsville and activated the card. On March 27, Tyler used the card to buy gas and make purchases at Germantown Auto Spa, Pep Boys, Advance Auto Parts, Euro Motorcars and Hot Tint Speed and Sound. On April 11, Discover suspended the card. On April 19, Tyler called Discover Financial, pretended to be the homeowner at the Griffith Road address and reactivated the card. From March 27 to April 26, Tyler charged $4,744.76 to the card, according to the plea agreement.

Tyler had been delivering The Examiner in the Damascus, Etchison and Laytonsville area for nine or 10 months before his arrest, according to Montgomery County charging documents. He started taking mail from mailboxes sometime before Christmas 2010, according to the documents.      Source: Maryland Gazette

Joe Says:

If you have ordered a new credit card or your debit/store card is running out so you are expecting a new one – and it doesn’t show up promptly then ring the company up and ask when/if it has been sent. It is in their interests to get your credit card to you as fast as possible – the sooner you have it the sooner you can start using it – so you are not going to be waiting weeks for it.

If they did send it promptly then ask if it has been activated and if so get them to cancel it immediately and then contact your local police to report it. Even if it hasn’t been activated but it seems to have gone ‘missing in action’ I would recommend you cancel it and ask them to issue a new one.

Mailbox theft is one of the easiest ways a criminal can carry out identity theft and it seems to be on the increase. I personally use a PO box and have done for years just for the peace of mind. It’s cheaper than you may think and although it can be inconvenient at times, removing the risk of both mailbox theft and identity theft makes it a small price to pay as far as I am concerned.

16000 LA Patients At Risk From Medical Identity Theft

medical identity theft at UCLAUCLA has contacted over 16,000 patients and warned them they could be a target of medical identity theft after an external hard drive with their medical details was stolen from a Doctor’s home.

Luckily the hard drive was encrypted but unfortunately the password was written on a piece of paper which is also missing. The paper was kept close by the hard drive – oh dear.

The burglary took place in September but it has taken until now to locate all the effected patients to warn them.

According to the LA Times this isn’t the first time UCLA Health System has had a major breach of patient privacy.

Between 2005 and 2009, hospital officials were repeatedly caught and fired for reviewing, without authorization, the medical records of dozens of celebrities, including Britney Spears and Farrah Fawcett. That prompted a state law imposing escalating fines on hospitals for patient privacy lapses. State regulators later fined Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in connection with privacy breaches involving the records of Michael Jackson. Source: LA Times

The medical records range from July 2007 to July 2011 and includes patients from the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center, Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Mattel Children’s Hospital as well as outpatient clinics.

The information on the hard drive included patients addresses, birth dates, medical record numbers and medical information but did not include any financial information or social security numbers.

UCLA released a statement saying that they had hired a data security company to assist any patients worried they may be at risk from medical identity theft and have notified the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights although they point out they have no evidence the records on the hard drive had been accessed.

Joe Says: While this may be a random burglary and the hard drive was taken without knowledge of what was on it, it would pay to fall on the side of caution if you believe your details were on it.

  • Contact the credit bureaus and set up a fraud alert.
  • You should probably also check your credit report for anything out of the ordinary.
  • Stay extra vigilant for the next six months or so.

If you do spot anything at all out of the ordinary use the contact details sent to you by UCLA to let the data security company know immediately as they will be able to prevent any further damage as well as correcting any already done.

I can’t let this one go without mentioning the password. It is completely pointless setting a password if you then write it down on a post it note and stick it on your monitor. If you have to write down a password then put it in your wallet and NEVER write what it is for.