June 19th, 2013
Identity thieves are always looking for the most fruitful opportunities, and seniors tend to have stronger financial standing and more readily available cash than other demographics. In addition, older Americans are one of the fastest-growing populations for new Internet users—so as more of their information becomes available online, the threat increases.
Luckily, there are several relatively simple steps that can help you keep yourself, or your older family and friends, safe from identity theft. Here is a list of our TOP 10 protection tips for seniors:
- Stay up-to-date on popular phone and email scams targeting the older population.
- Place fraud alerts or even a credit freeze to keep an extra close watch on your information.
- Help reduce your amount of unsolicited (junk) mail to avoid mail scams.
- Ensure your smartphones, tablets and other devices are up-to-date with antivirus software.
- Request background checks and references for all caretakers, housekeepers, etc.
- If caretakers come to your house, make sure all sensitive information is locked away.
- Shred or burn documents that contain your personal information.
- Monitor bank statements and credit reports regularly for any suspicious activity.
- Be aware of caretakers/friends/acquaintances who constantly complain about financial hardship.
- Don’t carry social security cards in wallets or purses.
Bonus Tip! The best way to proactively help protect yourself against identity theft is to choose a service that covers all the bases—for your identity and your credit. TrustedID’s IDEssentials solution offers over a dozen identity theft protections, plus 3-bureau credit monitoring, report and scores. In addition, you instantly get a $1 million service warranty and access to our expert On-Call Protection Specialists via phone, email and chat.
We hope these tips will give you a head-start toward protecting your entire identity. If you found this post helpful, feel free to leave your comments below, or visit our TrustedID Facebook page to share a tip or two of your own!
Popularity: 1% [?]
June 17th, 2013
All new, exclusive protection for AARP members and their families!
Many Americans over the age of 50 have worked to build good credit and financial standing and are quickly becoming one of the fastest-growing demographics of Internet users—making them popular targets for identity thieves. In response to this trend and with a strong desire to do more to protect 50+ Americans against identity theft, we’re thrilled to announce the arrival of AARP® Credit and Identity Theft Protection from TrustedID®.
AARP, a membership organization leading positive social change and delivering value to people age 50 and over through information, advocacy and service, wanted to help alleviate the worry about the growing threat of identity theft. TrustedID has developed a service that uniquely meets the needs of AARP members—with protection for their credit, identities, online reputations and privacy. Members also benefit from over a dozen safeguards, exclusive pricing from TrustedID and access to dedicated TrustedID On-Call Protection Specialists, 24/7.
AARP Credit and Identity Theft Protection from TrustedID offers members enhanced identity and credit protection in monthly/annual, as well as individual/family plans. The service includes a combination of comprehensive credit and identity safeguards along with member-exclusive features you can’t find in any other identity protection service available. Features include:
- 3-Bureau Credit Monitoring, Report and Scores
- Exclusive Monthly Score Monitoring
- Social Network Monitor
- Court Records Scanning
- Tax Identity Theft Protection
- Social Security Number Scanning
- Lost Wallet Protection
- Black Market Internet Monitoring
- Medical Benefits Protection
- Fraud Alert Reminder Service
- $1 Million Service Warranty
- 24/7 Access to TrustedID On-Call Protection Specialists
We are truly thrilled to offer a fully-customized, exclusive service to help protect AARP members and their families. For the full press release, click here. For more information about AARP Credit and Identity Theft Protection from TrustedID, visit www.aarpidprotection.com.
Popularity: 1% [?]
May 22nd, 2013
Do more to protect yourself and your loved ones while you’re enjoying time away from home.
Identity thieves eagerly await summer vacationers who want nothing more than to let their guard down during much-needed time off. So, whether you’re planning a solo trip overseas to see the sights or a beach retreat with your family for relaxation, it’s important to take extra precautions to protect your personal information before you check out and unwind.
Planes, trains and automobiles are just the beginning. Each type of vacation involves a variety of unique risks based on the various who, what, where, when, why and hows. Taking into consideration a few of the most popular types of vacations, here are some helpful tips to help protect yourself and your loved ones from identity theft while you’re away:
The beach resort get-away:
- Lock or hide away wallets, sensitive documents, ipads, smartphones, etc., in your room. Everyone knows someone who has had items stolen at a resort. Any credible resort offers a safe in the room. Use it! Or at least keep valuables well-hidden and out of plain view.
- Don’t leave valuable items unattended at the pool or beach. Check on your belongings periodically, or ask a family member or friend to keep an eye on your stuff while you’re swimming.
- Try not to give out your credit card number over the hotel phone. If the hotel staff or a touring company asks for it, find out if you can give it in person. Be wary of random late-night phone calls, as they can be scammers posing as staff.
The overseas adventure:
- Beware of pickpockets. Yes, they exist outside of Charles Dickens novels, and they are increasingly clever. Keep your cash, credit cards and ID’s in a secure place – preferably a money belt that’s more difficult to grab than a wallet or purse.
- Keep a written record of important contact information. Having the contact information of important institutions such as embassies and banks on hand allows you to quickly take action in case valuable items get stolen.
- Scan and email important documents to yourself before you leave. Scan your passport, credit cards (front for card number and back for phone number) and any other critical information you would need if your personal items were lost or stolen.
- Don’t let your luggage out of sight. The frequent airport courtesy announcements are no joke. Never let your luggage out of your sight, especially while in an airport, train, or bus station.
The classic road trip:
- Don’t leave anything of value in your vehicle. If you leave valuable items such as purses, computers and smartphones in plain view in your car, your car becomes an immediate target.
- Be cautious while using public Wi-Fi’s. If you’re using public Wi-Fi in motels or internet cafes, never access personal information on your device, especially your bank accounts.
- Use bank-owned ATM’s only. Sadly, there have been an increasing number of stolen account information and PINs from ATMs. Avoid stand-alone, unaffiliated ATM’s and stick with bank ATMs whenever possible.
Meanwhile, back at the homestead…
Don’t forget about your home! Burglars and criminals are on a prowl during summer, targeting empty nests. Follow these steps to help keep your home safe while you’re away:
- Never announce vacation plans on social media. Don’t make it easy for friends of friends to see you’re not home. Also be wary of posting pictures of your trip if your privacy settings aren’t up to snuff.
- Stop mail collection while you’re gone. Either place a “stop” order on mail or ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail while you’re away. An over-stuffed mailbox may as well be an invitation to come on in.
- Don’t leave clues to your absence. Have trusted friends or neighbors stop by to check on the house, or set lamp timers. If it looks like there are still people at home, you are much less likely to be robbed.
Take necessary precautions before you leave and while you’re away. It’ll help you spend less time worrying about identity thieves and more time enjoying whatever destination you choose.
Popularity: 7% [?]
February 20th, 2013
As tax season kicks into high gear across the country, the IRS is trying to tackle a rapidly growing problem — tax-related identity theft. Even though the IRS detected about 940,000 fraudulent returns for 2011 claiming $6.5 billion in refunds, there were potentially another 1.5 million undetected cases of tax identity theft. Treasury Department investigators also estimated that another $21 billion could be refunded to identity thieves over the next five years.
We wanted to find out how much the average American citizen knows about tax identity theft, and what role they believe the IRS should play in preventing tax identity theft. Today, we announced the results of the survey. Here are some of our key findings:
Consumers believe that the IRS is fully responsible for ensuring that no one can file a return in their name and claim their tax refund:
56% of consumers totally agree or mostly agree that the IRS is 100% responsible for ensuring that no one can file a return in their name and claim their tax refund
Consumers are unaware or unsure about what tax identity theft is:
51% of consumers have never heard about tax identity theft
45% of consumers have a poor understanding of tax identity theft
Many consumers believe that the IRS is trustworthy when it comes to protecting their Social Security number and other private information:
50% of consumers believe that the IRS is very or extremely trustworthy
7% of consumers believe that the IRS is not trustworthy at all
The survey indicates that the IRS has to increase awareness of this growing threat as the majority of consumers have never even heard about tax identity theft. Furthermore, while many consumers believe the IRS is trustworthy, the growing number of tax identity theft cases creates a serious and growing gap between perception and reality.
The IRS must find a way to protect consumers from falling victim to tax identity theft and work to develop a quicker resolution for victims. If you want to learn more about tax identity theft, check out our latest blog post on how to ‘Help Protect Your Tax Refund From Identity Thieves’.
For the ultimate protection, sign up for a comprehensive identity protection service like IDEssentials which helps safeguard your personal and financial information, including your SSN, bank accounts, credit cards, online profiles, credit reports and scores, and much more.
Popularity: 20% [?]
February 12th, 2013
Unlike most of us, identity thieves can’t wait for tax season! It’s prime time to steal your information, file under your name and cash in on YOUR refund. Tax related identity theft has climbed more than 650% from 2008 to 2012, with more than 1.2 million cases in 2012 alone. Even worse, it can take 6 months or more to resolve these cases and provide refunds or other relief to victims.
A simple, yet important step everyone should take to minimize the risks of becoming a victim of tax identity theft is to file your return as early as possible! Tax identity theft occurs before most people file their legitimate returns. So, the longer you wait, the more time identity thieves have to steal your information and your refund.
Considering all three ways taxes are filed, online, via a tax professional or on paper, we’ve developed some more tips to help keep you—and your refund—safe.
E-filing: The fast and easy solution
It’s safe to say that if around 80% of individual tax returns are filed electronically via tax-programs like TurboTax and H&R Block, it’s a faster, easier option. However, filing online still exposes you to security and privacy risks. Cyber scammers are just waiting for opportunities to capture your information, so help protect yourself by following these tips:
- Be vigilant about imposters. Ensure that you’re filing your taxes with a legitimate, reputable tax program such as H&R Block or TurboTax.
- Beware phishing schemes. Keep in mind that the IRS does NOT communicate with tax payers with email or phone, so beware of any “IRS email”—it could be a scam.
- Update your firewall and spyware. Hackers will try to get access to your personal information, so beef up the security software on all your devices.
Tax Preparers: The ‘not me’ method
If you enlist the help of a tax professional (or a friend/family member who happens to be a tax professional) to save yourself from…well…yourself, keep in mind what exactly you’re handing over. Here are some tips to guard yourself against deceitful or careless tax preparers:
- Choose wisely. Avoid preparers who aggressively insist they can get you a larger refund, or who guarantee results or base fees on a percentage of the amount of the refund.
- Ask for referrals. Ask your friends and coworkers to recommend a preparer they’ve known and trusted for a while.
- Do some due diligence. Ask the tax preparer how your information will be stored. Will it be encrypted? Who has access to this information? Has he/she undergone a thorough background screening?
Paper Filing: The old school way
There are still some who prefer paper and/or aren’t eligible for e-filing. Unfortunately, paper filing is the least secure way to file taxes. Paperwork is easily stolen or lost in the mail. Some tips to minimize the risks associated with paper filing are:
- Store paperwork securely. Keep your documents in a safe and secure location. Shred any paperwork you no longer need before you dispose of it.
Drop off your envelope at the post office. Too much mail is stolen out of mailboxes, so the safest option is to take your tax return to your local post office or put it in a secure drop box.
- Use Certified Mail. This serves as proof of delivery in case the tax return or payment gets lost. You’ll also get a confirmation once the IRS receives your documents or payment.
Rather than suffering through the consequences of tax identity theft—or any other type of identity theft—be proactive! For the ultimate protection, sign up for a comprehensive identity protection service like IDEssentials which helps safeguard your personal and financial information, including your SSN, bank accounts, credit cards, online profiles, credit reports and scores, and much more.
Popularity: 29% [?]
January 3rd, 2013
Take our Protection Pledge! Eating healthier, exercising more, and perhaps landing a new job are the old-standbys for a New Year. We encourage you to do something different for 2013. Commit to be in better control of your identity, your online identity and your privacy in new, proactive ways.
Many identity and privacy threats from years past endure, but all-new threats lurking in unexpected places like online banking through your smartphone to location-sharing on Facebook provide criminals with new opportunities to access and steal sensitive information.
In order to help you take your identity and privacy protection to the next level, we’ve put together some steps you can take to kick-off your 2013 Protection Pledge:
Secure all of your devices—especially anything mobile you use.
With smartphones and tablets, the whole idea is to benefit from quick, instant access to your useful information. This means if your mobile device goes wandering, someone else might be a finger swipe away from information meant for your eyes only. Be it a PIN, a clever password or zigzag swipe pattern, load it on your device and lock it up!
Wipe clean your OLD devices.
On the nice list? Good 8th night? Many will be un-wrapping the latest and greatest mobile toy. But what to do with old ones? Hmm… Whether you decide to sell, donate or toss, it’s important that you remove ALL of your data. Simply deleting files is not enough. Use disk wipe services for laptops, and install wiping software on your smartphone to remove any stored data.
Remove your name from data broker lists to better protect your privacy.
A ton of unwanted mail starts with data brokers. These personal information mongers collect and sell your personal information to any company wanting to mail anyone and everyone. Regain control of your personal information by having your name and address removed from data brokers’ marketing lists with our MailStop Shield Service. This reduces unwanted mail and protects your privacy.
Restrict access to your info on social media—we mean it.
There are constantly new dangers on social networks. We feel encouraged to share more and more information online every year, and privacy risks are immense. Pay close attention to your privacy settings at least once a month, and don’t “overshare” with complete strangers.
Don’t give out your zip code to retailers.
Not even if they ask with a smile. Knowing your zip code allows retailers to easily find your entire address so they can send you unwanted mail. By giving out personal information such as your email, phone number and zip code, you also pave the way for identity thieves.
Put a Google Alert on your name.
It sounds very egoist, but it makes perfect sense. Set up Google Alerts to track your name. This way you can monitor search engine results and learn what others can find out about you. If you discover public information that could damage your reputation or puts your privacy at risk, contact the source and ask them to remove the information.
Create Pa$$_w0rDz! like never before.
There is no better time for updating or changing your passwords than the beginning of a new year. In 2012, large companies like Global Payments, Zappos and LinkedIn became victims of data breaches, exposing sensitive information of millions of users. While any site that requires a password is at risk, you can reduce this risk by creating strong, complex passwords that are difficult to hack, even for a professional.
Popularity: 12% [?]
October 16th, 2012
In July 2012, the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus sent a letter to nine of the top data brokers requesting information about the collection, use and management of Americans’ personal information. Personal information collected by Data Brokers is used to deliver marketing information based on demographics and other key variables, resulting in a flood of junk mail in your mailbox.
We wanted to find out what average American citizens knew about Data Brokers and how much control they wanted over their personal information held by Data Brokers. We conducted a survey among 2,900 randomly selected Catalog Choice members.
Today, we announced the results of the survey. Here are some of our key findings:
Less than 20% of consumers have a good understanding of data brokers:
- Only 18% of consumers have significant or complete understanding of how to define a data broker company.
- Only 16% of consumers have significant or complete understanding of what information data brokers collect.
- Only 20% of consumers have significant or complete understanding of what data brokers do with that information.
Consumers want access to and control over the information data brokers collect:
- 76% of consumers feel that it is important to be notified about information data brokers collect.
- 71% of consumers feel that it is important to be able to access and see information data brokers collect (77% feel that it is important to be able to modify that information).
- 80% of consumers feel that it is important to be able to opt out of the distribution and sale of information or delete the information that data brokers collect.
Not surprisingly, most people are confused about how data brokers operate and want to better control how data brokers handle their personal information. At Catalog Choice, we’re helping consumers gain greater control over their mailboxes. We believe you should be in control of your personal information.
Our MailStop Shield service can help you stop data brokers from freely trading your identity. The service removes your information from data brokers lists, allows you to track the progress of your opt-outs and helps keep unwanted mail out of your mailbox.
To start removing your name and address from data broker lists, sign up for MailStop Shield.
Popularity: 13% [?]
September 17th, 2012
A single address in Lansing, Michigan was used to file 2.137 tax returns, leading to more than $3.3 million in refunds. And that just scratches the surface…
According to recent reports by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the IRS may have issued more than $5 billion in tax refunds in 2011 to fraudsters who assumed the identity of the deceased, children, or others who normally wouldn’t file a tax return. Treasury Department investigators also estimated that another $21 billion could be refunded to identity thieves over the next five years.
Despite the IRS continuously increasing its efforts to fight tax fraud, identity thieves appear to be one step ahead. 938,664 fake tax returns were detected by the IRS during the 2011 processing year, but another 1.5 million cases of tax fraud remained undetected, as reported by TIGTA.
One of the biggest concerns for the IRS is the lack of timely access to information that could help them verify valid tax returns. In the most extreme cases, like the Lansing, Michigan, identity thieves used the same address to file hundreds or even thousands of potentially fraudulent returns.
For more insights, read the full report.
Popularity: 7% [?]
August 22nd, 2012
With an estimated two million victims each year, medical identity theft is one of the fastest growing types of identity theft. Even though the media focuses primarily on patients as potential victims, medical identity theft can have extremely damaging implications for physicians. Los Angeles-based internist Anne Peters learned the hard way…
In 2006, Peters received several phone calls from patients she never treated. An international crime ring had stolen her medical credentials and set up shop under her name, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars. It took Peters six years and countless hours to clear her name. Today, she is high in demand as a speaker on medical identity theft prevention and helps raise awareness among her colleagues.
Physicians should work with patients and employees to help prevent and detect medical ID theft. Here are 4 preventive measures to reduce the risk of medical identity theft:
1. Pay attention to claims and payments from patients you’ve never treated. Follow up and don’t just assume it’s a mistake, especially if it happens more than once.
2. Review your Medicare remittance notice, and watch out for listed services you’ve never performed or payments you never received.
3. Do routine checks of your Medicare provider’s enrollment to see if any other practices have been set up with your Medicare identifier.
4. Check your credit reports for accounts you don’t recognize. If you see accounts you didn’t open, or debts on your accounts that you can’t explain, follow up and contact the bureau.
Popularity: 10% [?]
August 8th, 2012
When you vacation, your risk of exposure to identity theft often increases. Identity thieves know that travelers tend to let their guard down while on vacation. So it’s important to take some precautions before you let loose or hang ten:
Travel light and keep your wallet thin:
Before you take on your summer adventure, go through your wallet and remove unnecessary credit/debit cards, as well as anything displaying your personal information. We also recommend you make copies of important documents before you leave, such as passport, driver’s license and travel tickets, in case something should happen to them.
Stay away from unsecured networks:
Public hotel computers and unsecure Wi-Fi connections are easy targets for hackers and identity thieves. If you need to check your email, always ensure that you’re using a secure network. NEVER access sensitive information, such as your bank account, on these networks!
Make use of hotel and room safes:
While you shouldn’t carry personal documents with you when you’re out and about, hotel rooms aren’t necessarily the safest option. Smartphones, tablets and laptops contain a huge amount of valuable data, so use room or hotel safes to lock these valuable documents and electronic items away.
Avoid stand-alone ATMs:
Stand-alone ATMs are more likely to have skimming devices, so stay on the safe side, and stick with bank ATMs whenever possible. It’s always a good sign when there are cameras nearby. This will help to keep you safe from ATM skimmers, as well as criminals who may attempt to rob you at the machine.
It sounds old school, but this DOES still happen. Pickpockets prey on you in high traffic areas such as malls, amusement parks and sporting events. Some are only interested in cash, but others are out for your driver’s license and SSN. Keep your credit cards and ID’s in a secure place, preferably a money belt that’s more difficult to grab than your wallet.
Leave checkbooks at home:
Checking account fraud is one of the most difficult types of identity theft from which to recover, and being far from home will only add to your frustration. When traveling, use cash, traveler’s checks, or credit cards for purchases.
Don’t let the world know you’re on vacation:
Naturally, you want to share your excitement and plans with Facebook friends and Twitter followers, but keep in mind that when you tell the Internet that your home will be unattended for the next couple of weeks, there’s no better opportunity for a burglar to empty out your house. Share travel plans only with close friends!
Popularity: 11% [?]