Archive for November, 2011
Monday, November 28th, 2011
It’s Cyber Monday and deals are everywhere! If you’re planning on doing some online shopping today, follow these simple rules to ensure your shopping deals don’t turn into identity “steals” for crooks:Use only authenticated websites to conduct business online.
1. Before submitting any sensitive information through a website, check for the locked padlock image — — on your browser’s status bar or look for “https://” (rather than http://) in your browser window. If you have any concerns about the authenticity of a Web page, call the site’s owner to confirm the URL.
2. Before buying anything online, make sure the site is legitimate. If the online retailer is unfamiliar, check their return and privacy policies. If a deal is too good to be true – you should use caution before submitting your credit card and personal information.
3. Be careful with your passwords. Use “strong” passwords that contain both letters and numbers and change these passwords frequently.
4. Be aware of phishing and pharming scams. In these scams, criminals use fake emails and websites to impersonate legitimate organizations. Use caution when opening emails and instant messages from unknown sources. If you’re ever in doubt, contact the organization by phone to inquire about the legitimacy of the email.
5. When making purchases with your debit card, use it as credit rather than debit. The money will still be deducted from your checking account, but your PIN will not be exposed. If you must use your PIN, make sure to cover your keyboard before typing it in, if you’re in a public place.
Popularity: 1% [?]
Monday, November 21st, 2011
Are you vulnerable to identity theft? The short answer is yes, everyone is. However, based on decisions you make and precautions you take, your risk of identity theft can be higher or lower than that of the average American.
Unfortunately, even if you guard your Social Security number like you’d guard a newborn baby, lock your mailbox every day, and keep your computer security software updated, you can still become a victim of identity theft. If this happens, who’s to blame? The San Francisco Chronicle just published an interesting article that lists the individuals and companies that might be putting you at unnecessary risk of identity theft.
Here are the top culprits:
Companies and Their Employees: You hand over your most sensitive data to companies every time you make a purchase, apply for a loan, visit a doctor, spa, or fitness center, and more. But do they protect your data? Not always. Many companies are guilty of failing to adequately store, encrypt or password-protect their customers’ sensitive data. Some don’t even dispose of electronic files and physical documents. To make matters worse, there have been many cases of employees stealing corporate data to get their hands on the information they need to steal customers’ identities.
Hackers: Here are two cases that describe the problem with hackers” 1. Identity thieves stole 46 million credit and debit card numbers from a T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s database, and 2. Information was hacked in 77 million Sony PlayStation users. In the first quarter of 2011, hacking accounted for more than one-third of security breaches. Data breaches, like these, are common enough that you’re information has likely been compromised in some way by now.
Cybercriminals: Scammers use tactics like phishing, pharming, and spyware to trick people into handing over their personal and financial data. You’ve probably received emails or gotten calls from people pretending to be your bank or other trusted organization. They might even link you to a site that looks just like your bank. If you’re not aware of such scams, it’s easy to be fooled by these highly sophisticated scams.
Check out the full article to read about even more culprits—the list may surprise you (your best friend might even be one). And be sure to read our blog regularly—we’ll keep you armed with the knowledge that will keep you safe from identity thieves.
Popularity: 1% [?]
Friday, November 18th, 2011
While most people are conscious of the need to protect their sensitive information in the real world and even when they’re using their PCs, there’s still an excessive amount of trust when it comes to sharing on Facebook and other social networking sites.
Most people simply don’t see a reason to distrust their “friends” in the Facebook world. After these friends are usually people they know, work with, or have some connection with. They’re perfectly comfortable letting these people know where they work, who their family members are, when they were born, where they live, and where they’re headed to dinner tonight. But does this level of sharing put them at risk for identity theft? Absolutely.
Statistics show that at least one-third of social networkers have at least three pieces of information posted on their pages that result in identity theft. Names, addresses, birthdays, kids’ names, pets’ names, phone numbers, and even mother’s maiden names are some of the pieces of data that identity thieves seek when trying to piece together a person’s identity. So when someone posts, “I just had a baby girl and named her Riley, after my mom’s maiden name,” she’s feeding an identity thieve the information needed to steal her identity.
While most people say that they’re concerned about the risks of oversharing on Facebook and other social networks, more than half are unaware of how to use privacy settings and how their data can be misused. While they think they’re sharing their personal data with people they know or are using privacy settings, there are easy ways for identity thieves to slip into this inner circle. Sometimes, they pose as a friend of a friend or they hack into an actual friend’s account to gain access to data.
1. Don’t friend strangers. Sure, you may never get 3,000 friends if you only accept the ones you know but it’s better to protect yourself than build a big group.
2. Freeze your credit. If an identity theft manages to get a hold of your information and use it to attempt to open accounts, you’ll be alerted before the thief is allowed to open a new account in your name.
3. Sign up for an identity theft protection service, such as IDEssentials.
4. Take advantage of TrustedID’s recent acquisition of UnSubscribe, which asseses the risks associated with downloading apps on social networks and passed this information on to you. We’ll give you an overview of an app’s reputation and any risks associated with downloading it before it can access the information stored on your social networking profile. Bam—You’re protected!
Popularity: 1% [?]
Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
As our customers increasingly use social networking sites to engage with friends, family, and businesses, TrustedID’s team of identity theft experts are increasingly focused on finding ways to protect you. Today, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve acquired Unsubscribe, Inc., the creator of the industry’s most advanced social networking security for consumers.
Simply stated, here’s why social networking security is important:
• Nearly one-seventh of the population has an account on a social network, and 23% of all Internet usage involves a social network.
• The majority of consumers don’t take the necessary steps to protect and manage their online identities.
• On Facebook alone, over 200,000 apps have access to the information of over 850 million consumers, causing major security risks.
Our acquisition of Unsubscribe gives us the ability to mitigate the security risk posed by hundreds of thousands of apps. Unsubscribe’s Social Monitor™ scans apps within Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts to determine their risk, based on:
• the amount of information accessed by the app,
• the reputation of the app’s developer, and
• feedback from the community.
By scanning these apps, we can clearly see the risks associated with downloading them and pass this information on to you. We’ll give you an overview of an app’s reputation and any risks associated with downloading it before it can access the information stored on your social networking profile. If you’ve already downloaded a risky app, we’ll give you the ability to remove it—and any others—with a single click.
In a nutshell, we’re doing what we’ve always done—protecting your sensitive data—only now we’re extending our protection to social networking sites. Learn more about this acquisition.
Popularity: 1% [?]
Monday, November 14th, 2011
Identity theft scams have clearly taken a turn for the worse, as identity thieves are increasingly targeting dead children. How do they do it? It’s easier than one would think:
1. They steal the children’s Social Security numbers,
2. They file fraudulent tax claims.
3. They collect tax refund checks.
According to the Boston Herald, these scammers are being aided—albeit inadvertently—by the Social Security Administration itself.
The IRS estimates that dishonest tax filers this past tax season alone submitted returns on 350,000 dead Americans, falsely claiming $1.25 billion in refunds. The root of the problem is the SSA’s Death Master File that lists information, by law publicly available, on everyone who dies in the United States, including their Social Security numbers. This file was originally created before the Internet even existed, with the intention that it would prevent criminals from misusing the personal data of dead people.
The good news is that the IRS can resolve the claims, but privacy laws ban it from disclosing the fraudulent claimants’ names. But who is protecting the victims?
Popularity: 1% [?]
Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
A New York City hotel chain auditor has been charged with stealing hundreds of guests’ credit card information and selling it to a man, who allegedly used it to ring up about $840,000 in charges, including travel and airline tickets.
Lukasz Kruk and Barry Herndon pleaded not guilty to grand larceny, identity theft and other charges. However, the Manhattan district attorney’s office claims the duo compromised 237 accounts over a 3-year period.
The auditor worked for the Amsterdam Hospitality Group, which runs eight boutique hotels in the U.S, and had access to guests’ credit card data.
The big question here is what should you do if your information was compromised in this scam or a similar scam? Here are our recommendations:
1. Keep a close eye on your financial statements. If your credit card data was compromised, you’ll need to watch out for suspicious transactions and report them to your bank or credit card issuer as soon as possible.
2. As your bank or financial institution if they offer e-mail alerts whenever someone uses your credit card.
3. If your account has been misused, consider closing your existing accounts and opening new ones.
4. Putting a fraud alert on your credit report is an important precaution if your data has been breached. A fraud alert tells credit card companies that your identity might have been compromised and you need to be contacted before any new accounts are opened or account changes are made.
5. Regularly review your credit report (at least once a year) to check for suspicious activity.
6. To help you resolve any damage done by a data breach, consider using an identity theft protection service, such as IDEssentials.
While it’s not always possible stop data breaches, these steps go a long way in helping you reverse any damage and restore your identity quickly.
Popularity: 1% [?]
Monday, November 7th, 2011
ABC News reports that identity theft involving tax fraud is increasing faster than law enforcement and government officials can handle, according to testimony today before a House oversight subcommittee. Identity theft to scam fraudulent tax refunds from the government has increased 100 percent over the past three years alone.
”As of Aug. 31 of this year, IRS incident tracking reports indicated that the numbers of taxpayers affected by identity theft has more than doubled since 2008 to over 580,000 taxpayers this year alone,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Department inspector general for tax administration.
Lawmakers have started referring to meetings held by identity thieves in hotel rooms where they file dozens of fake tax returns as “make it rain” parties. Instead of rain, they get cash. To make things even more difficult, the chances of getting caught and punished are low because each fraud case amounts to an average of $3,400, often too little for police to focus on prosecuting. Also, the IRS is limited by law in sharing information from a taxpayer’s return with local law enforcement authorities.
Law enforcement agents say this type of crime is easy. Identity thieves just need a name, Social Security and date of birth, to go online, file a fraudulent tax return, and seek a tax credit.
”In 2010, IRS paid over $12 million to people who were listed as deceased,” said Rep. Todd Platts, R-Pa., the chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Organization. “Service members who were killed in action defending this great nation are often targets of identity thieves, who often use their information to steal tax returns from their families.”
The victims of these crimes suffer in many ways, as well. Statistics show that those who had fraudulent tax returns filed in their names, spent a year and a half getting the situation resolved and receiving their rightful return.
At the hearing, government officials vowed to do more to reduce identity theft tax fraud.
Popularity: 1% [?]