Archive for April, 2012
Friday, April 27th, 2012
According to the New York Times, despite a veto threat from President Obama, the House passed a bill that encourages intelligence agencies and businesses to share information about threats to computer systems, including attacks on American Web sites by hackers in China and other countries.
Under the bill, the federal government can share classified information with private companies to help them protect their computer networks. Companies, in turn, could voluntarily share information about cyberthreats with the government and would generally be protected against lawsuits for doing so if they acted in good faith.
The White House opposed the bill, saying it could “undermine the public’s trust in the government as well as in the Internet by undermining fundamental privacy, confidentiality, civil liberties and consumer protections.”
In addition, the White House said the government should set “minimum cybersecurity performance standards” for the private sector — an approach resisted by House Republican leaders.
“The White House believes the government ought to control the Internet, government ought to set standards and government ought to take care of everything that’s needed for cybersecurity,” said Speaker John A. Boehner. “They’re in a camp all by themselves.”
“We can’t have the government in charge of our Internet,” Mr. Boehner added.
Popularity: 10% [?]
Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
Want a little extra money from the Internal Revenue Service?
When presented with this question, who wouldn’t? Unfortunately, phishers are banking on your eagerness to get more of your hard earned cash back from the IRS. That’s why we’re warning you to watch out for emails that include subject lines like the question above.
Now that most people have filed their taxes, a new round of phishing tax scams are spreading. Some emails include realistic looking (but phony) IRS logos and promise people refunds if they follow the simple instructions in the email.
In most cases, victims are sent to phishing sites that ask them to confirm their personal and financial information, such as Social Security numbers and bank account details. While they say they need this information to send the refund, in reality they want to commit identity theft and financial fraud.
The bottom line is that the IRS will NEVER ask you for any information via email or even over the phone. So be on alert for these types of emails and delete, delete, delete.
Popularity: 18% [?]
Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report raised major concerns over child privacy in regards to mobile applications designed for children.
The FTC reviewed the promotional pages for 400 apps marketed to children and found that fewer than 2 percent disclosed what personal information is collected or how it is used. The commission reported that smart-phone apps collect personal data from the device automatically, including the user’s location, phone number, list of contacts and call logs, and share that with others.
The review did not delve into what information apps actually are collecting from children, but the FTC is looking into that and plans to release its findings within the next four months.
“Parents should be able to learn before they download apps what information will be used and how it’s shared,” said Patricia Poss, one of the FTC report authors.
Apps aimed at children feature everything from alphabet games and nursery rhymes to storybooks and animal puzzles. Some parents don’t want to expose their children to advertisements embedded in apps, because research has shown children are less savvy at discerning the difference between content and advertising. Other parents might not be concerned about targeted ads but draw the line at apps that track a child’s location.
Popularity: 11% [?]
Saturday, April 14th, 2012
This week, Facebook announced that you can now download an expanded archive of your Facebook account history. This feature Download Your Information, gives you a copy of what you’ve shared on Facebook, such as photos, posts, messages, your friends list, and chat conversations. You can also access additional categories of information, including previous names, friend requests you’ve made, and IP addresses you logged in from. This feature is available from your Facebook Account Settings.
While this gives users a snapshot of their Facebook data, some argue that it’s not enough. The archives don’t include all of the categories of data Facebook stores and they don’t clarify which particular categories of information third parties are able to see. This means that you don’t see an advertiser’s view of your data.
The Europe V Facebook group called the rollout of this new feature a “partial success” but said that Facebook is still not fulfilling its obligation under European law to grant users access to all their personal data. The Download Your Information tool only holds 22 categories as opposed to the 84 data categories users should get access to under European law.
Europe vs. Facebook has published a form with the European Commission that Facebook members can use to file a complaint about not getting full access to their data.
Popularity: 58% [?]
Friday, April 13th, 2012
You may be thinking “why would anyone steal a child’s identity”? For starters, they are easy targets; some say it is like taking candy from a baby. Your kids have no credit history and perfect financial records—factors that are extremely attractive to identity thieves. In addition, it will likely be years before the theft is detected, as children do not use their personal information to get loans or run credit reports. Since most credit reporting agencies and lenders don’t verify the age of applicants, identity thieves can use a child’s name to obtain credit cards, loans, and much more. For these reasons, criminals see children as easy and valuable targets.
Prevention is the best tool you have to fight identity theft. When it comes to limiting the opportunities a thief has to steal your child’s identity, here are some tips you may find helpful:
• Avoid giving out your child’s Social Security number unless necessary. Make sure that medical facilities take proper precautions with your child’s information and complain if your child’s school uses Social Security numbers to identify students.
• Shred all papers that contain your child’s personal information before throwing them out.
• Monitor incoming mail in your child’s name. Credit card offers or even debt collection notices may indicate credit activity. If you see anything unusual, contact the sender to find out where they got your child’ information.
• Do not carry your child’s Social Security card in your wallet. If you need to carry a health insurance card with you, carry a photocopy version with the number cut out.
• Teach your children not to give out personal information without your permission.
• Read this chapter with your kids, so they’ll understand why and when they should take precautions.
• Consider enrolling your kids in an identity theft protection service. When selecting a service, look for one that sets fraud alerts with the three major credit bureaus so that new accounts cannot be opened in your child’s name without your consent.
Popularity: 14% [?]
Thursday, April 12th, 2012
While April 15 is a dreaded date for most Americans who despise doing their taxes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. When all that dreary tax stuff is out of the way, you’re free to enjoy spring. With spring in full bloom, why not give some thought to spring cleaning?
Spring cleaning your financial documents is one of the best things you can do in 2012 to protect your identity. Organizing and protecting statements and other documents you receive goes a long way in preventing this crime. So how do you get started? It’s easy! Keep track of what you receive and make sure you shred your documents before you toss them.
Here’s a list of some of the most common documents people receive in the mail, along with some information on why you need to think about them.
Credit Card Statements
Might include: Your name, address, creditor’s name, account number, account details
How they can be misused: Thieves can use this statement to buy stuff online or on the phone, or even change your address
Might include: Your name, address, pay rate, employer details, and possibly your Social Security Number
How they can be misused: Thieves can use the information on your stub to apply for new accounts, especially if they have your Social Security Number
Might include: Your name, address, bank’s name, account number, balance
How they can be misused: Thieves can use this information to access your bank account records and potentially drain your accounts
Might include: Your name, address, account number, balance, account manager, Social Security Number
How they can be misused: Thieves can use this information to apply for new accounts, especially if they have your Social Security Number
Pre-approved Credit Card Offers
Might include: Your name, address, and the offer being extended to you
How they can be misused: Thieves could change your address to their address or PO box and then send it in the new card application
If you have any of these documents lying around—on your desk, in your living room, wherever—you’re putting yourself at risk of becoming an identity theft victim. Why take chances? Clean up your docs today—either lock them up or shred them up. You’ll be glad you did!
Popularity: 17% [?]
Monday, April 2nd, 2012
Whether you shop online or offline, you should be aware that all transactions involving personal and financial information come with some very real risks. Before you start your shopping spree, take these simple precautions to help prevent identity theft and fraud:
Make sure your security software is turned on, and is updated. Software updates frequently plug known security holes and provide protection against the latest online threats
Shop only on secure Web sites. A secure Web site uses a special computer communication known as Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which encrypts data and breaks it up so that outsiders cannot read the information. To ensure your purchase is protected by secure technology, look at your Internet browser for a padlock symbol in your browser or check to see that the address bar changes from “http” to “https”.
Shop with reputable merchants. If it is your first time shopping with a company, do your homework. Third-party verification devices, such as VeriSign, TRUSTe or the Better Business Bureau, can validate a site’s reputation. In addition, a reputable merchant will always have a phone number and contact information.
Use strong passwords for your online accounts and change them frequently. Never use your phone number, birth date, or name in user names and passwords. Always make sure passwords use a combination of letters, numbers, and other characters.
Be proactive. A credit freeze is perhaps the easiest and most effective way to prevent identity theft before becoming a victim.
TrustedID’s IDEssentials product suite freezes your credit, preventing lenders from offering new credit in your name without your consent. The benefits of online shopping can far outweigh the risks. In fact, due to recent online security breakthroughs, some believe that online shopping can be safer than shopping over the phone or even in person.
Popularity: 18% [?]