Archive for July, 2010

Stay ahead of the game to prevent online identity theft

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

As the reported incidents of online identity theft continue to rise, more and more people are becoming aware of this type of crime. But it is important for novice Internet users, as well as experienced surfers, to take extra measures to protect sensitive personal information.

There are a few basic steps you can take to protect yourself from becoming the next victim of online identity theft. First and foremost, never give out your personal information, account numbers or passwords unless you have initiated the transaction. If you receive a phone call requesting this information, do not reply. Instead, contact the business making the request or log onto their Web site to be sure the request is legitimate. Even if the caller threatens to close or penalize your account, do not surrender your personal information.

Be sure to report any suspicious or unauthorized activity to the business it supposedly originated from for investigation. You should also monitor your credit cards and bank accounts on a regular basis to catch any questionable activity and deal with it as soon as it is discovered.

Use the most current operating system on your computer, and run a compatible anti-spyware virus protection and install firewall software. Keep these programs up to date and secure your wireless Internet connections.

Internet phishing scams are one of the most common ways thieves seek to steal your identity online. These scams usually come in the form of an official-looking e-mail from a familiar financial institution or Web site that you might have an account with, such as eBay or PayPal. Within the e-mail, there will typically be a link with a request asking you to confirm your account data and/or update your password. Clicking on these will take you to a Web site that closely resembles the business site. Once you enter your personal information into this cloned site, it will be sent directly to a thief.

Some tips that can help protect you from becoming a victim of computer identity theft include:

• Use good anti-spam, anti-adware and anti-spyware on your computer and keep them running whenever the computer is connected to the Internet.
• Install a firewall.
• Avoid clicking on pop-up ads and never enter any personal information on the Web sites these ads lead to.
• Do not click on links in e-mails unless they are from a trusted source.
• Keep your anti-virus software up to date and current.
• Stay informed and educated about the most recent computer identity theft trends and methods.
• Use strong passwords.
• Shop online with care.
• Avoid software that can harm your computer.

Protect your sensitive information and your good name. Call LifeLock today. Receive 30 days free and get a 10 percent discount on enrollment with the LifeLock Promo Code “Defense.”

Soldiers marked for identity theft scam

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

A new identity theft scam of the lowest form has emerged, using American soldiers.

Online imposters are stealing photos of U.S. soldiers they find on the Internet and are fraudulently placing them on dating Web sites in order to scam women out of money. In some cases, the photos being used are of soldiers who died overseas.

There is evidence that this crime is growing, and hundreds have reported being victimized. But the FBI, the State Department, the Federal Trade Commission and the National White Collar Crime Center all say there’s little they can do, because the scammers are mobile, operating out side of the country or from places like Internet cafes.

The Army has said it cannot go after these criminals either, since the perpetrators are not soldiers. It’s out of their jurisdiction.

The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command has received frequent reports of such scams, which often involve requests for money from the victim, in order to purchase laptops, phones and transportation fees to be used by the “deployed solider” so the relationship between the “soldier” and the female victim can continue. The perpetrators often tell the women their units don’t have phones, or that they need money to help keep the unit’s Internet going. They also ask the victims for money to purchase leave papers, or to help pay for their flight home.

It is believed the perpetrators are mostly from Ghana, Angola and Nigeria.

To date, there have been no reports that any U.S. service people have suffered financial loss as a result of these scams. But the victims of this scam have lost thousands.

Before you engage in communication with anyone online or send money to someone you’ve met online, be sure to check them out thoroughly. And never give out your personal information to someone you’ve met online.

You never know who’s on the other end of that “send” button.

Be thoroughly prepared for that job interview – and safe

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Whether you’re seeking to re-enter the job market, or just changing jobs, chances are you’ve prepared a resume and are heading to some interviews. As part of that process, prospective employers will want to do a background check. How do you prepare for this while protecting your most sensitive information?

First of all, you should order a copy of your credit report. Go over it carefully, and if you find something that you didn’t authorize or disagree with, dispute the information with the creditor and/or credit bureau before you have to explain it to an employer. You’ll also want to check court records if you have an arrest record or have been involved in a court case. Cases that have been expunged or dismissed should not be divulged.

Check your DMV records. Request a copy of your driving record from the Department of Motor Vehicles, especially if you are applying for a job that requires driving.

Ask to see a copy of your personnel file from your old job. Even if you do not work there anymore, state law may allow you to view it. You are entitled to copies of any documents that have your signature on them.

Tell your neighbors and work colleagues that a background check is being conducted so they can be prepared, since they may be asked about you. This avoids suspicion and alerts you to potential problems, and can expedite the process.

Clean up your “digital dirt.” Conduct a search online for your name. If you find unflattering or untrue references, contact the source and learn how the references can be removed. If you have a profile on a social networking site, make sure to edit what you have posted to be sure a potential employer will not be offended. If you blog, check your entries for any postings that could prove detrimental.

After you’ve done all you can to prepare for a background check, make sure your personal information is safe by contacting LifeLock today. Be sure to ask how the personal information you share with a potential employer will be safeguarded. And then let LifeLock monitor for any fraudulent activity.

Receive 30 days free and get a 10 percent discount on enrollment with the LifeLock Promo Code “Defense.”

Texas scam a cautionary tale of identity theft against the elderly

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Police in Georgetown, Texas are searching for two women suspected in an identity theft scam at an area retirement community. Investigators say the women targeted the elderly by posing as home health care workers.

The women walked into the front door of the Wesleyan at Estrella retirement community and claimed to be employees of a legitimate home health agency. Using the names of local doctors, the women convinced at least one man to give them his personal information.

“The way they were able to go through and do this tells me this is not the first time they’ve done this,” said Georgetown police Lt. Todd Terbush. “I don’t believe this is their first rodeo. They were too well organized on that.”

A woman who was approached by the duo but who thought them to be suspicious alerted administrators at the facility. The administrators forced the women to leave.

Georgetown police held a seminar at the facility to educate residents about becoming more wary of strangers asking questions.

To protect yourself or an elderly loved one, remind them of the following tips:

• Never give personal information to anyone by mail, phone or on the Internet. Don’t give information to unsolicited callers, no matter who or what they claim to represent.
• If you are unsure about a person’s identity, call the organization they represent to verify.
• Do not carry your Social Security or Medicare cards with you. Hospitals can verify insurance information without physically seeing your card.
• Be sure to carefully read any documents you are asked to sign, including the fine print. If you cannot understand them, ask a trusted friend to help you.
• Don’t give your bank or credit card information to anyone you don’t know, and don’t allow someone you don’t know and trust to handle any bank transactions for you.

If you fall victim to any kind of scam, or suspect someone is operating a scam in your area, contact your local police department immediately.

To protect yourself, sign up with LifeLock today. Take a proactive stance and stop identity theft before you become a victim. Receive 30 days free and get a 10 percent discount on enrollment with the LifeLock Promo Code “Defense.”

There are some things you just shouldn’t go alone

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

You may be reading the headlines and feeling a bit overwhelmed when it comes to protecting your most sensitive information, such as your Social Security number, and bank and credit card numbers. But you may also be thinking, “I can just take care of that myself, right? I’ve never needed help before.”

You may feel you’re doing all you can by shredding documents and keeping your Social Security number secure, but your information is still at risk through security breaches. Over 300 million identities have been put at risk through security breaches in recent years.

So what can you do? The best thing you can do for your own protection, as well as the protection of your family, is to sign up with LifeLock.

LifeLock’s services reduce junk mail and pre-approved credit card offers, order your credit reports, help you replace the contents of your lost or stolen wallet, and monitor the Internet for illegal or inappropriate use of your personal information. If any such activity is found, you’ll be notified immediately. You also will have LifeLock representatives available to help you, 24/7.

If you sign up for LifeLock’s expanded services, dubbed LifeLock Command Center™, in addition to the previously mentioned services, LifeLock will monitor the unregulated Internet and file sharing networks, as well as search for payday loans and monitor sex offender registry, and public, alias and court records databases.

And on top of all of this, LifeLock guarantees that if you are ever a victim of identity theft while a LifeLock customer, you’ll get the help you need to restore your good name. LifeLock will spend up to $1 million to make sure things get back to normal for you and your family.

Call LifeLock today or go online at www.lifelock.com. Receive 30 days free and get a 10 percent discount on enrollment with the LifeLock Promo Code “Defense.”

Visa to make credit card theft harder for thieves

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Visa has launched best practice standards for a new process known as tokenization, which could help prevent credit card theft – a task that is becoming more and more important, since this area of theft is growing every day.

The system replaces consumer information on payment records with random digits that hide credit card account numbers. The hope is that this will deter or prevent criminals from stealing credit card numbers.

“Where properly implemented, tokenization may help simplify a merchant’s payment card environment,” said Eduardo Perez, Visa head of Global Payment System Security.

The best practices provide merchants and companies with advice on how to implement tokenization for maximum effectiveness. That includes generating the token numbers, mapping them and setting up a place to store the information to keep it safe from fraudsters.

Not every merchant will use this type of system to hide credit card numbers, however. As a result, consumers may have to take identity theft protection into their own hands.

Along with monitoring monthly statements for any suspicious activity, people are advised by the Federal Trade Commission to properly dispose of old statements and associated paperwork by shredding them.

To be proactive in protecting your personal information, call LifeLock today. LifeLock can monitor the Web for any fraudulent activity with your information, and will notify you immediately if any such activity is found.

Receive 30 days free and get a 10 percent discount on enrollment with the LifeLock Promo Code “Defense.”

FDLE’s top dog falls victim to ID theft

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s top agent has become the victim of identity theft, and she thinks crooks accessed her information online.

Joyce Dawley runs the Orlando region of the FDLE, and said she was sitting at her desk one Tuesday in June, and she literally saw money disappearing from her bank account before her very eyes. She saw that $2,700 was debited, then another $1,300 came out, and by the time she made a phone call, another $1,000 had been withdrawn. Within minutes, more than $5,000 had disappeared from her account. Someone in New York City had withdrawn her money.

The woman accused of the crime walked into a Manhattan bank, and claimed she had lost her purse. But she did have Dawley’s Social Security number, along with her name and bank account number, which she claimed as her own. She withdrew money at that bank, then went down the street to another branch, and did the same thing.

“I had not lost my wallet. I had not had anything stolen. No one broke into my home or my car,” Dawley said. The case is still under investigation.

Dawley’s information was stolen and before she knew it, so was her money. If she hadn’t been looking at her account at the time, she may not have known a thief was at work until it was too late – and her bank accounts could have been wiped out.

Dawley’s personal information could have been used in a number of other ways as well, all designed by a thief in order to ruin Dawley and make the thief rich. And it would have ruined her good credit and taken months, maybe even years, to mend.

But if she were a LifeLock customer, at the first sign of trouble, she would have been alerted. LifeLock Command Center provides complete protection against identity theft. If any illegal activity is detected, LifeLock’s customers are notified immediately, allowing them to take swift action to prevent damage from being done.

And all of this peace of mind is truly affordable. For just $10 a month, you get LifeLock’s basic services. For $15 per month, you get the enhanced protection of LifeLock Command Center™, which can give you peace of mind through detection, protection and remediation.

Receive 30 days free and get a 10 percent discount on enrollment with the LifeLock Promo Code “Defense.”

Internet car buyers beware: BBB warns of scam

Monday, July 19th, 2010

The Better Business Bureau warns online car buyers to beware: the market is becoming flooded with fraudulent Web sites that are designed to trick customers into buying used cars at great prices.

The sites offer repossessed cars at cheap prices, and ask buyers to wire the money. Once the buyer sends the money, it’s gone and the buyer gets no car. This scam is incredibly widespread, since nearly 75 percent of all consumers use the Internet as an aid to help them find the best deal on an automobile.

Some of the sites have adopted monikers from real and reliable car dealerships, who have good ratings with the BBB. The sites are often “flashy” and bear a “Carfax-certified dealership” logo. Carfax does not certify dealerships. Once a consumer realizes he or she has been duped, the real dealership is inundated with complaints, but is powerless to do anything, since the actual dealership had nothing to do with the Web site or the phony sale.

Last year, the FBI received almost 6,900 consumer complaints about Internet auto fraud, and 4,300 complaints have already been registered this year.

One such site is www.americaautosales.com. Buyers wired money in for their purchases, and received a confirmation. They were directed to the actual, legitimate dealership that operates under the same name, to pick up their newly-purchased cars. Once the dealership began receiving calls and complaints, dealership owners contacted the authorities. The Web site was taken down in a matter of days, but has popped back up. This scam alone hoodwinked buyers all over the country.

“Because scammers essentially steal the identity and good name of real auto dealers, car shoppers will think they’re buying a car from a reputable business,” said Stephen A. Cox, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “The truth is, they’re being sold a bill of goods by a coordinated, agile and, in all likelihood, overseas outfit of scammers.”

Bogus sites posing as legitimate dealers have popped up in Tennessee, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico and Texas.

The BBB says that consumers can protect themselves from this type of scam if they steer clear of Web sites that advertise prices that are too good to be true, dealers who only communicate through chat or e-mail or dealers who only accept payment through wire transfer.

For more information on how you can protect your personal information, go online at www.LifeLock.com. Receive 30 days free and get a 10 percent discount on enrollment with the LifeLock Promo Code “Defense.”

Promo code means savings you can see on service you can count on

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Google the search term “promo codes” and you’ll find more than 2 million results for everything from front end alignments to facelifts. However, when you’re looking for a great price on identity theft protection services from the industry leader, you don’t need to look far: the LifeLock promo code “DEFENSE” saves you 10 percent on the same proactive, comprehensive protection chosen by more than 1.6 million American consumers. It’s that simple.

Most people would agree that saving money on auto repairs or medical procedures is a wonderful thing, but saving money on a service that helps them protect their credit, reputation and cash is not only a great deal; it’s a great value.

Using LifeLock promo codes allows new LifeLock members to save 10 percent on the service that helps protect them 10 ways. LifeLock offers their members two options: their standard LifeLock service or the new comprehensive Command Center™ suite of services, which includes all the protection of the standard service and much more.

• LifeLock orders annual credit reports for their members.
• LifeLock reduces junk mail and pre-approved credit offers frequently used for ID theft and credit fraud.
• LifeLock TrueAddress™ notifies members anytime a change of address request is submitted to confirm ID thieves aren’t diverting their mail.
• LifeLock eRecon™ scours more than 10,000 illegal Internet sites for any fragments of members’ personal or financial information.
• LifeLock’s WalletLock™ service helps members quickly cancel and replace official and financial documents from lost or stolen wallets.
When enrollees opt for the Command Center services, they receive all of the above protections, and
• LifeLock Personal Data Breach Detection™, monitoring of unregulated file-sharing networks (also known as peer-to-peer networks) for indications members’ computerized information may have been accessed by identity thieves; and,
• LifeLock Identity SDS™ (Search, Detect Secure), a new cutting-edge technology that continually scrutinizes multiple information sources for presence of enrollees’ personal or financial information. SDS includes searches for payday loan activity, court records, public records, aliases and sex offender registries where ID thieves may have used enrollees’ stolen information.

In addition to all these exclusive services, all LifeLock members enjoy the additional security of member support services available 24/7, and a $1 million total service guarantee.

Receive 30 days free and get a 10 percent discount on enrollment with the LifeLock Promo Code “Defense.”

ID theft among illegals a sticky wicket

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

If you use false personal information to commit fraud in Iowa, you can’t use the excuse, “I didn’t know it belonged to someone else” any longer. The Iowa Court of Appeals ruled July 14 that the excuse no longer flies, and the decision stemmed from the arrest of an illegal immigrant, Jose Abel Garcia, who was caught using a woman’s identification number in Marshall County, Iowa.

The ruling comes one year after a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court opinion that required federal prosecutors to prove that alleged identity thieves knew the stolen information belonged to a real person.

The state law differs from the federal law in that it requires prosecutors to prove only that the information belonged to another person and was used in a fraud. A “fraudulent” use requires the accused to know his use of the information was illegitimate, but does not require him to know the identification was of another person. Garcia was charged with forgery and identity theft, and was convicted of both counts. He served concurrent 45-day jail terms and was given probation. He has appealed the identity theft conviction.

Garcia was arrested in 2008 when deputies executed a search warrant on vehicles in an apartment parking lot. He gave the deputies a California identification card. Once a search on the card was run, it was found the information belonged to a California woman. Garcia admitted he had purchased the fake card from a third party. He later acknowledged he was in the U.S. illegally, and did not have a Social Security card.

Fake identification cards and Social Security cards, bearing stolen information, are often used by illegal immigrants to obtain work in the U.S. No one knows the extent of the problem, but there are some facts available.

• About 7 million illegal immigrants are using stolen Social Security numbers and paying Social Security taxes. Their payroll tax contributions may be as high as $7 billion a year.
• The contribution of those illegals to the Social Security system added about 10 percent of last year’s surplus.
• Each year, the Social Security Administration receives a very large number of W-2 forms with incorrect and sometimes fictitious Social Security numbers; the withholding taxes from these incorrect numbers are put in the “Earnings Suspense” file, which totals over $189 billion.

The Social Security Administration does notify you if your number is being used illegally by someone else and cannot resolve the problems created by such a theft, but will work with you to be sure your earnings and their records are correct.

To protect your Social Security number and other personal information, call LifeLock today. Receive 30 days free and get a 10 percent discount on enrollment with the LifeLock Promo Code “Defense.”