Archive for July, 2011
Identity theft cases in the United Kingdom have increased by 10 percent already this year. Of the 111,504 cases reported, identity fraud made up almost half of the crimes, with 10 percent of the cases involving the illegal hijacking of a victim’s bank account.
The number of victims of thieves who commit misuse of an account or facility are at the highest level since 2009 – and the crime now accounts for one quarter of all fraud crimes. Bank accounts with credit, debit or store cards linked to the account are targeted most frequently.
Fraudsters are also targeting mortgages in the UK. During the past six months, the most common reasons for a mortgage fraud being recorded included failure to disclose a previous address in an attempt to hide an adverse credit history, false proof of income and false employment history.
There has also been a sharp increase in fraudulent attempts to open new accounts, with the spike showing the most during the months of January, February and March of this year.
To protect yourself from identity theft, make sure you do the basic things like shred all documents that contain sensitive information before you dispose of them, create difficult passwords using upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols, and use only secured sites when doing business online.
Pair your efforts with a LifeLock membership and you’ve got a much better chance of stopping identity theft in its tracks. Go online at www.lifelock.com today. Receive 30 days free and get a 10 percent discount on enrollment with the LifeLock Promo Code “Defense.”
With the economy still sagging, it’s a safe bet that many people are still struggling. Most are trying to save money in any way they can, including everything from groceries to gas to services like identity theft protection.
With a tighter budget comes the need to cut out certain services or replace paid services for free ones. Identity theft protection is no exception. But are those free services worth it?
Out of all the free services offered in today’s market, many do provide a basic service, but they come with enticement to purchase higher-end products at full price. Some companies offer a free trial period, but at the end of that trial, your card will be charged, and you won’t be notified. They’re banking on the fact that you’ll forget, and will therefore be signed up for services – services you may not have even wanted.
There are even some complimentary services offered, but you should think long and hard about signing up with them. You may be offered services from your bank, credit union or insurer, but be sure you read the fine print first.
A good identity theft service will not only offer protection, but will also offer resolution in case you become a victim. A company that offers good service in this area will offer education about protecting yourself and resolution, and will be transparent – in other words, they’ll talk straight and won’t hide a thing.
When choosing a company, ask what makes them an expert, how they quantify their expertise, whether they are certified, and how many years of experience the company and its specialists have.
Couple the answers to these questions with the services you’ll receive, and you’ll find that choosing a protection service isn’t hard at all. Free often comes with a high price tag – and when it comes to identity theft, you can’t afford to make the wrong choice.
Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) has introduced legislation to protect American consumers from data theft. The legislation is in response to concerns over recent cyber attacks and data breaches.
The Secure and Fortify Electronic Data Act (HR 2577) will require reasonable security policies and procedures to protect personal information, as wells nationwide notice in the event of a security breach.
The announcement of the SAFE Data Act comes on the heels of data breaches at Sony, Epsilon and Citigroup.
“In recent years, sophisticated and carefully orchestrated cyber attacks, designed to obtain personal information about consumers, have become one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises here in the United States and across the world. Today, Americans need new safeguards to prevent identity theft, and the SAFE Data Act will help accomplish this goal,” said Bono Mack. “My legislation is crafted around a guiding principle: Consumers should be promptly informed when their personal information has been jeopardized. The time has come for Congress to take decisive action. We need a uniform national standard for data security and data breach notification, and we need it now.”
The act will not, however, do anything to prevent or deter online crime. A key feature of the act, however, requires notification to the FTC and consumers within 48 hours of the time that a breach has been secured and the scope of the breach has been assessed. If passed, the act would allow the FTC the authority to levy civil penalties if entities fail to respond in a timely and responsible manner.
Smartphones are smart because they’re actually small computers. With them, you can work and play. With the addition of new applications, you can do just about anything.
There are apps for finding restaurants, figuring up your bill in the restaurant, and then where to find a good cup of coffee afterward. There are apps for a myriad of things, and large corporations are adding apps as a way to stay on trend and at the top of their marketing game. One such company is Starbucks.
The coffee giant has recently added a new iPhone app that has some experts worried about identity theft. The app allows customers to send e-gift cards, pay for Starbucks purchases and check Starbucks card balances.
But as with many new apps on the market, experts are warning that if you load your financial data onto your smartphone via an app, you could be risking identity theft.
So if you want to use these apps but keep your data safe, what do you do?
The biggest threat to a smartphone is the possibility that it could be lost. Your best bet to keep your personal data safe on a smartphone is to not enter it onto the phone in the first place. If you must do so, use a password and encrypt the data.
Just as with a computer, your smartphone can get a virus, worm or Trojan. Make sure you install security software and keep your phone’s software up to date. Your phone is also subject to phishing via e-mail and the Web. If you receive an e-mail that contains an embedded link, don’t click on it.
Be smart when it comes to your smartphone. Be diligent about keeping the security on your phone up to date, and don’t use free Wi-Fi to conduct transactions online. Never provide your personal or financial data to anyone online unless you are sure of the person asking.
A scam aimed at taxpayers is making the rounds. E-mails stating that tax payments made through the Electronic Tax Payment System were rejected are being sent to consumers, and the e-mails look official, as thought they actually came from the IRS.
The e-mail claims that the rejection can be fixed by clicking on the embedded link and following the instructions given. The link sends consumers to a site where they are prompted to download documents or software. The downloads are actually malware, which will be used by scammers to gather personal information about the victim. This process is commonly used by scammers and is called “phishing.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission, scams like this are becoming more and more common. Consumers should note, however, that the IRS will never send unsolicited e-mails to taxpayers about their taxes.
Consumers should use caution when opening unsolicited e-mails. Always carefully look at the address of the sender. Fraudsters will often have a strange address or will use some variation of the actual agency name they are impersonating.
You should never click on a link from an unknown sender. Neve provide personal or financial information in e-mail communications. Reputable companies and agencies will not request sensitive information via e-mail.
If you receive an e-mail like the ones described here, report them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and delete the e-mail immediately. Do not click on any embedded links.
LifeLock has been selected as the best value and most complete identity protection service by identitytheftprotection.org. LifeLock was chosen based on its pricing which, with promo code, offers the first 30 days free, as well as the services offered and overall value.
Services include identity theft protection, credit protection, free credit reports from all three bureaus, and access to the LifeLock Command Center.
According to statistics from the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft is still one of the top crimes and is a huge issue for consumers, and it’s still one of the fastest-growing crimes in America.
In addition to signing up for LifeLock’s services, you can also do some things that will help protect you and your personal information. Dispose of your personal documents only after shredding them, to be sure your information isn’t exposed. Shred any document that contains this information, including bank and credit card statements, as well as pre-approved credit card offers and receipts.
You should also be careful online. Never provide your personal information online unless you initiate the contact and you are sure the site is secured. You’ll know it’s secure by the “https” in the URL.
Although it may seem trivial, be sure you pick up your mail each day as well. Thieves will break into your mailbox to steal your mail in order to get your personal information. You should also be aware of your billing cycles, so that if you do not receive a bill on time, you can contact the creditor and take action. If the bill has already been sent, you’ll know there may have been a theft, and you can take the appropriate action.
By doing these simple things, in addition to signing up with LifeLock, you can be sure your identity is safer.