Archive for the ‘identity theft risk’ Category
As baby boomers age, so do their parents. And more and more of them find themselves in the position of caregiver. As caregiver to an elderly person, one can clearly see the issues facing your loved one – and that includes identity theft.
The elderly are often a target for identity thieves because these criminals know that the elderly are far more trusting, and because they are often unfamiliar with newer technologies, they may also be an easy target.
If you are a caregiver, there are things you should be on the lookout for that may be phishing attempts or a thief’s attempt to take bits of your loved one’s identity and use it afoul. There are also things you can do to help protect your loved one.
• Get involved with your senior adult’s financial decisions, so that you are aware of any money that is being spent. It’s all too easy for a thief to fool an elderly person into sending them money.
• Don’t allow your senior to hire someone who shows up at his front door asking for work. They may be legit, but chances are, it’s a scam.
• Advise your senior to never give out personal or financial information over the telephone, especially if he didn’t initiate the call.
• If your senior is receiving an inordinate amount of promotional mailings or telemarketing materials or phone calls, it could mean he has been placed on what’s called a “sucker list.” This means your senior is being targeted, and a scam could be next.
• Stay abreast of the latest scams being circulated that are aimed at fooling the elderly. Keep your senior informed, and stay on top of the situation yourself.
While you don’t want to interfere with the independence of the senior adult you are caring for, you don’t want them victimized either. Make sure your loved one knows you are “in his business” because you care and want to protect him.
Reports have surfaced in recent days about a solider who has been protesting outside his local Bank of America branch with a sign that reads, “A solider that puts America first should have a bank that puts the solider first.”
While the solider had two weeks off in Afghanistan in 2010, he went to Athens, Greece and had a few drinks at a nightclub, which he paid for using his Bank of America debit card. When he returned to base later, he found a total of $25,243.71 had been removed from his account. All of the money had been deducted by someone at the nightclub where he’d used his card to pay for his drinks.
If a consumer uses his credit card in a nightclub, or anywhere else for that matter, and the information is stolen and used fraudulently, the disputed charges are frozen and the consumer can delay payment until the bank or credit card issuer completes the investigation.
If, however, you have used a debit card, your money is gone until the investigation is completed. Your bank may return the money, but until they do, you’ll just have to do without.
So with this kind of risk, why do some people continue to use debit cards? It’s because there are those out there who can’t get credit cards, or who don’t wish to obtain and use credit cards because they can’t control their own spending habits.
Whatever the reason, be aware of the dangers of using a debit card. Learn what your bank’s policies are regarding identity theft and fraudulent withdrawals, and most importantly, if you do use your debit card, don’t keep $25,000 in your account.
A recent data breach at Global Payments, which could affect as many as 1.5 million MasterCard and Visa card users, has many consumers on edge about protecting their personal information.
But there are some things you can do to protect yourself and your information.
First of all, be extra cautious and keep your eyes open. Read about the latest identity theft scams, and watch out for any signs that your information may have been breached.
Next, you should be sure to always check your bank and credit card statements carefully. Watch out for unfamiliar charges that might appear, even it is only for $1. Sometimes a thief will test the waters by seeing if he can get away with charging a small amount, before he tries to go for the gold.
If you spot anything out of order, contact your bank or credit card issuer at once. You should also be aware of your billing cycle. If you don’t receive your statement on time, it could be a red flag that something is wrong, and you should contact the bank or card issuer immediately.
Make sure your update your computer with the latest in security software, as well as your mobile devices. And then be sure to update the software. You should also update your Internet browser. Older browsers can have security weaknesses.
Last of all, monitor your credit report. Check for any unusual or fraudulent activity, and report it at once to both the credit bureau and the corresponding creditor.
Today’s world is a place where anyone can be connected with anyone else, and for any purpose. This means that you can connect with a long-lost friend or relative, you can connect with someone for business purposes or you can connect with someone in order to commit a crime.
And thanks to the Internet, anyone can purchase a device to help them obtain the financial information needed to comment credit card fraud. For less than $100, a thief can obtain a skimmer online, then use it to drain an unsuspecting victim’s bank account.
A skimmer is a device that can be attached to an ATM machine or gas pump, or even to a point of sale machine inside a retail store. The device captures the card’s data when the card is swiped, and records it. On ATM machines, criminals often install tiny cameras, in addition to the skimmer, to capture the victim inputting a PIN.
Once the information is collected, it can be used by the thief who collected it, sold on the black market, or the information can be used to make cloned cards, which can be used by the thief or sold for cash.
Skimming has become a billion dollar industry. Cloned cards have been used to withdraw more than $1 billion all over the world in the past decade.
Protect yourself and your cards. Cover the PIN pad when you input your number. Check the machine thoroughly before you insert your card, to be sure nothing is amiss. Pull on the card inserter, and poke at the PIN pad. If something is loose or seems out of place, report it immediately and do not use your card in that machine.
It’s spring and that means it is time for spring break – for many families and students, this means a trip to the beach or some other spot.
But for identity thieves, this means it’s time to get to work.
When most people travel, they carry sensitive information with them, like identification documents like a passport, and credit and debit cards. Add this to the fact that you’re in an unfamiliar place, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
So how do you keep this from happening to you and ruining your trip to the beach? First, don’t carry your Social Security card with you. There’s no need to, and you should make sure that it’s locked away safely at home. Your SSN is the No. 1 thing a criminal needs to steal your identity and ruin your credit.
Don’t leave your personal documents in a hotel room, and make sure you only carry the minimum. Check with your hotel to see if they have a safe you can lock up your items in when you don’t need them.
Never write your name and address on luggage tags. Once your luggage is out of your sight, you don’t know who has access to it or what they’ll do with it. You shouldn’t leave documents bearing your personal information in your suitcases en route either. Check into a belt with a zippered pouch that fits inside your shirt or pants that can store your documents until you reach your destination.
Last of all, keep your eyes and ears open. Be aware of your surroundings, and keep an eye out for people who get too close, particularly when you’re using an ATM or inputing your PIN.
You may not realize it, but criminals can get our personal information fairly easily. In public places, thieves can shoulder surf as you type in your PIN number or credit card number, or they can listen while you give this information over the telephone.
Another way they get to information is by dumpster diving, which is when they go through garbage bins or even the trash cans out by the curb for pickup. By doing this, they can easily find checks, credit card or bank statements, or even pre-approved credit offers you’ve tossed.
Speaking of pre-approved credit card offers, be sure you shred them before you dispose of them. You may think since the offer is blank, you can just trash it. But a criminal can fill it in, using the information already printed on it, and obtain a credit card. He’ll then use that card to rack up thousands of dollars in debt – and you will be the responsible party, without even knowing it.
The Internet has also become a common tool for identity thieves. Criminals use hacking, social media, phishing and other techniques to obtain your personal and financial information. You may even find your computer infected with malware – and it’s because of something you downloaded. Be sure of what you are downloading and of the source.
Once a criminal has your information, or at least enough of it, he can apply for loans and credit cards, make withdrawals from your bank accounts, and get other good and privileges.
Take steps to protect yourself and your information today. Call LifeLock – LifeLock can lock down your information and help protect you against identity theft.