Archive for the ‘Identity Theft’ Category

Parents hijacking kids’ identities

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Kids prime targets for identity theft: wpri.com

The IRS wants you to know a fraud when you see one

Friday, March 4th, 2011

The Internet makes things easier for everyone. You can do your shopping, research, education and business all without leaving your chair. You can even file your taxes online. In fact, the IRS is encouraging consumers to use eFiling over paper filing during this year’s tax season.

Unfortunately, identity thieves know this. The increased convenience of online tax preparation and filing has attracted phishing scams from fraudsters who pose as IRS agents. These scammers use scare tactics such as the threat of an audit, or promise of reward like a large refund to capture personal and sensitive information.

To prevent becoming a victim of identity theft this tax season, think twice before you share your personal information. With more and more people using Twitter, Facebook and other social media, and an ever-increasing volume of these accounts being compromised by phishing scams, it’s best to keep your personal information private. Even the most basic piece of information can sometimes help these crooks.

Remember that the IRS still corresponds the old-fashioned way: snail mail. If the agency needs to contact you for any reason, you’ll receive a letter. This is because of security and privacy reasons. The IRS has not ever, nor will it ever, contact consumers via e-mail or telephone.

If you are unsure whether any type of communication you receive is from the IRS, contact the IRS or your tax professional directly. Don’t feel pressured to respond to an e-mail. If the message attempts to push for a reply without time to review, this is a red flag for fraud. If it’s from a trusted source, follow up by calling them directly.

Protect yourself by taking the time to verify the source – before you provide your personal information. As always, when it comes to protecting your information, it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Learn what to do to prevent identity theft from happening to you

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Identity theft is hard to deal with. It’s like a “kick in the gut” when you find out you’ve become a victim. But there are things you can do to prevent that from happening.

Watch this video to learn some practical steps you can take. http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/video/avoid-identity-theft-video.html

Then call LifeLock. One of the best things you can do is to get proactive. Don’t wait for identity theft to happen to you – go on the defensive and take charge of your personal information. The best offense is a great defense. Calling LifeLock is the first step.

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

Gamers beware: Playing can put you in danger of ID theft

Monday, February 21st, 2011

The president of the PC Gaming Alliance was quoted recently saying that game design is reducing piracy, but the instances of online identity theft are increasing.

PCGA President Matt Ployhar said the levels of pirated PC games are on the decline, thanks to new developments in design, but that same design is responsible for new forms of online crime. Ployhar said that MMOs and free-to-play games are much harder to pirate than single-player titles, and many games also offer bonuses that only legitimate owners can get. This is also helping to decrease PC piracy.

“Now what you’re seeing to combat or reduce the chances of piracy are developers implementing achievements, in-game pets, all these things that are tracked and stored in the cloud. So even if you pirate the game, you’re still not getting the bragging rights,” he said.

Ployhar said he believes piracy will never really go away, but publishers can use more than strict DRM schemes to reduce instances. But now that games are making it big in digital space with Steam and download-only titles, the anti-piracy movement has a new disadvantage.

Because the value propositions are altering and changing, Ployhar said, there is an increase in identity theft space. Developers can design out reasons to pirate a game, but consumers are at a greater risk of having their Steam of MMO accounts hacked now that more of them are available.

Technology brings ID theft to whole new level

Friday, February 18th, 2011

It’s not all hearts and flowers…for thieves

Monday, February 14th, 2011

It may be a day for hearts, flowers and candy, but for many identity thieves, it’s also a day to prey upon unsuspecting victims.

If you’re one of millions in America currently using online dating sites to find your perfect match, beware of scammers looking for the perfect victim. Scammers create fake profiles, scour singles ads and persuade people to meet them or send money.

Be cautious if your match asks you to send money, pay for travel expenses, or urges you to meet sooner than you’re comfortable with. Be cautious about the sites themselves as well, and read the fine print in any terms and conditions agreement. Some of the sites many continue automatic renewal charges after you’ve canceled.

Scammers also send phishing e-cards, directing you to fake greeting card Web sites. You’re prompted to download flash players to view cards and, once clicked, viruses are downloaded, exposing you and your contacts to identity theft. Other scams may instruct you to provide credit card or other personal information to read e-cards.

You should only open e-mails, attachments and links from familiar people. Be sure your computer is updated with the latest anti-virus and firewall software.

If you are ordering flowers for your sweetie, be cautious about the florist you select. Shady florists deliver the wrong flowers or nothing at all. In some cases, scammers who pose as florists may send e-mails informing you the flowers you ordered won’t be delivered unless you log in and re-enter your credit card information. If you do so, you could be giving your information directly to a thief. If you receive such an e-mail, contact the florist directly to verify your order.

Today is a day of romance and love. Don’t get your heart broken by scammers. Be overly-cautious if necessary…but be cautious.

Valentine’s Day can be fraught with danger of identity theft

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Valentine’s Day is just a week away and scammers are already scrambling to take advantage of people looking for love. The Better Business Bureau is warning people to beware of scams on free online dating sites.

According to Match.com, one in five single adults have dated someone from an online dating Web site. Forrester Research estimates that with those numbers growing daily, about 10 percent of users on free online dating sites could be fraudsters. The three most popular scams are as follows:

• Scammers pose as attractive singles, build relationships, and then share sob stories about some emergency and ask for money to be wired.

• Prowlers scan these sites looking for personal information in order to commit identity theft.

• Unscrupulous companies and matchmakers that cheat singles out of thousands of dollars and never deliver on their services.

These scam dating sites look legitimate, but you should always check the URL – if you don’t see “https,” it’s not a secured site.

Be choosy, do your research, and make sure it’s a legitimate site. Free Web sites can be dicey. Don’t release your personal information and be careful not to release too much. Never wire money to a potential love interest. If the person on the other end asks for money, it’s a huge red flag.

Law enforcement officials say these scammers are tough to catch. All too often, they operate the sites from overseas, or the sites are set up so that they can be quickly shut down and moved.

If you do meet someone on one of these sites, be cautious. Only meet them face to face in a public place, with friends or on a double date.

And if you do sign a contract with an online dating Web site, check the fine print to be sure you know what’s in your membership, as well as when and what type of fees may be tacked on.

Be cautious about bank-offered ID theft protection

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Banks all over the country are beginning to push sales of identity theft services, but the question is this: Can you get the same level of protection you’d get with a company that specializes in identity theft protection?

Many banks are ramping up their marketing of protection packages through pop-up and banner ads on banking Web sites, and through customer service pitches in branches, as well as on the phone or in the mail. Pricing is similar to what is being charged by identity theft protection services. Some banks are offering a promotional rate of $1 for the first month, then the regular rate afterward.

The services provide daily credit monitoring, and promise to send alerts about new accounts being opened by someone else in a customer’s name. They also give customers access to their credit reports. Banks are offering the service to fill revenue gaps left by the absence of overdraft and interchange fees, and other traditional sources of income.

The banks are pitching these services, which are mostly unregulated, to their existing customer base.

But the fact is that most of these services only offer credit monitoring, which tracks credit reports for changes indicative of fraud, like an address change or new credit card application, and then alerts the customer. Some go a step further by monitoring online chat rooms where data thieves sell information, which represents a very small percentage of identity thefts overall.

Another fact is that the banks don’t provide the service themselves – they partner with other firms that do the actual monitoring. Many of these firms have numerous complaints registered against them and poor grades with the Better Business Bureau, as well as lawsuits from state attorneys general.

Although you may have done business with your bank for years, you should be leery of this type of identity theft protection. While it may look good on the outside, you may find that you’re not getting any value for your dollar.

This isn’t the case with LifeLock. LifeLock not only provides credit monitoring, but it also provides proactive surveillance, searching online 24/7 for any threat to your personal information. If any threat is found, LifeLock will respond immediately, not only notifying you of the threat, but walking with you through any steps needed to restore order.

And you get LifeLock’s $1 million guarantee. No one is completely immune from identity theft – and if you ever fall victim while a LifeLock customer, LifeLock will spend up to $1 million to make things right. Guaranteed.

Now that’s protection you can take to the bank.

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

Get smart about your smartphone

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

The way you use your smartphone, and the information you store on it, could be putting you at risk for identity theft.

These days, even a seemingly innocuous smart phone behavior like storing e-mails containing sensitive information or using unsecured Wi-Fi can provide a thief with a wealth of personal information. Even logging onto a social network from a smartphone provides thieves with data such as date of birth, hometown and maiden name.

But there are some things you can do to lessen the risk of identity theft in relation to your smartphone.

First of all, password-protect your device when not in use or not in your possession. But you should also be aware that this is low-level protection. Many thieves can hack through this. And if you have a touch screen phone, be sure to keep the screen clean – your fingerprints can be a map to your password.

You should never download information from a source you don’t know or trust. When accessing sensitive information, such as bank accounts, don’t use an unsecured Wi-Fi connection. Consider the use of a remote wipe-out service, which can delete your information from a smartphone if it is lost or stolen.

And if you purchase a new phone, be sure to delete all information from your old phone before selling or donating it.

Remember this: the smarter the phone in your pocket becomes, the greater the risk it presents, should it become infected or go missing.

January is the most dangerous month for ID theft

Friday, January 14th, 2011

More than 10 million people fall victim to identity theft each year. That theft often occurs during the month of January. While media attention is often focused on cybercrime, many identity thieves are still going after your personal information using one of the oldest tricks in the book – stealing your mail.

Why is January so dangerous? Because it’s when employers, banks and credit card companies send out end of the year documents, including W-2s, 1099 frames, credit card summaries and brokerage statements. On any given day, there are more than 1 million credit cards in the mail stream, a significant portion of the 700 million pieces of mail delivered daily.

Some identity thieves take advantage of the dark of night to steal your mail, while others look for those individuals who don’t pick up their mail every day. Some even go so far as to open the envelopes, copy what they find, then reseal and replace the mail. Thieves will also follow mail carriers and look through your mail once it has been delivered. They know the optimum time to do so us between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

What can you do? The easiest fix is to get a post office box or a locking mailbox for your home. Don’t assume that because you pick up your mail at the end of each day that it’s okay. Postal deliveries are not always at the same time, and if you’re not standing right there when your mail arrives, a thief has all the opportunity he needs.

Keep a monthly calendar of when items arrive, and if they are delayed, call the sender to find out why. If you suspect mail theft, call the Postal Inspector’s Office immediately; don’t call your local post office.

During the critical month of January, you may want to have your mail held at the post office, with photo identification required for pickup, similar to a vacation hold.

Be proactive and do all you can to protect your mail and, ultimately, your identity. Thieves are creatures of opportunity – and if you don’t give them the opportunity, they can’t commit the crime.