In his celebrated military treatise “The Art of War,” Sun-Tzu wrote about how understanding your enemy and yourself would ensure success in almost any scenario. And while he might happen to be talking to an audience worried about winning and waging wars, it is a principle that holds true in a number of other aspects of existence as well — perhaps not the least which is identity theft. The initial step in knowing the best way to guard your identity from offenders and fraud is understanding how and why you are susceptible in the first place, as well as the way in which thieves find their prey.
Among the greatest risk factors for discovering yourself in the sights of an id thief is your age. While years alone do not establish your susceptibility to idtheft — a a study by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) identified no more than a-1 percent variation in fraud charges filed by 20-year olds, 30-year olds, 40-year olds and 50-year olds — environmentally friendly and life-style variables that accompany each decade of your life can get you at a higher-risk for fraud.
Here are three demographics which are especially exposed to id thieves:
University students: In your teens and 20s, whilst in school, you have stepped right into an entirely new world of duty and independence. Sadly, many university students do not understand the extent of that duty until it is not too early. School-aged Americans are four-times more probably than another demographic to get their identities stolen because they’ve usually clean credit histories but no expertise with understanding that they are presumed to assess them or assessing them. University students do not help themselves both by sharing personally-identifying information about themselves freely on media platforms or leaving out private files in dorm rooms that are readily reachable.
Service members: There is a greater danger of the information falling into the incorrect hands and being used to perpetrate identity fraud since the armed forces uses private data like Social Security numbers to determine their servicemen as well as girls. In addition, research conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research identified that military personnel typically do not set Active Duty Alarms on their credit documents after they are deployed. Thus, their credit info is susceptible to fraud and abuse by pals and family members.
Senior Citizens: Their incidence of fraud is substantially higher, although less seniors fall victim to identity theft than other demographics. A lot more troubling is the fact that ID theft victims over the age of 55 are less probably than these younger than 55 to realize that their identities were stolen in any way! Telephone scams, phishing, tax frauds and health-related id fraud are one of the most common identity theft strategies employed against seniors.
But while these three people could be particularly at risk for id fraud, it is critical that proactive measures are taken by Americans of ages and occupations from the likelihood of larceny. While there is no bonded type of identity theft protection, there really are several common sense steps you could quickly adopt to mitigate your likelihood of becoming the most recent casualty.
One clever way of keeping ahead of identity thieves would be to join a credit monitoring service. This type of service send you alerts when specific action is discovered that could signal possible identity theft and will track your credit files.
Today, identity theft is said to be the fastest growing crime in America. According to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), stolen IDs were used for over thirty times before victims find out about it. This means that it may take up to 1 year before you become aware that your identity was stolen.
Anyone can be a victim of identity theft. Even if there are some pro-active steps you may consider, it is important to know the different common types of identity theft. In this way, you will be able to know the right steps that should be considered once your identity was stolen.
Below are the most common types of identity theft:
Medical Identity Theft
Thieves utilize your medical information when filing false compensation claims of workers, have surgeries like cosmetic surgeries, frequently to alter their looks to avoid being recognized for their past crimes. They also use your medical information to take advantage of Social Security benefits including false medical liability claims and phony disability claims, and to acquire medical steps done for legit health problems, yet get stuck with huge doctor and hospital’s bills.
Driver’s License Identity Theft
Every information on your stolen driver’s license gives your address, name, identity number, and date of birth. Thieves utilize this information when applying for credit cards, loans; buy cars, boats, homes, jewelry, stereo equipment, and anything of value. And the worst thing about this is that these are all charged to you. Majority of drivers’ licenses also have information about street addresses, which can be used by thieves when knowing where you live and might rob you or your home.
Social Security Identity Theft
Thieves may also obtain new Social Security cards to get Social Security benefits that you’ve worked all for your adult life. These may include HUD benefits, welfare benefits, dental and medical care, housing vouchers, and obtain false passports.
Financial Identity Theft
Even if there’s obviously overlap between such kinds of identity theft, this can completely and specifically involves a criminal posing. The reason behind it is that thieves may empty your bank account, remove valuables you have in your bank vaults, financial holdings, steal international or off-shore assets, and sell or buy pricey items including land, businesses, homes, cars, and apply for credit cards or loans for which you’ll be held accountable by some lenders who approved the accounts or loans in the first place.
Criminal or Character Identity Theft
Identity thieves can commit crimes as you. In fact, you could apply for jobs or get caught by police because of violating laws and regulations on the road and anywhere. You can also end up getting arrested because of a bank robbery or a murder that you know nothing about. With this, you might experience tough times convincing policemen that you are not the person who did it.
Knowing more about the different kinds of identity theft can help you find the best ways to resolve it. The good news about identity theft is that Federal Trade Commission has responded quickly on such new crimes as well as law enforcement is working closely with several government agencies for apprehending such criminals and prosecute all of them to the fullest extent of the law. In addition to that, there are also bills that were introduced. Plus, new laws are passed to help every identity theft victims and restore their good names and credits in a timely and much efficient manner.
For the meantime, the best way to avoid identity theft is to pay attention to your personal information closely and monitor it from time to time. You should also track your credit card and bank account statements. If possible, always get copies of your credit reports yearly or monitor it using a service like the credit report monitoring service. If you have documents that contain your personal information, don’t just throw them away on the trash. Cross-shed all your documents when throwing them on the trash.
There are other ways on how you can prevent yourself from various types of identity theft. Practicing them daily or considering these as part of your daily routine can help you save yourself from being a victim of any type of identity theft.
Data Breach – What Is It?
Data breach happens when one’s private identifying information including name, email address, address, debit or credit card data, driver’s license number, and SSN are put at risk either on paper or electronically.
Electronic data breach may be in numerous forms such as spyware, malware, hacking, skimming, inside breach or physical loss of payment cards or devices like laptops and computers. While the kinds of data breach differ, they all have one thing in common and this is unencrypted personal information that falls into jeopardy in the hands of fraudsters or thieves.
How to Protect Your Business from Data Breach
Every business that deals in debit or credit cards or electronic fund transfers, regardless of experience, transaction volume, and size, can be a victim of security breach. This is the reason why data breach protection is always necessary.
When compared to some countries in European Union and Canada where strong data protection acts were introduced for years, the US government hasn’t highly regulated or legislated data privacy. But, the forty-six states and some places like Puerto Rico have enacted legislation, which requires notification of the security breaches that involve personal information.
There are also partial federal regulations, which govern the storage, use, and acquisition of personal data in the US, yet it is up to businesses and individual merchants to implement such data breach protection programs. It’s also their responsibility to give technologies and policies to shield both their customers and businesses from potential devastating fallout generated by a security breach.
Best Practices to Achieve Successful Data Breach Protection
One of the very first steps to protect yourself, your customers, and your business from data breach is to adhere to PCI DSS, which stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. This is also known as PCI compliant. The PCI DSS’ requirements are concentrated on increasing the security for the transmission, storage, as well as cardholder data processing. Aside from that, businesses must strive for the tightest security against fraud and some data breaches through utilizing advanced and standard prevention and detection tools like those provided by some companies.
Other ways of practicing data breach protection are:
- Validating and requiring complete order information like phone number and full number for each order before you proceed to the shipping process.
- Changing your password and your security question and answer every forty-five to sixty days as a safeguard.
- Using a 3rd party solution to keep the strictest security standards to submit transactions to payment gateway.
- Monitoring transactions, especially those from other countries, with an eye towards possible fraudulent practices like a number of tractions or orders where delivery and billing addresses don’t match.
Data Breach Protection: Computer-Based Security
Machines like computers can be weak links that contribute to data breach protection. The standard computer security practices you can consider are:
- Installing a firewall that will monitor external connections.
- Installing an anti-virus software, such as Norton Internet Security. This should be updated regularly and installing or downloading all security updates in a timely manner.
- Sharing access to the network drives and other computers only when needed.
- Avoiding requesting or sending confidential information through unsecured methods including online chat sessions or email. If you got a request, always confirm your request through phone before you respond.
- Storing confidential or sensitive information separate from the web servers in an encrypted database that’s not connected online.
Data breach protection is the best defense against fraud. So, make no mistakes and always consider it as your top priority to protect yourself and your business. If you think you can’t handle data breach protection, it is also a good idea to consult or ask for professional help. A lot of companies are now offering data breach & identity theft protection solutions. When choosing a provider, ensure that it is reliable and has been servicing the industry for several years. Even if new companies claim the best services to offer, experienced providers can always make a difference, especially if you want to get the best value of what you have spent. In this way, you will get the highest possible level of data breach protection.
Identity theft can occur in many different forms and may affect one’s life in numerous ways. The most familiar and common form is financial identity theft.
Everyone has an interest in protecting their identity. However, when protecting your personal information, you should not just protect your credit. Whether you realize it or not, you are also protecting your medical records, criminal records, business assets, and your whole identity. For you to know and understand how important it is to protect yourself, it’s vital to understand the extent of this growing crime and the ways this can affect your life.
Identity theft may be divided into 5 main categories, which include criminal identity theft, commercial identity theft, financial identity theft, medical identity theft, insurance identity theft and ID cloning.
Financial Identity Theft
This happens when criminals use an individual’s information including their name, address, birth date or SSN to commit financial fraud. Using the right information, thieves may obtain loans and credit cards, write bad checks, open accounts, establish phone service, withdraw money or make purchases like buying a car or a house. In terms of credit theft, thieves could use your existing credit card account wherein they can make changes on your billing address so that any unauthorized charges may go unnoticed for a long time. Using your name, criminals may also open new cards. More often than not, victims of credit card fraud are not aware of unauthorized accounts until they started reviewing their report several months later.
In financial identity theft, the costs can be difficult to overcome and may be long lasting. Even when financial losses are small, affected parties may need to wait for years for recover a good credit score and may have difficulties in getting approval for mortgages and loans.
Criminal Identity Theft
This kind of identity theft happens when thieves use a person’s name to hide or commit from crimes, file tax returns, acquire employment, and many more. Criminal identity can also occur during an arrest where criminals can provide your innocent personal information to the policemen. Oftentimes, criminals get identification with the name of their victims and present this to the law enforcement. If they have a trial and don’t show during the court date, the warrant for arrest will be addressed into the name of the victim. This may also affect their employment opportunities. This may happen when potential employers run a background check and finds criminal activities that victims weren’t even aware of.
This happens when imposters live their entire lives using another identity like one’s name and SSN or every information about the victim. In several cases, imposters will even tell one’s life story as if it were there’s. Other times, cloned individuals are deceased. To detect this kind of identity theft is the multiple addresses used under your name.
When compared to other types of identity theft, ID clothing can be frightening and damaging. The reason behind it is that if imposters are successful, this may affect you each aspect of your life, which could affect your criminal, medical, and financial records.
Medical Identity Theft
This occurs when a thief uses the victim’s personal information to get medical services or products without his or her consent. Not only it can affect financially, it can also result in erroneous information that can be inputted into the medical history or files of a person. As results of medical identity fraud, victims might find themselves being denied when taking advantage of their health coverage or may experience sudden increase on their premiums. It may also result to inappropriate treatment and misdiagnosis. Among the forms of identity theft, medical identity theft can be the hardest to repair because of the limited resources available and rights of the victims on this crime.
Commercial Identity Theft
This kind of identity theft may occur in various ways. Criminals can open or establish a business using someone’s name or any personal information. They may also use private business details to access accounts, get loans, and make unauthorized transactions. Criminals can also target a business, clients of the business, and employees of the business. If the damage is serious, this could result to anything that might damage one’s reputation to bankruptcy.
Don’t put yourself at risk of becoming an identity theft victim. Take steps to prevent it before it happens. This includes changing the way you share information online, having more secure passwords, and monitoring your credit with an identity protection service.
Anyone can be a victim of data breach. Even some of the popular organizations have suffered from data breaches, which compromised millions of payment-card numbers and accounts. If you are one of those who have information that could be exposed in a data breach, there are ways on how to minimize of being an identity victim theft.
- Know What Was Stolen
You will need to pin down exactly what type of information was lost in data breach. Get a copy of your credit report first. Here’s a list of the best credit report sites. Sensitive information could fall into general categories such as:
- Least Sensitive – Street addresses and names. These information was a bit harmless when this was printed in your phonebook. At present, a name typed into the search engine may yield data beneficial to online marketers as well as nosy neighbors, yet probably not enough to cause severe trouble.
- More Sensitive – Dates of birth, credit card account numbers, and email addresses. Stolen email addresses could result to increased spam and stolen credit cards may result to fraudulent charges, yet cardholders are generally protected from the liability. Dates of birth are useless, yet once these are combined with a name, it can be more valuable than addresses due to the reason that these never change and often used for verifying identity.
- Most Sensitive – SSN or SIN in Canada, financial-account numbers, online account passwords, and payment card security passcodes are the most sensitive information. Online account passwords, once combined with email addresses, may be used when hijacking online accounts. Card security codes allow a thief use stolen card numbers for telephone and online shopping. Bank account numbers, on contrary, can allow thieves to monitor your financial transactions and may move money into any accounts.
2. Change Affected Passwords
If online accounts have been compromised, changing passwords right away is important. If you use same passwords for other accounts, change them and make new yet strong passwords for every account. Do not reuse passwords for your second account. In this way, you will be able to limit the damage next time data breach hits and you will not have to undergo this process again.
If online companies offer 2-factor authentication for protecting accounts, take advantage of it. Through this, thieves who attempt to lot into online accounts can’t get in, even using the right passwords, unless they have numeric codes that company texts to legit cellphone of the user. If remembering and creating all new passwords is hard, utilize a password manager to do the job for you. Through a password manager, you will need to remember one password and this software will take good care of the rest. But, the downside is that once the master password was compromised, all your accounts will be compromised too.
Contacting financial institutions and credit-reporting bureaus can also be a good idea. In this way, you will be able to cancel your stolen card and get new one right away. They can also freeze your account so that thieves won’t be able to get your money or use your credit card to make transactions or purchases.
With the increase if major retail data breaches over the past several years, now is the time to put an identity theft & data breach protection plan into place. Stay informed and get alerts if your information is part of a data breach. Don’t wait for the retailers to contact you. By then, the damage could already be out of control.
Types of Credit Card Fraud
One of the biggest loss problems in banks is credit card fraud. Usually, these are performed by a group of individuals that use counterfeit credit cards when cheating unsuspecting merchants or in collaboration with the merchants when cheating the banks. These criminals are referred to as fraud syndicates.
There are numerous types of credit card fraud that were identified by several banks. To fight frauds, they are classified into different categories by their natures and these include the following:
Transactions from counterfeit credit cards are one of the largest fraud issues in the industry. It makes up over forty percent of all money lost because of credit card frauds. Syndicates utilized different methods to acquire information to make counterfeit cards. The created illegal counterfeit cards will have every information of the real credit cards in their magnetic stripes. Card skimming is one of the renowned methods wherein information contained on the magnetic stripes of the cards recorded into the chips illegally installed into the EDC machines or by wire-tapping technology.
Lost or Stolen Cards
Stolen and lost cards are the common types of credit card fraud. This kind of fraud is in essence the simplest way for criminals to get hold of the credit cards of anybody without investing in technology. It’s also perhaps the most difficult form of credit card fraud. It is because there’s no absolute solution to this issue. The perfect way to get rid of this is by preventing cards being stolen or lost in the first place. Customers should be educated on how to take good care of their cards. But, getting cardholders to treat their card with respect is not a simple task. This is an issue that was also identified by many governments of various nations.
Fake and Doctored Cards
Another traditional form of credit card fraud is the creation of doctored and fake cards. Whether it be creating fake cards from scratch or altering the existing cards to show various details, fraudsters are constantly searching for more and new innovative ways to make doctored or fake cards.
The simplest way fraudsters can go about tampering with existing cards that they have acquired is to delete the metallic strips with the powerful electro-magnet. They can also tamper the details on the card so they could match the details of the valid card, which they obtained through stealing. When fraudsters use the card, cashiers will swipe cards through the terminal for a few times before realizing that the metallic strips don’t work. Then, the cashiers will proceed to input the card manually into the terminal. This kind of credit card fraud is highly risky as the cashier will be searching at the cards closely to read numbers. But today, doctored cards are considered outdated.
Fake cards are also becoming an outdated type of credit card fraud because many criminals use modern techniques. Yet, there are still some people who consider this kind of fraud, especially those who are just starting to look for credit card fraud victims. To know what’s going on with your credit reports, monitor your credit regularly and keep a close eye on your credit car statements for unauthorized activity.
Credit card fraud is growing at an alarming rate across the globe and most of them involve online transactions. As a matter of fact, credit card fraud online is expected to increase to billions by 2008, based on the analysis of financial experts. This is quite a worrying statistic considering the detailed research as well as efforts from main credit card companies including MasterCard and Visa to prevent this growing fraud.
Typically, credit card fraud is defined as buying products or services from personnel not associated or connected with particular credit card making the transactions. Thus, the merchants are tricked into releasing merchandises or rendering several services to a false identity. The growth of this kind of fraud is still increasing and expected to grow in the long run.
Credit card fraud is a big problem as well as a dilemma within the society today. To reduce the chances of being a victim of credit card fraud, there are several steps you may consider. Subjects may include securing your bank account information, checking statements, keeping the credit cards safe, and verifying your visa card. Some tips may include not giving your PIN or bank passwords to anyone, throwing your bank statements in the bin without shredding it, and many more.
The most typical method used by criminals is targeting cards and other information in offline shops, unsecured online transactions, and in conversation. If you have a credit card, you should not hand over it to anyone. Keep it out from possible fraudsters and don’t write your PIN number. Keeping your credit card in a safe and secure place is also a good idea.
Majority of mail order, internet, and phone fraud happens because of the reason that one’s card details are stolen. Due to this, don’t let your credit card out of sight and pay importance to it if you don’t want to fall from the criminal’s hands.
Keeping your credit card secure and safe can make a huge difference. But, similar to every consultant, fraudsters are also experts in their field and may acquire information from the smallest chance presented to them. So, check your bank statements regularly. When you get your bank statements, check if there are irregular or unauthorized transactions. If the statement presented such fraudulent transactions, call your credit card company or bank at the soonest date and let them know about the illegal activity.
There are other steps you may consider when avoiding credit card fraud. If you don’t want to suffer from the consequences of being a victim of credit card fraud, never forget to do those steps mentioned above and always ensure that your personal information is protected. Today, there are also some companies offering credit card fraud protection services. Depending on your choice, you can try such services to protect yourself from credit card fraud. But, make sure that your chosen provider is reliable and has a good reputation when it comes to providing such solutions as this can make a huge difference in the long run.
Identity theft is a serious issue that impacts millions of people each year. Identity theft is a crime where criminals use a person’s name, Social Security number, birthdate and other personal information for financial gain. A thief may take money from a victim in many different ways. For example, a thief may directly take money from a victim’s bank account, fraudulently use a victim’s credit card or even obtain a loan under the victim’s name. Victims of identity theft have even been arrested by police due to the actions of the thief when using the victim’s name. The average victim of identity theft suffers financial losses of about $6,000 and spends many stressful hours trying to resolve the issues.
In the past, identity thieves would obtain use of another person’s identity by stealing mail, sorting through trash or by using other similar means. However, as more people became aware of these tactics, people began shredding bank statements and other documents containing personal information to prevent this type of theft. Though these traditional types of theft still happen, thieves are now more likely to steal information through electronic means. Modern thieves, who are technologically savvy, can hack into the computer systems of banks, retailers and even government offices to remotely steal information with little chance of being caught. Thieves can also intercept information via the use of skimmers at gas pumps, ATM machines or other locations where people use credit and debit cards.
The bad news is that there is little that consumers can do for themselves to reduce the likelihood of being a victim of identity theft through computer hacking. A consumer can closely monitor his or her bank accounts and credit reports, but this will only provide them with information on things that have already happened. The delay in noticing the problem could result in dire financial consequences for the consumer. However, consumers are not powerless against modern identity thieves. There are a number of companies that offer identity theft protection services to consumers. These companies provide a range of services designed to protect consumers from becoming identity theft victims.
Though there are some differences from one company to another, most identity theft companies provide similar basic services to their customers. Companies will provide an alert to their customers when someone pulls data from the customer’s credit report. For example, if a thief tries to apply for a credit card in the customer’s name, the credit monitoring service would alert their customer when the credit card company made a request to one of the credit bureaus. Companies providing protection services also typically provide an agent to assist customers with an identity theft issue and provide some level of insurance protection against financial loss. Most also provide assistance notifying banks or other financial institutions when a customer’s wallet is lost or stolen.
Beyond the basics, the major credit monitoring services provide a number of different services. For example, LifeLock’s premium service provides their customers with three credit reports and credit scores each year, monthly credit score reports and alerts for changes to checking, savings and retirement accounts. Identity Guard provides their customers with public record monitoring and spyware protection to reduce the chances of identity thieves stealing information from their customer’s personal computer. LifeLock and Identity Guard’s basic plans start out at about $10 per month. LifeLock’s premium service is about $25 per month and Identity Guard’s is about $30 per month.
Credit monitoring services are also available from the three major credit reporting bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. The monitoring services provided by the credit bureaus are not as extensive as those from the other companies that specialize in credit monitoring. However, the credit bureau’s do provide access to credit reports and provide consumers with activity alerts for about half of the cost of the other credit monitoring services.
While the protection and alert features of credit monitoring services can protect consumers from becoming victims, perhaps the most important feature of the full service plans is the assistance they provide in the event that a problem occurs. Having a real person to help notify banks, correct information with the credit bureaus and even provide information to the police, is a service that can save a person a lot of time and stress. As most people lead busy lives and do not have the time to monitor their accounts on a daily basis or deal with the expense and hassle of becoming an identity theft victim, the small cost of paying for a credit monitoring service can buy a lot of peace of mind.
Review of Identity Guard Services & Features
Identity Guard is one of the most popular and highest rated identity protection/credit monitoring services on the market. It ranked #1 on the Kiplinger Financial Magazine’s Top Identity Theft Protection Services list and has won numerous other awards for it’s protection and customer satisfaction. The company’s protection services are based on their three tier approach of Monitor, Protect and Recover*.
- Monitor: use of technology to monitor personal and financial information in order to provide credit, public record and identity monitoring with prompt security alerts regarding potential threats to your identity which can be delivered via email, text or phone.
- Protect: provides anti-virus software for your computer, and keystroke encryption to allow safe browsing of the internet; their program ID Vault* helps protect logins, passwords and credit card information on your most visited shopping and member sites.
- Recover: in case your identity is stolen during your membership, Identity Guard will provide personal recovery assistance that puts you in contact with experts and counselors, and offers identity theft insurance and lost wallet protection.
Plan Levels & Pricing
Identity Guard offers three membership level for their individual (single social security number) plans:
The Essentials membership is $9.99 per month and excludes certain features such as public record monitoring, anti-virus software, and password protection, and only provides consumers with 1 credit score report per month;
The Total Protection membership, at $19.99 per month, provides members with all of the services from the Essentials plan, as well as credit scores from all three credit bureaus;
The Platinum membership costs $24.99 per month and provides all of the services of the Total Protection level plus adds a bonus child security feature (kID Sure*) that helps protect your child’s identity. Their free mobile app is a nice added feature for those consumers who are serious about guarding their identity and protecting their credit.
You can save $3.00/month of the IdentityGuard.com homepage price when you sign up through StopIdentityFraud.org
When you sign up for your free 30 day trial, your monthly subscription will automatically begin at the end of those 30 days, unless you cancel your membership.
Couples & Family Plans
Identity Guard recently released 2 new plans that help make credit monitoring more affordable for families of all sizes.
Couples Credit Monitoring – Covers 2 adults in the same household. $26.99/month ($6.99/month savings)
Family Credit Monitoring – Covers 2 adults and up to 15 children in a single household. $27.99/month.
The only downside to these plans is that they don’t offer a free 30 day trial. But IdentityGuard is has a proven track record as being one of the most trusted identity protection & monitoring companies. If you want to monitor multiple social security numbers, you won’t go wrong with either of these plans.
IdentityGuard is hands down the most comprehensive identity & credit monitoring service on the market today. With monthly subscription pricing for nearly every budget, a high level of customer service and an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, you should put IdentityGuard at the very top of your list when shopping for identity protection.