What is Child Identity Theft and How Can It Be Prevented

Did you know that children are even more vulnerable than adults when it comes to identity theft? Thirty five times more likely in fact. This year alone, 1 in 10 children under the age of 18 will have their identity stolen, yet most parents rarely consider this potential threat.  The unblemished credit report of a child is a perfect target for identity thieves who can do an unlimited amount of damage with a new, fresh credit history.  This is why parents need to be more diligent about protecting the credit of their young children now.

Thieves take over the identity of a child early on, nurture it until they get a solid credit score. They then proceed to abuse and discard it. If this fraud is not discovered by the parents in a timely manner, the fraudulent use of the child’s identity could mean the future loss of educational funding, denial of home and auto loans, as well as lost job opportunities. They will be left with no choice but to start off their adulthood at a serious financial disadvantage, because their credit had been destroyed years before they even needed it.

Child identity theft is not a new phenomenon, even in the technologically advanced world we live in today.  It’s been going on for decades actually. As parents, it is your sole responsibility to protect the integrity of your kids credit rating. Here are some things that you can do to protect your child and keep their identities secure until they are old enough to manage it themselves.

Social Security Number Protection

Paperwork, whether at school, the doctor’s office or for the extracurricular activities will often ask for social security number. Before you give the number of your child, confirm if it is really necessary. If not, do not give it. It’s a rare occasion that anyone will truly need their SSN.  Question their reason for asking before just handing over the number. Refrain from carrying around the Social Security number or card of your child and destroy documents containing the number.

Educate Your Kids

Make sure that you also educate your kids regarding the importance of keeping their number as a secret and see to it that they know that they should not share their social security number, phone number or address on any social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter etc.  Oversharing of sensitive information is one of the easiest ways for identity thieves to get enough information to begin causing real credit damage . It doesn’t take long and it can be difficult to detect the initial fraud, because most parents generally don’t check their young child’s credit report often…if ever.

Look for Warning Signs

Does your child suddenly receive unusual mail, like credit card applications? This is a solid sign that there is something wrong with your child’s credit. When you notice something out of the ordinary like this it’s time to do some investigating.. If it turns out that your child is a victim of identity theft, take the necessary steps right away to help limit and stop the fraud from continuing.

Consider Freezing Their Credit

Not all states allow parents to proactively freeze their children’s credit before an identity theft incident has occurred.  However more states are beginning to allow this practice.  By freezing their credit, you prevent any creditor from accessing their credit report with TransUnion, Equifax or Experian.  Not will this prevent lines of credit being opened in the child’s name, but it won’t even let a credit inquiry be placed on their credit report.  You can check with each of the 3 credit bureaus about placing an extended credit freeze in your state.

Equifax 1-800-525-6285
Experian 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion [email protected]

Monitor the Credit of Your Child

To closely monitor your child’s credit, a credit report is not really needed. In fact, your child may not even have a credit report at all. What you should do instead is to inquire at the three major credit bureaus and see if a report exists on your child. If there is an existing credit report, it is a sign that the identity of your child has been stolen and you need to contact the authorities right away. See to it that you do not order the credit report of your child because this will unnecessarily open the credit report on them.

Here at SIF, we are big proponents of credit monitoring services.  Not because they help prevent identity theft, because they in fact don’t. Nothing can prevent it entirely. However, a quality credit monitoring plan will alert you if if your identity has been stolen.  Being alerted that fraud is taking place gives you the opportunity to investigate and stop it from becoming an even larger problem.  The best part is that companies like LifeLock and IdentityGuard have features that allow you to monitor your child’s social security number, along with yours. The monthly subscription generally cost less than $25.00, so they are worth looking into.

Never Advertise the Name of Your Child

A lot of people have those cute family decals placed on the back of their cars showing the number of the people in the family, their genders and at times, even their names. When you do this, parents unsuspectingly give the criminals some valuable information. There are even some families that put up signs in the yards that congratulate their child for the high school graduation. Not only will criminals know the name of their child but at the same time, they will know his or her place of residence. It can also put the child at risk for more of serious crimes than just identity theft

Final Words

Protecting the identity of your child should be your number one responsibility as a parent. Once their identity has been stolen, there’s no going back.  There’s a good chance that their credit is going to be ruined way before they are old enough to need it. And this can be a very difficult obstacle to overcome as young adult. Start taking your child’s identity as seriously as you would your own.  They’ll thank you for it later.

Online Shopping and Cyber Security

online shoppingWith online shopping as popular as ever the importance of cyber security becomes essential to everyone. Shopping, even in the real world, involves money and where there is money, there are criminals. Criminals follow the money trail targeting online shoppers all the a way to their computers, mobile devices, credit cards and bank accounts.

Online shopping became fashionable when people discovered one is free from stress and fatigue caused by crowds and traffic. There is also the convenience of searching whatever it is you want from your home, at your most convenient time, and paying for it without waiting in line. All of these with just a few click of a mouse.

However, the internet is also a convenient place for cyber criminals. They target the online shoppers, fraudulently obtaining information they can use for their own financial gains. These criminals use three common ways in attacking the online shoppers.

Unprotected computers

Unprotected computers are easy targets for viruses and other malicious codes used by cyber criminals to gain access to personal and financial information. On the other end, online vendors have to protect their computers, too, against attackers who may access their customer databases.  We have all seen how that has worked out lately. More and more big-box retailers have been hacked. It’s all over the news everyday.

Fake sites and email messages

In the virtual online world, a site (or an online store) can be faked by cyber criminals, with no one the wiser. These fake sites mimic the legitimate ones and capture the business, at least until they are caught or noticed.

Charities have also been misrepresented, especially during natural disasters or holiday seasons where people pour in donation money and aid. Most often, though, these attackers collect information for their own illegal use.

Cyber safety measures

Maintaining an up-to-date anti-virus program, a firewall and anti-spyware is an essential three-pronged first line of defense in cyber security. They protect you against viruses and Trojan horses that may steal or modify your data and make your computer vulnerable. Spyware may also give the attackers access to your data.

Updated browser

Browsers are the gateway between your computer and the internet. Enable the option of automatic updates to your computer so that the operating programs and utilities are up to date.

It is likewise important to check the default settings of your computer and apply the highest level of security. This applies primarily to browsers, email clients, etc. because these are the connectors to the Internet.

Reputable vendors

This is where care should be taken because cyber criminals are very good at mimicking the sites of legitimate vendors to make it appear genuine. You need to verify their legitimacy before supplying any information. Keep the phone numbers and the physical addresses of these vendors which you can use in case of problems.

Security features and private policies

As always, passwords and other security features add protection, if correctly used. Check the site’s privacy policy before giving out personal or financial information. You have to understand how your information is stored and used.

Encrypted information

Make sure the information you give out is encrypted. To check if it is, see if it includes a URL that begins with “https:” instead of “http:” and has a padlock icon. If the padlock is closed, the information is encrypted. Know where the padlock icon is located in your favorite browser since some attackers use fake padlock icons to trick users.  There is special keyboard encryption software available now that you should have on every device you use.

Use your credit card

Credit card charges have laws that limit your liability in case of fraud. This may not be the case for your debit card. Because debit cards draw money directly from your bank account, unauthorized withdrawals could leave you penniless. Needless to say, a record of your purchases should be kept aside. Report immediately any discrepancy.

Shopping online is truly a time-saving, hassle-free, and fun way of buying whatever you want on the internet. The presence of the ubiquitous cyber criminals stalking at every cyber corner necessitates the need of cyber security.  Make sure you are protected with credit monitoring.

Your cyber-health is your responsibility.

What You Should Know About the FACT Act

 

The Fair and Accu­rate Credit Trans­ac­tions Act, or the FACT Act, was passed in 2003 as an amend­ment to the Fair Credit Report­ing Act. It’s pass­ing gave con­sumers some pow­er­ful weapons in regards to being proac­tive against iden­tity theft, yet many peo­ple don’t real­ize what ben­e­fits the FACT Act pro­vides. From being able to get free credit reports from the credit bureaus every 12 months to being able to place fraud alerts on your credit reports to elim­i­nat­ing credit card num­bers from receipts, con­sumers are able to get a lot of pro­tec­tions now that they weren’t able to have before.

Here’s what the FACT Act does for you:

1. You Get 1 Free Credit Report from Each Credit Report­ing Agency Every 12 months

Through the FACT Act, the three major credit report­ing agen­cies, which are Equifax, Exper­ian, and Tran­sUnion, set up the web­site AnnualCreditReport.com. This is an easy place for you to be able to request in writ­ing a credit report from any or all of the credit report­ing agen­cies. You are allowed one free credit report every 12 months from each agency, so many con­sumers choose to make a request for one every four months from just one of the agen­cies so that they have a more con­sis­tent review of their credit. Besides the web­site, you can also request your free credit report in writ­ing by send­ing a let­ter directly to the credit report­ing agency of your choice through stan­dard mail.

2. You Are Able to Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit

If you sus­pect that your iden­tity has been com­pro­mised, you can request a fraud alert to be placed onto your credit report through any of the credit report­ing agen­cies. Once you have placed a fraud alert at one agency, this alert will then update to the other two. An ini­tial fraud alert can last for up to 90 days, and when iden­tity theft has been con­firmed, this fraud alert can last up to 7 years. In addi­tion, any­one who is actively serv­ing in the mil­i­tary can have a fraud alert placed on their credit report for up to 12 months. You can learn more about fraud alerts through this infor­ma­tive blog post as well.

3. No More Credit Card Num­bers on Your Receipts

If you keep your tax records for seven years or more, then chances are you can go dig­ging into that box or file and find some point of sale receipts there. Chances are they con­tain your entire credit card or debit card num­ber on that receipt. Fast for­ward to today where thanks to the FAST Act, all card num­bers must be trun­cated to only dis­play four or five of those num­bers. Often it is dis­played as XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-1234 these days. This was done because a fast major­ity of peo­ple sim­ply crum­ple up their receipts and then throw them away in the near­est trash can… which was a very easy way for iden­tity thieves to get their hands on a valid num­ber. You’ll also notice that there aren’t any expi­ra­tion dates on receipts any more as well, and this is for the exact same rea­son for trun­cat­ing the numbers.

4. Help to Iden­tity Pos­si­ble Iden­tity Theft

Some­times referred to as the “Red Flags” rules, the FACT Act required the for­ma­tion of reg­u­la­tions by the major Fed­eral finance agen­cies involved in con­sumer finance to help peo­ple dis­cover iden­tity thieves as quickly as pos­si­ble. This boiled down to three basic points:

It requires finan­cial insti­tu­tions or cred­i­tors to develop and imple­ment an Iden­tity Theft Pre­ven­tion Pro­gram in con­nec­tion with any account they hold and it must include rea­son­able poli­cies and pro­ce­dures for pre­vent­ing, detect­ing, and resolv­ing iden­tity theft event;

It requires users of con­sumer reports to respond to Notices of Address Dis­crep­an­cies that they receive when there is more than one per­ma­nent address for a con­sumer; and

It places spe­cial require­ments on issuers of debit or credit cards to assess the valid­ity of a change of address if they receive noti­fi­ca­tion of a change of address.

These Red Flag reg­u­la­tions are intended as a mea­sure to help keep you safe from cir­cum­stances that could be out of your direct con­trol. Iden­tity thieves have always held an arse­nal of weapons that they can use to gain access to a victim’s iden­tity – these imple­mented reg­u­la­tions are designed to help give con­sumers weapons to defeat iden­tity thieves before they can strike.5. Block­ing Infor­ma­tion that Occurs Because of Iden­tity Theft

An iden­tity thief can cre­ate a lot of dam­age for their vic­tims. It could just be from spend­ing money on exist­ing accounts, or it could be the open­ing of new accounts, max­ing out those credit lines, and then not pay­ing them. It could be that a false name was given when an iden­tity thief is arrested, thereby putting an arrest on a victim’s record. It could even be pre­tend­ing to be the vic­tim in order to receive med­ical treat­ment and cov­er­age, and then not pay­ing for it.

Thanks to the FACT Act, the false infor­ma­tion that is gen­er­ated thanks to the iden­tity thief’s activ­i­ties is to be blocked from your per­ma­nent record once con­tested. This means that poten­tial lenders will not be able to see any accounts in col­lec­tion thanks to the activ­i­ties of an iden­tity thief, false judge­ments, or any­thing else that could have a neg­a­tive impact on your application.

In addi­tion to these five key points, it was also man­dated that con­sumers have access to spe­cific resources to gain the help they need should they dis­cover that they have become the vic­tim of iden­tity theft. Despite all of these efforts, how­ever, iden­tity theft is still the fastest grow­ing crime right now in the United States. Why? Because peo­ple sim­ply haven’t taken the time to empower them­selves with the knowl­edge they need to com­bat iden­tity theft effec­tively. For some it’s because they feel invul­ner­a­ble. For oth­ers it is because they just don’t care. Then there are those who just don’t real­ize that iden­tity theft is a problem.

Until we all fight back against the iden­tity thieves, there will always be new vic­tims because iden­tity thieves profit to the tune of $40,000,000,000 every sin­gle year. Be sure to request your free credit reports every 12 months, sign up for an effec­tive iden­tity theft pro­tec­tion plan, and take the fight to the iden­tity thieves today.

Is The Punishment For Identity Theft Harsh Enough?

One of the real problems with many of the types of crimes addressed on this website is that the punishment does not seem to be harsh enough from authorities.

By this, we mean that the punishment for credit card fraud and other forms of identity theft are almost certainly not severe enough to put others off trying their luck. One aspect that falls very clearly in favour of the criminal (if caught and if the case goes to court) is that to many it is a ‘victimless’ crime. Clearly, there are victims. But because most victims will recover the majority of their losses from banking and financial institutions, there is a perception that nobody was hurt.

As discussed elsewhere on this site, clearing up the damage to a reputation and financial position can take up to 2 years. That does not seem ‘victimless’ to us.

For the police, if the ‘value’ of the crime is small, there is often little incentive to chase the trail and try and make a conviction. The media will often round on local police officers that chase small and often petty crimes hard, when there are murderers out on the streets. Because of this, there is a real sense that small cases waste police time. If that is the situation, then clearly adequate punishment for credit card fraud is still a long way away.

Are You Worried About Your Personal Data?

In researching this subject for this site, your author has read that many areas of the United States have semi-official numbers in place to determine whether they investigate a financial crime or not. It seems that offences much below US$100,000 will be unlikely to receive much – if any – attention. There is no doubt that a sound economic reasoning and logic underpins this number. The value of police time, court time and the cost of sentencing and imprisonment make small crimes unworthy of attention.

However, should you have been on the receiving end of this, and now be ‘short’ (lets say) US$80,000, it would seem very serious. It may be that much of this money would eventually be returned by the credit card company, but it would still be a very stressful situation.

At this point, it might be worth pointing out that if the cost of a crime is reimbursed to a victim, then that cost will be passed on to all customers in some way. This might be in the form of higher charges, less ‘free’ benefits and gifts or higher insurance premiums, but somehow we will all pay. This seems just as unfair as the cost being met by one victim, but this is the way of the world.

In contrast to all these costs, the criminal – if caught and prosecuted – is often looking at light levels of punishment. Why? No actual physical harm was likely to have been caused to the victim. These crimes rarely involve an assault or attack. There will probably not be any damage to property either. In addition, it might be that a substantial amount of the crime cannot be proven to have been taken by this criminal. That means that while they might have obtained tens of thousands, they may have only been caught in the act with a few hundred or thousand. The courts can only convict and punish for what they see and know to be true.

Don’t Be A Victim of Bank Identity Theft

What Is Bank Identity Theft?

Firstly, you will be pleased to hear that this isn’t a situation in which banks try and defraud customers. Though there are occasional reports in the press about rogue members of staff in a bank that are copying customer information to sell on to criminals, it is, thankfully, rare.

It would be reasonable to say that in any position which deals with sensitive information, some people will succumb to the temptation. That is just human nature.

Instead, bank identity theft is generally carried out by criminals who are impersonating a bank. This might be online or by telephone. They are doing this in the hope that the customer will provide details of account numbers, sort codes and passwords to them. The criminals will then use this information to make transfers out of bank accounts and into accounts they have established.

From there, the stolen money will be removed or transferred again and the criminal will disappear. Needless to say, the bank accounts used by the criminals are often established in false identities and in far away countries where it is difficult for the police to investigate.

From the perspective of you, the bank customer, it is vital that you do not give your account information to anyone who calls by telephone and tells you that they are from your bank. At least 99% of all banks in the western world will never call you to do this. If you receive such a call, you are almost certainly being targeted by a fraudster.

If this happens, it is time to get serious about your information security immediately. Check your credit file as soon as you can. It is vital to find out whether other accounts have been opened in your name.  You can get a free copy of your credit report or if you use credit monitoring (https://www.stopidentityfraud.org/best-credit-monitoring-services/ ), you can most likely find it on your online dashboard with the company you signed up with.

A Mathematical Certainty

In terms of the internet, this is known as “phishing”. Emails that look like they are from a bank, using an email address that seems to be similar will redirect you to their own website that looks exactly like that of the bank. These websites often have forged security certificates to help them bypass browser security functions. A percentage of people will follow the link and input their bank details to log in.

It is believed that there are actually several hundred thousand of these websites online. They are generally hosted in another country – often a Pacific or Caribbean island – in a corner of the internet that is difficult to regulate. It is widely believed that a significant percentage of all phishing activity originates from Russia.

As far fetched as this may sound, by spamming generic email lists with emails that look to be from major banks, the fraudsters can play a numbers game knowing that a small percentage will follow their process and hand them their information. They are using tried and tested direct marketing techniques for nefarious purposes.

Learn more ways you can prevent all types of identity theft. 

 

Preventing Senior Citizen Identity Theft

Internet fraud and identity thieves are as numerous today as they have ever been and are regularly taking advantage of the most cutting edge technology in order to steal law-abiding citizens’ money. Many of the people who get caught up in these schemes and thefts are senior citizens, and they are often even sought out and specifically targeted by experienced fraudsters. They exploit these seniors’ decline in mental quickness and their trust by befriending them and then later turning around to scam them through the use of false investment opportunities, sweepstakes, or by using numerous other tactics.

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is by understanding how these criminals operate and the methods they employ in order to get the job done. Luckily, there are many specific things to look out for that can indicate that someone is attempting to commit identity theft or fraud. If you are a friend or family member of a senior citizen, read over the following red flags to look out for in order to help protect them against fraud:

  • Large increases in debit or credit card usage.
  • Large withdrawals from savings, particularly if it’s an inactive account.
  • Overdraft fees or bounced checks.
  • New debit or credit cards that come in the mail.
  • Forged signatures.
  • Check numbers that are out of sync.
  • The senior is confused about their account balance.
  • Caregivers receiving too much pay.
  • Increases in monthly expenditures.
  • The senior speaks about a lottery or sweepstakes they’ve won.
  • The senior states they’ve provided personal info through email or over the phone.
  • While the above are some good tells that may well indicate scams or fraud being committed, it’s also important to understand the nature of the attacks themselves and take a proactive approach to guarding yourself or your loved ones against such attacks. Let’s take a closer look and see what types of scams are most common and what ways are best to guard against them.

Phishing Tactics

Phishing attacks are generally sent out in the form of an urgent message to a ton of different people at the same time. This is where the “fishing” term comes from, as even if the majority of the people who get these messages ignore them, anyone who does fall for the “lure” can net the scammer a huge profit. They’ll often be messages that will tell the receiver that there’s something wrong with their account and will ask for personal information in order to reconcile the issue. They’ll often come through email and can look very convincing. Many times they’ll use spoofed websites of banks, payment companies, or financial institutions. For example, your bank might have the website address “www.mainstreetbank.com” but a phisher might use something that looks like “www.ma1nstreetbank.com.”

Emails aren’t the only methods, as there are also scams that revolve around phone calls or even text messages. In order to avoid phishing attempts, review the following steps:

  • Be critical of any email asking for personal financial information, particularly if it says it’s an urgent matter.
  • Avoid filling out forms through the email itself. Instead, always try to put your financial information into secure sites or over the phone after calling them directly.
  • Don’t follow any links that you receive through text message or email.
  • If you’re entering any private financial data, always make sure it’s a secure site.
  • Log into each of your online accounts at least once per month.
  • Review your credit card and bank statement regularly.
  • Keep your internet browser up to date.

Common Scams

Not all identities are stolen over the internet. Some are stolen in person. If you find yourself in a situation that seems almost too good to be true, it probably is. Let’s take a look at some common scams that senior citizens and other people regularly fall for:

Charity

The victims of these scams are told to be the middleman for a donation drive. They’ll be asked to deposit large checks into their account, keep a small cut for themselves for the trouble, and then forward the rest of the money into the fraudsters account. The money they’re “depositing” into their account doesn’t actually exist or sometimes even belongs to other victims.

Working from Home

A victim sees an advertisement promising them big bucks for working an easy job from the comfort of their own home. They’ll have checks deposited into their bank account and are told to wire 90% of it back to the fraudster and keep the remaining portion for themselves. Like with the above example, this money often doesn’t even exist, so the actual money that gets sent belongs to the victim.

Dating

The victim gets involved with an online boyfriend or girlfriend who tells them to deposit a check or money order into their account and then wire them the money. These checks are bogus so the boyfriend/girlfriend ends up getting money from the victim’s own pocket.

Protecting Yourself

While the above are common examples, there are endless scenarios that a fraudster can use to steal a senior citizen’s money. It’s best to proactively protect yourself from them rather than hoping to do damage control after your identity is already stolen. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to go about doing this:

  • Regularly review your bank accounts and financial statements.
  • Sign up for security alerts through your mobile or on your email account.
  • Monitor your credit score to check it for unauthorized activity.
  • Keep private information private – use direct deposits and keep all financial records secure under lock and key.
  • If you are a victim of fraud, contact your financial services company immediately and notify them of the problem.

Senior identity theft is a very real thing that does affect countless individuals every single year. By taking a proactive approach in protecting yourself or someone you know, you will be able to minimize your risk. The most important thing is to be skeptical of strangers promising you money for little or no effort or of messages urging you to send them your personal information.

How to Physically Keep Sensitive Data Secure

Today I want to talk about physical security and maybe go a little more in-depth than previuosly. I actually worked with an individual who lost sensitive data and it was through a physical method that they lost it. A lack of physical security. So she had a truck all kitted out to come out to your location to shave your dog, shave your cat, whatever was needed. And when she would come out to that location to perform that service for customers, she would take payment from them. Now she may take payment with cash or check, but she also took credit card payments. Now the caveat to that is, she didn’t actually have a mobile payment method with her. She had her credit card processing terminal at her storefront location. And it was stolen.

It begs the question whether she should have had that data stored in that manner anyway. But the reality is a simple lock on that door, putting an electronic device with electronic controls, those things could have protected her. But unfortunately she didn’t have those controls and she was compromised. In truth it’s actually kind of a bizarre method to process. To say, hey! can I write it down on a piece of paper and take a back to process? I promise I’ll do in a safe and a secure fashion. That person’s put their trust in you. Your customers put trust in you. And the trust was lost. She had to go back to her customers and inform the customer I just lost your data while I was eating lunch. The reality is, she’s one of many people that are losing data. You hear about these big medical breaches, the physical security, the physical breaches breaches if you will, are having a major leak in the medical industry because everybody is storing patient data on some type of backup device or on a laptop or tablets.

It’s happening a lot. It’s ease of use. Wherever you’re at, your in a medical profession, you’re trying to provide medical services to patients as quickly as he can. I mean you don’t want anything to hinder that patients medical service. So we put on an electronic device, which makes it easier for us to access, easier for us to diagnose and treat, and we don’t protect it. We put it in a vehicle, we leave it in an office that’s unlocked, we didn’t document where it was at and it gets stolen. Your business may be concerned about protecting a trade secret, the secret recipe of your business. And you as the business owner, you care about that.

You care about the sensitivity of it and the security of that. But what you need to remember is, while you may care, your employees may not have the same investment. So it’s important like I referenced in the last episode, it’s important to document what sensitive information you’re trying to protect. I know I said electronic devices, but really it’s all sensitive data. Document what you’re trying to protect. Now that is valuable data and you don’t want people to get a hold of that, so that needs to be physically protected. But make sure it’s documented. Make sure that you know where it’s at, that you have policy and procedures in place that has a protection for each of those. Then you need to make sure that when that’s documented, you document who has access to it.

There is no worse feeling asking yourself, where did it go and who had access to it, who was the last person with it. It makes your job incredibly frustrating hard, and if there was sensitive data especially if it’s industry-specific and/or there was a compliance guideline behind it, you could be liable for that data that’s lost so documenting what you have, documenting who has access to it, is absolutely crucial for your business. The reality is, we want to hear from you. If you have questions you’d like answered, if you have concerns or things you’d like me to answer, please let us know.

7 Celebrities Who Have Been Victims of Identity Theft

The problem with identity theft is that it doesn’t discriminate against one demographic or socioeconomic status. In many cases, the theft is not due to carelessness on the part of the victim. Celebrities have to deal with the annoyance of identity theft as well, and they have plenty of money to steal, so they are prime targets. Here’s a list of 7 well-known celebrities that have been victims of identity theft related crimes

steven speilbertSteven Spielberg was the victim of identity theft, however he had nothing stolen besides his privacy. In the 1990s, Spielberg had his personal information used to allow an inmate in a Tennessee prison view on Spielberg’s American Express credit card purchases. The man later claimed he did it to supply the celebrity’s information to a Hollywood studio. Apparently this genius thought he could make money by getting a movie made about his small time id theft caper.  Are people just that stupid?

liv tylerLiv Tyler had a bout with an identity thief in 2011. Her hairstylist used her credit card number to help herself to plenty of merchandise and services around town. When caught, it seems the stylist didn’t use Tyler’s card alone. She used Anne Hathaway, Penelope Cruz and Melanie Griffith’s card information as well. Tips and payment aren’t enough?

 

ricky gervaisRicky Gervais was on the receiving end of a fraud in 2009. Using an insider at the bank to obtain Gervais’ information, the group of thieves transferred 200,000 pounds from his bank account. The cash was to be used to secure gold bullion. While the scheme seems fairly clever, the identification they used was a passport, with a cutout photograph of Gervais. The pic was taken off the DVD box of The Office. They needed the identification to pick up the gold they had purchased.

 

paris hiltonParis Hilton had her name used in setting up a website. The site was dubbed Paris.org. Being registered as a trademark, she informed the thieves that she wanted payment for the use of her name. Later, her run-in with a teen in Minnesota resulted in her information being posted online. Apparently the teen had hacked in to Ms. Hilton’s phone.

 
A busboy was not using his head when he stole Ms. Oprah Winfrey’s social security number, birth dates of friends and relatives and even addresses of Oprah and 200 of the Richest People in America list published in Forbes. With the use of cell phones, a library computer and people imitating couriers, the thief snagged all of this info from credit protection services and reporting through Equifax.  If you’re going to steal someone’s identity (or bank info) you might as well swing for the fences and steal Oprah’s right?

Tiger WoodsKnown criminal, Anthony Lemar Taylor, picked a good one. He obtained Tiger Woods’ information after finding his information was not that secure. Taylor purchased $50,000 in merchandise. To top it all off, Taylor procured a fake license to drive, social security card and a military I.D, all in Tiger’s name. This bright guy even misspelled Tiger’s middle name wrong on the document’s but managed to still fill a storage unit to the hilt with stolen goods.

 

Image result for Will SmithWill Smith found several fake accounts were used to grab $33,000 under his real name, William C. Smith. The 2009 incident wasn’t the first time for the thief. He had been arrested before for stealing the former Atlanta Hawks basketball player, Steve Smith’s name. He was still on parole for the prior arrest. Some folks never learn.

So what’s the moral of the story here?  That anyone can be a victim of identity theft.  You, me, Kim Kardashian or the mail man.  Identity thieves don’t discriminate.  If you haven’t started making decisions to better protect your identity, then you are just a statistic waiting to happen.  Learn how to protect yourself on a daily basis and discover what credit monitoring can do as an proactive tool to help limit the damage should be ever be a victim of identity theft.

10 Common Credit Mistakes You’re Making

Last week we mentioned how Your Credit Rating Might Be Ruined Even When You’re Not Doing Anything Wrong. This week we’ll be addressing The 10 Most Frequent Credit Mistakes you’re making.

What’s a Credit Rating?

Your credit rating is a judgment about your fiscal well being, at a certain time. It suggests the threat you represent for lenders, in contrast to other consumers.

There are various approaches to work out FICO scores. The credit rating agencies Equifax and Trans Union use a scale from 300 to 900. High scores on this particular scale are great. The larger your rating, the lower risk you pose to the lender. Lenders might also provide their very own methods for arriving at credit ratings. Additionally, lenders must choose the lowest score you’ll be able to have and still borrow cash from them. They may also apply your score to create the interest you may pay.

Which are the 10 Most Frequent Credit Rating Errors?

1. Neglecting to review your own credit history for mistakes: Assess your credit report at least yearly. Errors on credit reports are somewhat more frequent than you could have visualized and you should stay along with the problem. Should you find any mistakes, contact the credit reporting agency when possible to fix the scenario.

2. Not using your complete legal name in monetary records: It Is possible that individuals with common names or similar sounding names could have their name imputed to a credit report that’s not theirs, as was the situation for Mr. Dave Johnson of Pembroke, Ontario. Use your complete legal title on credit programs, bank accounts as well as other files that become segment of your own credit history.

3. Paying your bills late and neglecting to make at least the minimal monthly payment:In time your lenders will finally report your account as past due, which can damage your credit If you do not pay at least the minimal amount due on score When there is a rationale why you will not be in a position to cover your invoice promptly, get in touch with your lender prior to your invoice is arrangement if due to work-out an feasible

4. Maxing out on your charge cards: If your charge cards are maxed out, prospective lenders may challenge your ability to refund. You might be billed an increased rate of interest to compensate for what exactly is viewed as a higher hazard in case you are qualified to get a loan.

5. Not alarming lenders if you have proceeded: Your statement may arrive late and as a result your payments could be late, possibly damaging your credit score.

6. Registering for too many new charge cards: Consumers who often open new credit cards are viewed as a greater danger than those who do not.

7. Closure older credit card accounts: Closure this can adversely impact your credit score and older credit card accounts shortens the duration of your credit history.

8. Do Not cosign for someone else’s loan: You could be liable for that man’s debt and harm your credit.

9. Do Not share your charge card or social insurance number with anyone: There are a lot of abound where individuals strive by telephone, e-mail or mail to get your charge card or social insurance scams number This is a fast-track to fiscal catastrophe and id theft.

10. Dismissing the warning signals of credit issues: If you’ve problem making the minimum payments on time and have maxed out all of your credit, you’ve severe debt issues.

Professional assistance is required by serious debt issues. Contact a reputable credit repair company or a debt management service to help get your credit moving upward again.

Also Read: The Best Credit Monitoring Services 2018

Top 10 States with the Highest Credit Scores

Lenders look at credit scores as a means to judge an individual’s creditworthiness. In today’s market, it may look like everyone is taking a hit to that all important credit rating. It’ll likely come as a surprise to you that some states are do better than many others. Dwelling in a specific locale does not mean you’ve got perfect credit, yet. Understanding which says top the list will provide you with a concept of the manner in which you compare together with the individuals residing around you.

What Variables Determine a State’s Typical Credit Score?

Just what variables can alter the common credit rating of a state’s residents? There really are a number to contemplate. Joblessness is among the top concerns. States with better employment numbers often have residents using a healthy FICO score. Being jobless forces some visitors to rely greatly on credit to fund essentials, and that could drive their scores down. Foreclosures inside the state are another prime concern. Other factors include:

  • Typical charge card payment history
  • Natural disasters which affect the state market
  • New companies
  • Home marketplace
  • Insolvency rate
  • Warm weather locations often endure more than states that face the chilly each year, also. This might take part because of their tourism-based markets. As a country, Vantage Scores average from 707 to 785, but by state, there’s a broader distribution.

A Review Of the Top Ten

10. Iowa – With a score that sits around 771, Iowa makes the most effective 10. Residents of Iowa tend to get low bank card delinquencies, as well as the state in general has low joblessness. Iowa does take a moderate ding to get a greater-than-average foreclosure speed. It had been enough to motivate the state right down to number 10.

9. Hawaii – Hawaii is tied with Wisconsin and Connecticut for average credit rating, with all three coming in at 772. Hawaii is the exception to the warm weather rule. While this sunlight state is famous for the high expense of living, it also hosts among the greatest amount of millionaires per capita in the U.S.

8. Wisconsin – Coming in at 772, Wisconsin boasts a gross state product of $248.3 billion. An adverse element in its credit rating is high joblessness. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the speed in Wisconsin hovers around 6.3, but that’s a large progress on the 2010 amounts.

7. Connecticut – The per capita income in the area of Connecticut is among the elite in the nation, but the unemployment rate runs high. In cases like this, the one positive and one negative cancel each other out to provide the state an average credit rating of 772.

6. Massachusetts – With a score of 773, Massachusetts is number six on the top ten list. Like Connecticut, Massachusetts increases points depending on its high personal income – it’s the 3rd-wealthiest state in the union. It’s also home to 13 Fortune 500 firms, making it-one of CNBC’s top states for company in 2010.

5. North Dakota – Back in 2011, this was the state that topped the set of greatest credit scores. These days, it’s still among the top competitors based on all of the credit metrics. North Dakota reports the lowest unemployment rate in the state – only 2.7 percent – and keeps low bank card delinquencies, giving it an entire credit rating of 775.

4. New Hampshire – Linked with North Dakota is New Hampshire. Like its New England neighbors, New Hampshire gains points for high personal income. It ranks number seven in the nation. Unlike Massachusetts and Connecticut, it’s a fair unemployment rate, also – well under the national average.

3. Vermont – The state of Vermont ties with South Dakota for time slot two and three. Vermont has steadily kept low foreclosure speeds. The national percentage of foreclosures is around one in every 2,370 home units. In Vermont, that amount is closer to one in every 39,000 units. Vermont ranks high in virtually every measurable class, giving it an average credit rating of 777.

2. South Dakota – Another state that produces the list every year, South Dakota additionally boasts a typical credit rating of 777. The state keeps a reduced unemployment rate, tied with Nebraska at 3.6. Additionally, it makes the very best six for high scores in most quantifiable groupings.

1. Minnesota – Topping the list by the end of 2013 was Minnesota. The residents of the state have a few of the best credit ratings in the country. United, their average sets Minnesota in the lead using a score of 785.

Fico scores transform year to year for every state. In 2011, North Dakota was on top of the stack, followed closely by Vermont, South Dakota and Nebraska. In 2013, Nebraska did not even make the list, due in part to a large number of reported personal bankruptcies.

Going to a different location in the country is most likely not the solution to boosting your credit rating, but understanding your state average does help provide some perspective. It requires work to build it up again when your score has dropped. The important thing for rebuilding a faltering credit report is an all-inclusive credit repair solution. It begins having an overview of your payment history and setting FCRA and FACTA laws to meet your needs, in order to construct better credit opportunities wherever you reside