Medical Identity Theft: The Forgotten ID Theft Crime

There remain ways where we continually leave ourselves susceptible, even as we learn more about the importance of identity theft protection. Most people only realize that medical identity theft is a crime after they have become a victim of it.

Based on Ponemon Institute’s 2015 Fifth-Annual Research on Medical Identity-Theft the quantity of medical identity theft episodes increased by 21.7% between 2013 and 2014. The Medical Identity Fraud Alliance identified that 2.3 million Americans were the victims of medical identity theft in 2014, with damages totaling more than $20 billion. 20 percent of sufferers found while a third lost their health insurance that their credit scores endured because of the larceny. The findings of Ponemon indicate that around 65% of identity theft victims that are medical pay a mean of $13,500 merely to solve the offense.

Medical identity theft is a dangerous offense, although not merely as it may cost victims fiscally. In addition, it places lives at risk, in many different manners. Anndorie Sachs discovered out this first hand, when she received a telephone call. Her newborn infant have been tested positive for prohibited substances as well as the Utah Division of Child and Family Solutions was prepared to set through paper work to consider guardianship of Sachs’ kids. Authorities were at her doorway, the following day.

Sachs, nevertheless, hadn’t had a child lately. Her youngest was two years of age. But a couple of miles away Dorothy Bell Moran, another girl, had given birth to a newborn infant using Sachs’ identification. She’d walked from the hospital right after having a baby, therefore down utilizing the I D she’d supplied the hospital tried to track her, and then be led to Anndorie Sachs rather.

Moran left a $10,000 bill and a lengthy battle to establish to Sachs that she was harmless., and had employed a stolen driver’s license in the hospital

Such situations are not all that casualties of identity theft that is medical have to worry about. Based on fraud specialist Chris Dorn, medical ID theft frequently leads to health records being changed, with criminals so care can be received by them altering advice.

“Unintentionally, your blood-type may be altered, your medicines that you are on may be altered, your underlying health conditions could be altered,” he advised CBS.

As Sachs wondered, after her ordeal, “Am I going to possess some crisis some day and I am likely to appear in the hospital plus they’re likely to give me the incorrect blood type simply because they nevertheless have her blood-type in the documents? I simply do not feel secure anymore.”

The good thing is, you will find precautions people can take to reduce their danger of becoming casualties of identity theft that is medical:

Shield health care records with the maximum amount of vigilance as you’d your credit card or bank info. Shred files which are not desired or out of date.
Read your explanation-of-gains statements from health care suppliers line-by line to be sure all the info is exact.
Demand that hospitals and practices whether or not they share your details with some other organizations and they use your advice, what protections have been in place to maintain data safe.
Eventually, be sure to test your credit history often. Enrolling in a credit monitoring service might help also. These providers notify you when particular action happens on your own credit files that may indicate fraud.

Do You Really Need RFID Blocking Wallet?

Buying a wallet used to be a relatively simple decision.  You had your choice of a bifold, trifold, credit card sleeve or maybe just a money clip.  Now if you flip through tech or gadget magazine, you’ll find a whole new genre of wallets that are designed with RFID blocking protection. Like this one from Common Fibers and Billetus  RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) blocking wallets are, in theory, made to shield your smart cards from identity thieves who use a cheap, handheld RFID scanners to “skim” your card information from a distance.  Once they’ve downloaded your card information, they create a new card with your card number and details. That’s when the real damage starts, because the new cards read just like a legitimate credit card and credit card scanners can’t tell the difference.  The criminals can do all of this from several feet away, without you even knowing it’s happening.

With frightening reality in mind, do you really need an RFID blocking wallet?  Do they even work as advertised?  To some extent they may offer a level of protection, however not all of these wallets work as well as others. Testing by Consumer Reports and others have shown that some of the RFID blocking wallets on the market work about as well as wrapping your credit cards in a layer of aluminum foil..but others may have some merit.

It’s also not certain whether the threat of RFID skimming is occurring often enough to truly be a concern for most people.  There have been very few reported cases of RFID skimming crimes and for good reason.  There are simpler and more effective ways of stealing peoples personal information and money.

RFID technology has improved significantly since it’s inception.  Early versions would transmit sensitive information unencrypted, including credit card numbers.  However, according to the major credit card companies, the latest RFID payment systems are extremely secure and now use full data encryption.  Nevertheless, RFID technology may be dying a slow death as card companies begin the transition to cards with EMV chip and PIN technology, which are considerably less susceptible to remote skimming.  EMV cards do not transmit a radio frequency signal, so an RFID wallet isn’t going to do much good with these new cards.

Even if you make the switch to all EMV based credit cards, you may still be transmitting an RFID signal from your drivers license or passport.  Luckily, the only information anyone is likely to steal is your name and physical address.  Even if compromised, this basic information isn’t likely to make you a fraud or identity theft victim.  If you fancy yourself as a wannabe James Bond or you’re just a little on the paranoid side, an RFID wallet may be a wise purchase.  However, chances are you’ll be ok without one.

Identity Theft of the Dead

Most people realize that identity theft is a growing concern. And as with the majority of issues in life, we naturally suppose that identity theft ceases being a concern after we die. Sadly, offenders do not quit stealing identities simply because their intended victim has passed away. Friends and families can be haunted by these crimes, long after their loved one has passed, leaving the weight of solving the thievery and coping with their own grief.

Ralph Lee Guttormsen resided for several years in Monterey, Ca, with his room mate, Robert Sterling. From medical issues, Sterling passed away in 2002 and Guttormsen chose to assume his id. Along with his friend’s driver licence, he took cash from the bank accounts of Sterling, utilized credit cards and cashed checks. The scam went on for four years, largely because Guttormsen was cautious about never opening new accounts in Guttormsen’s name, which may have alerted the police to his crimes.

That isn’t the only kind of identity theft that can affect the dead. Many burglars scan paper obituaries for the names of people who have recently passed, which they subsequently link to the Social Security numbers (SSN) of other persons, living or lifeless. The newer identity is hard to monitor since it pulls information from a lot of non related sources

What exactly are you able to do to guard the identification of a recently departed friend or relative? Here are several suggestions:

Death certificates: Request several duplicates of the death certificate. When working with authorities, this file will most likely be needed.

Documenting: Instantly begin a log of accounts and financing. Otherwise the responsibility falls to the executor of the estate. For those how have hired a lawyer, they are able handle this for you. Ensure personal items and all files are arranged and accounted for. Specialists indicate that physical records should be stored safely, and only accessible by specific people, to ensure the information does not fall into the wrong hands.

Credit reviews: Request copies of credit history from all the three credit reporting agencies. The requirements to get this file subsequent to the account holder’s death differ from agency to bureau. For instance, Equifax requests a letter of testamentary in the probate court a duplicate of the death certificate along with a duplicate of picture identification of the person receiving the credit history.

Notify lenders: Promptly tell all lenders of the departure, utilizing a death certificate to confirm the man’s passing. The listing of lenders are available on the credit history.

Social Security benefits: Call the Social Security Administration and petition a benefits declaration to examine. This record will allow you to will find out if some one is utilizing SSN or your beloved’s name file or to perform taxation.

Prevent over-sharing: There is no need to propagate the word-of the passing too much. Media, because burglars and prevent obituaries will probably be searching for any chance to collect info.
No one wants the additional weight of coping with identity theft after the passing of someone you care about. Be sure to take these measures to help make sure that your dearly departed will not fall victim to identity theft.

Is Using Facebook a Risk to Your Identity?

Facebook has revolutionized the way individuals feel and communicate their ideas. Through status messages, photographs, links and other kinds of posts, individuals of all ages are now able to speak what’s on their mind and reach hundreds, if not thousands of people. Though this might be of some benefit, regrettably, this is a perfect way for criminals and identity thieves to gain access to private information and sensitive data. Identity theft on social media sites like Facebook is now uncontrolled and increasing annually

This information can be used by criminals to open credit lines in your name, because stealing of information occurs through such social-networking sites. They are able to commit these types of offenses: go on a shopping spree, take-out a mortgage, or purchase a car using credit cards in your name. I.D. theft can occur to you personally via your social networking websitea and induce issues for you months and possibly even years later on. Here are a few things you are able to do in order to counter these identity theft strikes.

Secure Your Private Information

FB frequently asks for your own personal information online including your name, address, phone, birth date, and in some rare cases, youSocial Security number and account numbers. Be skeptical of giving away that type of information on social media, since it’s possible that the information could be intercepted and used fraudulently. FB enables you to really set your security settings so you can manage who sees your profile.

Don’t Show Revealing Photographs

Additionally don’t actually put up a photograph of any sort of ID – student , driver’s licence and social security. There’s a single narrative of a man who, after seeing the grave of his own mother, posted a photograph of the tombstone on FB, providing would-be robbers the complete name of his own mother that’s frequently utilized as a protection measure by charge card businesses and lenders. This is really something you ought to never do- enabling felons to figure out your mom’s maiden name.

Use Strong Passwords

Passwords can be hard to recall particularly if you want to possess different passwords for each website that you simply go to. It’s significant to avoid ID Theft on social media websites to produce strong passwords. A strong password is a mix of specific characters, letters and figures, one that the thief might have a difficult time guessing. Among the passwords is really a mix of both lower and upper-class letters. Some specialists within the area advocate putting in numbers within the center of the password rather than in the start or in the end. Remember that in order to truly have a powerful password, the more it’s, the harder it’s for crooks to unearth. Lastly despite all these, use passwords which are simple to recall also – not just only your birth date or your daughter’s birth date, or an old address.

Review Your Credit File Often

It’s significant that you simply review your credit history regularly so that you simply will learn whether there are uncommon and funny activities in your credit file. You can track your credit file by ordering them in the three credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union). You may order these once yearly free of charge or better – subscribe to periodic reports or credit monitoring.

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.

Identity Theft Statistics Paint a Frightening Picture

When you are con­sid­er­ing whether or not to pur­chase an iden­tity theft pro­tec­tion plan, prob­a­bly the first bit of research you will do is check iden­tity theft sta­tis­tics. They give you an idea of just how vul­ner­a­ble you really are before you choose your cov­er­age. Some will tell you that you don’t need iden­tity theft pro­tec­tion but when you look at the sta­tis­tics, the facts tell you oth­er­wise. Agen­cies such as the Iden­tity Theft Resource Cen­ter (ITRC) based in San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia and Javelin Strat­egy & Research based in Pleasan­ton, Cal­i­for­nia con­duct stud­ies to col­lect these statistics.

Do the Sta­tis­tics Cre­ate the Need?

After exam­in­ing all of these alarm­ing sta­tis­tics, the ques­tion remains: Do you need iden­tity theft pro­tec­tion? You will have to admit that the num­bers are not small. Con­sider also that these days we con­duct a large por­tion of our finan­cial trans­ac­tions on the inter­net and most all of use ATMs. Can you really afford to be exploited by an iden­tity theft? How much expense are you will­ing to go through to fix the dam­age done? And, after it’s all fixed, what if it hap­pens again? Unless you’re an expert in iden­tity theft and fraud detec­tion, do you really know what to look for? As you exam­ine the sta­tis­tics that fol­low, keep these ques­tions at the fore­front of your mind.

Sta­tis­tics Related to Incidence

Accord­ing to a study done by Javelin in 2010, the instances of iden­tity theft were sum­ma­rized into a chart. It is no sur­prise that the high­est occur­rence of these crime inci­dents were related to mak­ing pur­chases either online or in per­son. Here is what they found.

In-person pur­chases – 42%

Online pur­chases – 42%

Mail/phone pur­chases – 21%ATM with­drawals – 10%

Writ­ing checks – 10%

Gift cards, pur­chase attempts, bill pay, obtain­ing a new credit card, obtain­ing health care, in-person cash with­drawal – less than 7%
As you can see, if you use a credit card either online or in-person, you are at more than a 4 in 10 chance of becom­ing an iden­tity theft vic­tim. Those odds are rather high. In 2007, the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice esti­mated that 6.6% or 7.9 mil­lion house­holds had at least one mem­ber who was a vic­tim of this crime. While this sta­tis­tic makes the odds a lit­tle bet­ter, con­sider that com­pared to 2005, it was a 23% increase. The Depart­ment of Jus­tice also reported in 2007 that 30% of house­holds had at least $500 stolen from them due to an iden­tity theft inci­dent. Can you really afford to lose $500 or more?

Sta­tis­tics after the Crime

Just using your credit card online puts you at a 40% greater risk of being a vic­tim of iden­tity theft.

Sta­tis­tics after the crime are related to how long it takes for a per­son to real­ize he or she is a vic­tim. Credit mon­i­tor­ing ser­vices reduce the lull time between the crime and dis­cov­ery of it. Accord­ing to Javelin, a lit­tle under half (48%) of the total reported iden­tity theft inci­dents were dis­cov­ered by the vic­tims. This indi­cates that 4-5 out of 10 peo­ple are mon­i­tor­ing there credit files or state­ments and report­ing when some­thing looks out of place. Yet this fig­ure still indi­cates that the other half of the pop­u­la­tion is not mon­i­tor­ing their infor­ma­tion at all. Not mon­i­tor­ing could mean that it could take months to years to detect after sig­nif­i­cant dam­age has taken place.

The impor­tance of reg­u­lar mon­i­tor­ing of your credit file is crit­i­cal for timely action when the crime occurs.

What it all Costs

What is really dis­turb­ing as shown by iden­tity theft sta­tis­tics is the ris­ing costs to con­sumers for this type of crime. Javelin pub­lished a chart com­par­ing 2006 con­sumer mis­ap­pro­pri­ated funds to the same cat­e­gory for 2010. It is alarm­ing to find a total of $176,397 mis­ap­pro­pri­ated funds com­pared to the 2006 total of $75,000. It shows a 234% increase in what this crime costs to consumers.

Now that you know some of the stats, isn’t it time you got some pro­tec­tion?  To select a credit monitoring plan, read our review of the top 10 monitoring companies.

3 Ways To Have Your Social Security Number Stolen

A typical yet effective strategy on preventing Social Security Number (SSN) theft is on the way, finally. This change will hopefully make it more difficult for identity thieves to easily access your SSN and use it for identity theft purposes.  Your SSN will eventually be excluded by Medicare as part of their benefit cards. Over the years, these numbers have been among the primary basis for medical identification.  This was just a problem waiting to happen.  And guess what, it did happen.  In the form of countless cases of identity theft.

Recently, President Obama signed a bill intending to stop using SSNs when transacting with Medicare. This law was accepted by the State’s major political parties. The primary objective of this law is to modify doctors’ fees when it comes to giving medical services to patients covered by Medicare, however there is a specific section of the law that emphasizes that never should SSNs be reflected, typed, or included on the Medicare ID.

According to Texas Representative Sam Johnson (Republican), the main ingredient to making identity theft possible is the SSNs and that the criminals use the Medicare cards of the seniors as a tool.

“Carry your card with you when you are away from home. Let your hospital or doctor see your card when you require hospital, medical or health services under Medicare.” These statements serve as aid to prevent identity theft. This defies the rule that mandates not a single person should ever bring their personal SSN on their behalf. The good news is that the law just solved identity theft by addressing the source.

While this is true however, there are still other ways by which culprits will be able to get your SSN and use it to their schemes. Take note of the following ways where your social security number is most vulnerable and protect yourself in the future.

1. Tax Documents

These days, filing taxes through mail is a common practice. If you are among the people who do this, there is a possibility that unauthorized people/entities may have access to your documents containing sensitive, personal information like your SSN. Identity thieves can simply take mail from your mail box during tax season.  They know exactly what they’re looking for and within seconds, they can have your social security number, and possibly even drivers license numbers, phone numbers and your entire identity. In addition to, SSN thieves also execute their crime through phone scams. Fraudsters pretend to be IRS representatives contacting people and convincing them to provide specific information such as the SSN and other documents. Keep in mind that the IRS only communicates through mail. Solution:  Don’t file your taxes via mail.  Ask your tax preparer to e-file or if you do your own taxes, you have this option as well.  Keep the sensitive paperwork out of the mail and the hands of id thieves.

2. Data Sharing

When you stop and think about it, it seems like every agency requires SSN today – from government agencies, real estate companies, insurance firms, and even telephone plan provider. Unfortunately, providing your SSN is something that most people nowadays do not worry about anymore. It is true that a lot of institutions need SSN for their processes. However, it does not necessarily mean that everyone should lawfully have it. For your information, the law states that it is the IRS, healthcare providers, police, banks, and employers which are allowed to require Social Security Numbers and information from you. A few companies, however, may also be permitted but the process must be upon strict compliance with the law. Whenever you notice that there is an option that does not require you to share your SNN information, choose not to share it. This limits the possibility for your SSN details to be obtained by fraudsters.

3. Bank transactions

Clearly, the law allows banking institutions to ask for your SSN information. However, they are mandated to observe and abide by the “Know Your Customer” guidelines. This stops criminals to use the banks for their fraudulent schemes. As a customer, you have the privilege to learn about the measures that the bank adopts in order to secure your SSN details as well as be oriented about their solutions in case a breach happens.

When you know about the typical sources of SSN ID theft, you will be able to protect yourself from it. Safeguard your SSN at all times by keeping your SS card in your safety deposit box or in a safe at home.  Never carry your social security card on your person.  It is not necessary. Furthermore, don’t feel that you are required to share your social security number with anyone.  You can always refuse to provide it if you don’t feel comfortable with the person asking for it.

Have You Been A Victim of Spoofing?

Learning the language of identity theft can be a difficult prospect. We’ve talked about phishing, smishing, & vishing an and even oversharing in the past. We’ve examined how identity protection programs like Identity Guard can put you in an offensive position against most of these threats. Today, however, we’re going to be talking about what is known as “spoofing.” Sounds funny and relatively harmless right?  Spoofing is the alteration of an e-mail header so that it appears to have been sent from someone other than the person who sent the e-mail. Now there are legal forms of spoofing, such as disguising your identity for fear of retaliation. Spoofing anyone other than yourself, however, is quite illegal… and an easy way for identity thieves to fool you into thinking that you’ve got to do something that you don’t really need to do.

How is spoofing even possible? Because the STMP, or Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, doesn’t actually include any authentication mechanism. Although a security level can be negotiated by someone who is utilizing SMTP, this is often not done. When there is no security level in place, anyone with a computer, access to the internet, and just a little bit of knowledge can log into the e-mail server itself and send messages out as anyone on behalf of any corporation.

For the most part, we can recognize these ridiculous e-mails and simply delete them without falling victim to them. It’s pretty easy to do when you get an e-mail supposedly from Bank of America saying that you need to take action before your account is closed even though you’ve never done business with Bank of America. On the other hand, an e-mail that appears to be from someone like your supervisor or even your spouse asking for sensitive data to be sent for a legitimate sounding reason can be something that fools a lot of people.

E-mail spoofing is nothing new – identity thieves figured out this process back when e-mails first started getting sent around the internet, so it’s a two decades plus old problem… but that’s the issue – it’s still a problem today despite education and self-awareness programs. So what can you do to make sure that you don’t fall victim to a spoofing scam?

If you do get an e-mail that seems suspicious, contact your financial institution in person.

Forward the e-mail to your financial institution’s customer service and ask for an explanation.

Remember to never share sensitive information unless you can verify the website, you notice it is secure, and you’ve visited that exact login location before.

Contact others immediately if you feel that you may have been fooled by an exceptional spoofer.

When in doubt, just delete the e-mail and move on.

These Common Phishing Scams Can Do Major Damage

Criminals have been using phishing scams for years to try and steal sensitive information for the purpose of identity theft It is an act of gaining access to sensitive information like username, credit card details and passwords by the means of disguising as a trusted online company or business. These criminals don’t hack into your computer to steal your information.  They ask you for it right out in the open…and you give it to them.

Although many people have no clue about phishing, this scam is not a new one. In fact, it has been around since 1995, back when the AOL was the source of everything internet. The scammers, or phishers would send messages disguising as the employee of AOL. These so called “employees” requests the users of the company to confirm their billing information as well as verify their accounts with them. The term phishing was then coined in 1996 when many people have fallen for the fake emails.

Since then, phishing has changed a lot. It became more sophisticated. However, one thing about it did not change and that is they are still using the same concept of deceiving people in order for them to hand over their sensitive information. One good piece of news is that fewer people fall for scams such as this one. Based on the Verizon’s 2015 report on Data Breach Investigations, there are only 23% of individuals opening phishing emails and 11% are clicking on the attachments. Although this is the case, it is unfortunate enough to know that it is very easy, simple and fast to hand over these information. There has also been a report stating that 67% of data breaches started out from phishing emails.

Through the years, the methods that these scammers used have improved, which allows them to send emails to many people all at the same time. As it has been easier to acquire these information, one of the things you need to do to protect yourself from it is to be aware of the methods the criminals employ. Here are some of the things that phishers use in attracting their victims:

Amazing Deals

Lots of people receive emails that just seem too good to be true like gift certificates, great discounts and giveaways that are just too fantastic. These are just some of the deals they are using to lure their victims. Once you have clicked the link sent to you, you would be asked to fill out a form asking you to enter personal information and even credit card numbers. Trust your instinct and if you think these great offers seem a little fishy, put your credit card away and report the phishing incident to the US-CERT here.

Job Advertisements

The best target of Phishers are those individuals that are the most likely to click on the link that has been sent to them. People looking for a job are a great target for phishing scams.  They are extremely likely to open an email of a (fake) prospective employer.  Therefore, they need to be aware that the scammers nowadays also makes use of logos from a company as well as language that makes them seem like a professional. In most cases, the link leads to some form requiring personal information to be entered and then the job seekers would be told to wait for an interview. While most job applications will require some personal information, you should be would be wary of those requesting SSNs upfront.  Most legitimate employers would will not ask you for this information unless they have decided to employ you.

Bank Emails

Banks will never ask you for credentials online, especially through email. Therefore, if you receive a legitimate looking email from what appears to be your bank, asking you for usernames, passwords etc.  Delete the email and report it right away.   Contact your bank and let them know that you received an phishing attempt using their name.

Keeping a watchful eye is one way of protecting yourself from phishing scams. Therefore, if an email is suspicious, never click any link. Moreover, using unique passwords would make a difference.

I always recommend everyone sign up for a credit monitoring plan that will alert you if you happen to be the victim of a phishing scam.  It’s a cheap way to keep

 

Smishing Can Smash Your Identity

Many folks are aware of the prob­lem of phish­ing, where you get a strange e-mail inform­ing you that you’ve won some e-mail lot­tery, or that your account has been locked and you need to ver­ify your infor­ma­tion to unlock it, or even that some­one you know is in trou­ble some­where and they need your mon­e­tary help to be able to get home. This causes you to will­ingly give your infor­ma­tion over to the iden­tity thieves in the hopes of get­ting a return on that infor­ma­tion in some way. Smish­ing is sim­i­lar to this prac­tice, but it involves attempt­ing to get your infor­ma­tion from a SMS text that you receive.

Smish­ing involves receiv­ing a very tempt­ing text that seems rather believ­able. It could say that you’ve won a $1,000 gift card to one of your favorite stores, that you’ve won a free vaca­tion, that you’ve been signed up for a web­site that will cost you $5/day if you don’t unsub­scribe, or even that your spouse has lost their phone and needs help at this new num­ber. The vari­ables are absolutely end­less, but there is one thing in com­mon with them all: that you don’t remem­ber enter­ing into a con­test, sign­ing up for any­thing, or that your loved ones wouldn’t text you in such a way if they were in trouble.

That doesn’t stop peo­ple from click­ing on that included link some­times from their smart­phone – you know, on the off-chance that it might be true and they might be able to pur­chase a new PS3 or some­thing. If you’re one of those folks who ends up click­ing those links sometimes, as one of my favorite authors would put it – don’t panic! Click­ing a link might trans­mit some data about your phone to the poten­tial iden­tity thieves and you might have some mal­ware installed, but noth­ing that is irrecov­er­able. The trou­ble comes when you start putting in your per­sonal details to sub­mit through the link where Smish­ing becomes an issue.

If you are curi­ous about a SMS link that you have received and you want to inves­ti­gate it, an easy way to get around some of the issues is to plug the link you receive into a web browser on your com­puter that has cur­rent anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-malware def­i­n­i­tions. This way, if the link isn’t a true prize, you will be pro­tected through your com­puter instead of hav­ing your smart­phone exposed that is likely run­ning no pro­tec­tions whatsoever.

Another easy way to deter­mine if a SMS text you have received is legit­i­mate is to sim­ply call the cus­tomer ser­vice depart­ment of the com­pany in ques­tion, like your bank, or to con­tact your loved ones on your own to ver­ify the story. If you have won some­thing or have been signed up for some­thing with­out your per­mis­sion, con­tact­ing a com­pany directly will give you the accu­rate infor­ma­tion you need. In the off chance that there are charges on your credit or debit account that aren’t sup­posed to be there, you can imme­di­ately con­test them.

Some other easy ways that you can help to pro­tect your­self from Smish­ing schemes are:

  • to not reply to the SMS text;
  • to teach our kids about Smish­ing so they don’t become vic­tims as well;
  • to for­ward a copy of the Smish­ing text to your cell phone provider to alert them to the scheme;
  • to place a fraud alert on your credit report if you believe you may have inad­ver­tently given sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion away; or
  • to sign up for a com­pre­hen­sive iden­tity theft pro­tec­tion plan from a pre­ferred provider.

If you believe that you have been a vic­tim of a Smish­ing scam, you should also file a com­plaint at https://www.ftc.gov, and then be sure to visit the remain­der of this site so that you can learn what you can do to help pre­vent this from hap­pen­ing to you again in the future. Protecting your iden­tity is becom­ing more and more crit­i­cal with every pass­ing day. Know­ing what Smish­ing is and not falling into its trap is just another way that you can fight the evils of iden­tity theft and not let the crim­i­nals win.