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.

What You Should Know About Online Dating & Identity Theft

Did you know that online dating just might cost you more than dinner & a movie?  Dating sites are frequently becoming the hunting grounds for identity thieves, and they want to take your personal information out on the town. For example, Jennifer had been single for about 15 years before she met the man she had always dreamed of. She met him on a dating site and they continued communicating for several weeks. Moreover, the more they talked to each other, the more she got to like him.

The man of her dreams appeared to be a wealthy businessman who was working overseas. He would send her photos from time to time showing his affection for her. What is unique about their relationship is that they had not even met each other. Every time that she suggested visiting him, various excuses were given like he was in the middle of working on a project, he has a flight out of the country or he just didn’t have the time to meet up. However, he still showed his passionate and kind side to her regarding the things they both liked. He even told her that being a team as well as having someone he could always count on is very important for him. He then proposed to her. Jennifer was so delighted and said that it seems like a dream come true. She felt as if they were really meant for each other.

After that, problems started arising. When he was working on a big project in a foreign country, a part of the machines were damaged. He needed funds but since he was abroad, he could not liquidate his money. Therefore, Jennifer helped him by giving him her life savings amounting to $50,000. She did not even hesitate about it and thought that it would be returned to her soon. She later found out that both her money and her man were gone.

Amherst Police Department’s Det. John Stendardi located in New York said that people who have a good intention often become the victims of these sweetheart scams. Moreover, the culprit could be anyone from a foreign country to a neighbor next door. Just like what Jennifer went through, the culprit steals their money and in some cases, their entire identity.   Being attentive while dating online can help you fight these scams.

Here are some tips that can help you reduce your risk of becoming a victim of these scams:

Protect your information

Although dating websites may be a convenient way to meet people, some people might take advantage of the personal information you have given them. That is why it is necessary to keep your personal information and other data to yourself, especially if you have not met them in person.

Always be on guard

When things get fishy and you feel that something is off, especially if your relationship has been moving along very fast, you should always be on guard for the other person might be wanting to manipulate your emotions for them.  This is when identity theft is most likely to occur.

Never give away large amounts of money

This certainly applies to the people you have met online. Moreover, you should never give them information about your bank account or finances, as they might use it to steal even more money from you.

Learn to walk away

If it seems like its too good to be true, then you should learn how to walk away. You need to be realistic about online dating, especially if your relationship seems to be like that of a fairytale.

These scammers and thieves will do everything they can to get what they want from you. Therefore, it is recommended that you look out for possible warning signs and be careful all the time. It would be best to do everything that you can to avoid these kind of people before its too late.  If you have an identity theft protection subscription, you are definitely more protected than those who do not.

The Hidden Dangers of Wi-Fi

Are you truly aware of the risks that you take when you are using public computers or Wi-Fi to access social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest? Free Wi-Fi is literally everywhere you look these days and it is a big selling point for many businesses. I can even get free Wi-Fi while I’m waiting for my doctor in that tiny little room filled with magazines that are three years old. Free Wi-FI at fast food establishments or the ever popular cyber coffee cafe often appeals to people as well.  There are, in fact, many people who may end up spending many hours being active on social networks while on public Wi-Fi or at a public computer every single day. That fact alone is enough to consider getting a professional protection plan like you can get with Identity Guard or another service like Norton WiFi privacy which will turn a public wifi network in to secure, private connection.

Public Wi-Fi Has Many Hidden Dangers

When was the last time you actually remembered to log off of Facebook? Many of us simply close the browser or shut the lid down on our laptop when we’re finished with what we’re doing. That’s all well and good when you’re at home, but if you’re playing the latest Zynga game with your friends over your lunch break and you do that, the next user who logs into the public network can actually access your browser information and reload it.

How? Modern web browsers have a recover feature to them. In literally just a couple clicks of a mouse, someone can open up all the browser windows someone had open, and let’s be honest here – we all have a lot of them open. Heck I’ve got 12 tabs up right now! From a social network to e-mail to plenty of other items I might have up, there is likely more than one bit of identification information someone can get from anyone’s browser history.

Your Own Computer Can Be Accessed on Public Wi-Fi

If you don’t have a password on your personal computer or you’ve got a terrible password on it like “12345″ or “password,” then change it now or get a password on there. Literally go do it now and come back to finish reading this post. Why? Because when you’re on a public wi-fi network at the same time someone else is, they can have full access to whatever is on your personal computer if it doesn’t have a password or it’s a password that is easy to crack. That’s right – just bringing your own personal computer to a public network is not enough to protect you.

The Consequences Can Be Financially Grave

For some people, the only thing they experience when they make a mistake like those mentioned above is to have someone post something derogatory on their social networks or maybe send out a few spam e-mails as a joke. For others, just one mistake can lead to an identity theft incident that can result in their credit score being hit so hard by credit fraud or other financially fraudulent activities that it can make it nearly impossible to get the credit lines needed without investing a great amount of time in repair and recovery… and even then it’s not 100% guaranteed that they’ll get what they need anyway.

Logging off and putting on a password is really all it takes to increase your identity theft protection levels on your own. For some people that simple step is enough. For others who think they might have some exposure or just want to be careful, there are many identity theft protection plans available, from free ones to high cost all encompassing ones, that can give you the level of protection you need. Whatever the case may be, make sure you are limiting your exposure to an identity theft incident as much as you can every day so that you can secure your financial future.

Does Wearable Technology Increase The Risk of Identity Theft

The use of wearable technology in aiding the processes of collecting, delivering and using information has become incredibly popular. People nowadays make use of smart watches, fitness bands and other various wearable gadgets. It is great that we have become more connected using technology, however, one should still be concerned about their security and privacy while they are using those devices.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York has garnered attention regarding the issues related to privacy protection that are connected with these wearables when he asked the Federal Trade Commission to start regulating the collected data by devices that tracks one’s activity just like what the fitness bands do. He said that the data collected by these devices should be personal. Moreover, the data collected could lead into a privacy nightmare once they have been sold to third parties without even the user’s consent.  There’s an interesting article about wearable data collection privacy on Politico.com, which believes that more regulation is not necessarily the way to go.

Technology giants poised to reap billions from selling “wearables” and other personal health technology are furiously lobbying Capitol Hill with a strong message: Don’t regulate our Fitbits. Read more here:

While some of these companies like the FitBit have tried addressing concerns regarding their security, there is no wonder why many people are still worried about it. After all, these wearables collect all sorts of personal information about the user. Moreover, some of these devices attract identity thieves by acquiring the user’s sensitive data without their consent or by being vulnerable to hacking.

Therefore, you need to know how to decrease you risk of becoming a victim of identity theft while you are wearing this technology by taking these precautions:

Read the company’s privacy policy

The privacy policy was created to tell you about everything you need to know about how these devices are collecting and using your information. You should always remember that these policies might be updated from time to time. Therefore, once you have been notified about it, you should read and review them carefully. You should find out what information they collect, how it is stored and whether they share it to a third party. You should also remember that these policies are not regulated federally. Therefore, it may vary from business to business. Moreover, no laws have been mandating the things needed to be protected. Therefore, there are cases where the company providing these devices do not have any privacy policy.

Only use secure networks

You should use a secure Wi-Fi network as much as possible. By doing so, you are decreasing your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft. In addition, you should never send any kind of information through a public network for it could be quite risky.

Opt out

If tracking your location and information is not needed for use of the device, find out if the service allows you to opt out. There are cases where it could be as simple as just turning off the Bluetooth feature of the device or requesting that you be removed from the company directly.

Go for strong passwords.

Most of these devices ask the users to create an account where they need to choose their username and password. Therefore, you need to carefully create your passwords. You should mix up letters and numbers with symbols and cases. If you have multiple accounts, it is not advised to use the same passwords for all of them.

Wearable technology is quickly becoming a major trend that is unlikely to go away any time soon. Therefore, we all need to make sure that our safety and identity should not be compromised while using them.

Related Article: The Best Credit Monitoring Services for 2017

 

Credit Report Errors Might Be Identity Theft

There is always a downside to the efficiency that modern technology provides. While it is more convenient to carry a credit card instead of bulky cash, your identity becomes vulnerable due to the information you have provided to apply for the card. More so, you become almost too exposed with credit bureaus collecting information about you when creditors ask for it. Before you know it, you could be a victim of identity theft.

How do you know that your identity has possibly been stolen? There some telltale signs that someone is assuming your identity and one of them is when your application for a credit card, loan or insurance gets rejected due to low credit score yet you are sure that you have paid your bills on time. You can also be a victim of identity theft if a debt collector demands that you pay your credit card account that has been overdue yet you never had a credit card. It is also a sign that you are a victim of stolen identity if you receive, through mail, a credit card that you have never applied for.

If you suspect that your identity is stolen, immediately report it to credit bureaus. Place a fraud alert, which will initially last for 90 days according to the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act FRCA, and ask for a copy of your true credit report. You will then receive an e-mail of your rights as a victim of stolen identity from credit bureaus. You can ask for an extension of the fraud alert for up to seven years for as long as you have evidences that your identity is indeed being used by another person. You can cancel the fraud alerts anytime the case has been solved.

Once you get credit report from credit bureaus, immediately review the reports and look for fraudulent accounts and erroneous information. Report to the credit bureau, from which you receive your report, any anomaly that you see. Your notification will require the credit bureaus block the information from future credit reports and notify creditors of the fraudulent accounts. Check your credit reports manually or sign up for credit monitoring to get the names and contact details of the credit grantors of the fraudulent account and ask the bureau for those details if they have not included it in your report.

These are just the initial steps that you can take once you notice that someone else has assumed your identity. From here, you can proceed to more complicated measures such as freezing your account and asking the assistance of your local law enforcers. Identity theft can ruin your life if you do not act on it quickly.  So be aware and stay on top of what’s going on with your credit reports.

8 Ways You Can Prevent Identity Theft

Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

(Updated 1-6-2018)

Identity theft is a crime which affects millions of people from different parts of the globe. If you don’t want to be a victim of identity theft, you should know the best safety measures to protect yourself from this growing crime.

There are several tips you may take for consideration when avoiding identity theft and some of them are as follows:

Tip #1: Consider an Identity Theft Protection Service

Numerous companies offer credit monitoring services to help anyone protect themselves from identity theft. Such services are available at reasonable rates. Depending on your preferences, you can choose any identity theft service provider that offers top notch solutions.

Tip #2: Keep All Your Personal Documents in a Safe

If you have important documents, it is always a wise idea to keep a personal safe for your home and a safety deposit box anywhere. You may utilize your safe at home for protecting items including social security card, passport, and birth certificate.

Tip #3: Protect Your Wallet or Purse at All Times

If you are buying purses, choose the ones that can be closed shut or zipped. Try not to make use of bags that some can easily reach into or see. Also, keep bags close to your body with tight grip all the time. Don’t leave purses or wallets in the car and if possible, don’t leave these exposed and never keep them in an obvious place.

Tip #4: Photocopy Every Content of Your Wallet

It is also a good idea to make copies of your ID cards, credit cards, and other personal documents that you usually keep in your wallet. In addition to that, keep records of all phone numbers to contact in case you have to order replacement items or close accounts.

Tip #5: Remove Yourself from Any Promotional Lists

If you don’t want to end up with stolen identity, start removing yourself from promotional lists including pre-approved credit card and junk mail lists. This added clutter does not do any good. In fact, you just put yourself at risk of identity theft if the stranger gets their hands on pre-approved cards.

Tip #6: Examine All Your Bank Account Statements

If you want to ensure that your bank accounts are all safe, always examine all your bank account statements regularly. If you bank accounts have unauthorized charges, never hesitate to call your chosen bank immediately.

Tip #7: Never Reveal Personal Information to Unverified Sources

Regardless if it’s over the internet or the phone, don’t reveal personal information to any unverified sources. Never feel pressured to answer questions if you don’t trust the source. Also, feel free to make a request for verifying information before giving any information.

Tip #8: Shred All Sensitive Documents Before Throwing Them Away

Before throwing your personal documents, consider shredding them first. Dumpster diving is said to be a common way of stealing personal information. Buy shredders for your home or office and ensure that you destroy any paperwork that contain personal details before you discard them. This includes credit, statements, mail, and even receipts.

Considering those tips above can help you avoid identity theft. Implementing them on your daily routine will allow you to save your personal information from this growing crime.

Download the PDF of this article here Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

Little-Known Tricks Hackers Use to Steal Identities

If identity thieves used use their ingenuity to help the world rather than commit crimes, they would probably be regarded as some of the world’s most constructive geniuses. Over the years, many different complex and “unbeatable” security systems have been created. Identity thieves still end up finding a way to break in, especially if there’s easy money to steal available. No matter how effective we thought security systems were, fraudsters always figure out an entry point and make it possible for them and their colleagues to steal personal information to their hearts’ content. Expert software engineers come up with new anti-identity theft software; ingenuous thieves easily come up with a better solution – it’s a constant ebb and flow that feels like has no end in sight.

Just as you think that there is no stopping this cycle, a new method says that there might just be a way to ultimately put an end to identity theft. The best way to deal with these crimes right now is to protect what we currently have and continue improving current security system. With this being said, you should be knowledgeable about different ways identity thieves execute their fraudulent acts. There are many identity-stealing methods you might not be aware of, and there are practically limitless additional ways that aren’t discussed below. Still, here are some of the more “popular” ID theft scams and backdoors to look out for.

  • Frequent flier promotions

One thing is clear. These criminals are mainly up to stealing and they won’t take anything that has no value. For an identity thief, your dog’s photos might not be of much use. They would consider something that you use often, though, including essential details about you and the assets that you own. In case you don’t know, even your use of frequent flier miles promotions can be a keyhole for them.

Near the end of 2014, for example, the Associated Press revealed that both American and United Airlines accounts were infiltrated by hackers. Authorities found out that there have been multiple instances where the thieves were able to get free flights as well as seat upgrades. They did this by stealing the clients’ login information and manipulating their accounts. Because of actions like this, we strongly advise that you always see to it that the privacy and safety measures of your online credentials are updated regularly and follow good password best practices. Also, you will have to modify your passwords often. Bear in mind that hackers will have a hard time hacking your accounts if your passwords are suitably complex.

  • Health Insurance

Did you know identity thieves will even tap into your healthcare insurance, since they consider practically everything inside it as an asset? Owing money might seem like something they wouldn’t want to hijack, but since medical bills for uninsured people is so expensive, fraudsters see stealing a member’s insurance plan as a lucrative endeavor. Although these thieves will consume the benefits you have available for medical services, the worst thing they do is trick people who owe medical bills into sending money to the criminal instead. Account owners won’t even know someone is using their insurance plans until they suddenly receive communication saying they haven’t been paying their medical costs. To stay on-guard against this, you should vigilantly check your insurance accounts on a regular basis.

  • Company communication tools

In this day and age, most companies are already using their own inter-office communication system – Slack, Skype and HipChat are prime examples. Several months before, these and other company communication tools have been targets for data breaches. Hackers are capable of stealing usernames, passwords, email addresses, contact information, login IDs and more. Needless to say, this can be very risky not only for the person who’s details are stolen but also to the company as a whole. To safeguard against this, you and your coworkers should be changing passwords often.

  • Ransomware

If you can no longer access your account and you don’t know why, there is a large possibility that it has been infiltrated by a type of program called “Ransomware”. These are viruses that enable hackers to access your device and encrypt files so you can’t use them anymore. These criminals then hold the device’s system ransom. Owners won’t be able to regain access until they pay for them in the form of money or important information. Remember that once such viruses have already penetrated your device, it will be very difficult to find solutions, though very savvy technicians can remove the blocks.

Still, you should pay close attention to preventive measures. You can do this by keeping your software security updated and securing a backup for your files. If there is any unknown or suspicious links that appear in your browser, it’s best just to not click them. Likewise, opening emails from unknown people is greatly discouraged, as well as following links that seem out of character for your contacts to send.

Identity thieves will always be there waiting for an opportunity to attack. Keep an eye on anything they could use to make their fraudulent schemes happen. The best identity theft protection is proactive and helps prevent theft before it occurs. Only through diligence can we begin to counter these criminals.

 

Fact and Fiction about Posting your Resume Online

As national unemployment figures continue to remain high, you can find cybercriminals cashing in on the wave of applicants posting resumes to a range of job banks and other employment websites.  Both Monster.com and USAJobs.gov were hit with a monster-size breach in the past that allowed thieves to confiscate personal information such as IDs and passwords, email addresses, phone numbers, DOBs, and more.  Earlier this year, the Cyber Investigation Unit of the FBI reported an uptick in the number of employment schemes from mystery/secret shoppers to envelope stuffing to courier services scams, all involving victims that had relinquished their bank account data, social security numbers and other personal identifying information online.

In this current economic climate it’s never been more important to circulate a resume, and cybertheives have never been more interested in finding your resume to make a profit rather than finding you employment. The key to attracting legitimate employers is to recognize when and where to post your resume, and what job offers to respond to and which ones to ignore.  Minimize your risks online by discouraging fraudulent businesses from approaching you.

Fact or Fiction – It’s OK to post your resume to a job site that does not have a privacy policy.

This is pure fiction. If the job bank or job site does not have a privacy policy, you may have no recourse if you run into problems.  Without it, employment websites can legally archive your information for years.  A privacy policy explains how the business plans to handle your personal data.  As you review the policy, look for how the company plans to store, use or share your information and find specific statements about registration and the length of time they keep your resume on file.  If the job site does not offer you the option to delete your resume, look elsewhere.  Your resume and personal information belong to you and not the site.  Most reputable employment sites have deletion instructions posted on their site.  In fact, employment sites do share resumes.  Job seekers have found that after posting to one site their resume mysteriously shows up at other job sites without the benefit of registration. So when in doubt always ask or consult a job site’s policy information.

Fact or Fiction – Posting your resume as “private” will hinder your chances employers.

Some applicants feel that by making employers take additional steps to obtain their resume, the company will quickly lose interest.  But the fact is your legal name, address, phone number, work history and even your references, when posted publicly, can potentially fall into the hands of identity thieves.  Most employment websites do offer a privacy feature that allows applicants to hide private information.  If you should decide to post to an employment site that does not offer this option, use a disposable email address and purchase a P.O. Box at your local post office.  Replace your current contact information with the disposable email and PO Box on your resume.  You’ll be avoiding possible risks should the online job site have a data breach.

Fact or Fiction – Including your references when posting your resume will increase your chances of getting the job.

While it may or may not increase your chances with potential employers, the fact remains that you need to consider that your reference’s contact information is available to everyone that views or downloads your resume.  You’re placing their private information at risk, which is not the best way to handle references should you need them in the future.Fact or Fiction – Always disclose your education information.

This statement falls somewhere between fact and fiction.  As far as resume formats go, it’s an absolute necessity.  However, you do need to consider that anyone can call your school and request your personal information without your consent.  If you’re currently in college, request a FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) form from your school’s office.  Once they have it on file, only legitimate institutions and businesses can have access to your information.  Students under 18 will need their parents to sign the form.  For more information about FERPA forms, see the U.S. Department of Education’s website.

Fact or Fiction – Every job offer is legitimate.

The fact is online job sites have sped up the hiring process considerably, but that fact alone doesn’t necessarily make them legitimate.  Most businesses continue to move through the hiring process methodically, requiring one, two and sometimes three interviews before having potential employees complete a formal written application asking for personal information, work history and references.   If you feel rushed to supply the employer with your SSN or drivers’ license, then consider it a big warning to walk away.  Legitimate employers do not conduct background checks until the interview process is completed. Consider the following as signs or warnings that you may be looking at a fraudulent job offer.

The employer requests your bank account numbers

The position requires you to transfer money

The position requires you to open accounts with e-Bay, Pay Pal or Western Union.

Now some of this information may seem obvious, but the cybercriminal’s key to success is to rush you through the entire process before you’re even aware that you’ve been an identity theft victim. Before you give any personal identifying information, learn how to recognize the signs of identity theft.

Here are some other tips that may cause you to reconsider that too-fabulous-to-be-true, dream position:

You receive an email about a job offer but the email address does not contain the domain name of the company.

The fax or phone number does not have the same area code as the corporate phone number.

Before giving any information whether through email or the phone, play Magnum PI and conduct an online search of the company making the job offer or the person who has contacted you.  If you’re still not satisfied, contact BBBonline.com or the State Attorney General’s office where the company is located.

Call the company’s HR department and verify that the person who’s contacted you on the company’s behalf is legitimate.

Fact or Fiction – A vague email job offer is often a valid offer.

Unfortunately, this is more fiction than fact for many job seekers.  The rule to remember here is, if a job offer emailed to you seems very “general” or has a “vague” job description; it may not be a job offer at all.  The email might contain a link that redirects you to yet another job site inviting you to post your resume, or it might be an email marketing campaign for an employment conference, seminar or class attempting to solicit money from you.  Either way, it pays to think twice before replying to these responses.

Some of the more common emails may include:

Invitation to post to another job site and the invitee doesn’t bother to tell you they get a small referral fee when you do.

Promises of a “dream job”, only after you paid their fee.

Claims they have a great opportunity for you, only the recruiter can’t seem to remember the company or the job title to this spectacular position.

Invitations to self-help seminars, promising a job only after you’ve purchased their seminar.

Some email job offers are actually valid.  In a recent World Privacy Forum job search study, the best job offers come within the first month of a resume being posted.  If responses seem scarce, you may want to take down your resume and start over.

College Students Are At Significant Risk for Identity Theft

One of the most vulnerable demographics for identity theft are college students.

According to Financial Time’s Steve Weismen, college students are five times more vulnerable to becoming a victim of identity theft. The 2015 report given by the Javelin Strategy & Research Identity Fraud also stated that college individuals are more often becoming the victim of identity theft as compared to the other groups. Moreover, it takes them at least twice longer to start repairing their identities upon their discovery that they have become a victim of it.

In addition, the Consumer Sentinel Network’s database of the Federal Trade Commission has also discovered surprising number of identity theft victims in college adults. Based on the database, 39,335 of consumers whose ages are between 20- 29 became a victim of identity theft all the way back in 2013. They surprisingly made up 20% of the total number of complaints regarding identity thefts that were reported on that same year. These statistics shows that the age range mentioned before shows the largest age range of 10 years suffering from the damage caused by identity thieves.

Steve Weisman said that there are two possible reasons why these individuals are the most vulnerable ones when it comes to identity theft. The first one is that they are living in close quarters and the precautions that they are taking are not enough to protect themselves from it. Moreover, there are several methods used for stealing one’s identity. It could be low tech, high tech or no tech at all. These individuals are vulnerable in whatever device they are using and whatever they are doing with these devices.

Most of these students do not even know how vulnerable they actually are. Data breach apathy has also played a big role on why these individuals are not even taking this issue seriously. Moreover, the more common these data breaches becomes, the less threatening they may seem.

Cases of identity theft involving college students is unlikely to decrease unless the students begin paying closer attention to their personal identifying information.  There are many simple steps that all adults should be taking to help better protect their identity.

Here are a few tips that would help you get started with it:

  • Keep your important documents safe

Documents like social security cards, passports, health insurance papers, bank and credit statements should be kept locked away when not needed. As much as possible, keep it in a locked room or invest in a quality safe.  In case your roommates tend to leave the room unlock, then you should consider purchasing a safe or a deposit box where all of your documents can be placed.

  • Do not give out your credit card

Credit cards are supposed to be for your personal use. Therefore, if a family member, a friend or a stranger wanted to borrow it, you should never lend it to them. Always maintain strict control over your cards and card numbers.

  • Have mail sent to your home

If you’re concerned that the mail box at your location on campus is not secure, then you should forward your mail to your home or even at your parent’s home, especially the mail that may contain sensitive information. Another option would be renting a post office box for additional security.

  • Keep your software updated

This includes both the anti-spyware and anti-virus software. It should always be kept updated all the time in all of the devices that you are using.

  • Make use of credit monitoring

Credit monitoring services alert you whenever there are any suspicious activity with your credit files that may indicate fraud is happening. As most of these students are just starting to build up a good credit history and score, they help to ensure that your credit is be affected due to identity theft