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.

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.

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

 

Court Cases Involving Identity Theft

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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.

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.

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

 

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.

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.

 

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.