How To Report Identity Theft

howtoreportidehteft

The shock of realizing you’ve been the victim of identity theft can be overwhelming to say the least.  Most people aren’t exactly sure what the first steps they should take after realizing their information has fallen into the wrong hands and the possibility of having multiple fraudulent accounts, charges and worse has become a reality.  The first thing id fraud victims need to do realize that time is of the essence.  The quicker they begin finding out how much damage has been done and where the damage has occurred, the easier it will be to develop a game plan to start fixing the problems caused by the identity thieves.
Here’s What To Do Right Away

Step 1: Call the companies where you know fraud occurred. Call the fraud department. …

Step 2: Place a fraud alert and get your credit report. Contact one of the three credit bureaus. …

Step 3: Report identity theft to the FTC. …

Step 4: File a report with your local police department.

Here Are More Steps To Help You With Identity Theft Recovery

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.

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.

 

Court Cases Involving Identity Theft

https://www.leg.wa.gov/pub/billinfo/2005-06/Htm/Bills/Session Law 2005/5418.S…

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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

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.

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

 

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

 

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.