The Hacking Threat For Biometric Scanning Security Devices

Remember when fingerprint and facial recognition scanning was just cool spy tech seen in Mission Impossible movies?  Until recently, only the CIA and top secret spy agencies had this cool technology at their disposal.  Long gone are those days as everyone with a late model cell phone or mobile device can now take advantage of these cool biometric security features.  However, there may be some downsides to unlocking your smartphone or tablet with a scan of your thumbprint or face.

By the year 2019, it’s estimated that there will be nearly 500 million biometric scanners in use around the world.  Amounting to a staggering $25 billion dollar industry.  Biometric scanning is meant to take the place of alpha-numeric passwords that we’ve all used for years and is being touted as a more secure way to lock down your sensitive information.  But just like normal passwords, that are stored on encrypted clouds and servers across the globe, won’t thumbprints and eye scans be susceptible to hacking and theft as well?

But there have already been cases of biometric hacking on a large scale. An estimated 22 million people had their personal data stolen in a massive data breach at the Office of Personnel Management in December 2014, including RAND privacy expert and mother of two Rebecca Balebako. She received a letter from OPM last year informing her that her personal information, including her ten fingerprints, were stolen in the breach. –  Read the full article here. 

My question is, what happens when your biometrics are stolen and used for identity theft?  You can’t change your thumbprint every 30 days.  You certainly can’t change the composition of your retina if your eyeball biometrics are hacked.  Nor is it likely you’ll get plastic surgery to change your face, should your facial scan information be stolen.  Once your personal features are stolen, how to you ever get access to your secure websites, devices and information again.  Biometric tech might seem like tricked out technology at the surface, but it’s possible that it may be less secure than the 10 digit passwords we’ve grown accustomed to.

Our 10 Best ID Theft Prevention Tips

Keep­ing your iden­tity safe is impor­tant. If some­one else is able to get their hands on your sen­si­tive iden­ti­fi­ca­tion infor­ma­tion, not only can they pre­tend to be you for all intents and pur­poses, but they can also take your money, your credit and your entire life  The anonymity of this crime makes many peo­ple feel help­less to pre­vent it.
There is no need to be hope­less though. There are some easy ways that you can keep your iden­tity safe, start­ing today, that can make a world of dif­fer­ence in pro­tect­ing your infor­ma­tion. Here are the Top 10 ID theft pre­ven­tion tips that you can imple­ment today to help to make your iden­tity safer.

1. Don’t carry extra credit or debit cards

Do you have one pri­mary account that you use for spend­ing? Then keep that one card with you and lock up what­ever other ones you may have in a safe loca­tion at home where thieves won’t think to look. Not only does this make it harder for an iden­tity thief to get their hands on all of your accounts, but it will also improve your spend­ing habits.

2. Cross­cut shred­ders are a must have in your home

We all like to joke about the guy who got his tie caught in the shred­der, but those old shred­ders really don’t do any­thing. Straight line cut paper is easy to remove from your trash that is curb­side and can be eas­ily taped together by an iden­tity thief. Look for a cross­cut shred­der that spits out tiny lit­tle pieces of paper. This will dis­cour­age an iden­tity thief to no end.

3. Recy­cle Your shred­ded information

Tak­ing your per­sonal papers that have been shred­ded and dump­ing them into a huge recy­cling bin full of paper elim­i­nates the curb­side thief. Mixed up with lit­er­ally tons of other paper, your iden­tity sim­ply gets lost in the mix.

4. Never carry your Social Secu­rity card

The only rea­son why you need a Social Secu­rity card with you is to pro­vide a copy of it to a new employer, and even then you could make the copy at home. Other com­pa­nies may request your Social Secu­rity card for ver­i­fi­ca­tion of who you are, but you can request alter­na­tive meth­ods of identification.

5. Use one time credit card num­bers while online shopping

Many credit card com­pa­nies offer an online shop­ping ser­vice where they will assign your account a unique num­ber that is good for one pur­chase only that you have autho­rized. This pre­vents iden­tity thieves from get­ting your actual credit card num­ber if you hap­pen to have spy­ware of key­log­ging soft­ware inad­ver­tently installed on your computer.

6. Don’t surf the inter­net with­out anti-virus, anti-spyware, a fire­wall, and anti-malware soft­ware installed.

The inter­net is a dan­ger­ous place thanks to the actions of a few, so to keep your­self safe while work­ing, surf­ing, and play­ing online, be sure to have all the pro­tec­tive ser­vices prop­erly installed and updated on your com­puter. Iden­tity thieves have even started to cre­ate viruses that affect Apple’s O/S, so always remem­ber that every com­puter you own is a poten­tial target.

7. Keep a list of all your finan­cial account num­bers  locked away.

If you do hap­pen to lose your wal­let or purse, or you sus­pect you have become the vic­tim of iden­tity theft, time is of the essence. By hav­ing this infor­ma­tion eas­ily acces­si­ble, you can sim­ply grab your list and start mak­ing calls instead of fum­bling around on the inter­net and through your files try­ing to find it after the fact.

8. Don’t give out any infor­ma­tion to peo­ple you don’t know.

Why would some­one you not know or a com­pany you’ve never done busi­ness with need your iden­ti­fi­ca­tion infor­ma­tion? To steal your iden­tity, that’s why! If you don’t know who is ask­ing for your info, don’t give it to them until you’ve ver­i­fied the authen­tic­ity of their request.

9. Beware aware of “phishing.”

Phish­ing is one of the biggest causes of iden­tity theft around today. Iden­tity thieves get you to give them your infor­ma­tion through a bogus e-mail or even phone call demand­ing you ver­ify your infor­ma­tion to save an account you might have with a legit­i­mate busi­ness. You talk to a con­vinc­ing per­son on the phone or you get trans­ferred to a legit­i­mate look­ing web­site where you “ver­ify” the info, but what you are really doing is sim­ply hand­ing your iden­tity away. You haven’t won any­thing. Your account will not be closed. You do not ever have to give some­one a pass­word or your PIN num­ber. Always, always, always ask ques­tions if you are unsure!

10. Some­times You Can Share Too Much Information

With the inven­tion of social net­work­ing on the inter­net through the var­i­ous web­sites, we tend to get very friendly with a lot of dif­fer­ent peo­ple who we may not even know per­son­ally. All it takes for an iden­tity thief who has friended or fol­lowed you to get into your home and take your iden­ti­fi­ca­tion infor­ma­tion is for you to post that you’re going to be out for a few hours, that you’re headed out on vaca­tion for a cou­ple weeks, or that you’re in charge of the school car­pool for next week.

Chances are you have pic­tures uploaded of your home that even show your file cab­i­nets, safes, or lock­boxes in the back­ground behind a smil­ing face. Be care­ful about who you decide to let fol­low you & friend you, and then be care­ful about what you share with them. With­out intend­ing to do so, you could be set­ting your­self up for an iden­tity theft inci­dent and not even real­ize it.

Iden­tity theft is the fastest grow­ing crime cur­rently in the United States, and it is grow­ing around the world as well. You can pro­tect your­self against iden­tity theft eas­ily by fol­low­ing these Top 10 guide­lines as con­sis­tently as pos­si­ble, while also look­ing into a credit monitoring pro­tec­tion plan that might fit your extended needs. Iden­tity theft is a $40 bil­lion per year prob­lem – don’t let it cost you too.

Citi Credit Monitoring Services Review

Update:  The Citi Credit Monitoring Service Program was terminated 3-31-2015.  

We recommend you look at our IdentityGuard monitoring review as an alternative to the Citi monitoring plan.

Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor is a ser­vice pro­vided by Citibank. Citibank has been in busi­ness for the past 200 years thanks to its abil­ity to do busi­ness through what they call Respon­si­ble Finance. What this means to Citibank is that they have invested hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars into small busi­nesses, infra­struc­ture, and other choice oppor­tu­ni­ties to help the aver­age con­sumer be able to work for them­selves, pro­tect them­selves, and achieve any­thing they wish to achieve. Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor comes under the realm of pro­tec­tion for CitiBank cus­tomers, but is avail­able for any­one who is wish­ing to have credit and iden­tity theft protections.

Daily Mon­i­tor­ing for Daily Results

The key to being able to catch an iden­tity thief in the act is to mon­i­tor your infor­ma­tion on a daily basis. Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor does this through credit monitoring reports every day to deter­mine if any changes have been made to crit­i­cal com­po­nents, such as your address, your delin­quent accounts, or new lines of credit, whether secured or unsecured.

Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor also helps you have a hand in keep­ing your iden­tity safe by pro­vid­ing you a com­plete credit report and credit score analy­sis upon sign­ing up for their iden­tity theft pro­tec­tion ser­vices. You then get access to this infor­ma­tion for free on a monthly basis. This allows you to man­u­ally review your credit infor­ma­tion to insure that all the infor­ma­tion shown is autho­rized by you.

Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor Gives You Effec­tive Alerts

If Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor detects infor­ma­tion that may cause an iden­tity theft to poten­tially occur or believes that a theft has already occurred, then you will be noti­fied via the Notify Express sys­tem that Citibank has set up. This alert sys­tem lets you know when there is any change to your infor­ma­tion that may be an indi­ca­tor of fraud. You can also be noti­fied in the way that works the best for you: through stan­dard U.S. mail, e-mail, text mes­sages, or by a phone call.

Get the Sup­port That You Need

With an Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor sub­scrip­tion, you get around the clock access to your credit infor­ma­tion with a sim­ple log-in. Some folks have ques­tions about what it takes to ade­quately keep their iden­ti­ties and credit safe, If you believe that you have been the vic­tim of iden­tity theft, you also have imme­di­ate access to Citi’s Iden­tity Theft Solu­tions department.

Should you become the vic­tim of iden­tity theft, you have access to a $10,000 – $25,000 insur­ance pol­icy in most states to help you be able to work to recover your iden­tity. This can help you to be able to defend your­self effec­tively, cover the costs of restor­ing your iden­tity, and even cover lost wages that may occur while you are work­ing to restore your iden­tity. It may not be as much as the insur­ance poli­cies of other com­pa­nies, but unlike other iden­tity theft poli­cies, there is no limit to the amount of claims that you can have. Each claim you make gives you access to another policy!

Sign­ing Up for Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor is Easy!

You can sign up today for Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor with­out being a mem­ber of Citibank! All you have to do is fill out your per­sonal infor­ma­tion and once you’ve agreed to the terms and con­di­tions, you’ll have instant access to your Exper­ian credit infor­ma­tion. A sim­ple and free upgrade is all that is required to get all three of the major credit bureau’s infor­ma­tion about you around the clock.

Pric­ing & Value

Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor offers only one plan of ser­vice that cov­ers daily mon­i­tor­ing of your credit infor­ma­tion and assis­tance in restor­ing your iden­tity. You can try Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor for the first 30 days for just $1, and then after­wards is $12.95/month. It should be noted that Citibank, in their terms and con­di­tions, state that they can mod­ify or can­cel the Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor pro­gram, includ­ing a change in the price of the pro­gram, with­out noti­fy­ing you about these changes.

Pro­tect Your Iden­tity & Your Credit Today

Thanks to the Fed­eral bailout, Citibank is more sta­ble than ever when it comes to being able to pro­vide an essen­tial ser­vice to its cus­tomers. Becom­ing a cus­tomer of Citibank to make sure your credit and iden­tity are effec­tively cov­ered puts a bank on your side when it comes to fight­ing for you. Try out Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor today for just a buck and dis­cover how good it feels know­ing that your iden­tity and your credit are in safe hands.

How To Freeze Your Credit Report

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Placing a freeze on your credit report is one of the initial steps you should take if you discover you are the victim of identity theft.  This temporary freeze prevents the information in your credit file from being reported to companies, credit grantors etc.  The short version is that nobody can run a credit inquiry and see your credit report.  This prevents further fraudulent accounts from being opened with your social security number and personal identifiable information.

Only the individual who’s social security number is attached to that credit file can request a temporary credit freeze or a temporary lift of the credit freeze.  Keep in mind that you will not be able to apply for new lines of credit, loans or mortgages while the freeze is in place, so you will need to plan ahead if you know that a creditor may need to pull your credit report in the near future.

When submitting for a credit report freeze, you must do so with ALL 3 CREDIT BUREAUS.  Equifax, Experian & TransUnion.  Additionally, if you wish to temporarily remove the freeze, you must again request the lift with all 3 bureaus.  After you freeze your credit files, it will be necessary to monitor your credit reports over the next several weeks & months, to ensure no new fraudulent accounts were reported before you set the security freeze.

You Can Learn More About How To Freeze Your Credit Report at FTC.gov

TransUnion Credit Reporting Faq’s

TransUnion is one of the three credit reporting bureaus along with Equifax and Experian.  The three credit reporting agencies keep track of your credit history and provide reports to prospective lenders and mortgage brokers.  TransUnion not only reports on your credit, but they have processes in place to help make corrections to your report. On their site, TransUnion asks: “Have you applied for a credit card and been denied because of bad credit?” Credit card companies may be closing the door to you because of inaccurate information! TransUnion helps to fix your credit record, but only if you know what  your TransUnion credit report says and specifically what needs to be fixed on TransUnion’s report.

TransUnion allows you to run a credit check on yourself quickly and easily.  You could even pull your TransUnion credit report online while on a lunch break or in your pajamas at home. The sooner you see the Experian, Equifax or TransUnion credit reports that lenders and credit card companies see, the sooner you can make the changes needed to improve your credit rating and change in your life.

With a menu of reporting format options ranging from a free TransUnion credit report to a low-cost $29.95 three in one credit report profile including a free credit score, there is almost no reason that you can’t quickly and conveniently obtain your TransUnion credit report information and immediately report any payment, debt, name, or address mistakes to TransUnion.

Do you need to purchase a personal TransUnion credit report? Right now you can run a personal credit check for only $9. Do you want to compare your Experian, Equifax and TransUnion credit reports side-by-side to be sure none of them are reporting damaging or flat out wrong information about your credit history? If so, the three in one credit report is the way to go.

Yes, credit reporting agencies sometimes make mistakes. TransUnion may not even know it and their mistakes could cost you. It is up to you to make sure that your debt payment history information is reflected accurately on TransUnion’s report. Does your TransUnion credit report tell lenders that you made two late payments — but you didn’t? Does the report say that you still have an outstanding auto loan debt — but your car is paid off? Correcting wrong info can possibly increase your credit score. Increasing your credit score could mean the difference between a lender saying YES instead of NO.  Transunion also offers id protection services that will keep track of your credit reports for fraud and identity theft.

Here is what a TransUnion credit report will show you:

  • Names you have used
  • Current and prior addresses
  • Names of your creditors
  • The amount of secured and unsecured debt taken out in your name
  • Whether that debt is in the form of a revolving or installment account
  • The current balances versus the limits on those accounts
  • How prompt or late payments have been
  • Your employment history and employer addresses
  • Public records of judgments or liens against you

How do you get your TransUnion credit report right now? Just visit their site at www.transunion.com.free credit report.

Filling Out An Identity Theft Police Report

One of the most important parts of returning your life to normal after your identity has been stolen is to fill out an identity theft police report. Filling out an identity theft police report will make the police aware of the theft and will allow them to charge the criminal with the crime when they are found and if your information can be linked to them in any way, they will be charged with the crime. Unless the police are aware that the identity theft has occurred, there is no chance that the criminal will ever be charged with the crime.

Why Is Filling Out The Report Important?

In many cases, any credit card companies that you contact to close accounts that were opened because of the identity theft will require you to fill out an identity theft police report before they will consider your claim to be valid. You may also be required to sign a waiver allowing the credit card company to prosecute the person that has opened the fraudulent account to the full extent of the law once they have been found so that the credit card company can recoup their losses. Identity theft fraud costs credit card companies and banks millions of dollars each year and allowing the criminals to be prosecuted in criminal court means that the company many be able to get back some of the money that they lost.

Once you have filled out an identity theft police report, chances are that you will not be held liable for the accounts that were opened fraudulently in your name. Many credit card agreements have a waiver that the person will not be held accountable in the event of the account being used by another person for criminal matters and will cancel the account at the request of the victim with very few questions asked. It is easy for the credit card company to determine whether a credit card is being used for fraudulent purchases because after the credit card has been issued, the criminal charges as many items to the credit card as possible in a short amount of time, maxing it out, and never make any payments on the bill for the account.

What Happens After You Fill Out The Report?

After you fill out the identity theft police report, there is little else that you will need to do until the criminal that was using your identity has been caught. If you have authorized the credit card company to pursue the conviction of the criminal, you probably won’t even have to show up at the court for the trial of the criminal. In some cases, the criminal will be conducting their criminal operations in another state, which would make it difficult for the person to attend the court hearings, but in the majority of the cases, just filing an identity theft police report is enough to ensure that the criminal will be tried for the crime.

How To Report Possible Identity Theft

It is important for every person to know how to report possible identity theft. Identity theft is a terrible offense that causes a great deal of financial problems for the people that are affected by the crime. The problems associated with identity theft will generally occur …What Steps Should Be Taken To Report Identity Theft? – Protection Against Identity Theft – Identity theft is a horrible crime that continues to victimize a person long after the theft has occurred. The hassles start when the crime is discovered and continues as the victim tries to repair the damage that was done to their credit history. If the person is lucky, they …How To Avoid Losing Money Through Credit Report Identity Theft – Protection Against Identity Theft – Credit report identity theft is becoming more and more of an issue each year as more people go through the hassle of having their personal information stolen. So how can a person avoid losing a great deal of money from an occurrence of credit report identity theft? There are …

What You Need To Know About Credit Card Fraud

Types of Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud comes in several different forms and even if you don’t currently have any credit cards in your name, you can still become a victim. Criminals are becoming more crafty as they attempt to find ways to steal your credit and use it fraudulently. Here are some of the more common credit card fraud methods that you should familiarize yourself with.

Application fraud: The most common type is the application fraud. Fake or stolen documents are used to open credit card accounts. This is of two types: The card obtained by assuming the identity of someone or by falsifying the financial position to obtain credit.

Assuming the identity of another person is a form of traditional identity theft. The fraudster may create false names and addresses or even steal the identity of an existing person to obtain the card.

Acquiring more credit than entitled, by exaggerating financial position is another common practice. Banks often protect their interests by demanding documents to support the financial claims or by confirming details with the employers.

Stealing: Criminals get hold of your card either by stealing or when you lose it. Postal intercepts are a common form of stealing cards whereby the card is stolen before it reaches the rightful owner by post.

Skimming: This is a type of fraud where the card is cloned or forged without the card owner’s knowledge. The data in the magnetic strip of the card is copied and used. This type of crime is difficult to spot since skimming is exposed only when the next statement is generated. The magnetic strip can be copied by a dishonest employee at the point of sale, with illegal recording devices or by skimming devices installed in cash machines.

Online fraud: Most credit card frauds are committed over the internet. The card details are hacked at the merchant site when being used to make legitimate online purchases. Another common scam is thorough phishing. The phishing sites send out false e-mails or links to fraudulent sites to deceive the card owner to part with card details. These details are then used to make false purchases.

CNP fraud: Purchasing goods on mail order or on telephone without involving a direct seller, where no PIN verification is required, can result in card not present (CNP) fraud. The card details are obtained even from old receipts and since the seller does not verify the PIN number or signature, it becomes difficult to detect such crimes.

BIN attack: Credit cards companies often come under the BIN (Bank Identification Number) attack. Fraudsters generate the last four numbers by obtaining the first six numbers (BIN) of a legitimate card. The cards in the same BIN range have similar data like expiry dates etc.

The key to avoiding such frauds is to be aware and follow safe practices. Always use strong passwords on your internet banking and credit card websites. Do not give secure information on telephone or e-mail. Report a lost card immediately to block any further transaction. Also, consider using a credit monitoring service to keep track of what’s going on with your credit reports. With such simple safe practices, you can ensure that your plastic money is safe.

Preventing Identity Theft: Proper Disposal Of Old Computers

Computer Data Has a Long Shelf Life

Conscientious people shred their bank statements and cut up their credit cards without a thought. But when it comes to disposing of their computer’s hard drive, they can be extremely careless. With computers constantly evolving and being made more powerful, people frequently upgrade to the newest models, casting aside millions of computers yearly. Many computer users leave sensitive information on their hard drives as they discard them at computer drop-off centers or in landfills, just waiting for an identity thief to come by. If you have a computer to dispose of, you don’t want to become a future statistic for identity theft.

Some people do not realize the process involved in removing data from a hard drive. Many computer users think if they move all their files to the trash or reformat the hard drive that the files are gone for good. Actually, those trashed files remain fully intact, unless they are rewritten. Rewriting only takes place if space is needed and most computers have ample space. In the case of reformatting the drive, data can be still retrieved with the right tools. If you are among the unaware, the Department of Defense has advice on how to remove information from a hard drive.

Wiping the Hard Drive

You can buy programs, also known as shredders, which are relatively inexpensive, or find freeware on the Internet that will do the job. These programs cover the data with zeros or random characters to make them unreadable by data-restoration software. The DOD recommends overwriting the drive sectors three times with different characters. Other experts recommend going over the data seven times to make it completely unrecoverable. Also, wiping just certain files may not fully protect your information, as copies of those files can be stored in other parts of your computer. It is probably best to use the wiping program on your entire hard drive.

Removing the Hard Drive

If you don’t want to use a wiping program, you can remove your computer’s hard drive. It is relatively small and will store easily in a safe or other secure location. If you aren’t sure where the hard drive is located on your computer, refer to your manual or manufacturer’s website. Once removed, some people resort to pounding the hard drive with a hammer, or using a magnet, or soaking it in water or acid. All these methods are ineffectual. The only method to guarantee the removal of your information is to sand the platters or use an industrial shredder which obliterates it.

Discard Wisely

The sheer amount of e-waste being generated each year is a threat to our environment. Federal regulations don’t cover e-waste, but some states have passed legislation dealing with the landfill problem. Yet, disposing of a computer is easier today than a few years ago as there are more options available. To help confront the landfill problem, some stores have unveiled take-back or buy-back programs. While online sites have also appeared to buy back old electronics, where they will revamp them to sell or recycle the components. You would be doing a great service if you consider other options rather than tossing your computer into a landfill.

Stealing your sensitive information from an old hard drive is just one way criminals can commit identity theft.  Learn other methods to protect yourself from identity theft and keep your data out of the wrong hands.

Reference:

1. Department of Defense, Department of Defense Directive, October 24, 2002, https://www.acq.osd.mil/ie/bei/pm/ref-library/dodd/d85001p.pdf

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.

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.