Hackers hack because they can. They hack to steal YOUR identity. They don’t care they don’t know you. Whether it is through your email, a spoofed (fake) email requests, even links to connect from LinkedIn, hackers can add malware or key-logger programs to your computer to scrounge around for you to provide – and what you may consider – protected information.
In the case of a key logger program, hackers can access your passwords, account numbers, bank information and even your employer information. Once hackers gain access to this information, they use it to re-invent themselves as you, get a new drivers license, start new credit cards or even buy property. Identity thieves abound and the most frustrating thing is only one in 700 identity thieves are ever arrested. Being careful when on-line is critical. Here are three actions you can take today to ensure your critical information stays private:
1. Install a firewall on your computer and digital devices such as AVG, Avast or Lookout
2. Install an anti-malware program and check and run it monthly
3. Download password generator program software from sites like Keepass, Lastpass, or Roboform
Identity theft is on the rise. The IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center- partnership between the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center and the Bureau of Justice) received and processed 289,874 complaints, averaging more than 24,000 complaints per month of identity theft. This is 8.3 percent over the previous full year. For more information read the IC3 crime report.
Want to learn more about on-line safety, protecting your identity and recovery if it is stolen connect with The Identity Advocate : http://www.theidentityadvocate.com/identity-theft-protection.php
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It’s traumatic when you or a loved one is admitted to a hospital. There’s so much to worry about. However, the protection of your private health care information should not be one of them. Although there has been a rash of celebrity information being compromised during recent admissions to a hospital, you don’t have to have a star status to ensure your health care information is safe.
To make sure your private health information stays that way, here are 3 questions to ask during the admission process:
1. Does your organization do background checks on all employees?
2. Who has access to my information?
3. Where will my records be stored and will they be encrypted?
If the person admitting you (or the pre – admission process) can’t answer the above questions, ask to speak to a supervisor who has the answers. If he or she doesn’t know, then ask to speak to the Director of Nursing, or Chief Nursing Officer.
While you may feel this over cautious, we are hearing of Identity Theft Rings run from a hospital by an admissions clerk as in this case in Alabama: Leader of Identity Theft Ring Sentenced to prison.
Obviously an admission in an emergency you can’t do this process. This may be a reason to consider having Identity Protection and Recovery. If you want to know more about being proactive instead of reactive connect with me here: http://www.theidentityadvocate.com/identity-theft-protection.php.
Keep your piece of mind.
The term “grave robbing” used to refer to the appalling act in which thieves would dig up graves and steal a deceased person’s body and/or belongings. Today that term has taken on a new definition that is not only atrocious; it is also becoming an alarming trend. Over the past few years the number of identity theft cases involving the deceased has grown exponentially. Identity thieves know family members are too busy mourning the loss of a loved one to worry about protecting his or her identity. After all, who would think to protect the identity of a loved one who is deceased?
It is estimated that over 2.5 million deceased Americans become victims of identity theft each year. Identity thieves can get loans, obtain credit cards, and even apply for jobs under these stolen identities. About 800,000 deceased people are deliberately targeted—meaning the thieves know the person has passed away. That’s a shocking 2,200 people every day. While the debt amounts and numbers of cases found by authorities are astounding, the hassle and stress associated with recovering a deceased person’s identity and resolving those debts is damaging enough. Luckily, there are ways family members can prevent identity theft and enjoy a little peace-of-mind.
The three credit reporting agencies—TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax—can take up to six months to recognize that a person has passed away. This is prime time for identity thieves to take action, and they can do a tremendous amount of damage in this timeframe. When a loved one dies, family members should immediately notify all agencies and authorities rather than wait for them to receive word on their own. This can be done by:
- Sending a death certificate to each of the credit reporting agencies. Only official copies are accepted, so it is recommended that family members obtain at least a dozen copies.
- Requesting an alert on the deceased’s credit report that states “Deceased. Do not issue credit.” This will prevent new accounts from being opened.
- Sending a death certificate to any credit card companies, financial institutions, and even collection agencies where the deceased may hold accounts.
- Notifying the DMV and canceling the deceased’s driver’s license so an identity thief cannot change the address and use the license to commit fraud.
- Sending a death certificate and reporting the death to the Social Security Administration. A person’s Social Security number is one of the most important pieces of information used to steal an identity.
- Contacting the bank to setup a credit freeze so identity thieves cannot open new accounts.
Family members should send all correspondence via certified mail and keep copies of their correspondence as well. They can also prevent identity theft by shredding documents containing the deceased’s personal information before discarding them.
Identity thieves often scan local obituaries looking for their next victims. Families can prevent making their loved one a target by omitting any valuable personal information, such as date of birth, birthplace, spouse’s name, address, and maiden name.
Review Credit Reports
The executor of a deceased person’s estate or his surviving spouse may request a copy of his credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies. Family members should examine the credit reports carefully and see if any suspicious activity—such as new credit card accounts or credit inquiries—have been made. Credit reports should be pulled immediately after death and then again a few months later.
These are some of the most important ways a family member of a deceased person can help prevent identity theft. Since these issues can be overwhelming, especially in the days and weeks following a loved one’s death, it’s often best to seek out professional assistance. Contact an identity theft prevention expert at 310.831.4400 and visit www.TheIdentityAdvocate.com for more information about protecting your loved one’s identity and reputation long after they’re gone.
You can also help prevent identity theft by hiring ID Theft Solutions, which is the only identity theft protection company managed by law enforcement and focuses on returning your identity back to pre-theft status.
Have you thought medical identity theft wouldn’t happen to you? Is your thought “why would anyone want my medical information?” Well, they don’t want your “medical history” – they want your insurance information. They might be out of work, or have a friend who needs assistance, or belong to an identity theft ring, and is in it for the money they can earn by selling your medical identity! Today it is more valuable then just your social security number.
When your medical information is stolen and used by someone to seek treatment, your own medical history will change. You may receive bills from doctors you have never seen or even heard of. You may discover they have a different blood type, or have cancer. Then to remove the mis-information and change your information back to who ‘you really are’ becomes an arduous task in itself. Also, you might find yourself responsible for bills that are not yours, and this affects your credit rating when it goes to collections!
Be proactive, protect your medical identity by asking your physician the following questions:
Does s/he do a complete background check on his employees?
Does s/he encrypt the records in his office?
If you should change physicians, what happens to those records? Does s/he outsource billing and receivables and if so, are they cleared as well. You want to know who is in his office and if there are prying eyes or someone who can walk off with all your information on a device such as a laptop or flash drive with all your electronic health information?
Read this article from Fox Business News and see why your medical information and insurance are a valued resource in the the black market; and why it is so difficult to keep your information PRIVATE: http://www.foxbusiness.com/on-air/willis-report/blog/2013/05/21/protect-yourself-against-medical-identity-theft..
And then call me or email me for solutions available to protect and recover your identity in the event that your identity is compromised or stolen
The FBI has seen an increase in cyber criminals who use online photo-sharing programs to perpetrate scams and harm victims’ computers. These criminals advertise vehicles online but will not provide pictures in the advertisement. They will send photos on request. Sometimes the photo is a single file sent as an e-mail attachment, and sometimes the victim receives a link to an online photo gallery.
The photos can and often contain malicious software that infects the victim’s computer, directing the user to fake websites that look nearly identical to the real sites where the original advertisement was seen. The cyber criminals run all aspects of these fake websites, including “tech support” or “live chat support” and any “recommended” escrow services. After the victim agrees to purchase the item and makes the payment, the criminals stop responding to correspondence. The victims never receive any merchandise.
The FBI urges consumers to protect themselves when shopping online. Here are a few tips for staying safe:
- Be cautious if you lose an auction on an auction site but the seller contacts you later saying the original bidder fell through.
- Make sure websites are secure and authenticated before you purchase an item online. Use only well-known escrow services.
- Research to determine if a car dealership is real and how long it has been in business.
- Be wary if the price for the item you’d like to buy is severely undervalued; if it is, the item is likely fraudulent.
- Scan files before downloading them to your computer.
- Keep your computer software, including the operating system, updated with the latest patches.
- Ensure your anti-virus software and firewalls are current—they can help prevent malware infections.
If you have fallen victim to this type of scam, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
If you need education and resources to protect your identity click on http://www.theidentityadvocate.com/identity-advocate-services.php
Identity theft is at an all-time high for consumers, but this insidious crime is not just a consumer problem. Companies of all types and sizes are vulnerable as well. After all, when you run a business, you’re no longer just looking out for yourself. You’re responsible for protecting the confidential data of your company, your employees, and your customers as well.
As a business you store all kinds of personal information. From Social Security numbers to credit card data to birthdates, the information you collect, store, and discard can wind up in the hands of identity thieves if you don’t take the proper precautions to shred it.
Secure document shredding is one of the most overlooked aspects of running a business. Simply tossing a sensitive document in the trash or recycling bin puts a customer at risk for identity theft—and your business at risk for costly fines and lawsuits. The public damage to your reputation from exposing customer information can be devastating as well, all of which can result in your business having to close its doors.
The Importance of Secure Document Shredding For Your Business
Although electronic identity theft is on the rise, stealing paper documents is the easiest way for an identity thief to steal the information needed to open new credit card accounts, get loans, write bad checks, and generally live the high life using your good name and credit.
Businesses who have consumer information on paper documents need to utilize a secure document shredding system that protects private data after it is no longer needed. Here are a few tips to help prevent identity theft in your business:
- Implement a document destruction policy within the company. Know which documents you need to save versus which you can throw away, and the specific steps you need to take to safely destroy information.
- Don’t recycle anything unless you shred it first. Leaving confidential documents in an open recycling bin is a sure-fire way to put your business at risk.
- Be proactive. It’s always the best way to safeguard your business from identity theft. Develop a culture of identity theft prevention and security as opposed to just being reactive when something goes wrong.
- Use a professional document shredding service. This is the best way to ensure there are no gaps in your plan to prevent document shredding fraud and identity theft.
Hiring a Document Destruction Company
Even smart businesses that hire a secure document shredding company often disregard investigating the team behind the service. These companies can hire non-bonded employees—even those with criminal backgrounds—who can gain instant access to thousands of documents containing personal information.
To protect and secure the identity of your business, employees, and customers, your organization should consider hiring a secure document shredding service that:
- Conducts background checks and inspections on each employee
- Employs a rigorous training procedure that ensures employees understand the reasons behind protecting your customer information
- Is certified as a document shredding specialist
- Has a secure document shredding chain-of-custody procedure
- Issues a Certificate of Destruction that confirms the secure shredding of your sensitive documents
In addition to hiring a reputable document shredding service, it’s important to take precautions with your own staff. Teach your employees to shred all documents before recycling them. They should also be regularly trained on privacy policies and secure document shredding procedures to reduce the risks of identity theft.
Protecting Your Identity at Home
Don’t forget that you also have your own personal information to protect at home. Buy and use a cross-cut shredder to shred anything that has private data, such as your name, phone number, address, bank account information, Social Security number, credit card offers, and any other documents that contain personal information.
In addition to always shredding personal data, one of the best ways for you and your business to prevent identity theft is to hire a service such as ID Theft Solutions—the only identity theft protection company that also recovers your identity. ID Theft Solutions is managed by law enforcement and focuses on returning your identity back to pre-theft status.
The Monthly Newsletter from ID Theft Solutions USA Partnering with The Identity Advocate for Education, Protection and Recovery
Mobile identity theft is one of the fastest growing types of identity theft due to the prevalence of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. With over one billion smartphones being used globally and research predicting this number will double by 2015, the soaring sales of mobile devices come at a time when identity theft is at an all-time high.
There was one victim of identity theft every three seconds in the U.S. in 2012, totaling 12.6 million consumers—an increase of over one million victims compared to the previous year and accounting for more than $21 billion, according to Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2013 Identity Fraud Report. These numbers are expected to rise, especially as our use of mobile devices continues to increase.
Whether it’s for email, instant messaging, surfing the web, shopping online, paying bills, or even banking, we store and share an immense amount of personal data on our mobile devices. Unless steps are taken to protect it, this data is vulnerable to identity thieves who want to use it to create fake identities and steal money.
Other than being convenient to use everywhere we go, it’s important to remember that smartphones are no different than desktops or laptop computers when it comes to hackers, viruses, malware, and spyware. Their apps and mobile browsers enable us to store personal information such as passwords, credit card numbers, and bank account data in addition to our contacts and other sensitive information. When this data is breached, however, the resulting identity theft can have severe and long-lasting consequences.
Fortunately, there are many actions you can take to secure your hand-held devices and avoid mobile identity theft. Here are a few tips:
- Create a strong password that is required to unlock your phone and access data. Make sure to set up the phone to automatically lock when it has not been used for a specified period of time.
- Never share sensitive data such as passwords or credit card numbers over an unsecured Wi-Fi connection. Even something as simple as purchasing movie tickets on an iPhone using a public Wi-Fi network can give a nearby hacker the opportunity to steal your data and use it to create a fake identity.
- Carefully review your phone bills for sudden increases in data usage. You also want to be on the lookout for charges from third-party content providers for services and apps you haven’t authorized. These can be signs that your phone has been hacked and puts you at risk for mobile identity theft.
- Keep your operating system and apps up-to-date. These updates are important for keeping your smartphone or tablet current with all of the latest security enhancements.
- Make sure you are shopping on secure websites by verifying that the “s” is in the “https://” in the address bar. Websites using “http://” at the beginning of the website address are unsecure.
When trusted professionals or businesses use mobile devices to share information with clients, the same types of mobile identity theft are possible. Take, for example, healthcare professionals. Over 80 percent of physicians polled in an ABA Health survey revealed that they have used personal mobile devices to access the protected health information of their patients. This puts their patients at risk for mobile medical identity theft even when patients haven’t done anything to put their own identity in jeopardy.
Healthcare professionals can help secure medical records on mobile devices by creating passwords to authenticate access to patient information, and never sharing data over an unsecured Wi-Fi connection.
Mobile Identity Theft Protection Services
In spite of all the safeguards you put in place, hackers will always try to stay one step ahead of you and the available technology. Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” your identity will be compromised. When it happens to you, don’t be caught without a mobile identity theft prevention plan.
There are a number of free mobile identity theft services, such as AVG, that offer anti-virus plans for mobile devices. Phones can be locked and located remotely, suspicious calls or text messages can be blocked, and widgets can detect questionable website activity.
The best identity theft protection service on the market is ID Theft Solutions. Managed by law enforcement professionals, ID Theft Solutions is the most comprehensive way to ensure your identity is recovered when it is stolen.
You can always count on The Identity Advocate to stay current on all of the latest mobile identity theft threats and solutions to help keep you and your mobile devices safe. Learn more about preventing mobile identity theft by visiting www.TheIdentityAdvocate.com or calling 310.831.4400.
This article was originally published on PInow.com.
Another identity theft issue in Yuma. Just when you think you are safe on your ride to the hospital, maybe in critical condition, now you must worry if your identity has been stolen!!
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