Category Archives: Identity Theft

The Technology Blog

Time To Upgrade Your Wallet

By | Cyber Security, Identity Theft, Scams | No Comments

Time To Upgrade Your Wallet

We’ve all seen the commercials of people zooming through the checkout line with a simple “tap” of their credit card. You don’t have time to waste with swiping, inserting, and pin numbers. A simple “tap” and you’re on your way. It may make your shopping experience a breeze, but like all new banking technology scammers have found a way to exploit it.

How-To-Protect-Your-Identity & Credit Card

How To Protect Your Identity & Credit Card

The Traditional Pickpocket

In the 2015 film, Focus, there’s a great scene that shows a team of pickpockets easily separating people from their possessions. When we think of a “pickpocket” we probably think of some slight-of-hand work, misdirection, or an impish character straight out of a Charles Dickens novel. In today’s tech-savvy age, pickpockets don’t need any of these refined skills. All they need is a high-tech radio scanner and to be close enough to you to pick up the radio frequency emitted by your “tap and go” credit card. The technology of “tap and go” credit cards is known as Radio Frequency Identification Detection or RFID.  

How Radio Scanner Pickpocketing Works

It’s really quite simple and almost undetectable when it happens, making it a low-risk operation for a criminal. Your “tap and go” credit card emits a radio frequency that communicates your card information, this is how your card information passes to the credit card reader at the store. What criminals have discovered is that by using a radio frequency scanner they can steal your credit card information; card number, expiration date, security code, and the name on the card. All they have to do is have the scanner hidden on their person and get close enough for the scanner to pick up the frequency of the card.

How To Protect Your Identity & Credit Card

If you’ve ever read a travel guide book, one of the top ways they give for avoiding pickpockets is to conceal your documents, cash and checks in a travel belt wallet that can be hidden inside your shirt or pants. Essentially, it’s the same concept when it comes to protecting your identity and “tap and go” credit card from electronic pickpockets. There are several brands and styles of RFID blockers including wallets, purses and individual holders. Simply keep your “tap and go” credit in a RFID blocking case and criminals will not be able to electronically pickpocket you.

Not sure if your card is RFID enabled? The next time you’re in a store that is set up for “tap and go”, give it a try, but tP4he best way to be sure is to call your credit card company or bank and to ask.  

What To Do After Account Fraud & Identity Theft

By | Identity Theft | No Comments

What To Do After Account Fraud & Identity Theft

What-To-Do-After-Account-Fraud-and-Identity-Theft

What To Do After Account Fraud & Identity Theft

Account Fraud v. Identity Theft

In today’s day and age when so much of your personal purchasing is done online, your personal information is more at risk than ever before. Accounts of credit card theft, credit and debit card skimming devices at gas stations, and data breaches at major retailers has many consumers on high alert to potential threats to their credit and bank accounts. What many people don’t realize is that these types of fraud and crime are not identity theft. Identity theft does involve the acquisition of your banking and credit information, but it also goes beyond your financial information. Identity thieves are after your personal information: social security number, tax return information, family information, address, birthdate, anything they can use to make money at your expense.

Dealing With Account Fraud

The Electronic Fund Transfer Act, or EFTA, addresses both Account Fraud and Identity Theft. Under the EFTA, as a victim of account fraud, you have a maximum of 60 days to dispute fraudulent charges with your bank or credit provider after account fraud has occured. All banking and credit institutions have departments or personnel that handle accounts of fraud. Under EFTA rules and guidelines victims of account fraud are only subject to a maximum liability of $50.

Checking your bank and credit statements on a regular basis will not only help you spot fraudulent activity, but will also help you track your personal spending. We recommend picking a day each week to review the previous weeks transactions. Since you only have 60 days to report and dispute charges, you’ll have plenty of time to get issues resolved.

So you’re monitoring your accounts and notice something is not right. What do you do? The first and most important thing to do is to call the bank or credit institution of the account in question. When you call have your account information or card number ready as well as a list of the charges you’re disputing. Plan on having your current debit or credit card cancelled and a new card issued. After receiving your new card be sure to switch over any automatic payments to the new card so you don’t miss payments or have services cancelled.

After Identity Theft

The road to recovery after identity theft is much longer than after account fraud. You’re not only dealing with getting your financial accounts secure, but also reclaiming and repairing your good name. Identity thieves use your personal information to open new lines of credit, rent apartments, file tax returns in your name, and even get jobs. Since they’re using your social security number, all of these actions appear on your credit report and make you liable! Imagine finding out about credit cards, loans or other debt obtained in your name only when a collection agency calls to collect the debt, scary.

What To Do After Identity Theft

Time is of the essence after you discover someone has stolen or compromised your identity. Unfortunately, identity thieves are incredibly hard to catch and authorities have difficulty tracking these types of crimes. After identity theft, the victim becomes the detective and restoration expert.

  1. Contact your bank and credit card companies. Check for fraudulent activity, request new credit and debit cards, and freeze accounts if necessary.
  2. Change your passwords. Make sure all your passwords are unique and not easy to guess. Using a password manager program is a great tool keeping passwords and accounts secure.
  3. Contact the 3 major credit reporting agencies; Equifax, Experian , and TransUnion . All three offer free services to individuals dealing with identity theft.
  4. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC webpage on identity theft is a great resource and will help you reclaim your identity.

What Can You Do To Prevent Identity Theft

While there is no fool-proof way to prevent all identity theft, there are important steps you can take to protect your identity. Make it a habit to check and monitor your credit report. Fraudulent activity and credit inquiries will appear on your credit report. The major credit reporting agencies even offer some free services to help prevent identity theft. Another step is to research and purchase an identity protection service. Companies, like LifeLock, can help reduce your risk and many handle the identity restoration process at no additional cost to you.

Businesses can also be victims of identity theft, contact Pros 4 Technology today to discuss protecting your business and employees from identity theft.

Synthetic Identity Theft

By | Cyber Security, Identity Theft | No Comments

Synthetic Identity Theft

It Sounds Like Science Fiction!

The name “synthetic identity theft” only hints at the true nature of this crime. A more apt name may be “synthetic identity creation” because it describes what cybercriminals are truly up to.

synthetic-identity-theft

What Is Synthetic Identity Theft?

 

What is Synthetic Identity Theft

Unless you’ve been living under a rock since the invention of the internet, you’ve heard about identity theft. You can’t go online, watch TV or listen to the radio without seeing or hearing an identity protection ad or identity theft warning. Some of us, according to the Federal Trade Commission 1 out of 20 people, have been victims of identity theft and have had to go through the stress and anxiety of fixing it. While there are some similarities between “regular” identity theft and synthetic identity theft, there is one major difference: it’s not just your identity that’s stolen.
What pulls synthetic identity theft into its own category is that criminals are “blending” several people’s information together to create a new person. They’ll take a social security number from one person; the birth date from another; an address and phone number from two other people, and use the information to create a new identity. After creating the new identity criminals begin to open new lines of credit, apply for loans, rent apartments and perform other crimes. By blending several people’s personal information, a cybercriminal makes it much more difficult for people to catch them. Usually people become aware of identity theft when a collection agency or credit company contacts them to collect payment, with synthetic identity theft the efforts to collect on a debt are directed to multiple individuals making it harder to discover.

How Are Criminals Stealing Personal Information

When we think of identity theft an image of a shady, hooded figure sitting in front of a computer usually springs to mind. While hacking or purchasing your information online is one of the most common ways for criminals to get their hands on your information, they’re also targeting hard copies of your information. They steal mail, observe you and your family’s movements, even go through trash!

Criminals will go to great lengths to get their hands on your information. In today’s day and age, it is more important than ever to develop good habits when it comes to protecting your identity and personal information.

  • Practice shredding paperwork that contains personal information before placing it in the trash; in some areas there are shredding and disposal companies that are reasonably priced for families and individuals.
  • Monitor your credit report on a regular basis. Checking on your credit score and credit report on a monthly basis will keep you informed about irregular activity and criminals trying to open new lines of credit. Some of the major credit reporting agencies will even allow to freeze and unfreeze your account as a means to prevent fraudulent activity.
  • Check your bank and credit accounts weekly. Stay on top of your statements, if you notice fraudulent spending contact your bank or credit card company. Since you only have 60 days to report and dispute fraudulent activity, it’s best to act quickly
  • Create strong and unique passwords. It may be easier to have one password for everything, but it puts you at much greater risk of having your personal information stolen.

For more information on what to do if you suspect your identity has been compromised or stolen, read our blog What To Do After Account Fraud & Identity Theft.

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

By | Cyber Security, Identity Theft | No Comments

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Common sense used to be the best way to protect yourself from identity theft. Collect mail in a timely manner, store your social security card in a safe place and shred sensitive documents.
Today we live in a digital world. An identity thief can drain our bank account in seconds if our data is not secure. If you don’t catch it quickly, it may be too late to recover the stolen funds.  According to LifeLock, 1 in 4 people has been affected by identity theft online. This year alone, 15 million people lost an estimated $16 billion in identity theft scams.

Five Types of Identity Theft

There are multiple ways our identity can be stolen.  The four common types of identity theft include:

  • Child Identity Theft
  • Tax Identity Theft
  • Medical Identity Theft
  • Senior Identity Theft
  • Social Identity Theft
Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft - Pros 4 Technology Blog

An identify thief can drain your bank account in seconds.

Four Ways to Protect Your Identity Online

Identity thieves are always coming up with new ways to access your personal information. There are four important things you must do to protect your identity. If your account is more secure, a hacker usually moves on to an easier target. Here are the best things you can do to protect your identity:

1. Prioritize Passwords

  • Use a password manager like LastPass to store unique, randomized passwords for all your logins. Learn more about effective passwords in our recent post, How to Create Secure Passwords.
  • Use two factor authentication whenever it’s available. Examples would include a code texted to your smartphone, or the security questions a bank uses for your account, after you input your password. For security questions, use answers only you would know, ones that a hacker could not find online.
  • Use passphrases instead of passwords. Longer passphrases are harder to crack, and hackers will typically move on to an easier target.

2. Go paperless where you can – Anything in your mailbox can be stolen more easily than online. Shred every paper document with your personal information before you discard it.

3. Monitor your credit reports and bank statements. If credit fraud isn’t caught right away, often the account owner is liable for payment. The latest tax scam involved hackers stealing tax information and placing small amounts of money into the bank account, mimicking a refund.  If anything is off, notify the bank or credit monitoring system and they can reverse charges. If you have been compromised, there is assistance. Report fraud immediately. The federal government provides the website Identitytheft.gov to help victims of identity theft.

4. Don’t trust – verify.

  • Before you respond to an email, expand the details of your recipient. If the “from” email address does not have the same domain as the organization, it is likely a scam.
  • Before entering any personal information onto any website, verify that the website is legitimate. Google search the company name. Illegitimate websites may be flagged by users or even mentioned in articles on internet security.
  • Check the website security status to the left of the URL. A secured site has a padlock icon left of the URL, like the one our website.

Identity theft can happen to anyone, online or from your mailbox. It seems counter-intuitive, but properly protected online data is safer than what’s in your mailbox. Awareness and vigilance are the best identity theft protection.