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ID theft

All about how it happens and how you can keep it from happening to you.

June 2011 - Posts

  • More airport travel means more ID theft opportunities for thieves

    Summer is underway and that means more and more people are traveling – and many of them are traveling on airplanes. Airport security is tight, but there is one area where airport security is helpless – identity theft.


    Tech-savvy thieves lurk in airports, targeting travelers for electronic pickpocketing, and remotely skimming their credit card and passport information without ever having to touch the travelers. The theft goes undetected because a thief has only to be present with a commercially available wireless card reader within arm's reach of the victim. Security cameras and airport security personnel carry on as usual, completely unaware that the crime has taken place.


    Credit card makers have repeatedly stated that the cards bearing the chip that allows wireless transactions is safe from theft. But documents uncovered at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office state that at least one company knew the cards were susceptible to electronic pickpocketing. 


    Credit card companies have not responded to the rise in this crime, neither warning customers or providing protective sleeves with issued cards. 


    Since it appears the credit card industry isn't willing to do anything to protect consumers, it's up to the consumers themselves. You can tell if your credit or debit card has the chip in it by the four wavy lines on the front. You can request a card without this chip. Some credit card issuers do provide a protective sleeve, but you must request it. Keep your card in this sleeve when not in use. 

    Posted Jun 28 2011, 11:58 AM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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  • Elderly being targeted in Medicare scam

    Medicare and Medicaid telemarketing schemes are resurfacing in various parts of the country. Consumers have filed complaints with the authorities involving fraudulent telemarketing calls targeting Medicare and Medicaid recipients. Callers are trying to obtain personal information that could be used to file fraudulent claims, commit identity theft or gain access to financial accounts.


    Consumers have been receiving unsolicited calls from various sources, including one in particular, claiming to be a diabetic supply company offering free diabetic supplies. The caller always asks for the consumer's Medicare number.


    Sometimes, the caller claims to be a government agency representative, and tells the consumer he or she is eligible for new medical equipment or supplies that are generally covered under Medicare. The caller then asks the consumer to "confirm" his or her Medicare number for eligibility and identity.


    Law enforcement officials have issued a warning to elderly consumers, urging them to exercise extreme caution before accepting any health care services offered over the telephone, including diabetic supplies. And consumers should never give out sensitive information to someone who calls on the phone.


    Companies that work with Medicare are prohibited from making unsolicited telemarketing calls, so anyone who is making such calls is already in violation of Medicare's rules. Medicare will never make unsolicited calls, either. 


    If you or a loved one receives such a call, call the Medicare Fraud Hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS or the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at 605-773-4102.

    Posted Jun 21 2011, 11:44 AM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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  • Know the criminals' tricks – protect yourself much better

    The identities of millions of Americans are stolen and compromised each year. A stolen ID is used an average of 30 times before the victim even knows it has been stolen. That's a grim thought – but there are things you can do to protect yourself.  The first step is to be familiar with the most common types of identity theft.


    The information on your driver's license is valuable to an identity thief because it provides him with your name, address, date of birth and license number. Thieves can use this information to open checking accounts, and buy cars and other high-cost items. And since the thief knows where you live, they can rob you and possibly hurt you and/or your family.


    A thief can also use your driver's license in order to obtain your Social Security number by claiming it has been lost and getting a new card issued. This will allow him to obtain Social Security benefits like HUD benefits, medical and dental care, and he can even obtain a fake passport and get out of the country before he's caught.


    Another type of theft is medical identity theft. This type of theft involves a thief obtaining your personal information and using it to obtain medical services, leaving you with the bills. This is particularly dangerous because the thief's medical history becomes tied to yours, and you could potentially be injured or even die due to receiving a medication or procedure based on the thief's history and not your own.


    The most common type of identity theft is financial. Criminals often steal personal information, along with banking or credit card information, in order to empty the victim's bank account, or make charges on the victim's credit card. 


    Make sure your monitor your credit card and bank statements carefully each month, and keep a close eye on your credit report as well. Make sure to look closely at each transaction, and check to be sure there is no fraudulent or incorrect information listed.

    Posted Jun 14 2011, 11:07 AM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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  • Learn what to do to protect yourself from ID theft

    Identity theft has become a fact of life. While it may or may not happen to you, chances are you know someone who will be affected. Here are some tips to help protect yourself.


    • Check your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus each year. Identity theft starts with the misuse of your information, like your Social Security number, credit card number or date of birth.


    • Open your credit card bills and bank statements right away and review them. Check for unauthorized or fraudulent entries. You should also be aware of your billing schedule. If a bill doesn't arrive on time, it may mean that someone has changed your address information in order to obtain your personal data.


    • Don't carry your Social Security card or PIN number in your wallet.


    • Avoid giving out your personal information over the phone, mail or Internet unless you are sure of who you are dealing with. Don't give out during unsolicited phone calls or in response to unsolicited e-mail. 


    • Avoid offers and pop-ups that sound too good to be true. Don't click on links contained in unsolicited e-mails.


    • Remove your name from mailing lists for pre-approved credit offers.


    • When doing business online, only do so on secure sites. You'll know a site is secure if you see "https" in the URL and not just "http."


    • Use a locked mailbox. Don't let your mail just sit; pick it up.


    Posted Jun 09 2011, 10:10 AM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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  • I think my Facebook profile's been hacked – what do I do?

    Facebook is a social networking site that connects more than 500 million people. Users can create a profile, and add pictures, links and comments, and then choose  network of Facebook friends with whom to share their profile. There are a variety of different privacy settings that allow other users to see more or less of a profile.


    A growing concern among Facebook users, hacking is becoming more and more common. If someone has hacked your Facebook profile or phished it, meaning someone sent you an e-mail, message or link to a website that seems authentic and asks for personal information, you can report these violations to Facebook's technical support team. 


    First of all, log into your Facebook account using your password and e-mail address. Click on the "Help" butting under "Settings." In the "Help Center," find the section entitled, "Hacked Accounts and Spam" and click on that link.


    Choose the link that best describes the problem with your account. Follow the instructions under the link you have chosen. If you feel sure there's an issue, you'll also want to change your password.


    You should forward the phishing e-mail to spam@uce.gov, the official e-mail address for reporting potential identity theft scams.


    Remember, it's a good idea to change your passwords periodically on social networking sites and other sites you use frequently. Make the passwords difficult to decipher, using upper and lower case letters and numbers. 

    Posted Jun 07 2011, 11:36 AM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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