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ID theft

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

October 2011 - Posts

  • Check out online loan companies thoroughly before you sign

    Want to put a big, fat target on your back for identity theft? Dumb question, huh? No one wants to be victimized by an identity thief. But if you've applied for a bad credit loan, you may become just that – a target.


    Some of the online bad credit loan companies use or sell your personal information. In fact, there are many bogus sites that offer loans, but that are really in the business of scamming consumers. Hundreds of people, already dealing with bad credit, are now being bugged by debt collectors for debts they don't owe – debts racked up by identity thieves who got their victims' information after the information was compromised following the application for an online loan.


    These thieves know exactly what they are doing. They prey on those desperate for help, and promise loans to those who have been turned down everywhere else. But many of these sites do nothing more than sell your information, which can then be sold online to those wishing to commit crimes.


    But bear in mind: Not all online loan sites are scams. There are those that legitimately offer loans to those with bad credit, and these sites have made sure their sites are secured. When you're looking for a bad credit loan, be sure you thoroughly check out the site and the company behind it before you provide any personal information. 


    You'll also want to find out if there are any complaints against the company. You can type in the company name and the word "complaints" to see what pops up. Lots of complaints is a red flag, telling you that you should move on. 


    Remember, don't pay money up front for a loan. Do your homework before you sign on the dotted line, and know what you're getting into.


    Posted Oct 25 2011, 11:45 AM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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  • More than 14 people a second fall victim to cybercrime – Don't be one of them

    More than 430 million people around the world have been affected by cybercrime, according to a recent report released by Symantec. 


    The report was based on interviews with nearly 20,000 people from 24 countries. The study showed that 14 adults are victims of cybercrime ever second, which means there are more than 1 million victims every single day. Digital offenses cost victims more than $139 million in costs and lost time annually in the U.S. alone.


    About 69 percent of adult Internet users have experienced cybercrime, according to the report. Viruses and malware are the most common types of crime, followed by online scams and phishing. Viruses and malware are also easily prevented. 


    Risks posed by mobile devices are also growing. Ten percent of users have experienced cybercrime on their cell phones. 


    To prevent cybercrime, make sure your spam blocker is turned on. Most Internet providers supply a spam blocking feature to prevent unwanted messages from getting into your mailbox. This will prevent fraudulent e-mails and phishing attempts.


    Make sure you have loaded anti-virus software onto your computer, and use your computer's firewall protection feature. Always keep it turned on. You should also encrypt important data you don't want compromised. 


    Be wary of providing personal information via a website that's new to you or that you know little about, especially if the site requests your bank account or Social Security numbers. 


    If you do business or shop online, make sure you do so only on secured sites that feature "https" in the URL, not just "http."

    Posted Oct 18 2011, 11:40 AM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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  • Smart cards: Good or bad?

    Authorities in Brooklyn, N.Y. have charged more than 100 people in what they're calling the largest identity theft bust in recent history. The theft ring stole credit card information, which they then used to make purchases totaling more than $12 million. Most of the merchandise was resold overseas.


    Law enforcement personnel didn't just point the finger at those they arrested in this case – they also blamed credit card companies, saying the companies put too much money into marketing and not enough into security.


    Deputy Inspector Gregory T. Antonsen, commander of the New York Police Department Identity Theft Squad, was quoted as saying that the bust shows the need for computer chips implanted in credit cards to deter fraud – in other words, smart cards.


    Many European countries already have smart cards, which require cardholders to enter a personal identification number on a keypad, like you do when you use a debit card. The cards deter fraud because they contain chips that encrypt transaction information and require thieves to not only steal card data but also know the cardholder's PIN. The chip can also generate one-time-only passwords for more secure online commerce. 


    Experts say smart cards make it much harder to commit fraud. But U.S. card companies have been reluctant to issue smart cards because it would force retailers to install expensive upgrades to their payment systems.


    But credit card companies are beginning to shift toward smart cards. In August, Visa announced that retailers who do not support smart cards by 2015 would be held liable for fraudulent transactions. MasterCard has said that ATM owners must accept smart cards by 2013 or they will be held liable for fraud stemming from their machines. 


    But experts also say smart cards are not without issues. Researchers at Cambridge University found last year that they could make a payment using a smart card without the PIN by using a device to intercept communications between the card and the terminal. Those researchers concluded that smart cards technology is seriously flawed.

    Posted Oct 11 2011, 11:26 AM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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  • Familial identity theft growing

    Identity theft is a terrible crime. It's victims feel violated by someone they've never even met, who takes their personal information and pretends to be them in order to commit crimes. 


    But what if that someone is a person you know? Or someone you're related to? What if it's your own parent?


    A recent study looked at billions of credit applications in order to find the same Social Security number and last name, but different first names, specifically seeking out incidents of child identity theft. In the 18- to 25-year range, there were about a half million kids under 15 sharing their Social Security numbers and last names with adults who were 25 to 40 years old – which means they are likely victims of identity theft, committed by their own parents.


    The same study also looked at people in their 70s and 80s who shared their Social Security number and surname with someone about 20 years younger. The study found that about 2 million senior adults are sharing a Social Security number with their adult children.


    The statistics are alarming. The elderly are more vulnerable and are often dependent on caretakers who are very often their own children. The face that their trust is breached is disturbing. Even more disturbing is the fact that this crime often goes undetected for long periods of time, and when it is discovered, many parents don't want to press charges against their own children. 


    If you have an elderly parent, make sure to warn them of the potential for identity theft. The elderly are often targeted for telephone scams, in which the caller asks for personal or financial information. Senior adults should never volunteer their information if they didn't initiate the call. 


    Likewise, they shouldn't give their information to anyone they are unsure of. Personal and financial documents kept at home should be locked away if there is a caretaker in the home.


    Posted Oct 04 2011, 11:48 AM by IdentityTheft with 1 comment(s)
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