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ID theft

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

Be cautious when it comes to using 'smart' media

With all the smartphones out there, as well as the fact that it seems everyone is using social media, it's no wonder that old scams are making a reappearance.

One example is the grandparent scam, in which a scammer calls a elderly person pretending to be a grandchild in desperate need of money. The caller will ask the grandparent to send money via wire immediately. The scam has been quite effective.

Now, thanks to social media, the scammer can call Grandma knowing the gender, name and age of her grandchild. This makes the scam all the more believable. 

Another issue on the rise is malware. Everyone likes to download apps for their smartphones and tablets, but not everyone is careful about where they get these apps. Criminals know this and are using this knowledge to their advantage. Ever get a message about a new app? Ever see a new app advertised? Not all apps are legit, and many contain malware designed to find your personal or financial information and get it to the scammer. 

There are even apps that are designed to look like games or other applications that appear to be from a legitimate source. In March, Google removed 58 malicious apps from the Android market, and there have been numerous phony apps that have appeared in the iTunes store as well.

How do you protect yourself? First of all, don't download apps from sources you're unsure of, particularly if the app comes to you unsolicited. You should also avoid smishing, a technique criminals use to send you text messages that send you to phishing pages, designed to mimic legit sites and trick you out of your personal or financial information. 

Beware of likejacking as well. This is a common Facebook scam in which your newsfeed will show "must see" videos or promotions. Clicking on the included links can not only cause issues for your safety, but will also post the link on your friends' walls as well, compromising their safety.

The bottom line is this: When in doubt, don't. It really is that simple.

Published Dec 20 2011, 11:22 AM by IdentityTheft
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