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ID theft

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

January 2012 - Posts

  • New Timeline making some Facebook users antsy

    Millions of people use Facebook every day, and soon millions of people will face yet more changes within the social media – and users have no say-so about it. 


    In a few days, Facebook will make its new profile format, Timeline, compulsory. The new look will present a scrapbook of your past status updates and photographs. Here's the scary part: even if you don't update your Timeline regularly, Facebook apps will do it for you. For example, if you have listened to a song on Spotify, it will appear on your Timeline. 


    By all appearances, it looks like Facebook is encouraging users to share even more personal details about themselves and their life experiences, which will ultimately make it easier for others to view it. Unfortunately, this will also make it easier for identity thieves to piece together information about a person and use the collected information to commit identity fraud. 


    A recent poll showed that 51.29 percent of Facebook users are worried by the new Timeline, while only 7.96 percent said they like it. 


    But even so, it is not expected that the changes will cause very many people to delete their Facebook account. If past experience is any kind of teacher, most users will grumble, but then get used to the change and move on. 


    Our advice? Clean up your Facebook. Re-evaluate what you share online, and share only what you want to share, being careful to choose who you share it with. 

    Posted Jan 31 2012, 10:39 AM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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  • Apple's App Store – Not the safe place you may think it is

    It seems that blind faith in the security of Apple's stewardship of its App Store is not a good thing. The online place for apps for your iPhone or iPad can't be trusted. At least not yet.


    For many consumers, the App Store feels safe because most feel that all the software has been verified by Apple. But this isn't true. Case in point, a recent Camera+ app that was found to be bogus.


    Spotted by iPhoneography, the bogus app was posing as the popular application. The makers of the genuine Camera+ app, criticized Apple, saying the company's approval process for its app store is "all too often disappointing."


    The app hasn't been proven to contain any malicious functionality. It could be that those behind the bogus app were just looking to make a quick buck. They won't though, because once notified of the bogus entity, Apple removed it from the App Store. 


    The real Camera+ app is the 14th best-selling app in the store, so you'd think that if someone other than the makers of the real deal, Tap Tap Tap, tries to submit a phony, Apple would pick it up, right.


    Wrong. Malicious apps have made it into the App Store several times, and although Apple has removed them each time, in most cases, the damage was already done. Apple has to step up its verification and submission policies. Whatever it takes. The safety – and trust – of too many consumers is at risk.

    Posted Jan 24 2012, 10:18 AM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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  • Employers: Tread lightly in social media

    You know the drill. When you you are looking for a new job, you spend hours preparing your resume, getting all the details just right, proofreading the final product, and printing out copies or e-mailing them to prospective employers. 


    But employers these days don't just view your resume as a means to determine whether you're the right candidate – they also check out your social media presence. 


    In a recent survey, 56 percent of those responding said when they hire, they check out social media sites looking for information on potential employees. Twenty-seven percent said they'd do this, but were uncomfortable with the idea of a potential employer looking them up on social sites. 


    Employers sometimes look at social media sites for the presence of their current employees as well. One such case of this was when Aflac checked out those famous tweets by the voice of their duck in TV commercials, Gilbert Gottfried, who had tweeted some callous commentary after Japan's earthquake disaster. Gottfried was "relieved of his duties" by the company as a result.


    Other famous incidents of social media karma come back to haunt included former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, who tweeted pictures of his groin to a woman he met on Craigslist. In April 2009, two Domino's Pizza employees posted video of themselves adding mucus and intestinal gas to pizzas they were preparing. 


    If you are looking for a job, check out your social media presence with a careful eye, looking for anything that could cost you a potential job offering. If you're an employer, be careful when perusing social media used by employees or potential employees. Misuse of social media could result in accusations of discrimination or unfair dismissal. 


    Employers should consider drafting and adopting a clearly-stated policy on use of social networking sites in recruitment and with current employees.

    Posted Jan 17 2012, 10:51 AM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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  • How do I pick the right identity theft protection service?

    Identity thieves use your information for everything from getting a job to committing a crime – just like you do. What they aren't going to do is find a way to protect that information. That's solely up to you. And you'd be wise to find the best way to protect your information before a criminal has a chance to get his hands on it in the first place.


    There are a multitude of identity theft protection services available, and many of them have very reasonable fees. There's even some free options out there. So how do you cut through the rhetoric and find the one that is best for you?


    Here are the things you should look for when searching for a service:

     

    • Look at the reputation of the company behind the service. How long have they been around? 


    • Check into their security features. There should be features that make sure your information is safe, like fraud alerts, fraud monitoring, and the ability to place a credit freeze if necessary.


    • You're going to want recovery assistance, should you ever fall victim to identity theft. While you certainly don't ever want to need this, no one wants to go through something like that alone, so it's best to have it. Make sure the service you choose can work with you to recover your information and file the necessary reports, notify your creditors and dispute any fraudulent transactions.


    • Customer service is key. You want support to be available 24/7.


    • It's a given that you want your information protected, and you're going to want it protect beyond just the basics. Look at the company you are considering and make sure they protect more than just your name and Social Security number.


    The identity theft protection service you choose should do more than just place your information under lock and key – it should be there for you if the worst should happen.

    Posted Jan 12 2012, 10:28 AM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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  • Company offers free credit monitoring – But is it really a bargain?

    Credit Karma made headlines this week as the first company to offer free credit monitoring. The service includes a once-a-day check of your TransUnion credit file, and if there's any "significant" change, you'll get an e-mail. Significant, by the way, means a late payment, new account opened or a credit inquiry. 


    According to company CEO and founder Kenneth Lin, Credit Karma won't ask for a credit card number, there are no hidden fees and the company won't sell your personal data. All they need at sign-up, Lin says, is the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you are one of the 10 percent this doesn't work for, you'll have to surrender your whole number.


    It should be noted, however, that the company will likely use your registration profile to match you with offers from its marketing partners, although the partners do not see your credit score or file. 


    Obviously there's a big hole in this protection – they only monitor one credit bureau. In order to effectively monitor your credit, arguably, the best way is to monitor all three credit reporting bureaus. If you want to monitor your Experian credit report for free, you can do so with Credit Sesame, which is also free. 


    By federal law, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting bureaus, including the aforementioned two and Equifax. You'd probably be much better off doing this, and signing up with a paid service that monitors all three if you feel you need the extra protection. 


    If, however, you don't feel that's necessary, the freebies offered b Credit Karma and Credit Sesame are okay. Just weigh your options carefully and determine what will work best for you. 

    Posted Jan 04 2012, 10:25 AM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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