Showing posts with label ID Theft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ID Theft. Show all posts

Safety Tips for Cyber Monday

Even if you survived the Black Friday shopping frenzy, it isn’t too late to make sure you protect yourself during Cyber Monday.  See 8 tips to ensure safe shopping online. 

  • Make sure your antivirus and malware protection software is up to date.
  • Update your browser.
  • Don’t click unknown links in your email.
  • Don’t use public computers and unsecured wireless connections.
  • Save or print all payment confirmations.
  • Use your credit card, not your debit card.
  • Update your passwords frequently.
  • Shop only on encrypted sites.  Websites that begin with “https” are encrypted, rather than just “http.”

 These tips should be followed during Cyber Monday (and really everyday) to help prevent identity thieves from accessing your personal information online.  Shop smart, and be safe!

Troubles of Medical Identity Theft

An article today describes the nightmare that medical identity theft can be. Unlike other forms of identity theft, medical identity theft has consequences that can last a lifetime. 

 The harm of medical identity thieves is that their medical history can be linked to the victim’s own history. That could have serious healthcare ramifications for the victim. If incorrect medical histories are tied to the victim, it might hurt the victim’s chances for getting affordable health insurance. 

 As always, PrivacyGuard wants to remind you to protect yourself and your identity!  

More than 200,000 students’ data breached at Northwest Florida State College

A computer breach at Northwest Florida State College has potentially exposed data of 200,000 students and some of the university’s top employees.  It is reported by CNN, that about 50 employees have already reported issues of identity theft, including the college’s president.

 Check out our tips for college students to protect their identities. 

Hackers Breach 53 Universities

According to the New York Times, thousands of personal records from 53 universities were posted online Monday in a data breach.  The hackers responsible for the breach are calling themselves Team GhostShell, and have also been responsible for a previous Twitter breach.  Some of the universities affected in this breach include Harvard, Stanford, Cornell, Princeton, and Johns Hopkins.

 In previous blog posts we have highlighted the importance for college students to monitor their credit, and protect their identity. This large scale data breach reminds us that college students should be vigilant about protecting their credit.  Here are some helpful tips for students to use while attending school.

Four Possible Ways Identity Theft Can Immediately Impact Your Credit

This article posted on September 26th, discusses the four possible immediate affects identity theft can have on your credit. 

  1. Higher balances on existing accounts
  2. New Accounts
  3. Late Payments
  4. Inquiries
It is wise to proactively monitor your credit for any of these possible changes indicating identity theft.  The sooner you catch suspicious activity, the quicker you can resolve potential threats to your credit!

Frank Abagnale Speaks at U.S. Bank sponsored seminar

Frank Abagnale is considered one of the world's most respected authorities on credit fraud, identity theft, and credit protection.  He has been associated with the FBI for over 35 years and lectures extensively at the FBI Academy and for the field offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  He also has been a consultant for and user of PrivacyGuard for over two decades.

 Last week, Mr. Abagnale spoke at a U.S. Bank-sponsored seminar at the Nashville Airport Marriott hotel.  An article written for The Tennessean recaps Frank’s commentary at the engagement. 

 Mr. Abagnale makes the point that it is much easier to commit crime today with all of the advancement in technology.  Forty years ago it was very difficult for him to forge a check at a printing press, and now all someone would need is a laptop. 

 Technology makes it very easy for people to commit crimes, including identity theft.

Here at PrivacyGuard, we understand how easy it can be for someone’s identity to be stolen.  That is why we encourage you to take proactive measures to protect yourself from identity thieves, and to register for ongoing credit monitoring in our service.  Our ongoing credit monitoring can alert you to suspicious activity in your account, which could be a sign of a larger concern. 

 Also check out our Top Ten Tips from Frank for more ways to prevent identity theft!
Posted by Katie

Tips for College Students to Deter Identity Theft

With the start of the school year quickly approaching, the PrivacyGuard team would like to offer tips to college students to prevent Identity Theft.   Research from Javelin Research & Strategy identifies 18-24 year olds as consumers who are most likely to engage in risky electronic behavior, so college students should definitely be mindful of their online behavior while at school!

 Tip #1:  Use a Strong Password on Your Computer

 The use of a strong login password on a computer is a way to prevent fraud from occurring in a dormitory setting.  Doing so can prevent roommates and strangers alike from logging on to a potential victim’s computer.  We recommend using passwords with upper and lower case letters, mixed with numbers and symbols. 

 Tip #2:  Protect Your Computer with Antivirus Software

 Be certain to install antivirus software and to regularly update it to protect your computer from online threats. This is particularly important as universities move their data to the cloud, and continual connectivity to the internet becomes more prevalent in day to day studies. 

 I was required to update my antivirus software every semester while I attended college.  Even if your University doesn’t require it, we highly recommend updating the software on your own!

 Tip #3   Don’t Transact Over Public Wi-Fi

 While Public Wi-Fi offers an exceptional degree of convenience, it’s important to realize that thieves are able to intercept information being sent over the technology. Students are discouraged from sending any personal information, from credit/debit card numbers to social security numbers via public Wi-Fi.

As a college student, it is nearly impossible to follow this piece of advice, but it is an important factor to keeping your identity safe at school!

We have mentioned University Data Breaches before in our blog, so we know that they do occasionally occur.  Don’t let yourself become a victim! Be sure to check out our previous series for college kids, and de mindful of protecting your identity when returning to campus this fall!

Posted by Katie

Olympics and Data Breach?

An article from the United Kingdom’s The Telegraph, warns our friends in the UK of the possibility of a data breach during the Olympics.  Many employees are working from home during the Olympic games, and are being cautioned to safeguard private company information.  The article suggests not printing off confidential information from laptops or computers at home, and using email or digital storage devices that are password protected. 

Although we can't say for certain ID theft will rise because of the Olympics, we want to remind our friends in the UK to be vigilant while homeworking is on the rise. 

Posted by Katie

"Sort Of An ID Theft Victim" wrote an interesting article last week asking “Can You Be ‘Sort Of’ An ID Theft Victim?”  According to the article, even if an identity thief isn’t using your information to negatively impact your credit report and scores, they can still be using your information to avoid being reached by creditors. 

 This might be a lesser form of Identity Theft, but it still poses a huge time consuming headache for the victim. 

University Data Breaches

We previously did a series of blog posts with tips on how college students can protect their identity.  See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 of the series. 

Within the past month, several Universities have faced serious data breaches leaving their students susceptible to Identity Theft. 

UNC-Charlotte faced a breach, as well as The University of Maine. 

Look back at our College Tip series to learn what college students should look for in case their identity is compromised in a data breach!

Protect Your Child's Identity

Not only is protecting your credit important, but protecting your family’s credit is essential as well. posted an interesting article this week about protecting your child’s identity.   As a parent, it is worth noting the potential identity theft risks that can affect your child.  

An article published May 2nd, describes a Utah mother’s struggle with identity thieves after their possession of her son’s social security number.  Don’t find yourself in this same situation!  Start taking steps to secure your child’s identity and future credit.  Here is a list of ID theft tips to get you started.  We will continue to post tips and tricks on keeping a secure identity- so check back!

Posted by Katie

College Tip 5- What’s in a credit report- Public Records

This is the fourth post in a series about how college kids can help protect themselves from ID Theft. Feel free to visit Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

The public records section of our credit report shows information such as bankruptcy filings, court records, tax liens and other monetary judgments. Most college kids shouldn't have much (if any) information on this section of the report, but it's important to make sure that there aren’t any inaccuracies here.

Posted by Mike

College Tip 4- What’s in a credit report- Credit Inquiries

This is the fourth post in a series about how college kids can help protect themselves from ID Theft. Feel free to visit Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Our credit inquiries section of our credit reports gives a chronological account of which companies have performed inquiries in the past 2 years. This particular page is important to college kids for 2 reasons:

1- It's important to understand that every time you sign up to possibly gain a credit card, the inquiry can have a negative impact on your credit score. At school, many credit card companies will offer promotional giveaways of all sorts, and trying to take advantage of as many as possible can be detrimental to your overall credit health.
2- New account fraud is most often caught here.

Posted by Mike

College Tip 3- What’s in a credit report- Account History

This is the third post in a series about how college kids can help protect themselves from ID Theft. Feel free to visit Part 1 and Part 2.

The account history that we provide as part of our credit reports take each of the account found in the credit summary, and breaks them down in-depth, showing the type of account, the remaining balance and additional history of an account. If you spotted a discrepancy on the previous page, this page will give you an opportunity to delve into where that may lie.

Posted by Mike

College Tip 2- What’s in a credit report- Credit Summary

This is the second post in a series about how college kids can help protect themselves from ID Theft. Part 1 can be found here.

The Credit Summary we provide gives an overview of what types of account are open under a person’s name. There are 5 pieces of information on this page:

• Real estate accounts (this is any payment a person is making in the form or a mortgage).
• Revolving accounts (this is a summary of how many credit cards a person has in their name).
• Installment Accounts (this is a summary of recurring payments a person has in their name, such as a car payment).
• Other accounts.
• A derogatory summary (this highlights anything that might be driving your credit score down).

Each of the first 4 categories has Count, Balance, Current and Closed as subcategories. This shows how many of each type of accounts a person has, what their outstanding balance might be, how many are still open, and how many have been closed.

The Derogatory Summary shows recent inquiries on a person's credit, any places that a person has been in collections, and current or prior delinquencies.

This page is a great snapshot of a person's overall lines of credit (both open and closed), and you can quickly look to confirm that information is accurate here.

Posted by Mike

College Tip 1- What's in a credit report- Personal Profile

In our last post discussing college data breaches and ID Theft, we said something like:

College kids might not know what to look for in their credit report

The first section of a credit report (and we'll be using the credit reports that PrivacyGuard puts together as a basis) is personal info.

The first section is your "Personal Profile." This contains a summary of the information that the credit bureaus have on you about your current address, date of birth, and employers.

For the Credit Bureaus to be accurate in determining your credit score, it is important that this information is correct.

Posted by Mike

And Summer Vacation Hasn't Even Ended Yet

In last week's Data Breach Roundup, we saw a couple of universities being breached. It isn't the first time, that there have been multiple schools breached, and if we had to guess, it won’t be the last.

One of the bigger concerns when it comes to breaches of students (and really, anyone who is young), is that thieves become able to cause long term, significant trouble for the demographic.

Usually, college is when a kid gets his/her first (and maybe second or third) credit card. However, we've found that most kids don't really understand the process of how they are approved, just that they think they have a few hundred extra dollars available.

Where it becomes tricky is when a thief takes advantage of this, and opens a concurrent line of credit. It's entirely possible the thief will actually take steps to build up the youngster's credit history, paying on time and generally doing everything a college kid should in order to build strong credit.

This can go on for years.

After a while though, and once a credit history is strong enough, thieves can make major purchases (like cars or even homes), flip their purchase for a significant dollar amount, and then simply walk away.

The "college kid" (who at this point is much older), would never even have an idea that the theft has taken place until

1- Years later
2- A collection agency calls asking them about a mortgage.

So, now more than ever, college kids needs to protect themselves. Over the coming month, we'll be providing regular tips on how they can do so, as we get ready for back-to-school season.

Posted by Mike

New Account Fraud covered a survey that had some scary findings: namely that roughly one of out 5 Americans has been a victim of ID theft, and that credit card fraud only comprises about 20% of ID Thefts.

We obviously can't speak to the accuracy of those numbers, but they do seem to go along with what Javelin Research and Strategy has pointed out this year; other types of fraud, specifically new account fraud, are on the rise.

So: What is new account fraud and why, as Javelin points out, is it so hard to detect?

New account fraud happens when a thief opens up a new line of credit in someone else's name. Usually, any correspondence between the credit issuer and the "account holder" goes to a different destination than the actual victim. In other words… the victim doesn't know that they aren't receiving a statement from a bank, because the victim doesn't know there's a relationship with the bank.

One way to prevent this type of fraud from becoming damaging is to regularly check your credit report. It will show you each query performed on your personal credit (after all, in order to open a line of credit, these queries must be performed).

If you see a query that you aren't aware of, that can be a clue that someone might have your personal information. (and if you're a PrivacyGuard member, this means it's time to call us to make sure everything is as it should be).

Posted by Darragh

Remember when the biggest cost associated with gaming was the cost of a game?

Video game companies have been under assault, with multiple networks being attacked by hackers looking to gain access to gamers' personal information. (I'm old enough to remember when the biggest cost of player a video game was actually going to a toy store to buy it, and it was usually around $40-$50).

People don't necessarily think of their online gaming accounts as a hub of personal information, but let’s briefly consider the information that a gamer stores there:

• Name
• E-mail
• User Name (online handle)
• Password

That's a lot of information in and of itself, and thieves gaining access to it can have a substantial impact.
For example, we believe that a majority of consumers don't use different password for many of the sites they interact with. Ask yourself this: How many sites do you log in to with the same e-mail/password combination?

• Social networking sites?
• Banking sites?
• Online retailers?

In addition, think of the other information stored in your online gaming account:

• Credit Card Information?
• Date of Birth?
• Address (to verify credit card)?

When you add it up, it's an awful lot of information that a thief can go after, and it's why we believe that gaming destinations have been such a target lately.

Posted by Mike

Don't let paying your taxes cost you (again).

Tax scams seem to crop up every year, both before taxes are filed (here's a list of ID theft tips we published before Tax day) and after, as Forbes has reported.

The latest scam (which has made the rounds over the years in different varieties), has thieves sending e-mails out to potentially unknowing customers, directing them to click on a link to rectify a problem with their return.

Of course, you may ask yourself why scams like this are recycled year after year, but the scary answer is the simple one:

Because they probably work.

Posted by Christine