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How Can I Protect Myself from Identity Theft Online?
Article Source: WEBROOT
 
Identity theft is any kind of deception, scam, or crime that results in the loss of personal data, including the loss of user names, passwords, banking information, credit card numbers, Social Security Numbers and health ID’s, that is then used without your permission to commit fraud and other crimes.

Up to 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year according to the FTC1 , and at least 534 million personal records have been compromised since 2005 through attacks on the data bases of businesses, government bodies, institutions, and organizations2. If those breaches were spread evenly across the U.S. population of 310 million, everyone would have had their identities stolen one and two-thirds times.
For some consumers, identity theft is an annoying inconvenience and they can quickly resolve their problems and restore their identity. For others recovering their identity can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars, take months to resolve, cause tremendous damage to their reputation, cause them to lose job opportunities, even influence the rejection of loan applications for school, homes or cars because would-be employers or loan companies see the damage on your credit scores. Some consumers have even been arrested for crimes committed by someone using their identities and have had to prove that they were not guilty.

How are identities stolen?

Consumers become victims of identity theft through many types of exploits. These can happen the old fashioned ways when crooks (including family members!) steal mail from your mailbox, rummage through your trash for bills and bank statements, steal wallets and purses, or make an extra copy of your credit card - perhaps when your waiter or clerk walks off to process your payment.
Online identity theft occurs when users fall for tactics like phishing and confidence scams; or download malware onto their computers or smartphones that steals their information; use wireless networks that are insecure; take out money from an ATM that has been rigged with a skimming device that collections your information; share their passwords with untrustworthy people, or by having their information stolen when data records are breached on companies, government, and educational sites.

7 key steps to preventing identity theft online:

  1. Protect your computer and smartphone with strong, up-to-date security software. If your computer or phone is infected with malicious software, other safeguards are of little help because you’ve given the criminals the key to all your online actions. Also be sure that any operating system updates are installed.
  2. Learn to spot spam and scams. Though some phishing scams are easy to identify, other phishing attempts in email, IM, on social networking sites, or websites can look very legitimate. The only way to never fall for phishing scam is to never click on a link that has been sent to you. For example, if the email says it’s from your bank and has all the right logos and knows your name, it may be from your bank - or it may not be. Instead of using the link provided, find the website yourself using a search engine. This way you will know you landed on the legitimate site and not some mocked up fake site.
  3. Use strong passwords. Weak passwords are an identity thief’s dream - especially if you use the same password everywhere. Once the thief knows your password, they can log you’re your financial accounts and wreak havoc. You need passwords that are long (over 10 characters), strong (use upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols), and that have nothing to do with your personal information (like name, age, birthdate, pet)
  4. Monitor your credit scores. By law you have the right to three free credit reports per year; from Experian, Transunion, and Equifax.
    These three credit bureaus work together through a website called AnnualCreditReport.com so you can quest all three reports at once in one of the following ways:
    1. Go to the Web site. Through this highly secure site, you can instantly see and print your credit report.
    2. Call toll-free: (877) 322-8228. You’ll go through a simple verification process over the phone after which they’ll mail the reports to you.
    3. Request by mail. If you live in certain states, fill out the request form and mail it to the Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. (Get more details.)
    Note: Remember that after you request a report, you will have to wait a year to get it free of charge again from the same credit reporting company. (Of course you can pay for a copy of your credit report at any time.)

  5. Review your credit score. Look too see if there are new credit cards, loans or other transactions on your account that you are not aware of. If there are, take immediate steps to have these terminated and investigated.
  6.  Freeze your credit.Criminals use stolen ID’s to open new lines of credit. You can thwart their efforts to use your identity by simply locking (called freezing) your credit so that no new credit can be given without additional information and controls. Many states have laws giving you the right to a free credit freeze, but even where states don’t provide legal mandates, the large credit bureaus provide a voluntary security freeze program at a very low cost.
    To determine whether there are any costs associated with placing a security freeze on your credit, and for temporarily lifting that credit freeze when you do seek credit, see State Freeze Requirements and Fees.
     
  7. Only use reputable websites when making purchases. If you don’t know the reputation of a company that you want to purchase from, do your homework. How are they reviewed by other users? Do they have a strong rating with the Better Business Bureau? Do they use a secure, encrypted connection for personal and financial information? (You should see an Https in a website’s URL whenever they ask for personal or financial information).
  8. Stay alert.Watch for common signs of identity theft like:
    • False information on your credit reports, including your Social Security number, address(es), name or employer’s name.
    • Missing bills or other mail. If your bills don’t arrive, or come late, contact your creditors. A missing bill may indicate that an ID thief has hijacked your account and changed your billing address to help hide the crime.
    • Getting new credit cards sent to you that you didn’t apply for.
    • Having a credit approval denied or being subjected to high interest rates for no apparent reason.
    • Receiving calls or notices about past due bills for products or services you didn’t buy.
Consistently applying these eight steps to both defend and monitor your credit score will reduce the risks of having your identity stolen, and alert you instantly if such a problem arises.
Provided by Linda Criddle, Founder of iLookBothWays.com  

Resources:
1About Identity Theft http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers/about-identity-theft.html
2 Privacy Rights Clearinghouse http://www.privacyrights.org/data-breach
 

How to avoid identity theft and credit card hacking


Article Source: http://www.usatoday.com/
After scaring everyone two weeks ago with my predictions of the dangers you will face in cyberspace in 2016, it only seems fair to provide you with a guide to some of the steps you should take to protect yourself from identity theft in the new year. Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself from identity theft.

1. Never give personal information to anyone who contacts you by phone, text message or email unless you have confirmed that the request is legitimate. Caller ID can be fooled to make it appear that a call is legitimate and emails and texts can be sent from hijacked accounts or addresses that may appear legitimate, but are slightly different from the real email address or phone number.

2. Sign up for the Federal Do Not Call list at donotcall.gov to avoid telemarketing calls. Here is the link to sign up for the Do Not Call List. donotcall.gov It is important to remember, however, that the Do Not Call List does not apply to charities so you still may receive telephone calls from people collecting on behalf of legitimate charities, however, you can never be sure when you receive a call purporting to be from a charity whether it is legitimate or not so never give personal information or credit card information over the phone to someone who calls you soliciting for a charity. If you are feeling charitably inclined, go to the real website of the charity where you can safely make your donation.

Read: How to protect yourself against Cyber fraud, Cyber-attack and Virus Computer Data Breach  Hacking on http://onlinevirusprotection.blogspot.com/2016/05/protect-yourself-against-cyber-fraud.html

3. Consider opting out of pre-approved credit card offers. These can be stolen from your mailbox by identity thieves who can then apply for credit in your name. You can opt out of these offers by going to optoutprescreen.com.

4. Check your credit report at each of the three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion at least once a year. Often people first become aware of becoming a victim of identity theft when they find fraudulent charges on their credit report and the earlier you become aware of the problem, the easier it is to fix. Because federal law provides the right for you to get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies annually, you should stagger your requests to each of the credit reporting agencies so that you get one report every four months. Get your free credit reports at annualcreditreport.com.

5. While the credit reporting agencies and others tout the use of fraud alerts on your credit reports as a way to help protect you from identity theft, the truth is that fraud alerts by which someone issuing credit in your name is supposed to notify you before issuing credit in your name are not terribly effective and there is no penalty for a company issuing credit to someone in your name without notifying you even if there is a fraud alert on your credit report. A far better choice is to put a credit freeze on your credit report. This will prevent someone from accessing your credit report for purposes of obtaining credit even if they have your Social Security number. Here is a link to a previous column I wrote about credit freezes that explains how to get one.

6. Limit your use of your debit card to use at ATMs. Don't use it for retail purchases because the law provides much more protection from liability when your credit card is illegally used than when your debit card is fraudulently used. In addition, even if your debit card company provides for zero liability, your bank will freeze the bank account you have tied to your debit card while they investigate any fraudulent use of your debit card, which can be tremendously inconvenient.

7. Get an EMV chip credit card, if you don't already have one and if the places you shop still haven't switched over to card processing equipment for the new cards, tell them that they should do so soon. Your shopping will be safer when everyone is using these new cards.

8. Use a strong unique password for each of your accounts. This is particularly important because if you use the same password for all of your accounts, you are more susceptible to identity theft if your password is stolen in a data breach at one of the companies with which you do online business. Having a strong, easy to remember password is not as difficult a task as it may seem. Start with a phrase, such as IHate2 UsePasswords. This is a good combination of capital letters, small letters and a number. Now make it even stronger by adding a couple of symbols such as exclamation points at the end so it now reads IHate2 Use Passwords!!!. This is now your basic password which you can customize for each account by adding a few letters to identify the particular account, such as Ama for your Amazon account so your Amazon password would read IHate2Use Passwords!!!Ama.

9. Security questions are an important part of your online safety. Armed with the answer to your security questions, a hacker can change your passwords and take over your online accounts. Unfortunately, the answers to common security questions, such as your mother's maiden name can be found with little effort by an identity thief. Sometimes, you may unwittingly provide that information yourself on social media where you may provide more information to the public than you realize. The key then is to make your answer to your security question nonsensical. So instead of the answer to your mother's maiden name being "Jones," change it to something like "Grapefruit." No identity thief will guess it and it is silly enough for you to remember.

Read: How to protect yourself against Cyber fraud, Cyber-attack and Virus Computer Data Breach  Hacking on http://onlinevirusprotection.blogspot.com/2016/05/protect-yourself-against-cyber-fraud.html


These are a few of the things you should be doing to protect yourself from identity theft and scams in 2016. In my next column I will give you more tips.

Steve Weisman is a lawyer, a professor at Bentley University and one of the country's leading experts in scams and identity theft. He writes the blog scamicide.com, where he provides daily update information about the latest scams. His new book is Identity Theft Alert.

Protect Yourself Against Cyber Fraud and Online Identity Theft

 
Fraud Awareness Month, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) offers its Top 10 tips to protect against cyber fraud and online identity theft.

SOURCE: Insurance Bureau of Canada.
 
"We all spend a lot of time on the internet, which has made everyday life more convenient. Now with the click of a button we can pay bills, check our bank account balances or connect with people through social media, which is why you must remain vigilant about what you share online and who sees it ", said Garry Robertson, National Director, Investigative Services, IBC. 

In recent years, identity theft has increased across Canada. Thieves are scanning the internet looking for personal information that will allow them to assume another person's identity. Using stolen information a criminal could use your name to secure a credit card, take out a mortgage, or even commit insurance fraud.

 
"You may not realize you have been a victim until it is too late, costing you time and money to rectify the damage", added Robertson. "Consumers need to ensure they are protecting themselves online, which is why we urge you to read 'IBC's top 10 ways to protect yourselves against cyber fraud and online identity theft', and share these tips with your family and friends." 

IBC's Top 10 Ways to Protect Against Cyber Fraud and Online Identity Theft are:
  1. Be cautious about sharing your personal information online, including your insurance policy number and birth date.
  2. Guard your financial information. If you shop, do insurance transactions or banking online, make sure you aren't saving personal financial information, such as credit card numbers, that someone could easily take.
  3. Change your login and passwords regularly, especially if you use a public computer. Make your passwords hard to decipher by using numbers and characters in addition to letters.
  4. Ensure that a website is trustworthy before clicking on a link in an email. If you have any doubt that an email is from the institution that it says it's from, contact the company to confirm that they sent the email. Criminals often use phishing, which uses an official-looking email to direct you to a website that looks legitimate, to steal personal information.
  5. Install security software and anti-spyware programs on your computer. Activate your firewall and use anti-virus software. Only download programs from reputable websites that you know are trustworthy.
  6. When making an insurance claim, regularly check the payments made by your insurance company on your behalf throughout the process.  Keep an eye out for any unusual activity.
  7. Be social media savvy. Set your social media profiles to the private setting and be careful what you post online.
  8. Make sure your Wi-Fi network at home is protected. When using public "hot spots," recognize that the data you share is vulnerable and do not conduct financial transactions, such as obtaining automobile or home insurance, on these networks.
  9. Never give personal information over e-mail or phone to someone who has contacted you to ask for it, without authenticating their identity. 
  10. If you use credit cards or borrow money, it is a good idea to periodically order a credit check on yourself to ensure everything is in order.  

Identity Theft and How to Protect yourself and your Digital World (PC, Laptop, iPad, Tablets and Smart Android mobile phones); simple guide being offered and updated.


Take the time to report the crime. If you fall victim to fraud, file a report with your local police, or the provincial or territorial branch of Crime Stoppers. Or, make an anonymous call to 1-877-IBC-TIPS (1-877-422-8477) or complete an online tip form

About Insurance Bureau of CanadaInsurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada's private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties. P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 120,000 Canadians, pays $8.2 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $49 billion. For media releases and more information, visit IBC's Media Centre at www.ibc.ca. Follow IBC on Twitter @InsuranceBureau or like us on Facebook. If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC's Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.
If you require more information, IBC spokespeople are available to discuss the details in this media release.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Two things to bear in Mind while we talk about Protecting yourself Online in order to Prevent Online Identity Theft and being Victim of Cyber-Criminals:

A. Keep in mind that antivirus software protects only your device, not your internet connection. It’s only Secured and Protected Virtual Private Network, VPN can securely protect your internet connection communications between your computer device, servers and websites.

B. A VPN is a must-have utility to protect your privacy and prevent hackers and snoopers from stealing your personal information.