Identity theft

Preventing college students from being a victim of identity theft – Safety tips

As per reports from the Identity Theft Resource Center, college students are made the easiest targets for thieves. Statistics reveal nearly a quarter of all identity theft complaints coming from people who are between 18 and 20 years of age. This is the world of technology with more cons than pros, where credit card skimmers, email scams and telephone scams present brand new ways for people to fall prey to thieves. Scammers have found enough opportunities to rob students of their identities. While some find out a quick way of committing identity theft by snatching off your credit card or by finding out your personal information from your mobile phone.

Experts are of the opinion that college students form easier targets for the thieves as they are the ones who don’t keep right track of their credit history. In fact most of them aren’t even aware of what credit reporting agencies are or that they get an annual free credit report. Parents often warn student about identity thefts and the consequences they may face but students mostly ignore. Here are some preventive steps that students should take to steer clear of identity theft.

? Safeguard your SS number: You should always stay safe by memorizing your Social Security number and passwords instead of writing them down somewhere or even worse, carrying them in your wallet, phone, purse or elsewhere. The US Department of Education even warns you about using your date of birth as your password. These numbers are very easy to crack.

? Use a paper shredder: Those pre-approved credit applications should be ripped off by using a paper shredder. All those financial documents which you have in relation to your bank. Don’t ever make the mistake of tossing your personal information in the trash or leave it elsewhere for some identity thief to find it and misuse it. Always destroy any such papers with the help of a paper shredder.

? Don’t trust your dorm: The Consumer Reports always recommend you not to trust your dorm room as it is a room away from home and hence you shouldn’t expect safety like you do at home. Dorm rooms are infamous for opening up to too many people, some of whom don’t bother about taking away your papers for personal information like credit card numbers, bank account numbers or Social Security numbers.

? Learn how to get your report: Most of the students don’t know how to get their free annual credit report from several credit reporting agencies and sheer financial ignorance is the main driving factor behind the increasing identity theft cases. As per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are allowed to get one free look at your report every year. You may even visit www.annualcreditreport.com for getting a credit report.

? Use a strong firewall program: Make sure you use a strong firewall program on your computer so that you can avoid email viruses, scams, Trojan Horses or any other types of threats by deleting those questionable mails and avoiding all those links and websites which can have a dangerous impact on your computer.

? Don’t be prey to phone scams: If someone calls you and asks for your Social Security number, birth date, full name and your account number, verify the source from which they’re calling. Experts usually suggest that you should never offer information over the internet or over the phone unless you have been informed beforehand by the contact.

? Report in case of stolen card: If a thief steals your card or if you misplace your card, make sure it report it immediately. Contact your bank and ask them to monitor your transactions and stop the thieves from making any unauthorized purchases.

So, in the world of technological advancements, people are misusing technology to the utmost level rather than using it for their good. Be aware of your credit cards and follow the above mentioned tips in case of an accident.

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Identity fraud hits a stage of inflection – Essentials to know about identity theft

Identity fraud in the year 2015 hadn’t changed substantially and the total number of vulnerable victims remained steady at 14.1 million. The total fraud amount dropped slightly to $15 billion. This stability sets a mask on some of the major changes in fraud in America. As EMV becomes more omnipresent, identity theft at physical stores become different, driving a movement from phony fraud to new account fraud. The stakes seem to be high for both financial merchants and institutions.

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Significant trends in 2016 Identity fraud cases

  • The number of victims of identity theft was at its second highest level but the total amount stolen was at its lowest point since the last 6 years.
  • EMV has driven a new way of identity fraud called the new account fraud. America saw a 115% increase in occurence of new account fraud, which currently accounts for 20% of all losses.
  • A study found out that the consumers who don’t trust their financial institutions are setting the stage for more damage once they become victims.
  • Identity theft has become a global issue. 18% of the identity fraud using US credit cards was done outside America. International fraud has gained momentum.

Vital essentials you should know on identity theft

Though identity theft is always in the news, yet there are lot of misconceptions swirling around. Here are some vital things that you need to know about identity theft.

  • Thieves don’t require your credit card number to steal information

You should be aware of the fact that identity thieves don’t need your credit card number to steal your identity and misuse it. Thieves are indeed crafty; sometimes all they require a piece of information about you to get easy access to the rest of the details. An identity protection company always recommends credit card users to lock up vital documents at home. Social Security cards, birth certificates, passports should be kept securely in a deposit box or hidden within your home.

The non-fiscal information you give online is often enough for an identity thief

You should be aware of innocent personal information that you share online would be more than enough to steal your identity. Never make the mistake of listing your full birthday on any social networking website like Facebook. Also don’t list your telephone number and home address on any website you leverage for job-searching or business purposes.

  • Review and closely analyze your card statements at least once a week

Watch out for charges for less than a dollar or two from companies which are unfamiliar. Thieves who plan to buy a block of stolen credit card numbers usually check whether or not the accounts have been cancelled by sending a small charge, at times only a few pennies. If they see the charge to succeed, they will soon buy stolen data and then make a larger purchase. Hence at least once in a week, you should review your credit report so that you get immediately notified about a fraudulent transaction.

  • Be sneaky as identity thieves are sneaky too

If you make a wise decision of signing your credit card with a Sharpie so that it can’t be erased and written over, the thief might find it difficult to shop with that card even though he steals it. One more thing you can do is to retain the ‘Please Activate’ sticker on your card so that you fool the thieves into believing that your card has not yet been activated through the number listed with the company. You have to match your smartness with that of the thieves to ensure saving yourself.

So, if you are eager to protect yourself from identity fraud, you should arm yourself with the above mentioned knowledge and information.

 


Is Identity Theft Insurance a Scam?

People have become more and more aware about their personal data and information being breached and misused. Following these outrageous incidents about identity theft and bank accounts being stripped off that all of us hear from time to time, people have started to resort to any protection means available. It is all very common, and also quite a trouble when you’re coming face to face with identity theft these days. If you’ve faced this kind of a problem previously, or you know someone who has been a victim of identity theft, then you’re much likely to accept the proposals of identity theft insurance just to make sure that you don’t get caught up in a twisted web.

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                                                                         Image Credit – Pixabay

The increase in number of cyber crimes has made a lot of people run for cover. Those bespectacled hackers sitting comfortably in front of their computers and deviously stealing all of your money and stripping you of most of your valuables along with stealing your own identity have created an uproar, which led to insurance companies claiming to provide protection from these events. And just so you can sip coffee freely on your patio, you’ve decided to trust the companies providing this luxury as well. You’re not one to blame; nobody wants to deal with these kind of things, and worrying about identity theft is not your first priority during endless board meetings or shopping trips with the wife.

Just so you can get this excess stress out of your mind, trusting into the policy that is being offered to you by insurance companies to protect your identity and bank accounts is a common occurrence. And why wouldn’t you trust the policy? After all, you’ve always trusted this insurance company. But here’s the rub; there are people who have been tricked into identity theft insurance countless times. Not many have noticed this or taken into account that it might just be the fault of the insurance company itself and not theirs.

There have been instances where these insurance companies have conveniently tricked people into buying the policies—which, by the way, cost enough of your fortune anyway—and then presented the lousiest of results. Either the protection they initially offered didn’t meet its standards at all, or it incurred you more losses than you would have if you’d been hacked by a twenty-one-year old with a computer and a clever brain. It’s important to notice the obvious flaws in the plans that the insurance companies present. You might overlook them at first, but if you want to ensure that identity theft insurance isn’t draining your bank account itself, there are things to keep in mind.

What you should note is that if they’re making claims that seem more larger than life than a Star Wars movie plot, then you’re probably being played with. They’ll claim to provide you immense overall protection: something which they won’t fulfil when your credit card is stolen and is being used to shop for stilettos. What they should be doing instead, is to tell you exactly how much protection they can practically offer based on their resources, and how much significance this policy holds for you. Their claims should be based on facts, not on what their company hopes to achieve while providing you protection.

Don’t be mesmerized by how colourful their words are and how nicely they communicate with you over delicious tea and biscuits. They’re most probably making you believe that your identity will never be robbed even if their life depends on it, and when said attempt does happen, their hands will be tied, and you’ll be faxed a document whose tiny points you forgot to read before signing it. They’ll ask you to leave everything on them and rest assured during your next holiday trip to the Maldives, and by the time you return, your credit card will have the bill of a month-long trip when you only went for a weekend.

With your money, said insurance company will make immense profits while you’ll be left with nothing. It’s much better to pay attention to things yourself rather than giving away your trust to a company that is only going to trick you till the end. Awareness matters more than you’d think, and if you know what exactly you’re getting yourself into, you’ll be safer than others of your likes. Do your background researches before letting that smart-looking man walk into your home with a bunch of insurance documents to sign, which as he claims will ensure life-long protection from identity thefts.

While their proposal is being told to you, make sure to ask them questions that will give you the assurance that you’ll be given what is being offered. If they’re making fantastical claims, beware of those, and try to enquire about what they can actually do in case a hacker comes knocking at the door of your bank account or credit card. Ask if you’ll be paid what you’ve lost if identity theft does occur, despite the company claiming that it won’t. Make sure that your questions are being honestly answered instead of them dodging everything you want to know.

The usage of your credit card should be notified to you immediately as it is being done. Credit monitoring services are popular among these companies, but the claims they make are not always true. Make sure you’re keeping alert about any suspicious activities, because credit card scams are awfully common these days, which is unfortunate all on its own. In conclusion, all you can do is be more awake and alert than you’ve ever been when dealing with sensitive matters such as this.


7 Ways Identity Theft Happens

 Identity TheftStealing someone’s identity is not a new crime, but in the digital age personal data allows criminals to open bank accounts, order goods online or take out credit in someone else’s name. Although every case is different, there are 7 main ways in which identity theft happens.

1) Stolen Wallet
The most low-tech type of identity theft starts with a lost or stolen wallet or handbag. Most of us carry driving licence, credit card, bank cards and other forms of identification in our wallets, and this is all that fraudsters need to start impersonating the original owners of the documents.

2) Rubbish Raking
If you’re not careful about shredding bank statements or other documents with details like your name, address, National Insurance number or bank sort code, you are making life very easy for the identity thieves, who will think nothing of going through your rubbish bags to see what they can find. For safety’s sake, shred everything.

3) Moving House
If you’ve recently moved, chances are that some of your post will be going to your old address. If you are not careful about informing banks, credit card companies or government departments of your new address, whoever has moved into your property has the opportunity to make use of your mail. This can especially be an issue in flats, where mail can be left lying in a communal hallway for anyone to pick up.

4) Email
Most of us have got wise to the emails about a distant relative’s inheritance or winning an obscure lottery, but the scammers are getting cleverer when trying to trick people into parting with their details online. Always make sure that an email is coming from who it appears to be from, and remember that a bank will never email asking for your PIN, and the tax office don’t offer tax returns if you send in all your details.

5) Data Breach
Every so often, a company hits the headlines because they have been the victims of hacking. Some professional criminals spend their time trying to hack into the servers of banks or retailers with the sole aim of getting personal data. There is little you can do to protect yourself against this sort of attack, except from sticking to well-known, reputable websites which operate on secure servers only.

6) Corrupt Staff
Low paid telemarketers are often approached by criminal gangs, who offer them cash to steal the personal details of customers. Never elect to store your credit card details on a website if you don’t have to, and if an operator appears to be asking for more information than usual, hang up and report the incident immediately.

7) Virus / Malware
A computer virus or malware is a small piece of software which sits on your computer and records every move you make. Passwords, log on details and all your personal data becomes instantly accessible to whoever is controlling the malware. Never open attachments on emails without checking them first, and run regular system scans with a reputable anti-virus program.

Identity theft can cause huge problems to those affected by it, so be careful. Don’t throw sensitive documents in the bin without shredding it first, alert your bank immediately if you lose your cards, never give personal information out online unless you’re 100% sure the site is secure, and ensure your computer is fully protected with up-to-date antivirus software.

Written by James Sheehan, a blogger with an interest in internet security issues.


Protecting Your Financial Assets

Protecting Your Financial Assets

In this age, it can seem like everyone is after your money. The Federal Government raises its taxes on the public every year, while identity theft continues to be a huge problem online. Even the number of thefts that have been occurring in homes has been increasing due to the financial pressures that people face from the economy.

When you want to protect your financial assets, it is important to take some active measures in the process. It is important for you to carefully consider the ways that you can protect your assets and keep them from the hands of predators, whether those predators be individuals from the Federal Government or a thief in the neighborhood. Here are some ways that you can actively manage and protect your financial assets.

1. Hire an estate planning lawyer or financial advisor.

If you have a large net worth, then you will want to create an estate plan for your assets. Estate planning is one of the most critical things that a person with wealthy should do in his or her lifetime. Creating an estate plan allows a person to find legal ways to avoid paying high taxes on an estate. An estate planning lawyer may be able to help a person avoid a high estate tax by choosing to give money as gifts to others.

2. Install a physical alarm system in your home.

Unfortunately, wealthy people need to take extra precautions to care for the physical property that they have. When others in the neighborhood happen to know that a particular person has great wealthy, then they may be more inclined to attempt to take funds or possessions from this person. You can install a physical alarm system that will go off in the event that an intruder enters into your home. This alarm system can immediately contact the police so that any thieves are caught. You can find a great selection of alarm systems at www.wirelessalarmsystems.com.

3. Invest in an online identity theft protection program.

Identity theft is one of the other leading crimes affecting people these days. You should invest in an online identity theft protection program if you want to avoid having money stolen from your accounts. An identity theft protection program will alert you if your identity has been compromised online.

These are some of the ways that you can ensure that third parties do not have access to the wealth that you have worked hard to build in your lifetime.


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