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Abandoned Online Accounts

Identity Theft News

Abandoned Online Accounts

How many social networking websites do you participate in? How many sites are there where you have an account that you no longer use to socialize with others? Now consider two more questions, “What personal information of yours is stored within that account, even if it’s just the account profile?” and “What could happen if those abandoned accounts were breached by a hacker who then stole the data?”

Old online accounts have at least two vulnerabilities: They could be viewable by others and the database of the website could suffer a data breach.

When social networking first began, users were less aware than they are today of the need to restrict who could see their posted information. Someone viewing an old account of yours could potentially pick up data that would help them find information they could use elsewhere such as with answering security questions such as “Where were you born?,” “Where did you attend school?,” etc.

Data breaches suffered by social networking sites are becoming commonplace. Within just a six-month span of time in 2016, nearly one billion records from only four social networking or online dating sites were potentially accessed by hackers. A thief could take the user ID and password collected in a breach and then try it on other websites to see if the person who created the account used those same credentials on other accounts. Then they can collect personal information from that account as well or takeover the account and make use of it.

What can be done about old accounts?If you are no longer using an account, delete it if possible. If not possible, replace your personal information with random data so that the account is not useful to a potential identity thief. The websitewww.accountkiller.com is a valuable resource of directions for closing online accounts of all kinds. Also, by reviewing it’s extensive list of websites, you may be reminded of an old account you forgot that you created.

What to do going forward:

  • If you’ve been in the habit of using the same login credentials on all of your websites, change the passwords (or user ID and password, if possible) so that you use different credentials for each account.
  • Keep a list of the accounts you create online so you know where you information is online.
  • Be particular about what personal information you add to your accounts. Every question doesn’t need to be answered in your account profile.
  • Set privacy and security settings to have some control over who can see your data.
  • Use backup email addresses on every account so that if you lose access to the primary email because of a job change or switch in email service provider, you can still access the account.

 

How many social networking websites do you participate in? How many sites are there where you have an account that you no longer use to socialize with others? Now consider two more questions, “What personal information of yours is stored within that account, even if it’s just the account profile?” and “What could happen if those abandoned accounts were breached by a hacker who then stole the data?”

Old online accounts have at least two vulnerabilities: They could be viewable by others and the database of the website could suffer a data breach.

When social networking first began, users were less aware than they are today of the need to restrict who could see their posted information. Someone viewing an old account of yours could potentially pick up data that would help them find information they could use elsewhere such as with answering security questions such as “Where were you born?,” “Where did you attend school?,” etc.

Data breaches suffered by social networking sites are becoming commonplace. Within just a six-month span of time in 2016, nearly one billion records from only four social networking or online dating sites were potentially accessed by hackers. A thief could take the user ID and password collected in a breach and then try it on other websites to see if the person who created the account used those same credentials on other accounts. Then they can collect personal information from that account as well or takeover the account and make use of it.

What can be done about old accounts?If you are no longer using an account, delete it if possible. If not possible, replace your personal information with random data so that the account is not useful to a potential identity thief. The websitewww.accountkiller.com is a valuable resource of directions for closing online accounts of all kinds. Also, by reviewing it’s extensive list of websites, you may be reminded of an old account you forgot that you created.

What to do going forward:

The Underground Economy and Your Identity

January 18, 2017

The past several years have been a bonanza for the underground economy as it relates to the purchase and sale of stolen private information and, specifically, to the sheer number of individual consumer records impacted. Numerous large merchants, hospital systems, and insurance companies have been hacked, exposing email addresses and passwords, credit card numbers, and personal profiles. These breaches have resulted in a considerable surge in private personal information being made available for sale in the underground economy. Throughout this same timeframe, security companies, researchers, and hackers have commented on the vast amounts of data that have been stolen and are now available for purchase online. Indeed, we have heard all too often from the popular media that billions of personal records have been compromised.

How to Respond to Suspicious IRS-related Communication this Tax Season

January 18, 2017

It’s that time of year once again. The holidays have come and gone and we’re all settling into a new year. With all of our resolutions aside, one thing is still left to do - our taxes. This season is also the time where IRS-related scams are plentiful.  

It’s important to know that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by any type of electronic communication, including email, text messages, and social media channels. Here, we share some IRS direction for handling a suspicious IRS-related communication.

If you receive an email claiming to be from the IRS that contains a request for personal information:

  • Do not reply.
  • Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
  • Do not click on any links.
  • Forward the email as-is, to phishing@irs.gov. After you forward the email, delete the original email message you received.

Note: Please forward the full original email to   phishing@irs.gov. Do not forward scanned images of printed emails as that strips the email of valuable information only available in the electronic copy.

The “Dirty Dozen” of Tax Scams Investigator Insights The “Dirty Dozen” of Tax Scams

January 18, 2017

Accountants and tax return preparers aren’t the only busy ones during tax return filing season. Scammers and abusers of the system are active as well. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) strives to educate taxpayers and combat scammers through various resources, one of which is their annual list of top scams - “The Dirty Dozen Tax Scams.” - shared here.

Phone Scams

Phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent years as scam artists threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation and license revocation, among other things.

Phishing

Taxpayers need to be on guard against fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will never send taxpayers an email about a bill or refund out of the blue. Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS. Be wary of strange emails and websites that may be nothing more than scams to steal personal information.

Return Preparer Fraud

Yahoo Announces that 1 Billion Accounts Compromised in Data Breach

As you may have heard, Yahoo just announced that over 1 Billion accounts were hacked in a recent data breach. This information includes account holder names, email addresses, encrypted passwords, dates of birth, telephone numbers and, in some cases, security questions and answers.

Here are a few proactive steps you can take to protect your account:

Protecting your identity during the holiday season

December 7, 2016

Keeping your sensitive information safe

It's once again the time of year when consumers are making plans to visit relatives, host festive get-togethers. and. of course. hit the stores (or computer) for some shopping. Unfortunately,the flurry of activity that goes hand-in-hand with the holidays presents a prime opportunity for a data thief to practice his trade. With that in mind, put the protection of sensitive personal information at the top of your holiday to-do list.

 

Kroll's Investigators offer the following tips that can help consumers keep their sensitive information safe:

 

Tip #1: Practice safe shopping in stores

»  Before you hit the stores. take stock of what you bring along in your purse/wallet. Remove unnecessary key identity components. Make a list of what remains so you'll know what is missing if your purse/wallet is lost or stolen.

Shopping Online Safely

December 6, 2016

The number of online shoppers in the United States is projected to surpass 200 million in 2015. The ease and convenience of shopping from just about anywhere, avoiding crowds and not having to find a place to park are just a few things that make shopping on a retailer’s website an attractive option.

However, with convenience comes caution. Concerns about payment data security and other personal information makes some consumers shy about conducting their shopping via the internet. The following tips, if practiced, can bring about a sense of security while conducting online transactions:

Take steps to shop safely

1. Be Choosy. Don’t click indiscriminately on a link that you find in an unsolicited email or pop-up advertisement. Choose only well-known websites that have an address that starts with “https” when you get to the point of providing your payment information during the purchase process.