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Protecting your identity during the holiday season

Identity Theft News

Protecting your identity during the holiday season

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.

»  Consider your preferred method of payment- each has pros and cons. Generally, from a theft standpoint. credit cards are safer because, unlike debit cards, you usually have more protection against fraudulent charges. Cash is another option. but while you will not have to worry about personal identifiers, it will be gone for good if stolen. Be very careful with checkbooks. as stolen checks can give the thief access to your checking account.

»   Do not leave your purse/wallet in your vehicle. Many people do this and then find themselves a victim of theft of property and then theft of identity.

Tip #2: Practice safe shopping online

» Never use a public computer (like those found at the library) to perform online financial transactions. Llkewise, if the coffee shop is offering free-yet unsecured-wi-fi, don't be tempted to use your computer to buy anything there either.You never know if a public computer contains some type of malware, and thieves can steal data via an unsecured wireless internet access.

»    Protect your personal computer, tablet. and/or smart phone.Use security software and install updates as available.

»   Visit only reputable retail sites. Be wary of deals appearing too good to be true as it may be an avenue for a thief to take your money or identity information.

» Just as you would keep receipts from the stores, keep a record of all your online transactions. Check your debit/ credit accounts to make sure only the transactions you've authorized have been registered. If you see any unauthorized  transactions. dispute them with your financial institution immediately.

Tip #3: Think before mailing holiday cards

» E-cards are convenient and fun, but beware: disreputable e-card websites may load malware on your computer and may send it along to all of the recipients as well. Send e-cards from a reputable source. and check the end-user agreements to ensure that no software will be downloaded as a condition of using the service. If you're receiving the cards, beware of cards that have generic sender information. such as "a friend" or "a relative." If the card comes with an attachment. particularly an executable (.exe) attachment. it's best to delete it.

»  Snail mail is still a popular way to send greetings and gifts. particularly gift cards or checks. If you send a check, use a dark, pigmented ink that can't be easily "washed." Washing is a process a thief uses to take away the ink on your check so it can be rewritten to them, with a higher dollar amount.

»  Never leave mail with sensitive information in an unlocked mailbox-mail it from an official USPS mail drop box. For items that arrive at your home, you might consider purchasing a mailbox that locks.

Tip #4: Protect yourself and your guests at home for the holidays

»  Secure any documentation in your home that may contain sensitive information, such as bank statements, checkbooks, credit cards, Social Security cards, etc. Keep these items in a locked cabinet. if possible, and in an area that will be inaccessible to guests.

»  For your guests, assign a safe area to keep purses and other personal items. Make sure only one person is allowed to collect or retrieve these items.

 

 

A service of the Investigators of Kroll

These materials are derived from the research and discovery activities of Kroll Fraud Specialists and Licensed Investigators, and have been gathered from personal, historical, and aggregated experience performing specialized restoration services on behalf of Identity Theft victims. While believed to be accurate, these materials do not constitute legal advice, and are not guaranteed to be correct, complete or up-to-date. No part of this document may be reproduced, transmitted, transcribed, stored in a retrieval system, or translated into a language or computer language, in any formby any means, electronic, mechanical, optical, chemical, manual or otherwise, without the express written consent of Kroll. These materials are provided for informational purposes only.

 

 

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.

»  Consider your preferred method of payment- each has pros and cons. Generally, from a theft standpoint. credit cards are safer because, unlike debit cards, you usually have more protection against fraudulent charges. Cash is another option. but while you will not have to worry about personal identifiers, it will be gone for good if stolen. Be very careful with checkbooks. as stolen checks can give the thief access to your checking account.

»   Do not leave your purse/wallet in your vehicle. Many people do this and then find themselves a victim of theft of property and then theft of identity.

Tip #2: Practice safe shopping online

» Never use a public computer (like those found at the library) to perform online financial transactions. Llkewise, if the coffee shop is offering free-yet unsecured-wi-fi, don't be tempted to use your computer to buy anything there either.You never know if a public computer contains some type of malware, and thieves can steal data via an unsecured wireless internet access.

Simple Steps to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft

March 17, 2017

Despite the fact that the U.S. Director of National Intelligence ranked cybercrime as the No. 1 national security threat, very few Americans take real steps to protect themselves, their family and their businesses against identity theft.

As the head of a company that helps consumers protect themselves from this issue, I've become increasingly aware of its perils, and how it impacts millions of people each year. I see identity theft as a growing epidemic that warrants immediate action. There are a number of simple steps to take, and some may seem obvious, but many people choose not to address the issue with preventive measures. How often do you back up personal and corporate computers, check your credit report and statements, or update your virus protection software?

When Consumers Get Smart, Scammers Get Smarter

March 16, 2017

So you think you’re pretty smart when it comes to scams. You know there is no wealthy Nigerian prince who needs money to escape – and there’s certainly no reward for sending him your hard-earned cash. You’re careful to not click on links or open attachments from email addresses you do not recognize. But as consumers become more aware, scammers become more savvy. They know we live online and on our phones, and they use both to get even the most wary individuals to fall for their scams. However, there are some steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim.

 

When it comes to phone scams, be smart with these tips:

Stay Calm and Trust No One: Protecting Yourself Against Scammers

March 16, 2017

Tax scams grab a lot of identity theft headlines, and for good reason: the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises that 25 percent of reported scams in 2016 were related to tax issues. But there’s more than one way to scam a consumer, and scammers are constantly thinking up new and more sophisticated ways to lure in victims. According to the BBB, last year’s fastest growing scams included:

 

Online Purchase Scams

These may involve sites selling fake merchandise, as well as sites that aren’t selling anything at all. By the time your “designer” duds have arrived, or you realize you’ll never get what you paid for, the scammers have your money as well as your name, address and credit card information, which is what they are really after.

 

Employment Scams

Tax season ramps up W-2 phishing scams

February 10, 2017

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued an urgent alert regarding a dangerous W-2 phishing scam that is targeting employers across a wide variety of sectors, including everything from businesses to schools to tribal organizations. Not only is this type of fraud becoming widespread, there is a unique twist to this scheme, designed to further compound the potential injury. After fraudulently obtaining the W-2 information, scammers send an immediate follow-up requesting a wire transfer of funds. When a company falls victim to this scam, not only do their employees face the possibility of tax fraud from the stolen W-2 forms, but the company also loses funds from the fraudulent wire transfer. It is a double whammy, and according to the IRS, it has already affected hundreds of organizations.

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.