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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.

 

 

WannaCry Ransomware

May 16, 2017

Over the past 72 hours, a massive ransomware attack occurred affecting businesses, government organizations, and individuals in well over 100 countries. The ransomware – called WannaCry (also called WannaCrypt) – encrypts the victim’s hard drive and demands a ransom, paid in the virtual currency bitcoin, equivalent to approximately US$300. Kroll strongly recommends organizations and individuals take action to reduce your risk and prepare for inevitable future similar attacks.

 

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware; once executed on a computer system, it seeks to encrypt a wide range of files, denying the user access, and effectively holding the files “hostage” in return for a monetary payment – a ransom. It prevents users from accessing their computers, files, or mobile devices by holding them for ransom. Users are typically expected to pay high ransom amounts to get access back to their data. Many times, the ransomware will falsely claim that the user has committed a crime with their computer, and that they are being fined by the police department or a government agency.

 

U.S. Government Data Shows Healthcare Breaches Up 320%

May 11, 2017

Check the pulse of your personal healthcare information

 

When you visit your physician or a healthcare facility, the last thing on your mind is the personal information you are required to share. Where is it going? Who sees your information? What could happen to it? Healthcare providers collect personal data ranging from your name and date of birth, to credit card numbers, medical insurance numbers (which may include your Social Security number), diagnosis information, prescriptions, and medical history.

 

Providers are required to store this information securely, but data thieves know how valuable your personal information is. Despite healthcare providers’ best efforts, they often fall victim to data breaches. That puts your protected health information (PHI) in the hands of hackers and thieves who may use it themselves or sell it for others to use to execute a variety of schemes and crimes.

 

IDShield Investigator Insights: Social Media

April 20, 2017

Sharing on Social Media Today Can Impact Your Future

Many of us can’t remember life before social media. How did we make it through the day without our friends telling us how they were feeling or posting pictures of what they had for lunch?

 

While it seems like social media sites have been around forever, the first, Six Degrees, launched only 20 years ago, making social media a relatively new means of staying in touch. As social animals, our desire to connect with others is great, and social media, along with the proliferation of mobile devices, makes it easy to do. Since we like to think we can trust our friends, it’s easy to let our guard down when we’re commenting on a Facebook post or sharing vacation photos on Instagram.

 

IDShield Investigator Tips: Social Media

April 20, 2017

When It Comes to Staying Safe on Social Media, Listen to Your Mother

Twenty-one percent of adult internet users have had an email or social media account compromised.1 Applying some old-fashioned words of wisdom to our modern online lives can help prevent it from happening to you. Here are some tips from the Investigators at Kroll:

 

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Danger Lurks Where Technology Intersects Public Safety

April 13, 2017

It’s 3 a.m., and you are awakened by the sounds of sirens blaring outside. All of the cell phones in your house start to chirp, and when you look down, you see an emergency notification with a warning to evacuate immediately. The alert says to head north and that all major roads will be used as one-way streets to enable a rapid evacuation. Twenty miles north of your town the same thing is happening, except in this case, the warning is telling everyone that they should head south.

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?