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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.

 

 

The New Teen Hangout

August 16, 2017

Social Media: The New Teen Hangout

 

From an early age, parents advise their children to not talk to strangers. That advice may stick with a child who is approached by someone at the park, but a teenager who feels “protected” by a screen may carry on an online conversation with a person they don’t know, especially if the “stranger” is posing as a classmate, a friend of a friend, or someone who shares the teen’s taste in music. If that conversation leads to an in-person meeting, your teen may be in serious danger.

 

IDShield Investigator Tips: Phishing Attempt Not Very Rewarding

July 27, 2017

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Marriott Rewards. Was I getting bonus points? A special offer for a last-minute weekend trip? Or was it something much less rewarding? 

As an expert in cyber security, I’m understandably suspicious of all emails. Phishers have gotten so good at making fake emails look real that it is easy to, at a glance, believe the message is from an individual or organization you have done business with, but there are some things you can look for so you do not take the bait and become a victim. What better way to demonstrate than by my actual example?

The Anatomy of a Phishing Email

This is what I first saw in my inbox:

 

Could Smart Toys Put Your Child’s Privacy at Risk?

July 19, 2017

FBI releases warning regarding privacy concerns for internet-connected toys

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a public service announcement alerting consumers to the potential dangers of “smart toys,” basically any toy that can connect to the internet. This applies to a range of toys currently on the market that have everything from microphones to cameras to cloud storage of audio, video, and other data collected from users.

The FBI raises concerns about toys negatively impacting your children’s privacy and security.

 

The features and functions of different toys vary widely. In some cases, toys with microphones could record and collect conversations within earshot of the device. Information such as the child’s name, school, likes and dislikes, and activities may be disclosed through normal conversation with the toy or in the surrounding environment. The collection of a child’s personal information combined with a toy’s ability to connect to the Internet or other devices raises concerns for privacy and physical safety. 

 

A Trip to the Pediatrician’s Office May Cure the Sickness, But Could It Put Your Child’s Identity at Risk?

July 11, 2017

By the time children are six years old, they have probably been to the pediatrician more than 10 times for wellness checkups alone. With many children continuing to see their pediatricians through their teen years, these office visits – and the information collected at them – all add up. As a parent, you trust the pediatrician and the office staff to take care of your child’s health, but can you trust that your child’s personal information will be securely protected and kept out of harm’s way? Assuming this has not previously crossed your mind, increasing your level of awareness – just as is done with an annual health check – can help to protect your child’s identity from being compromised and exploited.

Health Care Data Breaches on the Rise

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.