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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.

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.

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.