Latest identity theft articles

5 Tips To Protect Teens from Identity Theft

Posted on 2016-10-11 19:53:08

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Why are children under the age of 18 almost twice as likely to become identity theft victims as their parents? Teens make easy identity theft targets because they usually have clean credit reports (or none at all). Couple that with the typical teen’s trusting nature, and the stage is set for identity theft. Here are 5 steps that can help protect teens from identity theft.

  1. Keep personal information private. Many teens are an open book with their friends. They may not think twice about sharing personal information. But all it takes is one less-than-honest or desperate friend to open the door for identity theft. Encourage your teen to protect his identity by not sharing personal information, even with friends.

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  1. Limit exposure on social media. Most teens are on at least one social media network such as Facebook or Twitter. And most of them are friends with people they hardly know or don’t know at all. Once something is posted, control of that information is forever lost. Identity thieves are keenly aware of this weakness and hang out on social media sites looking for weak links. Teach your teen to limit exposure on social media networks.
  1. Keep a slim wallet. Your teen should never carry more than is necessary in his wallet. Old-fashioned pick pocketing is still popular with identity thieves. Social Security numbers are especially valuable, and there is usually no reason for a teen to carry a Social Security card.
  1. Shred, shred, and shred some more. Help your teen get in the habit of shredding anything with personal information before getting rid of it. Unsolicited credit card offers contain a wealth of personal information that makes it easy for an identity thief to open credit in your teen’s name. Buy a shredder and use it to discard of anything with personal information.
  1. Monitor your teen’s credit report. Once your child starts using credit, teach him the importance of knowing what is on his credit report because that is the information used to calculate his credit score. Review it periodically to check for accuracy. That’s often where evidence of identity theft first shows up. A credit monitoring service is an easy and effective way to keep tabs on your teen’s credit report.

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Outsmart Identity Thieves with These 5 Tips

Posted on 2016-09-27 17:34:09

woman-coffee-shopIf you haven’t been an identity theft victim yourself, chances are good that you know someone who has been. Identity theft is rampant and shows no discrimination. It strikes the rich and famous with the same vengeance it strikes the butcher or baker. Identity thieves use both high-tech and low-tech tactics and usually attack the weakest link. Here are 5 tips for outsmarting identity theft. 1. Shred! Shred! Shred! Identity thieves still go through trash looking for personal information that can make it easier to steal an identity. Get a cross-cut shredder and use it diligently to destroy anything with personal information before it goes in the trash. That includes credit card statements, expired credit cards, pre-approved credit card applications—anything, really, with personal information. 2. Don’t let your guard down on social media. Realize that anything you post is never completely private—even if you delete it. Use common sense before sharing personal information with the world. Check your privacy settings. It’s amazing the identity footprint many people leave on social media sites—full date of birth, location, messages that indicate you are away from home (sometimes for a long time!).

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3. Never conduct personal business over WiFi. The risks of conducting personal business while you are at a coffee shop, the airport or any public place far outweigh the convenience. Don’t do it! Tech savvy identity thieves know how to snag your information, and snag it they will. 4. Keep tabs on your credit cards. Put time on your side by checking your accounts in between statements for unauthorized use. Know where your credit cards are at all times. If your credit card issuer offers the option of adding a photo to your credit card, do it! 5. Go paperless and use a locked mailbox for outgoing mail. Mail—both incoming and outgoing—often contains a wealth of personal information. In the wrong hands, that information can be used for identity theft. Go paperless to limit incoming mail. Deposit outgoing mail in a locked mailbox. The red flag that alerts a mail carrier that there is mail in your mailbox alerts identity thieves of the same thing. No one can guarantee that you will not become an identity theft victim. It is impossible to control all of the places that have access to your personal information. But these tips can help you reduce your risk.

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6 Tips To Protect Your Identity When You’re on Vacation

Posted on 2016-06-23 13:52:49

While you are on vacation relaxing and forgetting the cares of the world, identity thieves are hard at work watching for you to let your guard down. One study reported that 20 percent of consumers have had a document with personal information lost or stolen while they were traveling. Think driver’s license, passport, credit cards. Keep your guard up while on vacation to minimize your risk of becoming an identity theft victim. Here are 6 tips to help safeguard your identity.

  1. Beware of WiFi hotspots. Your hotel or the coffee shop down the street may offer free WiFi, but the connection may not be secure. Be especially cautious about downloading software updates from a WiFi hotspot; these may secretly download malicious software to your computer. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) offers a safer way to do business by encrypting information that passes between your computer and a wireless network.
  1. Avoid public computers. The public computer in a hotel may be convenient for a checking out local restaurant ratings, but don’t conduct private business from it. It is impossible to know what software has been installed, and the risks far outweigh the convenience.

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  1. Use caution at ATMs. You may need cash while on vacation, and identity thieves know that. Their tactic? Install a skimmer to an ATM to capture account numbers and PINs. ATMs inside a bank branch tend to be more secure and are usually monitored by camera
  1. Travel with a light wallet. Old-fashioned pickpocketing is still used by identity thieves. Don’t carry unnecessary cards in your wallet that make a thief’s work easier. Leave your Social Security number at home.
  1. Wait until you return to share your vacation on social media. You may think you are sharing with trusted friends, but the truth is it is hard to know where your privacy stops and starts on social media sites. Wait until you are home to broadcast that your home was vacant.
  1. Monitor your accounts while you are away. If possible, use a secure connection to check your bank and credit card accounts while you are away. But if your only option is an unsecured Wifi, it is not worth the risk. This could be a perfect time to try a credit monitoring service that will alert you by email to any significant changes to your credit report.

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Protect Your Identity Footprint

Posted on 2016-04-06 09:00:39

Identity theft statistics are alarming! With many cases never being report, the real number of identity theft victims is probably much higher than the 12 to 15 million a year you often hear quoted. Is your identity footprint leaving you vulnerable to identity theft? Legs of woman on the beach in summer Your identity footprint is anything someone could steal and use to create a piece of a new identity. It could be personal or financial. Really, it doesn’t take much for someone to make you the next identity theft victim. Be conscious of your identity footprint to minimize your risk of becoming an identity theft victim. Don’t give identity theft criminals easy access to your identity! Instead of fretting about the things that are out of your control, concentrate on the things you can control.

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Shred, shred, shred. Shred anything with personal information. Identity thieves still scour dumpsters and trashcans for information that can help them create a new identity. Lighten your load. The less you carry, the less an identity theft criminal will have access to if your wallet or purse is stolen. And yes, old-fashioned pickpocketing is still a common tactic thieves use. Pay attention to your bills. Keep an eye on your credit card and bank accounts in between statements. A lot of damage can be done in thirty days. If your statements don’t arrive on time, call the bank or card issuer. Guard your Social Security number. Your Social Security number is like gold to identity theft criminals. Don’t carry your card. Leave the Social Security number field blank on forms you fill out until you know why it is needed. Beware of phone and email scams. A little common sense can help you avoid becoming an identity theft victim through a phone or email scam. Unless you made the phone call and are sure of the number you are calling, don’t give personal information on the phone. Be careful about clicking on links in an email. Anyone can create a website that looks official . . . but isn’t. Don’t conduct personal business in public. Guard your privacy with identity theft in the back of your mind. . You never know who is looking over your shoulder or capable of grabbing your information from an unprotected WiFi connection at a coffee shop. Never sacrifice privacy for convenience.
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7 Trade Secrets of an Identity Thief

Posted on 2016-03-16 09:00:44

When you’ve got a good thing going, you want to keep it under wraps. That’s the mindset of identity thieves. The longer their tactics are kept as trade secrets, the longer they can get away with the crime of identity theft. Statistics show they are doing a good job at it! Here are 7 tactics identity thieves don’t want you to know or think about, and tips for protecting your identity.Beautiful young brunette enjoying coffee. 1. Shoulder Surfing. Identity thieves often pose as distracted customers. Without you ever hearing a click, a thief can snap a picture of your credit, debit or personal identification card, gaining valuable information for creating a new identity. Be aware of your surroundings, especially when you are using a credit or debit card. 2. Beat the Clock. Identity thieves are always racing the clock, doing as much as they can before someone is on their trail. Don’t wait 30 days to check a bank or credit card statement. Keep tabs on your accounts and your credit report.

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3. Dumpster Diving. Identity thieves still go through trash looking for personal information that can make it easier to steal an identity. What are they looking for? Credit card statements, expired credit cards, pre-approved credit card applications—anything, really, with personal information. Shredding everything with personal information protects your identity. 4. Mail Theft. That red flag that gets put up to alert the mail carrier of outgoing mail also alerts identity thieves that there is mail sitting in a mailbox. Identity thieves also target mailboxes for new mail such as credit card and bank statements. Going paperless can keep statements out of reach. 5. Phishing. Identity thieves use phone calls, emails, social media networks and regular mail to trick unsuspecting individuals into giving up personal information. It is child’s play to duplicate a website, then send an official-looking email with a link to that website. Spend a few minutes doing your homework before giving your personal information to someone. 6. Skimming. Identity thieves learned long ago how to read information from the magnetic strip on a credit or debit card. Most cards with the new chip technology still have a magnetic strip for now. Keep tabs on your accounts and your credit report to put time on your side should you become a victim of skimming. 7. WiFi Interception. Most public WiFi connections are not secure. Savvy identity thieves know how to intercept information sent through an insecure connection. Don’t sacrifice security for convenience.
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