Identity theft is a constantly evolving industry. Years ago, identity theft damages were limited to credit card fraud for unauthorized purchases. As banks and financial institutions adapted and put stronger preventative measures in place, thieves began using stolen Social Security number to open new lines of credit.
Today identity fraudsters find value in personal information. Even seemingly harmless information such as your pet’s name or an email can be valuable to a thief because it can be used to find more information through social media sites, online searches, or even more advanced techniques. Hackers are now using social engineering and phishing schemes to trick the user into divulging information onto a seemingly legitimate site that is actually run by fraudsters. Thieves steal personal information to sell on the black market for pennies or dollars for full information profiles.
Because of this evolution of the crime, it is important to safeguard personal information to prevent exposure. Consumers must also be cautious to make sure that they only provide personal information when completely necessary and only to trusted companies. Learn more about InfoArmor’s solution at www.infoarmor.com.
Follow these tips to protect yourself online:
- Hover Before you Click – BEFORE clicking on a link, hover over the link to examine the URL that appears at the bottom of your browser. If the site is not the place you are intending to visit, do not click on this link. If you are browsing from your tablet or iPad, touch and hold the link to pull up a window with the true URL to check before tapping the link.
- Password Management- Use a unique and complex password for each site you create a login for. Your passwords are the only thing standing between your banking information, social media sites, email accounts, etc. and hackers. Use a combination on upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols that cannot be found in the dictionary. Make passwords at least eight characters long.
- Website Warnings – When given an option, do not let websites store your credit card information for future purchases. The fewer opportunities for exposure, the better. Only enter personal information on sites that begin with “https” meaning that they have been certified as secure sites with an encrypted connection. Do not use public, unsecured WiFi to perform financial or personal transactions as your credentials can be easily compromised.
If you are worried about your online safety, you should consider an identity monitoring company that will also monitor your information on the dark internet or places where thieves go to buy and sell personal information. InfoArmor’s solution includes “Internet Surveillance” to do just that. Learn more at http://www.infoarmor.com.
Ever wonder how an Identity Protection solution could help you in light of a data breach like Target? The following describes how our product, PrivacyArmor, could have been able to help a Target customer who may have been compromised as part of the breach.
First of all, it is important to note that no privacy or identity protection product could have prevented what happened. Unfortunately, the bad guys are continuing to use increasingly sophisticated methods for capturing and leveraging our personal information. Further, simply because someone has enrolled in an identity protection service does not mean that they will not become the victim of identity fraud. It is also important to distinguish between theft and identity fraud. In the case of Target, personal information was breached and “stolen”. This was what I would refer to as theft. This theft may result in ID fraud, the opening of new accounts leveraging your personal information for the express purpose of perpetrating fraud, but certainly does not guarantee that identity fraud will result.
PrivacyArmor monitors account applications for fraudulent activity that leverages personal information, but cannot prevent theft. However, there are features of our product that identify the emerging threat of exposure, in advance of other products. The key is then taking appropriate action as rapidly as possible. For instance, with our credential monitoring feature, we are looking for credit card numbers, email addresses, passwords, and other personal information that is exposed within the underground economy. This is part of our PwnedList acquisition last summer. If your information was exposed and dumped or transferred within this blackmarket/hacker world, as it occurred in the case of Target, our PwnedList team acquires the data, consumes the file and alerts those individuals with whom we have a monitoring relationship. This is huge. CreditArmor monitors new credit account activity and our SNAPD monitoring is looking for other account transactions, utility accounts, wireless accounts, payday loans and money transfers, etc. Further, if a fraudster attempts to make a financial transfer leveraging our RSA high risk transaction KBA service, that attempted authentication would have triggered our subscriber to the fraudulent activity as well. Once this exposure is identified, you are alerted and our remediation team (PrivacyAdvocates) jumps into action. They are the clean-up crew that works to remediate issues and restore your identity. The unfortunate reality is that once an individual has been a victim, they are more likely to be victimized again and have continuing problems. Having a team of experts to rely on in this process is critical.
So, although we would not have prevented the Target breach, we would have been able to alert sooner, identify issues, and then remediate them as rapidly as possible, whether that is canceling and reissuing cards, placing fraud alerts, working with creditors, etc. Services such as PrivacyArmor are similar to a home security service for you identity. We can’t prevent everything, but we can alert you as early as possible to the emerging threat of fraud so that you can take action, hopefully, before something bad happens.
Maybe you lucked out and were not impacted lately by a data breach but you are worried about future data leaks. While data breaches are often not preventable by the victim, there are a few steps that you should take to prevent your information from being exposed for easy access:
- Be vigilant about checking accounts for suspicious activity
- Use unique passwords for each online account you have
- Be cautious about providing information to companies you don’t know as thieves may already have some of your personal details so don’t assume the call is genuine just for this reason alone
- Be careful what details you choose to share online within social media outlets
- Avoid saving your credit card number as a favorite when purchasing online. The fewer places your credit card number is stored online the better
You can protect yourself by watching accounts closely and using a company like ours to monitor your identity. If you have questions or believe that your identity has been compromised, please contact us at the number listed below.
We have become all too familiar with data breaches as a new one seemingly hits the front page every day. Just because it is common, does not mean you should be comfortable with data breaches.
If you have been notified that an account has been impacted by a data breach:
- Monitor your account daily for charges that are not yours and report unusual spending immediately
- Depending on the severity of the breach, you may decide to have a new card reissued to your account if your bank/card issuer has not done so already
- Look for signs of identity fraud like mail coming to your house or calls from collections companies on accounts that are not yours
- Be aware of suspicious emails and clicking on any links embedded in that email
Just because your information has been exposed in a data breach does not mean that you will be a victim of account fraud or identity theft but monitor your accounts closely! To learn more about identity monitoring and how it can protect you from fraud and data breaches, contact us at (800) 789-2720.
Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, make sure you’re aware of opportunities where a thief can steal your personal information this New Year’s. Here are some tips from the Identity Theft Resource Center to help you prevent Identity Fraud:
- Go through your wallet, purse and/or briefcase and remove your Social Security card, check book, deposit slips, birth certificate, credit card receipts, bills, extra credit cards, library card, or any unnecessary cards and put them in a locked safe at your home.
- Leave your debit card at home. Make credit cards, not ATM cards, your card of choice so that if you do become a victim of ID fraud it won’t affect your savings account.
- Place mail on “postal hold” with the Post Office if you are away for an extended amount of time. Confirm that mail can only be picked up by you and that identification must be shown at time of pickup.
- Stop delivery of newspapers and any other items that may pile up outside of your house, signaling an easy target.
- Make copies of your itinerary, passport data page, and driver’s license to leave with a trusted designated emergency contact.
Get protected today at www.infoarmor.com.
Source: Identity Theft Resource Center Fact Sheet #122