Archive for November, 2012

Woman accused in massive identity theft scam

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Florida woman formerly from the St. Louis area is accused of being the ringleader in an identity theft ring that tried to cheat the government out of nearly $1.5 million.

Federal prosecutors in St. Louis charged 27-year-old Tania Henderson of Wesley Chapel, Fla., on Tuesday, the same day that a search warrant was executed at her home. Authorities say they found cash, debit cards and personal identification information of several people.

The criminal complaint alleges that 191 fraudulent tax returns in the names of identity theft victims — both living and dead — were filed from a computer in Henderson’s home. The refunds, including some already paid, amounted to nearly $1.5 million.

Prosecutors say Henderson used a network of accomplices and would share proceeds with them.

Article source: http://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/article/Woman-accused-in-massive-identity-theft-scam-4073372.php

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Identity theft puts our very selves at risk

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Our government should lead the charge to protect the personal data of its people and educate the population about the dangers of identity theft.

We are an interconnected society. We already share a great deal (perhaps too much) data on social-media sites. We have online accounts; we carry plastic cards in a variety of flavors and colors. We are now in prime-time shopping season because of the impending holidays. It’s also prime-time for identity theft.

We are already constantly vulnerable to those who see opportunities for ill-gotten gain through the use of technology. The potential rises when there are a lot of shoppers, a lot of workers, perhaps a little bit of inattention and an opportunity. Victim at checkout three.

Add the twin hobgoblins of human error and bad luck, and you come across a story like this one from a recent New York Times. It’s a story with the lesson “told you so,” but there’s no satisfaction to be had in being proven right.

In 2007, Robert M. Nelson, an astronomer, and 27 other scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory sued NASA arguing that the space agency’s background checks of employees of government contractors were unnecessarily invasive and violated their privacy rights.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, the argument being that the checks could be an inroad to identity theft. The highest court in the land ruled on the government’s side. Already, we don’t like that.

Earlier this month, Nelson got a letter from

NASA saying that there had been a data breach and that his personal information might not be so personal or confidential anymore.

And that’s because a NASA laptop was stolen from a car. It was password-protected, but such protections are no guarantee of privacy, and data on the laptop included information on 10,000 space-agency employees. This was, in some cases, chapter-and-verse material – birth dates, Social Security numbes, details of background checks. Everything necessary for convenient identity theft.

This isn’t unusual, sadly. Millions of Americans have received notice of similar data breaches with potential theft ramifications. No segment of business is excepted, because every segment uses computers and data collection in its operations.

Through the years, banks, retailers, online sites, businesses of every size and type and other government agencies have all been hit by this. And it’s not the first time a stolen laptop has caused the fuss and bother.

Trouble is, NASA was warned as early as 2009 that its security really wasn’t up to snuff. But its data-collection policies nevertheless passed muster with the Supreme Court.

And the obvious result is that a mistake was made, and now Nelson joins the millions who have to watch their financial records like a hawk for any signs of pernicious activity. And be subjected to unnecessary worry. It’s not like he didn’t see it coming, but again, there’s no real satisfaction in being right in this case.

NASA isn’t alone among federal government agencies with ID theft snafus. The Securities and Exchange Commission had a potential breach not long ago when its data files were opened to a a contractor’s subcontractor – without SEC permission.

There is precious little to which we can lay claim of ownership. Property, even owned outright, is still a government rental so long as it is an object of taxation. We have land and material, but in many cases there are outstanding loans upon them that do not allow us to call these things “ours.”

But our selves, our own identities, are ours alone – unique and individual. There are times when our backgrounds and personal information are necessary to divulge. But to allow any business, any government agency, any employer, to gather, collate and store a full dossier of data is inherently dangerous and frankly unsettling. And, as we see time after time, there is no guarantee that the data will be used only for its original intent.

The best we as individuals can do is protect our information as well as possible. Think before you provide data; understand that anything provided may not remain solely in the hands of the entity to which it is provided. And some of those who might find the information will have malevolent intent. Never assume privacy. Not in this world. To do so can carry an unpayable price.

Article source: http://www.ldnews.com/opinion/ci_22080511/identity-theft-puts-our-very-selves-at-risk

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AltaOne Offers LifeLock Identity Protection Services

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

TEMPE, Ariz., Nov. 27, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — LifeLock, Inc. (www.lifelock.com), an industry leader in proactive identity theft protection, and AltaOne Federal Credit Union announced today that AltaOne will offer LifeLock’s identity theft protection services to AltaOne’s valued members. AltaOne combines more than 60 years’ of financial security options with LifeLock’s expert thought leadership with internationally recognized experts in privacy and security technologies, fraud, and criminal methods.

“At AltaOne we take protecting our members’ personal information seriously,” said Robert M. Boland, AltaOne President and CEO. “With LifeLock we are able to provide what we believe to be the best possible service to defend against identity theft with 24/7 proactive protection. During the holidays and all through the year our members deserve to have peace of mind knowing their identities are protected and that is exactly what this exciting partnership offers.”

The recently-launched relationship allows AltaOne’s more than 49,000 member base an opportunity to enroll in LifeLock identity theft protection at a reduced price. Members will also be able to conveniently pay for their award-winning identity theft protection membership through automatic deduction from their AltaOne checking account.

LifeLock membership will provide members with additional layers of identity theft protection through relentless identity monitoring and comprehensive recovery services. Identity theft is not only costly, but in the hands of a thief, personal information such as a name, address, Social Security number and date of birth can be used to open new lines of credit, drain savings accounts or even provide an alias when arrested.

“Our members have been our top priority since inception in 1947 and we are continuously advancing to provide them with nothing less than the best. We are committed to our community and know that our members will be in good hands with LifeLock and their award-winning customer service,” added Boland.

For more information on AltaOne Federal Credit Union please visit AltaOne.org.

LifeLock Contact:

480-457-2032

Media@lifelock.com

AltaOne Contact:

(760) 371-7066

Robert Aslanian

Manager, Marketing and Business Development


About LifeLock

LifeLock, Inc. (NYSE:LOCK), is a leading provider of proactive identity theft protection services for consumers and identity risk assessment and fraud protection services for enterprises. Since 2005, LifeLock has been relentlessly protecting identities by providing consumers with the tools and confidence they need to help protect themselves from identity theft and manage their credit. In October 2012, Javelin Strategy Research named LifeLock Ultimate™ a “Best in Class Overall” identity theft protection solution and also named it “Best in Detection”. In March 2012, LifeLock further demonstrated its commitment to combating identity fraud with the purchase of ID Analytics, Inc., a leader in enterprise identity risk management that provides visibility into identity risk and credit worthiness. ID Analytics, Inc. currently operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of LifeLock, Inc.

The LifeLock logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=9430




About
AltaOne


AltaOne Federal Credit Union has been a financial services provider since its inception in 1947 as the NOTS Employees Federal Credit Union. With over 49,000 members and $560 million in assets today, AltaOne provides a full range of financial services. Membership in AltaOne is available to people who live, work, worship, volunteer or attend school in Northern San Bernardino, Kern, Mono and Inyo Counties in California.

This information was brought to you by Cisionhttp://www.cisionwire.com
http://www.cisionwire.com/lifelock/r/altaone-offers-lifelock-identity-protection-services,c9340764


Source: LifeLock

Article source: http://www.nasdaq.com/article/altaone-offers-lifelock-identity-protection-services-20121127-00099

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NBC Charlotte helps identity theft victim keep the power on

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

FORT LAWN, S.C. — Hugh and Clydeanne Mauldin run the Harmony Hills Nursery in Chester County. Both retired, it’s the way they get money to pay the bills.

Back in October, Clydeanne noticed a strange and overdue account had been added onto their Duke Energy bill.

“I called and she said it was for a restaurant in Lancaster called The Patio,” explained Clydeanne, “I don’t have anything to do with any restaurants, let alone The Patio.” 

Lancaster County Sheriff’s deputies confirmed Hugh Mauldin’s nephew owned the now-closed restaurant. 

“Apparently this young man stole my husband’s social security number and opened the account,” she explained. The Mauldins sent the police case report numbers to Duke Energy to confirm the identity theft. 

“But the notices kept coming. I asked her ‘why, since he did it without our permission with a stolen social security number, they were still making us pay?’ She said because he was related to us we’re responsible for the charges and account–even though we were the victims of identity theft,” said Clydeanne.

The Mauldins claim they don’t have the money to pay the more than $1700 owed by the fraudulent account. Duke Energy continued to send disconnection notices, stating if they didn’t pay by 5 P.M. Tuesday, power to the greenhouses would be cut.

“The plants will all die if we don’t have power to heat the greenhouses in the cold,” explained Hugh.

NBC Charlotte contacted Duke Energy about the Mauldin’s situation.  After hearing the story, the company investigated.

Paige Layne, with Duke Energy media relations, admitted they “dropped the ball” with the Mauldin’s account.  She said the confusion occurred because the Mauldins’ contacted police before filing a fraud complaint with Duke, so the fraud packet was never sent to the customer. 

Layne explained since there was no paperwork indicating the Mauldins were victims of fraud, the computer did not flag the account. She added Duke Energy does not have a policy holding customers responsible for a family member if they open fraudulent accounts, but it does investigate every claim, independent of police investigations.

She speculated the customer service representatives assumed that was the reason the company had not taken action to erase the charges.

After speaking with NBC Charlotte, Duke Energy put a stop on the disconnection and began taking the proper steps to erase the fraudulent charges on the Mauldin’s account.

“I shouldn’t have to pay for Duke Energy’s mistake. They shouldn’t let people open accounts over the phone without checking to make sure they are who they say they are,” said Hugh.

Article source: http://www.wcnc.com/news/editors-pick/NBC-Charlotte-helps-identity-theft-victim-keep-the-power-on-181069141.html

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Good, Old-Fashioned Theft Still Tops Cyber Crime

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — When it comes to getting fleeced financially, are the Internet and mobile devices getting a bad rap?

Apparently so, if you ask analysts at Travelers (TRV), the Hartford, Conn.-based insurance giant.

Travelers is out with a fresh look at identity fraud cases concluding it’s not online or mobile devices that fuel most fraud cases but just old-fashioned “offline methods” such as burglary, stolen wallets and stolen identifications leading to most financial fraud crimes.

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Such offline crimes account for 73% of all fraud cases, Travelers says, a number culled from its own database of fraud claims data. Online or data breach crimes accounted for only 15% of claims cases.

Far and away, stolen wallets and pocketbooks are the leading trigger to identity theft. Stolen driver’s licenses or Social Security cards are the second-most common cause of I.D. theft; burglaries ranked third; and in fourth was cyber breaches, which have received significantly more media attention in the past few years.

There’s a lesson in those figures, Travelers says.

Something as innocuous as hanging on to your wallet may be your best prevention against financial fraud with building a cyber-firewall against I.D. thieves on your mobile device having a lesser role.

“When everyday essentials like wallets or drivers licenses are stolen or go missing, identity fraud often follows,” says Joe Reynolds, identity fraud product manager at Travelers. “Credit cards, drivers licenses and other sources of personal information enable criminals to commit a fraud or crime, all in your name.”

Reynolds says that perhaps the best protection, past hanging tight to your wallet or pocketbook, is checking your monthly bank and credit card statements. “People are not always aware that someone is illegally using their identity until suspicious activity appears on their monthly financial statement,” he says. “It is critical that consumers closely review these monthly documents and remember to immediately call the bank if they suspect fraudulent activity.”

What else can consumers do? Reynolds and Travelers have a few thoughts:

  • Emphasize the essentials. Carry credit cards or a Social Security card as little as possible. Leave them at home in a lockbox or safe when possible.
  • Be alert. Beware of unsolicited requests, even from charities that tug at your heartstrings. Scammers are all about getting your financial data, so don’t share it with anyone — or any organization — you don’t know.
  • Shred. Destroy old bills or invoices (and definitely don’t carry them around with you). If you toss them whole in the trash, be warned that fraudsters aren’t above rooting through it to get your credit card number.
  • Check your credit score. Always know your score. Ideally, check it at least once per month. You can get a free credit score at AnnualCreditReport.com.

But the most basic tip: Emphasize an old-fashioned approach to identity protection and keep a close eye on your wallet and pocketbook.

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Article source: http://www.thestreet.com/story/11776895/1/good-old-fashioned-theft-still-tops-cyber-crime.html

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It’s federal prison for ID thief

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

ALBANY — A Hudson woman who belonged to a brazen identity-theft ring that stole personal information from medical facilities across the country was sentenced Monday to 2 years and four months in federal prison.

Stephanie Faulkner, 23, was part of a crew that stole names, dates and Social Security numbers of victims to get their bank and credit card information, then created fake identifications to bilk businesses into selling them high-end purchases.

Faulkner — identified in court papers as a mother of five children — scammed stores into selling her jewelry, flat-screen TVs, leather goods and expensive gift cards, authorities said.

Faulkner shopped at stores where she knew victims held accounts. She would then gather what she wanted to buy and claim to cashiers she had lost her store credit card. Because she had the victims’ information, stores would extend her credit, authorities said.

Among the locations was the Sears store in Colonie Center.

Faulkner pleaded guilty in March to one count of aggravated identity theft, which carried a mandatory two-year sentence, and another count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, which brought her the additional four months, prosecutors said.

Faulkner admitted she schemed to steal personal information, create phony documents, falsely obtain credit cards from stores in the victims’ names and then make large purchases of merchandise or gift cards, according to her plea agreement.

“The defendant played a significant role in using the confidential identity information of a variety of victims to fraudulently obtain merchandise and things of value without paying for them,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Belliss, the most recent prosecutor on the case, informed Chief U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe in a presentencing memorandum.

The prosecutor noted the purchases were not limited to “an isolated incident or “small-ticket items,” but several fraudulent buys over several months exceeding $17,800.

Although Faulkner used the identity of three victims in her purchases, investigators found nine phony documents in her apartment with victims’ name that had her photo attached and were “undoubtedly intended for use in the identity-theft fraud scheme,” Belliss wrote.

Her attorney, George Baird, argued in court papers that Faulkner was an “end user” of counterfeit devices produced by other people.

Faulkner was ordered to pay $17,615 in restitution.

Article source: http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/It-s-federal-prison-for-ID-thief-4067935.php

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Police: Surprise packages indicate stolen identity

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

St. Charles police received two reports of identity theft in the past week after information was stolen to create a line of credit to order items online.

In both incidents, the residents learned of the line of credit after they received a package they did not order delivered to their home, police said. One was an Apple Mac Book laptop and the other was an iPhone.

After they received the items, the residents called the company that shipped the packages and learned someone had established a new line of credit in their names to purchase the items, and they were sent to the address associated with the account, police said.

Investigators believe whoever created the lines of credit were hoping to intercept delivery and collect the packages before the residents returned home.

Police urge residents to call 911 if they receive a package they did not order, before returning it to the company. The residents in these incidents did not do so, police said.

Police also offer additional tips as ways to protect from identity theft.

  • Shred any trash containing personal information.
  • Occasionally check your credit reports with the three credit bureaus.
  • Notify police and credit card companies, banks and social security office if a purse or wallet is stolen.
  • Never respond to emails that look like legitimate requests from financial institutions to verify usernames, passwords and other information.

Anyone with questions or concerns can request an Identity Theft Victim Packet at the St. Charles Police Department.

kthayer@tribune.com

Twitter: @TribLocal

Article source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/st_charles/chi-st-charles-identity-theft-20121126,0,1479535.story

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Where Identity Thieves are Now Living

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

While you are out shopping, dining, traveling and celebrating this holiday season, you should keep this not-so-jolly fact in mind: there are thousands of your fellow Americans working to steal your identity. And here’s the really scary part: You might even know some of them. In fact, they could be the family next door.

Identity theft has gone mainstream. While a substantial amount of identity theft is still being operated by organized crime groups in major cities such as New York, Detroit, Washington, D.C. and Tampa, the number of scammers operating in rural America has also exploded.

Identifying Identity Thieves

In an effort to discover who is behind the scams and where they are operating, consumer risk management company ID Analytics in San Diego, maker of the software behind fraud protection services such as LifeLock and a half dozen others(1), examined roughly 1.7 billion “identity risk events.” Examples include applications for short-term payday loans, new credit card accounts, utility services and credit cards, which are among the most common strategies ID thieves use to hijack financial identities. 

The study also flagged accounts where information such as an individual’s name, date of birth, address or Social Security number was changed, since these are often a tip-off that a criminal is attempting to steal your identity by slightly altering one or two pieces of personal information. For instance, opening a credit card account using your real name and Social Security number, but requesting that statements be sent to your “new” address which, of course, turns out to be their thieve’s mailbox.

Location, Location, Location

In three and a half years of research, ID Analytics determined that there are at least 10,000 identity fraud rings operating in the United States. 

“When you look at where the fraudsters are, they tend to live in urban locations, where there’s a higher likelihood they can act without being noticed,” says Stephen Coggeshall, chief technology officer. In addition, densely-populated areas offer more opportunities to steal your neighbor’s mail, including letters containing sensitive information (your Social Security check, for instance) or credit card applications.

But Coggeshall says the surprise was that in addition to cities, the research uncovered “this belt, a swath of badness going [through rural counties] from Virginia through North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, the Florida panhandle, Mississippi and into Texas.” Take a look at the map below. Keep in mind that these areas also have a high correlation to tax and other types of fraud, as well.

Source: ID Analytics

Strange Relations

Not only was the location of identity theft rings unexpected, so were the players. “I thought we’d be seeing professional groups and those with Mafia connections,” admits Coggeshall. “We were surprised to find just as many were mom and pop operations. The neighbors next door.”

That’s right. Identity theft is often a family affair involving parents, children and siblings. In one case, five members of the same family- ranging in age from 24 to 37- ran a theft operation out of Florida for three years. They “filed at least 130 fraudulent applications, using more than eight Social Security numbers and 11 dates of birth during that time period.” In some cases, different families are “working together in fraud rings, even using each other’s Social Security numbers” and trading dates of birth, changing one piece of data and hoping to fly under the radar, undetected, says Coggeshall.

Even more common than rings comprised of related individuals are those made up of groups of friends. That is, people with different last names.

Connecting the Dots

By uncovering and understanding the relationships between identity thieves, Coggeshall says ID Analytics can refine its software to prevent its customers- banks, utility providers, cell phone companies, credit card issuers and individual consumers- from becoming victims. While it’s common knowledge that when you fill out an application for credit- from a bank, credit card company, car dealer, retail store, etc., the credit provider checks your credit score. What you probably don’t know is that, according to Coggeshall, they also check your fraud score to see if it’s likely that identity theft is involved. “We invented those fraud scores,” he says.

To determine if fraud might be involved, ID Analytics cross-checks each credit request submitted against more than a billion credit card, cell phone, and retail credit accounts and applications, linking them by Social Security number, address, phone number and other identifying information. “We look for strangeness,” explains Coggeshall, things like different Social Security numbers associated with the same address or an application for credit using the same name, but a different Social Security number and/or dates of birth.  “We can send back the fraud score in less than one second.”

Why Should You Care?

In light of the fact that there are laws that limit the amount you’re liable for if someone fraudulently opens an account in your name, you might be wondering why you need to be concerned. Just ask the victims whose financial and private lives have been destroyed because their Social Security number is tied to an account with an outstanding balance of $15,000 that has gone into collection.

“That bad credit is linked to you,” says Coggeshall. “They’ve used your name and information, run up a bunch of charges. [Creditors] are going to be coming to you to collect.” In addition, there may be crimes associated with your name if an ID thief gets a driver’s license in your name and has an accident. 

Clearing your name and credit history can be a nightmare and can prevent you from getting the mortgage you need or even the job you’re applying for. Though your chances of being victimized by identity theft are relatively low, “when it happens, it’s a tremendous hardship,” says Coggeshall.

Even if you’re never directly by this crime, you’re paying for it because banks, retailers, and other credit issuers pass the cost along to their good customers.

An Ounce of Prevention….

To protect yourself, Coggeshall says it’s critical to carefully control your “personal identifying information”- Social Security number, name, address, phone number, date of birth and email address.

He strongly advises subscribing to an I.D. theft protection service that will alert you if something suspicious comes up. For free check on how likely it is that you could become a victim of identity fraud visit this website owned and operated by ID Analytics. After you enter key personal information (Social Security number is optional), you will receive a score between 1 and 999. The higher your number, the higher your risk. (Mine was 293, which is considered “low risk.”)

Despite with this added layer of protection, you need to be constantly on guard. Remember those ads on TV and in newspapers where LifeLock(1) owner Todd Davis gave out his own Social Security number to demonstrate how confident he was in the protection his company offered? He’s stopped doing those ads because scammers started taking him up on the challenge. Which is why, even with a score of 293, I’m not taking any chances.

My (Early) New Year’s Resolution

From now on I’m going to start questioning why every doctor or dentist visit requires me to fill out (yet another) form with my most personal information on it, including my Social Security number.  What happens to that piece of paper once I had it back to the receptionist? Sure, there are laws that require my medical provider to protect this information. Big deal! Have you ever seen the walls of patient files that line your doctor’s office? What would prevent a member of the crew that cleans the office from copying a few pages? Maybe someone has a brother who knows someone who will pay money for this kind of information. What if my form just ends up in the trash?  

One more thing. I’m going to be better at checking every single item on my credit card statements. “Look for charges you don’t recognize,” says Coggeshall. “Even if it’s just for a small amount, like $2.31. There have been schemes where millions of people were charged small amounts.” Let’s see, 1,000,000 x $2.31….. 

 

1. ID Analytics is a subsidiary of LifeLock.

Ms. Buckner is a Retirement and Financial Planning Specialist and an instructor in Franklin Templeton Investments’ global Academy. The views expressed in this article are only those of Ms. Buckner or the individual commentator identified therein, and are not necessarily the views of Franklin Templeton Investments, which has not reviewed, and is not responsible for, the content. 

If you have a question for Gail Buckner and the Your $ Matters column, send them to: yourmoneymatters@gmail.com, along with your name and phone number.

Article source: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/11/26/how-to-keep-your-identity-safe-this-holiday-season/

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Identity Theft, Theft Top Recent Manchester Crimes

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

The following information was supplied by the Manchester Police Department. It does not indicate a conviction where an arrest was made.

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Nov. 15: 300 block Enchanted Parkway

Identity Theft: Detectives are investigating afte a resident reported a loan was taken out using the victim’s personal information.  

Nov. 15: 100 block Highlands Boulevard Drive

Stealing: Store staff reported the theft of two bottles of perfume valued at $75.

Nov. 18: 200 block Highlands Boulevard Drive

Stealing: The Manchester Highlands Walmart reported two people were observed stealing baby formula.

Anyone with information on these crimes is asked to contact the Manchester Police Department at 636-527-9200.

Anonymous tips can be made to the St. Louis Regional CrimeStoppers at 866-317-TIPS (8477).  

*Please contact Local Editor Gabrielle Biondo with any questions regarding the above reports.


Article source: http://townandcountry-manchester.patch.com/articles/identity-theft-manchester-police-blotter-st-louis-crime

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Cyber Monday: Tips to Avoid Identity Theft, Online Scams

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

CyberMonday is just around the corner, and more people do their holiday shopping online today in ever-growing numbers.

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But there are risks to online shopping — risks that require the shopper to be savvy to potential threats.

IDentity Theft 911, which provides identity management and data risk management services, offers these tips on how online consumers can protect themselves against online scams and identity theft.

Top tips include:

  • Shop on secure sites with “https” in the address bar and a yellow padlock logo to the right of the Web browser address bar. Double-click on the lock to see a digital certificate of the website. Review these certificates on unfamiliar sites.
  • Enter correct URLs. Hackers often buy misspelled domains to trick people into entering personal information.
  • Never enter your Social Security number or passwords to email and bank accounts as part of the buying process with online retailers.
  • Use different passwords for online retailers, personal email and banks accounts. If a hacker cracks one password, he won’t have access to others.
  • Read site reviews before making any purchases. Pricegrabber.com compares prices and users’ comments on retail websites.Google Product Search, slickdeals.net and dealnews.com monitor retailers, site performance, possible issues and deals.
  • Never save personal information on an online retail website. Retailers will offer convenience and better deals, but many customer databases are breached by identity thieves. It’s not worth the risk.
  • Read website return and privacy policies before making purchases. If there’s any doubt about fairness, find another site.
  • Be aware of phishing email scams that include website links advertising incredible deals. Don’t click on them. Type the link directly into your browser.
  • Use credit cards, not debit cards. Try to use credit cards with low limits to minimize the damage if a thief takes over the account. Or, use a “one-time” credit card number from payment processors such as PayPal.
  • Never link a bank account to an online pay service such as PayPal. Hackers could break into the PayPal account and drain money from the linked bank account.
  • Never send payment information via regular email. It’s not secure. Make sure all personal information transactions are done on a secure site.
  • Uncheck boxes advertising “additional offers.” These services are sometimes offered for a low initial fee that later increases to a high, recurring charge on your credit card. Also, they’ll issue your contact information to spammers.
  • Secure mobile phones used for shopping. Back them up regularly and enable security features such as power on password and inactivity time lock. Learn how to clear browser caches and, if available, enable data encryption and antivirus applications.
  • As always, install and update antivirus, anti-malware and firewall software on your computer. Update its operating system and Internet browser with the latest security patches.

SOURCE: IDentity Theft 911

Article source: http://naperville.patch.com/articles/cyber-monday-tips-to-avoid-identity-theft-online-scams-80315114

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