Archive for August, 2015

Maui woman sentenced for mail and identity theft

Monday, August 31st, 2015
maui-island

Senior District Judge Helen Gillmor sentenced 42-year-old Maui resident Davelyn Mahi Thursday to six years imprisonment of 72 months for aggravated identity theft and theft of mail.

The Court also sentenced Mahi to a term of one year of community confinement following her release from custody to assist the United States Probation Office in supervising her, and ordered her to pay $8,551.03 in restitution.

Evidence showed that Mahi stole hundreds of mail items and recovered credit cards and other property over at least a six-month period, which she then used to fraudulently purchase thousands of dollars worth of goods.

Mahi’s 230 prior arrests and 36 prior convictions were substantial factors supporting the Court’s decision to impose a sentence of imprisonment above the maximum sentence advised by the United States Sentencing Guidelines.

Article source: http://khon2.com/2015/08/28/maui-woman-sentenced-for-mail-and-identity-theft/

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Niall Horan Identity Theft? Plays Irish Charity Soccer Game

Monday, August 31st, 2015

On occasion, fans will do a double-take when they see someone that reminds them of Niall Horan — but is there a whole other person named “Niall Horan” or is Niall the victim of identity theft?

As it appears, either Niall Horan is a time traveler or there is another person in this world with the exact same name as Niall. On the other hand, there could be a third reason that Niall Horan mysteriously appeared at a soccer game in Ireland on the same day he was playing concerts in North America — and it does not involve illegal identity theft.

Naturally, this is not the first time that someone has been mistaken for Niall Horan. Adding to the long list of doppelgängers, there are also people who are imitating Niall Horan on purpose.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, there are several Niall Horan impersonators out there, and the “Niall Horan” of Mexico is particularly popular. Along those lines, SugarScape reported on December 16, 2014, that there are even girls that look like Niall Horan.

Being a person that looks like Niall Horan is not always fun and the Mirror reported on June 4, 2014, that Niall Horan’s U.K. lookalike had to be rescued at a One Direction concert. The trouble began because fans were convinced the doppelgänger was the real Niall Horan.

However, there are no obvious search engine results about an Irish person that shares Niall Horan’s name. Regardless, a Limerick Leader report from August 26 suggests that either Niall Horan has the quickest airplane ever made — or there is another person named Niall Horan.

According to their report, the second Niall Horan was participating in a charity soccer game in Coonagh, Ireland. Called the Limerick Charity Cup, the quarterfinal clash was between the Shannon and Old Crescent football/soccer clubs.

Sadly, the Shannon FC that the other Niall Horan was a part of lost the game and this Niall Horan was not mentioned in the writeup as scoring a major goal. Nevertheless, when the football/soccer players were listed at the bottom of the article, Niall Horan’s name clearly appears.

Allegedly, Niall Horan was in attendance — but the dates simply do match up with his tour schedule. For example, according to the Limerick Leader, the charity soccer game in Ireland took place on August 25. At that time, Niall Horan was performing thousands of miles away with One Direction in Milwaukee.

Could there be a second Niall Horan in Ireland — or is there another explanation? One other possible reason a second Niall Horan was mentioned online could be nothing more than an easy-to-make spellcheck error by the writer — or a Freudian slip by a true 1D fan.

[Feature image via Jason Merritt/Getty Images]

Article source: http://www.inquisitr.com/2377149/niall-horan-identity-theft-plays-irish-charity-soccer-game/

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10 ways college students can fight ID theft

Monday, August 31st, 2015

College is a time of eye-opening experiences, opportunities and challenges. So why let an identity thief ruin it?

Identity theft is something you might not know is even happening until you try to apply for a loan or a credit card and get turned down, find that money has trickled out of your bank account, get refused for an apartment lease or file your income tax return online to discover someone else already did in order to steal your refund.

In 2014, it was the No. 1 problem reported to the Federal Trade Commission, which received 332,646 complaints, up from 290,099 a year earlier.

College students who grew up with computers but are still learning the ways of finance can leave themselves open to identity theft.

“When people go to college today, they are independent for the first time,” said Rod Griffin, director of public education for Experian, a credit-reporting agency. “They are wide open. They tend to be very trusting and that poses risks for them.”

According to a study by Javelin Strategy Research, 22% of students were notified that they were a victim of identity fraud either by a debt collector or when they were denied credit, three times higher than average fraud victims.

Campus life has its own challenges.

“Sometimes when people arrive on campus, they can be overwhelmed with the new location, new friendships, meeting people,” said William McElrath, Monmouth University’s police chief. “They sometimes forget the normal procedures that they might have taken when they were home.”

Here are 10 really important things to remember. Get the highlighter out and clip this.

• Buy a shredder. Use it for any mail or paperwork that contains personal information, such as your name, or financial details.

“If it has your name on it, shred it if you are going to get rid of it,” Griffin said. “ID thieves go through the trash and they find documents and they are off to the races.”

• Use a lockbox to store personal documents and valuables in your room. When you’re at college, you are surrounded by people you don’t know.

“Don’t walk around campus with your Social Security card,” said Karen Goff, assistant provost and dean of students at Georgian Court University in Lakewood, N.J. “If you lose your wallet, you’ve lost critical information that can unlock all sorts of information about you personally.”

Take Logaina Elattar’s advice. The Georgian Court senior has memorized her Social Security number. “I just keep (the card) at home. I don’t keep it with me,” said Elattar, 21.

• Have strong, unique passwords for your computer and any online websites, such as your bank or shopping sites.

“Obviously, you don’t want it to be abc1234,” said Melissa Companick, president and chief executive officer of the Better Business Bureau of New Jersey. A good password has a combination of upper and lower case letters, characters and numbers.

And don’t put your passwords on a piece of paper tacked next to your computer. “If you need to keep a list of them, keep them locked up and secured somewhere,” Companick said.

Password managers, such as Dashlane, are helpful as well.

• Don’t share your passwords with anyone. Not even your best friend. “No matter how close you are with someone, it is not best to share your password with people,” Goff said.

A college’s internal website, such as those that allow for communication between students and professors or have details about tuition bills or financial aid, contain important personal information, so keep that password private as well.

• Lock your dorm door. It sounds simple, but it will prevent a crime of opportunity, McElrath reminded Press on Your Side. Griffin added: “Instead of stealing your stereo, today they steal your identification documents and credit-card numbers.”

• Make sure your smartphone or tablet computer is protected with a passcode. These devices contain all sorts of personal information. “Obviously, we are in a mobile world, we are connected all the time,” Companick said.

• Beware of browsing the web on unsecured wi-fi networks. Scammers can tap into your activity. Make sure you log off of computers, networks and websites after you’re done browsing.

• Be wary of email scams. Fraudsters will try to net your personal information by sending out phishing emails that look like legitimate messages from your telephone company, bank or other people you do business with.

Don’t click on links in emails or open attachments, or give out personal information to people who call on the telephone. “Don’t respond to those things,” McElrath said.

• Check your bank and credit card statements regularly. “Online banking makes it easy,” Companick said. Obtain your free credit report and check it for inaccuracies.

• Don’t share your credit card or debit card, Goff said. It doesn’t matter if it’s just to a person to get you something at the store or cafe.

Article source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2015/08/29/ways-college-students-can-fight-theft/71402230/

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ID-theft-protection industry is like a protection racket

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

After writing often about identity theft mostly as a consumer nightmare, it dawned on me recently why I find the topic irksome as well as scary. It’s the role of the $3 billion-a-year ID-theft-protection industry – which includes companies that sell credit monitoring as “protection” from a crime that, wearing another hat, they fuel.

Confused? Ask yourself why it’s harder for you to get $200 of your own money from an ATM near a store’s entrance than it is for a fraudster to get $500 in instant credit using your name at checkout.

One of those requires you to know a PIN – a secret code that provides basic, antifraud protection. The other only requires the store to buy access to your credit score, based on records about you held at the Big Three credit bureaus. Unless you’ve imposed a “security freeze” on your file, which the credit agencies are required by state laws to offer, there’s no PIN required.

Could a freeze be the default for us all? Sure, but it won’t happen unless we demand it. Too many people make too much money from a system that Ed Mierzwinski of U.S. PIRG likens to a protection racket. “The difference is that if you pay the mob for protection, they don’t burn down your store,” he says. “If you pay for credit monitoring, it doesn’t stop identity theft.

My modest proposal today is a bit of counter-spin. Let’s rename the crime “credit theft,” which is what it usually is, and point a finger at what drives it: the profits to be made from our overly loose system of frictionless lending.

This is my last column for The Inquirer, after 40 years in the news business and nearly two decades covering consumer issues, so it’s a good time to focus on the big picture.

Since launching this column in 2001, I have aimed to write about the world from a consumer’s viewpoint – and, as one of my editors put it, to “stand for people getting a fair shake.”

The idea was that business writers tend to focus on movers and shakers, and on who’s making money, rather than on who’s spending it or getting hurt by what they buy. We’re also likely to overlook evidence that people are being tricked into spending or into paying more than they would in a competitive, transparent market. My job was to focus where others didn’t.

Thankfully, competition usually keeps businesses on their toes. But when it’s lacking – when you can’t vote with your feet or learn you’ve been misled – you often have reason to squawk.

That’s surely why many of today’s complaints seem like hardy perennials.

Then, as now, people got burned by credit-file errors, a problem mitigated only a bit when Congress made credit agencies send a free annual report to anyone who asked. But the underlying problem is that the Big Three are an oligopoly – and, even worse, one you can’t walk away from. Except when pitching things such as credit scores or monitoring, they don’t really consider you a customer – their main business is selling data about you to others.

Is it a wonder I still hear complaints about cable companies? Not when they still face little or no competition, which is why they can raise prices at twice the rate of inflation – in Philly, it’s the Comcast Tax – and insist you buy vast bundles of channels for the few you want. Until things change, consumers will gripe.

Some problems do get fixed – often thanks to pressure from consumers and scrappy groups such as Mierzwinski’s that advocate on their behalf.

Early on, I wrote a lot about trickery in credit cards – particularly terms allowing lenders to charge big penalties and to impose sky-high rates if you missed a payment, even to another creditor. The trend’s apotheosis was the we-can-do-whatever-the-heck-we-want clause, allowing lenders to shift terms “at any time, for any reason.”

The lawyers who wrote that likely laughed all the way to the bank – until it was finally declared unfair and deceptive after the Crash of ’08. That crisis also led to creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has shown its moxie by making banks repay billions for past misdeeds and by working to nip new ones in the bud. Beware politicians who insist the CFPB needs to be knocked down to size. They’re not protecting you.

Other stories showed how regulators can help markets run more fairly and efficiently – especially when they can bypass unwise deregulatory faith and the Libertarian-hued, anti-government extremism now dominating the GOP. We don’t need less regulation or more regulation, just to be smarter about it.

During the Clinton years, for instance, Congress and the Federal Communications Commission backed “number portability” – the idea that you, not the phone carrier you first got it from, own the rights to your number.

Wireless carriers twice won delays. Then, hoping President Bush’s FCC would see it their way, they pushed to postpone it again – forever. “Regulatory overkill,” Verizon huffed.

Bush’s FCC did the right thing, choosing to protect competition rather than carriers who wanted to use your phone number to lock you in. And Inquirer readers likely helped.

Hundreds answered my informal survey asking a question raised by Verizon’s petition: whether they’d want carriers to spend $1 billion on portability, or that same $1 billion to fix dead spots. Nine of 10 said they’d prefer to be able to keep a number and switch. Portability has paid off lately for some as John Legere, T-Mobile’s iconoclastic CEO, has broken ranks in his own overly concentrated industry to challenge some of its worst practices.

One recent thing is how social media can amplify consumers’ voices – and extend the reach of such wits as HBO’s John Oliver, who helped push the FCC this year to reclassify broadband as telecommunications, in order to protect Net neutrality and an open Internet.

My parting advice? Watch your bills and statements – you never know what might appear. Holler if you or others are wronged – to businesses, to regulators, to Congress, and to journalists. And keep reading newspapers – with my thanks for sticking with this one.

Forty years ago, I began a career at a paper whose platform, penned by Joseph Pulitzer Jr., warned of the twin dangers of “predatory plutocracy and predatory poverty.” We all still know the signs of predatory poverty: homelessness, illiteracy, drug abuse, broken families. We’re more likely to miss predatory plutocracy. All too often, it’s just business as usual.

Good luck to you all.


jgelles@phillynews.com

215-854-2776 @jeffgelles

www.philly.com/consumer


Article source: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150830_ID-theft-protection_industry_is_like_a_protection_racket.html

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Ways to Protect Students and Families from Identity Theft

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

NORTH CAROLINA — It may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to student safety this school year, but identity theft is a problem that children are much more likely to face than their parents.

A recent report from AARP shows students are 51 times more likely than their parents to be victims of identity theft.

The report says college students are especially vulnerable, and are subject to lose more money and take longer to discover the fraud when they are victims.

Experts recommend a few key strategies to help safeguard the whole family.

Mark Hanson, a spokesman for the IRS, said families can avoid data-stealing software online by visiting secure websites and keeping anti-virus protection up-to-date. He also recommends being cautious with social security numbers.

“You can certainly do yourself a favor by using that number smartly, providing it only when absolutely necessary, and making sure you’re doing everything you can on your end to protect your sensitive personal financial information,” he said.

AARP offers other tips here.

If you suspect you or a family member is the victim of identity theft, contact local law enforcement immediately.

Article source: http://www.twcnews.com/nc/triad/news/2015/08/29/ways-to-protect-students-and-families-from-identity-theft.html

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Ashley Madison Users Face Threats of Blackmail and Identity Theft

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

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Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/28/technology/ashley-madison-users-face-threats-of-blackmail-and-identity-theft.html

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Students need early lesson on identity theft

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

If you’re an adult, it’s bad enough. If you’re a student, you are more than 50 times as likely to be the target for identity theft.

Sid Kirchheimer, who covers consumer issues for the AARP Bulletin, noted that students “lose more money and take longer to discover their identity theft than any other age group. And with forms, dorms and other threats, a new school year is especially risky.”

In the first half of this year, universities and school districts have exposed 740,000 records, according to the Theft Resource Center.

Kirchheimer warned parents and students to guard their Social Security numbers. Youth soccer leagues and other sports may ask for them, even for children, said Kirchheimer, but there is usually no legal right to ask for it.

Parents should advise their youngsters to not provide information on social media sites. Information such as birth dates shouldn’t be posted. And while posting a pet’s name may seem innocent enough, those names often are used as passwords or the answers to security questions by young children.

Credit cards used by students should be regularly monitored, Kirchheimer advised. Most students don’t bother. If a parent is also listed on the card, he or she can set up an account to monitor the activity.

Here’s a tip: A free credit report — the only free report created by federal law — can be had at www.freecreditreport.com. A credit report can be obtained once a year from the nation’s three credit-rating agencies. Ask for one every four months from a different agency, and you’ll have nearly current credit information free — all year long.

Unsolicited credit cards should be shredded. Paperwork from credit-card companies that is no longer needed for record keeping should also be shredded. To be removed from offers of preapproved credit cards, visit www.optoutprescreen.com.

Parents should tell their children the dangers on clicking on links for free games, music apps, and other lures. Malware and keystroke loggers may hide within. Kirchheimer offers three pointers for parents:

1. Carefully read website addresses. Stay with well-known, trusted names.

2. Type website addresses; don’t simply click on a link provided in an email or on a website.

3. Hover over the link with the mouse pointer. The actual URL for the website should appear. Ignore it if it’s a hodgepodge of numbers and letters, or it doesn’t match the name of the company or person connected with it.

Kirchheimer also reminded parents that a student’s dorm room can be just as vulnerable as their computer. Make sure bank accounts, checkbooks, credit-card statements and other documents are kept in a locked filing cabinet or fire safe. “Ideally,” he added, “sensitive documents, including credit card statements, should be mailed to the parents’ home or a post office box. Dorm and apartment mailboxes may not be secure.”

In other words, before students go off to get an education, make sure they get an education.

— Contact Lonnie Brown at ledgerdatabase@aol.com.

Article source: http://www.theledger.com/article/20150828/NEWS/150829395

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IRS needs to do more to fight income tax identity theft

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

Although the end of summer is not generally a time when people give much thought to income taxes, much has been happening on the income tax identity theft front during recent days. Income tax identity theft continues to be a major problem with the General Accountability Office (GAO) estimating annual losses due to income tax identity theft at close to 6 billion dollars annually.

The concept of income tax identity theft is simple. An identity thief obtains your name and Social Security number and files a phony income tax return, usually with a counterfeit W-2 and gets a large refund payment from the IRS.

Income tax identity theft is easy to do and everyone is getting in on the action. Recently 32 members of the Long Beach, Calif. Insane Crip gang were charged with stealing 3 million dollars through income tax identity theft while in Elizabeth, N.J., 14 gang members were arrested and charged with a range of offenses including income tax identity theft and counterfeiting W-2s. Earlier this Spring, a Florida grand jury indicted 23 members of the Latin Kings gang on various charges including identity theft, which they are accused of doing in at least 39 states.

Meanwhile the IRS recently announced that the hacking of its “Get Transcript” program which they had originally disclosed in May was far worse than originally reported. While originally, the IRS stated that 104,000 people were affected by the data breach, the IRS is now saying that the number of people affected is 330,000. As a result of the data breach, the IRS paid more than 50 million dollars in fraudulent returns filed using the stolen information.

The “Get Transcript” program enables taxpayers to get copies of their federal income tax returns from previous years. The IRS closed the online “Get Transcript” service when it became aware that vulnerabilities in the system resulted in hackers attacking the system from mid-February until May posing as legitimate taxpayers and getting copies of income tax returns which contained information that would enable the hacker to commit income tax identity theft.

The problem with the system was in the authentication process used by the IRS to limit access to this information to the taxpayer who is seeking his or her own income tax return. In many instances, the verification information could be gathered by a diligent hacker from public data bases, social media and data breaches.

In response to this data breach a proposed class action has been filed on behalf of the victims. According to Richard McCune, one of the lawyers who filed the lawsuit, “As custodians of taxpayer information, the IRS has failed in its obligation to protect the personal and sensitive information of hundreds of thousands of taxpayers, their spouses and families. Furthermore, the breach and theft occurred after repeated warnings over the course of several years regarding the lax computer security system.”

So what has the IRS been doing? The IRS has just issued final and temporary regulations that will go into effect two years from now that will remove the automatic thirty-day extension of time for employers to file W-2s in an effort to reduce income tax identity theft. Under the law, employers who file paper W-2s must file their W-2s on the last day of February and if they file electronically, they must file the W-2s on March 31st, so the new regulations will prevent employers from extending those deadlines automatically to the end of March and the end of April depending upon whether they employer is filing W-2s by paper or electronically.

However, the regulation is utterly useless and ineffective because under the present law, when an employer files W-2s, they are not filed with the IRS. They are filed with the Social Security Administration (SSA), which does not get around to forwarding them to the IRS for matching against submitted income tax returns to verify whether or not the W-2 filed with the individual’s income tax return is legitimate until July or August, which is long after the IRS has already sent out refunds without ever matching the W-2s filed by taxpayers with those filed by employers.

The new regulations do not improve this situation at all. A far better solution would be for Congress to merely enact legislation requiring employers to file their W-2s with the IRS at the same time they file them with the SSA and for the IRS to match the W-2s filed by employers with those filed by taxpayers before the IRS sends out refunds. This simple step would dramatically reduce the amount of income tax identity theft. The General Accountability Office (GAO) has been recommending this for years, but Congress still has not acted.

The best things you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim of income tax identity theft are to maintain the privacy and security of your Social Security number and file your income tax return as early as possible in order to beat an income tax identity thief from filing an income tax return in your name before you do.

Steve Weisman is a lawyer, a professor at Bentley University and one of the country’s leading experts in scams and identity theft. He writes the blog scamicide.com, where he provides daily update information about the latest scams. His new book is Identity Theft Alert.

Article source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2015/08/29/irs-income-tax-identity-theft/71325656/

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Keep it real: Minors at risk of identity theft when obtaining fake IDs online

Saturday, August 29th, 2015

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While never smiled upon by law enforcement authorities, young people have long looked upon obtaining fake identification as a rite of passage.

Having a phony driver’s license meant a minor could buy alcohol for himself and his friends. And for those entering college who weren’t yet old enough to purchase liquor legally, this was a true perk. Freedom from parental rule plus a fake ID equals happiness!

Decades ago, it was easier to dummy a driver’s license — particularly before they required photos. But states have invested considerably into making them more difficult to forge.

As the technology to create IDs has improved, so have the resources to fake and obtain them. Many people can now get phony driver’s licenses over the Internet. But this increases the risk that those seeking fake IDs will have their identities stolen in the process.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo this week warned college students about the dangers of trying to obtain fake IDs online. He said investigators with the state Department of Motor Vehicles have found dozens of cases over the past few years of young people being scammed by overseas companies.

In attempting to purchase a fake ID, young adults provide personal information such as their name, address and date of birth to people they don’t know. These individuals then use such details to create cards for themselves using the identities of their unsuspecting clients.

“The ripple effects of identity theft can last for years, and more and more college students are opening themselves up to fraudsters by attempting to purchase a fake ID from the Internet,” Mr. Cuomo said in a news release issued Wednesday. “Our message is simple: It’s just not worth it — both for the immediate consequences of getting caught with a fake ID and for putting their financial future at risk.”

The governor is correct. Identity theft can haunt victims for years. It’s difficult — and can be expensive — to clear up.

Young people have discovered the power of the Internet in connecting with others in their own communities and across the globe. As a communication tool, it is unsurpassed. But they also are quite vulnerable to those who abuse the power of this online access.

The 2014 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, produced by the Federal Trade Commission, reported that 18 percent of identity theft victims ranged in ages from 20 to 29.

In addition, the book reported that about 6 percent of these victims were 19 years of age or younger.

“These age groups are less likely to regularly track bank account and credit card activity, pay for identity theft monitoring services and use discretion when sharing information on social media,” according to information from the governor’s news release.

To top it all off, attempting to obtain a fake ID is illegal.

Young adults are risking not only having their identity stolen and used fraudulently, they could get charged with a crime.

Damaging their credit history and facing a criminal charge is no way for young people to begin a college career.

This certainly isn’t the kind of news that Mom and Dad want to hear when they visit on Parents Weekend.

Article source: http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/opinion/keep-it-real-minors-at-risk-of-identity-theft-when-obtaining-fake-ids-online-20150829

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Prep college students to fight identity theft

Saturday, August 29th, 2015

You’ve heard the data breach horror stories, hackers hitting big targets from major retailers to the federal government.

Don’t forget, there’s a lot of personal information stored at major academic institutions.

“You think about college campuses, they are rich with data, right? So the obvious, you have student data, people coming and going to school for the first time and they’re registering for classes and they’ve got all this information they have to give the institution. That’s all very valuable data to cyber criminals and the like,” says Michael Kaiser, of the National Cyber Security Alliance.

Kaiser says universities could be a prime targets for identity theft and some are just catching up to that idea. “They may not always be aware of how much data they have. And, that starts with any kind of organization looking at, what is the data we have on this campus, what are the crown jewels of that data, and what are we doing to protect it?”

Students need to protect themselves

Kaiser says students need to be ready to protect their personal information and their school’s network as well.

“It starts at the very basic level of every user who’s accessing a network, simple things like software patches, strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, which is a way to have something in addition to a password. That should be implemented at almost every college campus at this point,” he said.

Kaiser also says parents can help by sharing information with their students on campus. Inform your students, if there are any breaches to the family bank accounts, insurance company, or any place the family does business. College students now have their own credit cards, bank accounts, and other personal financial information they need to protect.

Identity theft, data breach, information to take to campus

As students move out on their own, they become responsible for protecting their own information and accounts. Mom or dad may have been able to lend a hand in the past, but young adults should start taking an active, vigilant role in their own protection. Parents, you can send the information to your students, so they know the best ways to guard against identity theft.

Ruth to the Rescue personal info protection

Set fraud alerts on your account so your bank or financial institution will contact you if there’s suspicious activity.

*Change your passwords frequently and don’t use the same passwords for financial accounts that you use for social media and email.
*Create “strong” passwords with a good mix of letters, symbols, and numbers. Do not use old standbys like 1-2-3-4 or “password.”
*Consider having a “dirty card”. That’s one credit card you use online or at stores. Then, just one card is at risk if someone should hack a retailers system.
*Reconsider how you use your debit card. Remember if that card is compromised, thieves take YOUR money. You will likely get it back, but you could be bouncing checks in the meantime.
*Monitor all your financial accounts carefully. If you have computer access, try checking your account weekly. Do not wait for the monthly statement.
*Check your credit report at least once a year to make sure no one is establishing credit in your name. This is critical for college students, as if someone has started using your identity, you might not find out until you try to buy a home or car and the mess will be hard to clean up.

In the event of a data breach to your account, here are some things to consider:

*Stay calm. Consumers are not liable for fraudulent charges on stolen account numbers.
*Check with the official website of the specific business for the latest information. Type the store name directly into your browser. Do NOT click on a link from an email or social media message. Scammers can “spook” those links and lead you to a bogus site.
*Beware of emails that may come into your inbox, claiming to help you deal with the crisis. Those emails could be also fake, hoping you’ll click on a dangerous link or share personal information.
*If your card was compromised, you will likely hear from the bank or card-issuer first. If you have questions, call the customer service number on your card.
*Consider putting fraud alerts on all your accounts. Check with each bank or financial institution on how to do so. You can usually set a dollar amount that will spark a fraud warning, if the company sees suspicious activity.
*If you see a fraudulent charge, report it to your bank or credit card issuer immediately so the charge can be reversed and a new card issued.
*Keep receipts so you can prove which charges are legitimate.
*When you hear about a data breach, share that information with family and friends, so they can also follow these steps to protect themselves.

Article source: http://www.clickondetroit.com/consumer/consumer/prep-college-students-to-fight-identity-theft/34976564

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