How to Protect Your Lost Wallet or Purse against Identity Theft
In a panic that your lost wallet or stolen purse might lead to identity theft? Take a deep breath and then take the First 5 Steps to Stop ID theft. First, you need to understand that a lost wallet or purse is one of the most concentrated sources of identifying documents. For now, assume that your lost or stolen wallet or purse will be used to exploit your identity. Sometimes, even when your missing item shows up unexpectedly, the damage has already been done by a clever thief who is simply returning your valuables so that you don’t suspect further theft and shut down your accounts. Don’t take any changes. Instead, take these first five steps (adapted from my Identity Theft Recovery Guide):
1. Inventory Your Lost Wallet or Stolen Purse from Memory
Want us to walk you through the entire recovery process with quick videos, easy forms and expert advice as you go? Click on the Recovery Guide and get started before your wealth evaporates.
It’s no surprise that identity theft once again tops the “Dirty Dozen” tax scams put forth by the IRS for 2014. They warn that if an identity thief has access to your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number or other identifying information, he or she may use it to fraudulently file a tax return and claim a refund in your name. Think of the implications for the 110 million victims of the recent Target data breach as well as victims of the hundreds of other breaches at other retailers, universities, healthcare providers, government agencies and so on.
KrebsOnSecurity reports that the information from the Target breach alone has reportedly flooded underground black markets and cards are being sold from around $20 to more than $100 each. This data is being sold in hundreds of online “stores” advertised in cybercrime forums. A fraud analyst at a major bank was able to buy a portion of the bank’s accounts from such a store.
Today marks the start of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). As with any new, massive, government-sponsored program, scammers and identity thieves will try to take advantage of the public’s confusion and unfamiliarity with the new Health Exchanges (which we’re calling Obamacare Identity Theft).
Universities perfect learning environment for data security
Higher Ed Organizations are among the highest risk groups to become victims of identity theft and data breach. Because students are relative “beginners” when it comes to personal finances, because university environments are predicated on trust and credibility, and because of the recent progress towards a mobile-centric, social-networking-dominated campus, higher education’s digital footprint is constantly exposed to manipulation.
“The most engaging speaker I’ve ever heard – period.” Debbie Bumpous, NSU Chief Information Technology Officer speaking about John Sileo
“John Sileo was the secret sauce in launching our cyber security awareness program” – University of Massachusetts Director of IT
Online reputation services have a special responsibility to keep clients safe. How can you protect yourself when the very company you rely on is breached?
Would you trust a site with your personal information after it suffered a breach? What if that site’s sole purpose is to protect your reputation?
Reputation.com helps its members maintain a reputable online profile, but the site’s own profile was damaged by a recent data breach that led to the exposure of customer information. Although no Social Security numbers or financial information was lost, names, email addresses, and physical addresses were exposed. It’s been reported that some dates of birth, phone numbers, and occupational information were also lost. A “small minority” of customer accounts had hashed and salted passwords stolen.
‘Hashing’ passwords is the process of using algorithms to change customers’ passwords to a unique data string. The ‘salt’ adds more characters to produce a unique data fingerprint. The company has notified all customers of the breach and reset passwords to protect them. But Reputation.com is not alone in being hacked recently. LivingSocial, a daily-deal website, was breached, affecting 50 million customers.
Maintaining our online reputation is important to us and the internet, social media and mobile technology are great tools that give us a competitive advantage. However, we cannot ever take our online privacy for granted. Three tips to keep you ahead of identity theft are:
Use a password protection program that makes it easy to use highly-encrypted passwords
Check washing, a highly common form of check fraud, is the practice of removing legitimate check information, especially the “Pay To” name and the amount, and replacing it with data beneficial to the criminal (his own name or a larger amount) through chemical or electronic means. One of the many ways to protect yourself against check fraud is so important that it deserves its very own article.
A foolproof way to protect your checks from being altered, whether by washing or by electronic means, is to use security checks offered by most companies.
Here are some of the features to look for when you’re purchasing High Security Checks. These features will safeguard you not only against check washing, but other high tech forms of check fraud as well:
Safety security paper (visible and invisible fluorescent fibers, chemical-sensitive)
When a waitress says, “Hi, I’m Brianna and I’ll be taking care of you today,” you don’t expect the customer to be thinking, “What a coincidence, my fake name is Brianna.” And you certainly don’t expect said customer to be so bold, or idiotic, as to buy a drink using a fake ID belonging to the very same Brianna she’d stolen it from a week before.
As they say at Applebee’s, welcome to the neighborhood – at least the identity theft neighborhood.
According to a recent 9News story, Brianna Priddy, an Applebee’s waitress in Lakewood, CO was out with friends when her wallet was stolen. Enter the crime-challenged suspect who stole Priddy’s wallet containing cash, credit cards and her driver’s license. The suspect then used the license to cash hundreds of dollars of fraudulent checks, creating a financial and administrative nightmare for Priddy.
Do you trust LifeLock to help protect your identity? The answer to that question can be just as crucial as the measures you take to monitor your identity on your own.
With online theft as active as it is, many are trying to cash in by offering protection against hackers. But you’ve got to have a keen eye to pick the ones that are actually going to help you out. LifeLock is one of the most widely-seen internet security companies in the country – but then again, LifeLock has a record that makes its viability somewhat questionable.
Oakland news station KTVU recently reported the local story of a woman whose identity was stolen after signing up with LifeLock. An outside source managed to apply for a loan in her name without so much as an alert going to the woman in question. I’m sure that person is going to be more cautious with the identity theft monitoring service they choose next time.
Almost 20 billion packages will be delivered through the mail this holiday season. Even at $5 per package, that’s more than $100 Billion in value going through the mail–a scale too large and tempting for criminals to ignore.
Why do thieves target us during the holidays? In addition to the volume and value of holiday mail, criminals are taking advantage of the perfect winter storm:
Trucks are overloaded, mail & UPS carriers are overworked and shoppers are overwhelmed, which makes theft easy and attractive
Thieves take advantage not just of our good nature during the holidays, but of how distracted we are
Criminals see our generosity of giving as a goldmine waiting to be exploited