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.
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