Obama was questioned about the data breach at a news conference Monday at the end of the G7 summit in Germany.
On Sunday, the chairman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Michael McCaul, said “threat indicators” point to China being responsible for the hacking of U.S. government computers revealed last week.
McCaul, appearing on U.S. television Sunday, said the hacking of computer systems at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) involving the records of up to four million current and former federal employees is the most significant breach of federal networks in U.S. history.
“We look at the threat indicators. Who has the motive and intent to steal this data? This is a huge data-mining project and it targets political appointees in the federal government and federal employees, four million of them. In my judgment, this was an attack by China against the United States government. It quantifies to espionage,” said McCaul.
McCaul said the source of the attack, discovered in April and made public last Thursday, has not yet been confirmed, but the way it was carried out suggests to him the Chinese government was involved.
“It was not done to steal credit card information and that kind of theft. It was done to get personal information on political appointees in the federal government and federal employees to exploit them so that later, down the road, they can use that for espionage to either recruit spies or compromise individuals in the federal government,” he said.
Referring to the breach earlier this year of tens of millions of personal files at the Anthem health insurance company, McCaul said the attack on OPM came from the same source in China.
China has called the accusation irresponsible and unscientific. An editorial published Monday in the state-controlled Global Times daily newspaper characterized the hacker issue as a “stick with which the United States readily beats China,” but one that the U.S. “is never able to provide concrete evidence.”
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman has said such attacks are generally anonymous and their origins are hard to trace.
Appearing on a separate program Sunday, Congressman Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said there are only two possibilities regarding such a sophisticated attack.
“Either a state actor or a group of very sophisticated private hackers who often work in concert with the state and the motivation is either going to be fraud in terms of ripping off peoples’ identity or, if it’s a state-sponsored attack, it will be personal information that can be exploited to identify people who might be working in the intelligence community, and the real challenge, I think, is that in this age of asymmetric cyber-warfare those on the offense have all the advantage. It’s very expensive to defend. You just need one open door and you’re vulnerable, and you can often attack with anonymity and be free of repercussions. And, I think one of the big things we have to do, in addition to our defense, is figure out when we’re going to go on offense and how we’re going to provide a deterrent to future attacks,” said Schiff.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest, during the Group of Seven summit in Germany, said the investigation into the OPM hacking by the Federal Bureau of Investigation continues.
“The identities of the individuals and the motives of those who carried out this intrusion are still the subject of this ongoing investigation. So, I don’t want to say anything that would get ahead that ongoing investigation,” said Earnest.
China analyst Scott Kennedy of the Washington-based Centers for Strategic and International Studies said he is suspicious of Chinese involvement given their recent statements do not include a clear denial. Kennedy describes the bilateral relationship as complex, but cautions that distrust is on the rise.
“We can address day-to-day issues trade, commercial issues, some types of security issues, even Iran, but on the sensitive issues, basically both sides seem to be dug in and Xi Jinping and the leadership in China, I think, is testing the Obama Administration given that’s in its last year and a half. They’re trying to push to see how much they can get without getting significant pushback from the United States,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy said that if it is determined the attack emanated from China, it is of such magnitude and sophistication that it could not have been the work of rogue Chinese hackers alone.
Cybersecurity analyst Ria Baldevia, a non-resident fellow at the Hawaii-based Pacific Forum, said the latest hacking incident is not only a serious national security issue, and that the stealing of millions of people’s identities has made them vulnerable to identity theft.← The implications of the US Government hackGraduates targeted in new scam. →more ...
One particularly notorious identity theft story involves one Simon, an Englishman who subsequently lost his six-figure job and became alienated to friends and family. This all happened because his credit card was used to purchase and download child pornography.
Bunce, an avid online shopper, claims to only have dealt with large retailers and secure sites. Nevertheless, he was swept up as part of a massive UK anti-predator police offensive called Operation Ore. He was arrested on charges of possessing, downloading, and intending to distribute indecent images of children. His home and work computers were confiscated, along with a range of storage devices and media.
As you may already have gathered, though, Bunce was innocent of these crimes. Investigators later determined that his credit card details had been entered into a computer in Jakarta, Indonesia, and that he had actually been using the card at a South London restaurant at almost exactly the same moment. His credit card details had been taken from one of the many popular online shopping sites he frequented, most likely as a result of a data breach.
Although the situation was eventually resolved, Bunce said the damage had been done. “Being arrested and accused of what is probably one of the worst crimes known to man, losing my job, having my reputation run through the mud, it’s a living nightmare,” he told the BBC in 2008.Your Takeaway: There are actually two takeaways from this story. The first: You aren’t necessarily safe even with the most ostensibly secure sites. When big companies’ databases are compromised, they tend to send along a seemingly innocuous data breach notification that notifies you that someone may have accessed your data. As this identity theft infographic notes, 1 in 4 consumers that received a data breach notification letter became a victim of identity fraud.
The second takeaway is simply that you never know what an identity hijacker is going to do with your information. Bunce probably never dreamed that, were his identity to be stolen, it would be used for any other purpose than emptying his bank account or opening a new line of credit.
The story of Anndorie Sachs is unsettling, to say the least. It all began when Sachs (a mother of four who was attending school for a biomedical engineering degree) received a call from the Salt Lake City Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS). It seemed that someone answering Sachs’ name and description had given birth to a premature baby girl, who subsequently tested positive for methamphetamine. The mother had abruptly fled from the hospital leaving the infant and a $10,000 bill behind, and DCFS wanted some answers.
Of course, Sachs was not the mother of this child. The baby girl belonged to a woman named Dorthy Bell Moran, who’d stolen Sachs’ driver’s license from her car two months before. DCFS, however, was preparing to submit paperwork to declare Sachs an unfit mother and put her four kids into state custody. Sachs’ 7-year-old daughter was also pulled out of school by DCFS agents and subjected to questioning.
Eventually, the issue was cleared up, but Sachs’ problems persisted. Her medical records had been changed to include Moran’s health profile, including her blood type and other information. Sachs can’t even view her own medical records to ensure the information has been changed back — the hospitals involved won’t let her, ironically, because it could compromise the identity thief’s own rights to medical privacy.
“It’s especially scary,” said Sachs, in an interview with WebMD, “because I have a blood-clotting disorder. If a doctor gave me the wrong blood type, it could be fatal.”Your Takeaway: Medical identity theft is a little-known type of identity theft that can have particularly devastating consequences. In a case like the Sachs fiasco, where the victim has a serious medical condition, the effect could be deadly. While Sachs certainly didn’t mean for it to happen, she helped the identity thief by leaving her license somewhere that it could be stolen. If you never allow your license to leave your possession for any reason, however, you’ll be exponentially decreasing your odds of having your identity stolen in a similar manner.
When 18-year-old community college student Gregory Welch died tragically in a car accident on February 14, 2013, his family was completely devastated. He had been riding with a 19-year-old friend, who lost control of the car on Shore Road in Virginia Beach around 1 a.m. They were wearing seatbelts and their air bags deployed, but Welch was pronounced dead at the scene. Police later said that speed had been a contributing factor in the tragedy.
The story, unfortunately, does not end there. The Welch family’s grief was reawakened eight weeks later, when they tried to file their deceased son’s taxes. It turned out that someone had already filed for a tax return in his name, and that it was for a considerably larger amount of money than would be possible for the $10 an hour he earned delivering pizzas. They subsequently spent months dealing with the IRS and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, no doubt reliving their grief.
“It was just kind of like being punched in the stomach,” Virginia Welch told The Virginian-Pilot. “It’s such a dishonor to our son.”Your Takeaway: More and more criminals are stealing the identities of the recently departed. When a loved one passes away, don’t stop at simply closing their accounts. Specialists in this field say that relatives should ask credit-reporting agencies to place a “do not issue credit” alert for the deceased individual. They also recommend that relatives check the deceased’s credit report for the next year in order to spot any unusual activity.
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We are here to help the public in the fight against identity theft. The large corporations have their departments in place to fight against corporate identity fraud, but what about the general public? To find good advice is a challenge in itself. That is why we developed this site. In the words of President Obama 'identity theft is now the fastest growing crime'. People need to know the risks. Identity theft used to be the work of large crime organisations. Not any more. We are now dealing with the person sitting in their bedroom hacking into peoples accounts and personal lives from their computer. This problem will continue to grow. Last year identity theft cost 3 BILLION POUNDS and that figure could double this year. We are dedicated to the fight against identity theft and will continue to help people who are concerned with this crime.OUR TEAMThe work within this site is mainly carried out by the people belowNicholas Brooks
Nicholas is rarely at his desk. The story is hunted by Nicholas and this will inevitably mean he is out finding every angle used by the criminals. The downside being that he constantly works 12 – 14 hour days. A source of many ground breaking stories on the site. Moreen Cultin Moreen is the person who tests the products within the market to see if they are capable of helping people. The need to thoroughly test any product that claims to help people is not lost on Moreen and the job has changed from a few hours a week to a full time job. Identity theft victimsReal life accounts of identity theft One particularly notorious identity theft story involves one Simon, an Englishman who subsequently lost his six-figure job and became alienated to friends and family. This all happened because his credit card was used to purchase and download child pornography.
Please click the horror stories page for full details.
The story of Anndorie Sachs is unsettling, to say the least. It all began when Sachs (a mother of four who was attending school for a biomedical engineering degree) received a call from the Salt Lake City Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS). It seemed that someone answering Sachs’ name and description had given birth to a premature baby girl, who subsequently tested positive for methamphetamine. The mother had abruptly fled from the hospital leaving the infant and a $10,000 bill behind, and DCFS wanted some answers. Please click the horror stories page for full details. When 18-year-old community college student Gregory Welch died tragically in a car accident on February 14, 2013, his family was completely devastated. He had been riding with a 19-year-old friend, who lost control of the car on Shore Road in Virginia Beach around 1 a.m. They were wearing seatbelts and their air bags deployed, but Welch was pronounced dead at the scene. Police later said that speed had been a contributing factor in the tragedy. . Please click the horror stories page for full details. Latest identity theft newsPlease be sure to read these articles as they could help
Be aware that the government are preparing for a huge increase in identity theft using your medical records. Medical records are targeted more than any other data by criminals. The government are expecting a massive increase in the next few weeks. If you are worried please email for advice. -->
WASHINGTON (AP) — The IRS is joining with states and private industry to combat identity theft by sharing more data about how tax returns are filed, officials announced Thursday. The effort is aimed at stemming a problem that has victimized thousands of taxpayers and cost the government billions of dollars from fraudulent returns. IRS Commissioner[…] -->
A criminal could be collecting unemployment benefits under your name right now — and you wouldn’t even know it. It’s a crime so brazen that even police have been victims of the scheme. And it’s so pervasive that prosecutors were surprised by the “tsunami of fraud that we have seen around the country,” according to[…] -->
Thousands of people across Northern California have been victimized by a Sacramento-based identity theft ring that preyed on Target stores, according to a criminal complaint by the U.S. Attorney’s Office representing the Eastern District of California. The Target stores were located in Rancho Cordova, Folsom and El Dorado Hills, and each one was defrauded by[…] -->
Criminals are targeting graduates in a new identity fraud scam. Officials are saying that graduates are being targeted as the criminals feel they are less ‘wordly’. One graduate targeted was Melissa Bingham from Colorado State University. She says she received a call from a phone number that matched with that of Colorado University. The[…] -->
President Barack Obama says the United States is going to have to be much more aggressive when it comes to cybersecurity, but he refused to say who he believes is behind the massive hacking of U.S. government computers revealed last week. Obama was questioned about the data breach at a news conference Monday at the[…] -->
I’m sure you all heard about the hack of US government databases. It was reported that the personal files of 4 million current and former government employees were compromised. Is that the end of it? Is the situation no controlled? Well, apparently not. ABC news are now reporting that private information of people who never[…] -->
It’s not just people from China. Remember NBA star Chris Gatling? Arrested in Scottsdale, AZ yesterday … with cops saying he was the kingpin in a massive illegal credit card and I.D. theft scam. One of Gatling’s alleged victims is a woman he met on a dating website who owned a fitness studio —[…] -->
Where do you think people are most at risk from identity theft? USA? United Kingdom? France? Well, we’ve got a list of the countries with the highest rate of identity theft. Identity theft has been he number one consumer complaint for the last few years in the USA, but….there is worse countries out there. What[…] -->PreviousNextGet in touchmore ...
It’s a crime so brazen that even police have been victims of the scheme. A criminal could be collecting unemployment benefits under your name right now — and you wouldn’t even know it.
And it’s so pervasive that prosecutors were surprised by the “tsunami of fraud that we have seen around the country,” according to Wifredo Ferrer, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
Unemployment benefits are issued as part of a federal and state partnership to provide money to people out of work. State payments are issued on debit cards or to a bank account.
But criminals are capitalizing on that system by buying personal information stolen from places such as hospitals, medical offices, schools and retirement programs. They then log onto state websites and file for unemployment benefits. Since the priority is for states to get the money out quickly, they don’t wait for an employer to verify the identity of the person applying for the benefits. Victims typically don’t find out what’s happened until their employer is notified that they are receiving unemployment payments.
“The fact that this is so easy to commit is something that has been a real challenge to law enforcement because the fraudsters keep evolving, and they always find a new way to steal our identities,” Ferrer told CNN. “And all you need sometimes is a name, a date of birth and a Social Security number. And sometimes, you don’t even need that to commit this crime.”Federal investigators estimate the unemployment benefits fraud totals about $5.6 billion, which includes schemes where identities are stolen.
Just ask Coral Mann, who was startled to learn that someone had filed for about $3,000 in unemployment benefits under her name. There was one problem — she’s a detective for the North Miami Beach, Florida, Police Department.
“It makes me very angry because I work too hard for whatever I have and what I earn for myself and my family,” Mann said. “It just makes me angry that you could sit behind your computer and hide like a coward and just take my stuff without me having anything to do with it.”
Mann took her case to one of her colleagues, Detective Craig Catlin, who happens to be one of the country’s leading experts on fraud.
“Fraud’s better than drugs on the street,” Catlin said.
Catlin said he first noticed that criminals were stealing unemployment benefits because states generally do not confirm the identity of the person filing a claim until after the money is sent.
“It’s so new and overwhelming that now (states) are doing a catch-up process to get checks and balances so they’ll be less fraudulent funds,” he said. “We have cases that range from just a few high school kids doing $20,000, $30,000 in a few months to cases where we know we’re in the two, three, four million dollar range for just one group of guys in South Florida.”
Mann’s case led to a search warrant at a home in Miami Gardens, where police found more than 1,000 suspected stolen identities. Three brothers, including a juvenile, were arrested. The two adult brothers have pleaded no contest to identity theft charges and will be sentenced in July.
“You feel so vulnerable,” Mann said. “You feel like somebody just assaulted you, physically assaulted you, when they do things like that.”
No one knows the extent of the fraud from identity theft alone. In a 15-month period, the state of Florida stopped 97,000 fraudulent claims worth about $400 million, according to Jesse Panuccio, executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, which oversees unemployment benefits. Those cases were turned over to the U.S. Department of Labor’s inspector general’s office.
He acknowledged the state could not specify the amount of fraud that went through to identity thieves.
“We’re constantly adjusting the system to see what is efficient, and what is not and what protects against fraud,” he said. “But in the end, we can’t go back to 1982, where everything’s pen and paper again. We have to have a system that uses modern technology and is efficient for the good guys, for the people who actually need money from the system.”
He said Florida, like other states, is under a federal mandate to pay claims “within a couple of weeks, even if an employer hasn’t responded” to confirm the person is unemployed.
The fraud is so serious that Panuccio wrote a letter in March to U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez, warning that “organized criminal enterprises are attacking public-benefit systems on a daily basis. Unfortunately, South Florida has become a national hub for this activity.”
While Florida uses a state-of-the-art system to detect fraud, Panuccio wrote that “few states have implemented back-end analytics to actively combat fraud. We suspect that if such a program were deployed nationally, the amount of (unemployment insurance) fraud detected would be staggering.”
The Department of Labor agreed to have Perez sit down with CNN for an interview on the issue, but it was abruptly canceled by Carl Fillichio, senior adviser in the public affairs office, and no reason was given.
Instead, the department issued a statement.
“It is important to note, though, that — at 3.19% — the estimated rate of fraudulent payments remains extremely low,” it said.
The department said it has taken numerous steps in the last four years to combat the fraud. That includes spending $625 million to assist states in modernizing their computer systems and creating an “unemployment fraud integrity center of excellence” to explore new technologies.
“There is no place for fraud and abuse in the (unemployment insurance) program,” the statement said. “The department will remain vigilant and will continue to work with our state partners to prevent, detect and recover improper payments — and prosecute individuals suspected of fraud.”
The Labor Department’s inspector general concluded in a 2014 report that the unemployment insurance program is “particularly at risk for improper payments and the department’s ability to identify and reduce UI improper payments continues to be a challenge.”
The inspector general has recommended more vigilant oversight of the unemployment insurance program “by increasing the frequency of on-site reviews” at state agencies and to continue pursuing legislation that would allow states to use part of recovered fraudulent payments to detect and deter fraud.← Target stores Targeted.IRS taking steps to combat taxpayers’ identity theft →more ...
We all know identity theft is happening every second of every day, but who knows what to do to stop it? To do this we need to work together and make everyone aware of the problems . The knowledge and capability of these criminals far outweighs that of the general public so raising awareness is our main weapon in stopping identity theft. What we have to do is make it as hard as possible for these criminals and use every resource available. Most importantly be quick to spot any signs of identity theft.Listed below are basic safety tips:Be careful about giving out personal information. Whether on the phone, by mail, or on the Internet, never give anyone your credit card number, or other personal information for a purpose you don’t understand. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible. Never give any financial details to any person you are not 100% sure are authentic and trusted.Protect your post. To stop a thief from going through your rubbish or recycling bin to get your personal information, tear or shred your receipts, credit applications, insurance forms, bank statements, expired charge cards, and credit offers. Deposit outgoing post in post office collection boxes or at your local post office. Promptly remove post from your postbox after it’s delivered. If you plan to go away, contact your postal service to stop them leaving letters in your mail box.Guard your credit cards. Minimise the information and the number of cards you carry in your wallet. If you lose a card, contact the credit fraud division of the credit card company. If you apply for a new credit card and it doesn’t arrive in a reasonable period, contact the issuer. Watch cashiers when you give them your card for a purchase. Also, when you receive a new card, sign it in permanent ink and activate it immediately.Pay attention to billing cycles. Contact creditors immediately if your bills arrive late. A missing bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your credit card account and changed your billing address.Reduce your number of bank accounts and credit cards. Less accounts mean less avenues for hackers. All dormant accounts should be closed.Safeguard personal information in your home. Especially if you are having service work done in your home, employ outside help, or have a flat mate.Find out who has access to your information at work. Be sure to verify that records are kept in a secure location, and are accessible only to employees who have a legitimate reason to access it.Passwords. All passwords for computers, mobile phone, online forums etc must be complex not involving common words. Never have two the same and continually change passwords.Cheque washing. To avoid “cheque washing” (someone gets hold of one of your cheques and fills out their own details) use a Uniball Gel Ink pen as the ink permeates the cheque paper preventing it from being washed.ATM’s. Avoid any ATm that doesn’t ‘look or feel’ right. Follow your gut instinct.Complain. Complain to your credit card company when it sends you unsolicited free cheques encouraging you to transfer existing balances.Date of birth. Never reveal your date and place of birth to anyone you do not know and trustPassport, driving license and birth certificate. Do not hand over your passport, driving licence, birth or marriage certificate to anyone unless you are absolutely certain of the need to do so. Your birth certificate in particular needs to be kept safe as it provides valuable information to identity thieves. Your birth certificate is only likely to be required by the Passport Office, your pension company or an insurance companyMarketing. Consider opting out of allowing your details to be used for marketing from the Electoral Roll – put a tick in the “Edited Register” column.Re-direct mail. When you move make sure your mail is re-directed for at least 12 months.Phone number. Make sure your phone number is ex directory.Too good to be true. Any offer you receive that appears to be too good to be true probably is. Ignore.Wallet/Purse. Don’t leave address, phone numbers etc in your wallet or purse.
These are physical steps you can take.
Below are online safety principles:Shop safely online. Practice safe shopping online. Shop only from secure sites. Make sure that the url in the address bar starts with https:// (not http://) and has a picture of a padlock or an unbroken key in the bottom right corner. Consider using a separate credit card for online purchases as it’s easier to keep track of fraudulent charges. Make sure you log off properly and don’t make online purchases from internet cafes or WiFi hotspots or public computers.Old computers. When disposing of old computers or laptops erase all the data from the hard disk at least 3 times and check that there are no CDs left in the CD Drive. If you are throwing the computer out remove and physically destroy the hard diskEmails. Never put confidential information in an email – emails are not secure and can be interceptedAnti virus programs. Use good anti-virus software and keep it updatedUpdates. Install operating system updatesDownloads. Don’t download anything unless you’re sure it’s safeSpy killer. Use Spy Killer and Ad Killer softwarePop ups. Read any pop-ups carefully and answer “No”Firewall. Use firewall and anti malware softwareEncryption. Make sure your wireless internet connection is encryptedWifi. Do not make online purchases or deal with your online banking from an internet cafe or WiFi hotspot. Turn off your wireless connection as soon as you can when using a WiFi hotspot.Password. Do not use the same PIN or password everywhere. If you have a choice of password reminder, do not select your place of birth – use a different reminder. If you have no other choice use a lie that you will remember, such as a relative’s place of birth. Improve your password discipline – don’t use pet’s names or dates of birth. Use a mixture of letters and numbersMultiple email addresses. Consider using at least 3 email addresses, one for friends and family, one for financial sites and one for general useFriend locating. Be aware of the dangers of using websites to locate old friends or colleaguesDetails. Consider removing your details from websites that list your name and addressSuspicious emails. Do not respond to suspicious emails – just delete them. Assume that all emails asking for personal information are frauds. Do not click on links in emails that purport to be from your bank or building society
The problem is that the criminals are very intelligent and while these are good principles they only really scratch the service.
If possible we believe that investing in an identity theft service is money well spent. These services not only offer additional security but are extremely quick to alert their members of any suspicious activity within their personal finances and profiles. This is essential to stop serious damage.more ...
Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, your risk of exposure to credit fraud may increase. Fortunately, taking a few simple steps before you travel can help reduce your risk of credit fraud and identity theft.
Nothing can spoil a vacation faster than the theft of your personal information. Sinead Curran, a 22-year-old student, learned this lesson first-hand. While vacationing in Belize, she left her passport and driver’s license in a drawer in her hotel room while she went on a daylong hike. When she returned, she found that the lock on her room was broken and her valuables were stolen. She later learned that someone had tried to open several new accounts in her name. Fortunately, she requested a credit freeze before any real damage was done.
“The hotel had a safe but it was broken,” says Currafn. “I didn’t think twice about leaving my stuff behind. When you’re on vacation, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is out to have a good time-some people are very untrustworthy. Next time, I’ll be sure to demand a room that has a working safe.”
Curran’s story shows that identity theft does not take vacations. In fact, whenever you leave home, you face an increased risk of identity theft-the fastest-growing consumer crime in America. When we travel, it is easy to get distracted, let mail pile up, use our credit and debit cards carelessly, and expose ourselves to pickpockets.
There is good news-traveling does not have to be a worrisome event. Whether you are planning a trip to Las Vegas or Rome, following these credit fraud and identity theft protection steps will help keep your identity safe while you are away:
Travel light. Leave unnecessary credit cards, your Social Security card, and bills at home. These documents could compromise your identity if lost or stolen while traveling. Make sure that you leave them in a secure place at home.
Use a hotel safe. Never leave your wallet, your passport, or any other documents containing personal information in your hotel room. Many hotel employees have access to your room and some may not be trustworthy. There is also the risk of burglary while you are out.
Use credit cards instead of debit cards. Many people believe that debit cards are safe because you need a PIN to use them. However, PINs are only necessary at ATM machines. Some merchants process debit cards as credit cards. In addition, ATM scams are very common, especially in popular tourist areas
Have the post office hold your mail or be sure a trusted person is bringing in your mail daily. Identity thieves frequently raid mailboxes in search of personal and financial information. A credit card offer or bank statement can be a gold mine for them.
Password-protect your handheld devices and laptops. Without strong passwords, identity thieves can easily access account information that might be stored on your hard drive.
Avoid using checks. Checking account fraud is one of the most difficult types of identity theft to recover from. When travelling, use cash, traveler’s checks or credit cards for purchases.
Beware of pickpockets. While traveling, you will frequently find yourself in a crowd, often shoulder-to-shoulder with others. This is the perfect setup for a pickpocket. Keep your credit cards and identification is a secure place. If you carry a wallet, avoid keeping any personal information or your Social Security card in the wallet.
Remember-protecting your identity while traveling means using precautionary measures to protect your interests both abroad and at home. Always take a proactive approach to fighting identity theft and credit fraud.
Credit Fraud and Online Shopping
Online shopping has opened up a new world of opportunities and a new realm of fear. As the problem of credit fraud continues to grow, the fear of falling prey to identity theft is also growing in the minds of people. Research shows that computer users are spending less time on the Internet due to fears associated with e-commerce. However, online shopping is actually quite safe if you follow a few safety precautions.
For several years, Cheryl Addison, a 36-year-old project manager, was a loyal online shopper. She purchased clothes, gifts, groceries, and prescription drugs from online retailers without a second thought. However, with the influx of recent media reports and data breach alerts, Addison has traded online shopping for what she perceives as a safer bet – brick and mortar retailers.
“I definitely miss the benefits of online shopping,” she says. “You can’t beat the 24-hour convenience and lower prices the Internet offers. But there are so many risks, especially with smaller online shops. You’re relying on technology, but can it really protect you?”E-Commerce Concerns
Addison’s concerns are valid, and are shared by millions of consumers around the world. According to technology research and advisory firm Gartner Inc., consumer anxiety about online security resulted in a $2 billion loss in e-commerce and banking transactions in 2006.
A Gartner study revealed that nearly half of online adults said their concerns about identity theft and data breaches affected their online behavior. The rising instances of lost consumer data files and unauthorized access to personal information are the main reasons for this concern among consumers, the report said.
According to research from TRUSTe, a privacy certification and seal program, and market information group TNS, the top six factors that limit or prevent consumers from conducting online transactions are:
- Credit fraud
- Identity theft
- Credit card theft
- Preference for brick and mortar stores
Are Online Stores to Blame for Identity Theft?
According to Avivah Litan, vice president and analyst at Gartner, although nearly all purchases at brick-and-mortar stores are electronically enabled today, online retail organizations suffer the highest toll because this is where consumers perceive the problem to be. However, Litan is quick to point out that brick-and-mortar businesses can leak credit card data just as easily as electronic merchants can because they also store data on computers that connect to the Internet.
The 2007 Identity Fraud Survey Report, conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research, reveals that more fraud occurs in traditional physical channels, such as in-person transactions, rather than online.
According to James Van Dyke, Javelin’s president and founder, while many people are wary of using the Internet to do their banking or shopping, using the Internet actually prevents criminals from accessing the sensitive information they are likely to steal from the trash. He points out that only two percent of those who steal identity information do so over the Internet. It is more likely that the theft will be committed through traditional means.
As customers who shopped at the brick-and-mortar stores of discount retailers TJ Maxx and Marshalls found out, shopping offline is just as risky as shopping online. Offline shoppers who paid for their purchases via credit or debit cards recently received alerts that a hacker had stolen their personal information. The theft dated back to 2003 and involved millions of card accounts.
This story highlights a simple fact that most customers do not realize – shopping offline is shopping online. When you shop in a retail store, your card data ends up stored in a company’s computers, which are ultimately connected to the Internet.Credit Fraud Protection – Online and Offline
Whether you doing business online or offline, you should be aware that all transactions involving personal and financial information come with some very real risks. These basic tips will help prevent identity theft and fraud:
Be proactive. Checkout The 5 Best Credit Monitoring Services In 2017 to help stop identity theft before it happens from TrustedID, Identity Guard, LifeLock, ProtectMyID, and ID Patrol from Equifax.
Shop only on secure Web sites. A secure Web site uses a special computer communication known as Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which encrypts data and breaks it up so that outsiders cannot read the information. To ensure your purchase is protected by secure technology, look at your Internet browser for a padlock symbol in your browser or check to see that the address bar changes from “http” to “https”.
Shop with reputable merchants. If it is your first time shopping with a company, do your homework. Third-party verification devices, such as VeriSign, TRUSTe or the Better Business Bureau, can validate a site’s reputation. In addition, a reputable merchant will always have a phone number and contact information.
Use strong passwords for your online accounts and change them frequently. Never use your phone number, birth date, or name in user names and passwords. Always make sure passwords use a combination of letters, numbers, and other characters.
The benefits of online shopping can far outweigh the risks. In fact, due to recent online security breakthroughs, some believe that online shopping can be safer than shopping over the phone or even in person.