Blue Cross Blue Shield Applications Found in Trash

Ever apply for insurance of any kind? There is always a litany of paperwork and the process is always frustrating and somewhat demeaning. Insurer’s applications feel invasive and ask questions that require information that you may not even tell your mom.

What’s worse is they have to be given to another person who you often do not know. What’s even worse than that is you really have no control over what that agent will do with the information.

Private investigator William Cobra Staubs, was doing some dumpster diving conducting some “research” this week and happened upon a big box of discarded medical files and applications tossed there by what appears to be a Blue Cross Blue Shield agent who didn’t need them any longer. He found over 30 documents and approximately 50 Social Security numbers.

“Cobra”, as he is known is no stranger to controversy himself as a one-time Haleigh Cummings case investigator who accepted a plea deal in charges against him concerning his apprehension of a registered sex offender. He has also had intimate dealings in the OJ Simpson case. This is a guy to know.

Cobra determined who the agent was by finding a page from the agents “day planner”.

Personal identifying information is often collected by businesses and stored in various formats, both digital and traditional paper. With identity theft a growing problem in the country, many states have passed laws that require entities to destroy, dispose, or otherwise make personal information unreadable or undecipherable, in order to protect an individual’s privacy. At least 29 states, listed HERE, provide laws that govern the disposal of personal data held by businesses and/or government.  See also Security Breach Notification Laws and Identify Theft Statutes.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert. See him discussing Social Security numbers on Fox News.

Inside The Nigerian 419 Scam

The Nigerian 419 Scam is a form of advance-fee fraud, a confidence trick in which the target is persuaded to advance sums of money in the hope of realizing a significantly larger gain. “419″ refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code that deals with fraud.

Almost everyone has been targeted by this type of scam at some point. Most would be surprised by how many different versions of this scam exist and how reasonably intelligent people have been fooled into participating in them. Entire cities have had their bank balances drained, and families have lost their life savings.

Recently a close friend called to tell me that he had sold a $22,000 piano on a specialty site specifically for piano sales. His piano, which he had sold to an out of town buyer, was to be picked up by a mover. He called me because the buyer was sending $26,000, $4,000 above the asking price. My friend was to pay the movers with this extra $4,000. He was a little concerned about this plan, and so he asked me for my thoughts.

I explained that this was a scam. The $4,000 that he was supposed to wire to a mover accounted for the “advanced fee” element of the scam. Once my friend wired the money, the scammer would probably ask for more. In advance-fee fraud, the promised money from the scammer never happens. The scammer relies on the fact that, by the time the victim realizes this, the victim may have sent thousands of dollars of their own money, sometimes millions, to the scammer via an untraceable and/or irreversible means such as wire transfer.

My friend reminded me that the buyer had negotiated the price, requested more pictures, was adamant about the quality of the piano, and seemed legitimate. At this point, my friend became argumentative. He didn’t want to believe me, and insisted that I was wrong and that he would go through with the sale.

I reminded my friend that he’d called me based on an instinct that something was fishy, and he calmed down and agreed that I was right, after all. Nobody likes to admit that they are wrong. In this case, my friend was right when he sensed something suspicious.

This is a simple but vicious scam that can easily take you by surprise. This scam can have many different twists and varieties, and you must avoid being taken in by any of them. The simplest solution is to never send money, for any reason, to anyone, in response to a phone call or email.

Identity theft protection will not help you here. But becoming informed by visiting can help.

Identity theft can happen to anyone. McAfee Identity Protection offers proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on your accounts. McAfee Identity Protection provides live access to fraud resolution agents who work with victims to help restore their identities.

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him discuss scam baiting on Fox News. (Disclosures)

Yahoo News Search Results “Robert Siciliano”

This is seriously braggadocios.  But it’s a nice way to end 2010 on a highnote.

  • Fox News – Dec 20
  • The Huffington Post – Dec 16
  • US News & World Report – Dec 14
  • MSNBC – Dec 04
  • ABC News – Nov 29

2010 was a great year. 2011 will be great-er. Thanks to all.

Thank you McAfee, ADT, Gemalto, Intelius, Knowem, RSA, and all my dynamite clients!

Happy New Year!



Happy Holidays and Thank You From Robert Siciliano and Home Security Source

25 years ago I was in a situation where I needed some help. A man appeared out of nowhere and seemed to have sensed my desperation and offered assistance. I accepted. Up until that day “It was all about me”.  When I asked why he stopped to offer assistance and go out of his way as he did, he simply said, “Sometimes people just need help” That simple act and those 5 words changed my life.

In these posts we spend a lot of time talking about “bad-guys”. I point out their motivations, methods and techniques and what – you -, the kind, and nice, civilized person needs to be aware of to protect yourself and family.

Scribbling about these home security issues every day requires reading about negative awful things on a daily basis.  But I’m OK with it.

Ya know why?

Because I care about you and I want to help. Caring lights a fire under me and motivates me to keep you informed. Like a musician has to play, I have to remind you to keep your head up.

Although the chances of something bad ever happening is slim, we know there is a chance. I know you can only read and re-read these tips so many times and some of you occasionally drop out, then drop back in to refresh your memory on how to protect yourself.

We are all in this together. We are a community and need each other to move forward, and to help each other. This life, if we are lucky enough to live till our eighties, (like my grandfather who past this year) goes by fast.

Throughout life we make choices and decisions that determine our destiny. I believe we are in control of about 90% of that destiny and about 10% is beyond our control. It’s generally not “what happens” to you, but “how you choose to respond” or deal with each circumstance that determines the outcome.

From my little corner of the universe, my goal is to keep you informed of your options so you can prevent evil from messing up your life.

We thank you so much for listening. We hope so much that it’s making a difference. I am personally grateful that you care enough to take responsibility for this part of life and for living consciously about your personal security.

Happy Holidays to you and yours. Make it a safe and secure one.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source.

Boston’s Crime Fighting Vigilante

No it’s not me, at least not to the level of “Boston Dawna”. Although I am that guy who lives in that house that all those within a 5 mile radius do not like because of his boisterous territorial behavior. I do however have the State Police, City Police and even the Environmental Police on speed-dial (no kidding). I’ve probably called the authorities at least 200 times in the past 7 years.

All of this has occurred within eyeshot of my residence. I don’t live in a crime infested neighborhood, but I do live in an area where people “get away” near the ocean and they feel they can do whatever they want because of its proximity to the ocean. People have a false belief that the ocean is the Wild West and there is no law. The law in my neighborhood is echoed by the PA system I have bolted to the side of my house.

To my credit I’ve had at least 20 people arrested and at least another 50 fined for offences including vandalism, assault, drug possession, public drinking, loitering, public lewdness, and illegal poaching of shellfish. Some have been wanted by the Department of Homeland Security and others have been wanted El Salvadorian gang members and have been deported.

So far my front teeth haven’t been knocked out by criminals like “Boston Dawna” has, who is a hair dresser by day and crime fighter by night. The Boston Globe reports “All I did was neighborhood watch,’’ she says, “to an extreme level.’’ “You know how people have gaydar?’’ she says. “I have burglardar.’’

She spent the past 39 years fighting crime in Venice Beach. “The LA media refer to her simply as “the Batman of Venice Beach.’’

“Some people drink and do drugs. I chase criminals,’’ she said as she walked around Boston recently, chain-smoking and getting reacquainted with the city (she was born in Hull, Mass and grew up in Brookline, Mass). “There’s no greater high than catching a crook.’’

I identify with this woman in so many ways it frightens me. With the exception of the chain smoking, she is me and I am her. Although I don’t walk around in a nightgown crime fighting like she does. I never really leave my house and I just pick up the phone and have law enforcement do it. So actually she is much tougher than I am. What we share mostly is a philosophy. Her philosophy is if she sees something she says something.

I repeat: “if YOU see something, says something!” But say it to the police. Intervening with criminals can be dangerous. But picking up the phone is definitely a safer option. It isn’t OK that people just do whatever they want. Make a call. Your neighborhood will be better for it. Thanks for what you do Dawna.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover.

Hacking Wireless for Identity Theft

The ability to connect wirelessly has a lot to do with the indispensability of the Internet in our daily lives. Wireless Internet is available in our homes, offices, cafes, restaurants, parks, hotels, airports, cars, and even airplanes. The mobility factor allows us to work anytime, anywhere, on numerous devices. “Being connected” is at an all-time high.

Wireless Internet is amazing. But is it safe?

The short answer is: no. Wi-Fi was born to be convenient, not secure. Unsecured, unprotected wireless is everywhere. When a device connects to unprotected Wi-Fi, all the data stored on that device is available to a hacker with the proper sniffing tools.

The longer answer is: it depends on what kind of wireless we’re talking about. I’m going to speak in generalizations, since most of this is debatable and at this point, there are no absolutes when it comes to wireless security. So here we go.

Free, unsecured Wi-Fi is the least secure. Any Wi-Fi connection, whether in public, at home, or in the office, that is shared with anyone with any wireless device, lacks encryption of the data packets streaming from the connected devices.

A simple Firefox add-on called Firesheep can allow anyone with a Firefox browser to sniff out other devices using the same Internet connection, and to spy on their browser activity. Even if the victim’s login is encrypted, once they visit an unencrypted site, their data becomes vulnerable.

Home or office Wi-Fi with a WEP encryption is slightly more secure. Wired Equivalent Privacy was introduced in 1997 and is the original version of wireless network security. But WEP has been cracked, hacked, and decimated.

Home or office Wi-Fi with a WPA encryption is better. Wi-Fi Protected Access is a certification program that was created in response to several serious weaknesses researchers found in WEP, the previous system. WPA and WPA2 are tougher to crack, but not impossible.

Mobile Broadband has a degree of encryption that has been cracked, but the necessary hardware isn’t widely deployed by criminals. Researchers have demonstrated how the system can be hacked, but it’s still more secure than other options.

For the most security, use WPA2 wireless Internet from a home or office environment that isn’t internally shared. If you must go online while traveling, use your carrier’s mobile broadband and forgo the hotel or café’s free wireless.
Identity theft can happen to anyone, regardless of how they connect to the Internet.

To ensure peace of mind, subscribe to an identity theft protection service, such as McAfee Identity Protection, which offers proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet

Tips to Keep Your Online Shopping Secure

With Christmas coming fast, this is a last ditch effort to enlighten, empower and protect online shoppers.  The abridged source of the following information is from the National Cyber Alert System by US-CERT, a government organization.

How do attackers target online shoppers?

  • Targeting vulnerable computers – If you do not take steps to protect your computer from viruses or other malicious code, an attacker may be able to gain access to your computer and all of the information on it.
  • Creating fraudulent sites and email messages – Unlike traditional shopping, where you know that a store is actually the store it claims to be, attackers can create malicious websites that appear to be legitimate or email messages that appear to have been sent from a legitimate source.
  • Intercepting insecure transactions – If a vendor does not use encryption, an attacker may be able to intercept your information as it is being transmitted.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Use and maintain anti-virus software, a firewall, and anti-spyware software.
  • Keep software, particularly your web browser, up to date – Install software updates so that attackers cannot take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities.
  • Evaluate your software’s settings – The default settings of most software enable all available functionality. Apply the highest level of security available that still gives you the functionality you need.
  • Do business with reputable vendors – Before providing any personal or financial information, make sure that you are interacting with a reputable, established vendor.
  • Take advantage of security features – Passwords and other security features add layers of protection if used appropriately
  • Be wary of emails requesting information – Attackers may attempt to gather information by sending emails requesting that you confirm purchase or account information.
  • Check privacy policies – Before providing personal or financial information, check the website’s privacy policy.
  • Make sure your information is being encrypted – Many sites use SSL, or secure sockets layer, to encrypt information.
  • Use a credit card – There are laws to limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges, and you may not have the same level of protection for your debit card.
  • Check your statements – Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages, and compare them to your bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing Cyber Monday on the Mike and Juliet Show.

Who Is Really Knocking On Your Door?

The door bell rings and a man is standing in the doorway with a clip board, measuring tape and he is wearing a tool belt, a green jumpsuit and has a badge saying he is from the local water company. The homeowner, a woman says “Hello, how can I help you?” and he informs the homeowner that he is with the water company and needs to come inside to check the “colorization” and PH of the person’s water.

The homeowner lets him in, he runs the faucet, she goes and takes care of the baby who is crying, and he sees a wallet sitting on the kitchen table.

The woman comes back about 3 minutes later, he produces a vile of water and says “everything is fine, sorry for the inconvenience, have a nice day.”

Was he with the water company? NO. Did he steal the wallet? NO. Do you know why he didn’t steal the wallet? Because the man with the clip board, measuring tape, wearing a tool belt, in a green jumpsuit with a badge saying he is from the local water company was ME. Watch it HERE.

I did this on the Montel Williams Show to prove a point. This is a common trick a burglar may use to invade your home in the daytime.  The biggest problem you face is that you are too nice. When the doorbell rings, most people’s first inclination is “how can I help you?” We want to help, we want to accommodate and when someone knocks on the door, it becomes personal to us.

We are a kind, trusting and civil species. We trust by default. We want to help, we want to accommodate and we don’t ever want to think “bad” is on the other side of the door or “bad” will ever happens to us.

The bad-guy knows this and he targets you, your mom, grandmother, grandfather and anyone else who answers the door. He may have shiny white teeth and even fresh minty breath. Beware.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Home Invasions on Montel Williams.

How the Grandparent Scam Works

Remember when you were a kid, before “caller ID” (I’m showing my age here), you and your friends would make prank calls by picking up the phone and dialing any number and eventually someone would pick up the phone, you’d hang up, and laugh hard? Then do it another dozen times and with each call you would infuriate the caller, then laugh harder?

You learned that if you make enough calls, eventually you will get someone on the phone that was gullible and you could get a good laugh out of them over and over.

This same process/philosophy is what plays into telephone fraud scams. One of the easiest and most vile scams on the block is the “Grandparent Scam”.

The phone rings and an elderly person answers the phone. They may be slightly hard of hearing, and the caller says either “Grammy, Granny, Grandma, Nana, Nonna, Papa, Baba or Grandpa?”  The elderly person says ‘Yes” and the caller states “It’s your grandson!” When the elderly person responds and rattles off a name of a grandchild and says “Robby is that you”, the scammer responds “YES!” and knows he’s got a fish on the hook.

Now that the “relationship” has been established the scammer proceeds to prey upon the good nature of the grandparent and uses their love of their grandchild against them. The scammer begins to hem and haw that they’ve been arrested or are stranded or car broke down or lost their wallet and need the grandparent to wire some money to them. Once the grandparent agrees they instruct the victim to go the address of the local check cashing place that wires money and the scammer siphons as much as possible out of their victim.

This scam works so well because the victim is hooked within the first minute of the call. Once the predator sinks their teeth into their victim they will work on them until they have no money left in the world.

If there is someone in your life that could possibly, even remotely fall for this scam you need to educate them on what to look for. Put systems in place to make it difficult for them to make financial withdrawals without a cosigner.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover.