Card Issuers Losing $562 in Costs to Grey Charges

Hey merchants, yes you, BillGuard released a report that examined the grey charge problem among US debit and credit cardholders and the service costs impacting card issuers and retailers. The report revealed 11 types of deceptive ‘grey charges’ that retailers use to mislead consumers in their sales and billing practices.

Yaron Samid, founder and CEO of BillGuard stated, “Merchants profit greatly, at the expense of cardholders, when we don’t check our bills. Capitalism drives revenue optimizations and churn reduction techniques, but improper disclosure of sales and billing terms crosses a red line of ethics.”

However, while merchants seem to be profiting, they also have to waste time and money on customer service issues when handling irate callers who are duped. Looking at the entire payments ecosystem, grey charges also impact card-issuing banks, which lose millions of dollars in operating costs servicing grey charge-related calls, as well as merchants, who are crippled by fees, chargebacks, and lost business from disgruntled consumers.

To handle billing inquiries and disputes, BillGuard completely bypasses the costly and inefficient chargeback networks to connect cardholders directly to merchants for free, expedited resolution. Card issuers can and should take a number of steps to protect their cardholders. This will reduce their own servicing costs by:

  • Proactively flagging and alerting cardholders to potential grey charges.
  • Providing cardholders with merchant ratings related to grey charges.
  • Creating a mechanism for cardholders to contact merchants directly to resolve billing disputes and inquiries; this mutually benefits the merchant, allowing them to stay in control of their customer experience.

Reductions in servicing costs are not the only benefit card issuers stand to gain from implementing these recommendations. Improved customer experience and customer loyalty would directly result from helping cardholders protect themselves against grey charges. Credit card providers could stand to increase revenue by $866 million annually just by improving the customer experience. This increased revenue would emerge through a combination of additional purchases, a reduction in customer attrition, and new customers gained through word-of-mouth recommendations.

Robert Siciliano is a personal security expert & and is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailadress -to 411247.

Top 10 Components of the Ultimate Home Security System

You’ve been thinking about getting a home security system but haven’t because you want to do it right and not invest in old, outdated technology. Well, you’re in luck, because now’s the time. Home security system technology is as advanced as it’s ever been, and just about anyone can afford a basic system—and, for a few more bucks, the Ultimate Home Security System is available too.

The basics for the Ultimate Home Security System include:

  1. Control panels near every door and in many rooms that can activate the alarm or trigger a panic alarm.
  2. Alarm central monitoring: If it’s not being monitored, what’s the sense in it?
  3. An alarm or siren to freak out the burglar and alert the neighbors.
  4. Motion sensors everywhere—enough motion sensors to detect movement, but not sensitive enough that they will send false alarms all day.
  5. Security cameras in every room, and more surveying every point of the exterior of the home.
  6. Viewing monitors in every room, keeping the homeowner fully aware of any activity. It’s nice to have a monitor wherever you are.
  7. Glass break sensors in every room, alerting the homeowner to smashed doors or windows.
  8. Door and window sensors on every door and every window on every floor.
  9. Mobile applications to control the system from any tablet, mobile phone, computer or laptop.

10. Sensors for light control, fire, carbon monoxide, extreme heat or freezing.

All of this can be had for under $500 if you have a small house or apartment; as you add more rooms, it adds up. I have most of this above, and it was around two grand for my 3000 sq ft home—and it was, and is, worth every dollar.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

15 Tips for Back And Forth To School Security

The security-minded folks at Schlage locks want America’s families to know their options as their kids head back and forth to school. Always keep in mind that security is like the journey to school; it’s an ongoing process that requires you to keep your head up and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Tips for kids and parents:

  1. If your child has a mobile phone, make sure he or she carries it in hand with Mom/Dad and 911 on speed dial. Never hesitate to call 911 in case of emergency.
  2. Use the buddy system: When walking, biking or just standing at the bus stop, arrange to buddy up with a friend or family member.
  3. Always travel along well-lit common paths. Avoid shortcuts that put you into a vulnerable situation, including areas with higher crime rates, drug activity, teens hanging out, or even highways or railroad tracks.
  4. Follow the law and bicycle safety rules and wear a helmet.
  5. If an adult ever approaches a child for directions, to look for a lost puppy or because “Mom (or Dad) is hurt and in the hospital,” the child should know these are lures predators use to abduct a child.
  6. It is never appropriate to accept a ride from a stranger or even a known adult without the absolute permission of the parent.
  7. If the child is ever followed on foot or in a car, he or she should seek help immediately by calling 911 and going into the nearest police station or store.
  8. Trust your gut. When something seems wrong, it is wrong. If your belly feels funny or the hair on the back of your neck or arms stands on end, run to a safe place.
  9. Learn how to resist. Self-defense for kids is a necessary tool for fighting off a predatory adult. Kids should learn to kick and gouge and scream in the event an adult tries to compromise them.

10. Provide your child with your location and emergency contact info, along with a backup of another adult.

11. Never accept money, gifts or food from an adult under any circumstances.

12. Set up GPS tracking on your child’s mobile phone. Check with the phone’s manufacturer for setup instructions.

13. Beware of what’s being posted on social media. Always be aware that anyone, including authorities, predators or school administrators, may be watching. Post appropriately and do not reveal locations.

14. When getting home, make sure the house is locked before walking in. Always look for red flags that might signal an intrusion. If something seems wrong, it is wrong.

15. Consider Schlage’s Touchscreen Deadbolt, which is a keyless lock. Eliminating keys eliminates lost keys and lockouts.

Robert Siciliano home security expert to Schlage discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

Top 10 Identity Theft Scams

There are no shortage of ways identity thieves have to scam you out of your credit, cash and identity. Here are 10 more ways criminals pounce on their victims:

  1. Mailbox raiding. Moments after the postal carrier drops off your mail, a crackhead comes by and steals it.
  2. Dumpster diving. You know that mortgage company that you did business with before it went out of business? Well, the head idiot tossed all your records and his other clients’ personal information into the dumpster.
  3. Trash collecting. While similar to dumpster diving, it is not—because you are in control. Ask yourself this: “If someone stole my trash, would I be upset because my identity could be stolen?” If you say yes, then you should shred all your discarded papers.
  4. Caller ID spoofing. Phone fraud is a big deal. When scammers call you and pretend to be someone else, they may spoof caller ID to make you believe the source is a legitimate entity like the police, government agency, bank or lottery.
  5. Email phishing. Getting an email from your bank to update your account or simply access your statement is dangerous. Just delete it. Access your account via your browser’s favorites or password manager.
  6. Nigerian 419 scam. When General Motumboo Bumbooby emails you because there’s a trunk of money waiting from a dead relative, delete.
  7. ATM skimming. Anytime you use an ATM, your bank card is at risk. Look for external skimming devices and cover up the keypad with your other hand as you type your PIN.
  8. Credit card skimming. Handing your card over to a store clerk or waiter puts your digits at risk. Don’t worry about it, but diligently check your statements, frequently.
  9. Spyware. Remember that stupid weather toolbar you downloaded that wreaked havoc on your PC with all those popups? There’s a good chance spyware was also installed, letting a bad guy watch your every move.

10. Hacking. Because you don’t update your antivirus, your PC is vulnerable to remote-access Trojans that allow a criminal backdoor access to your My Documents folder.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to discussing identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.

5 Mobile Internet Security Lessons

Do these things every day religiously and you will be more secure using your mobile devices:

  1. Be careful on social sites: When logging on via mobile, know that among Facebook’s billion users, thousands or hundreds of thousands of criminals are out there too and targeting its users. Hackers are creating viruses that specifically target Android users on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube on wired and wireless connections.
  2. Beware of keyloggers that steal online passwords and take over accounts of your friends so they can send out malicious links that will have a good chance of being clicked. Scams like these prompt you to click malicious links. Mobile versions of social sites make it easy to post content and status updates and make it especially easy to click before you think.
  3. Change up your passwords: Don’t use the same password for your accounts. If a criminal gets your Facebook password and email address, he will try it on other sites. Use different user names and passwords on your different accounts, especially on accounts where you keep personal information, credit cards, bank account data and so on. Use a mobile password manager to help yourself out.
  4. Protect yourself wirelessly: Attacks on PCs work the same on mobiles, so if you use a laptop to connect to a free WiFi or a mobile, you are equally vulnerable. Install a virtual private network such as Hotspot Shield VPN that allows you to tunnel in through a protected internet connection.
  5. Keep software up to date. Automatically update programs on every device you own, including your smartphone and tablet. Outdated operating systems, software and antivirus are useless against new attacks.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures. For Robert’s FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

8 Things to Do After a Burglary

You come home and notice your stuff on the floor…then you see broken glass…and next you notice the window on the back door is shattered. Your heart starts to race, you start sweating and you begin to feel like you are going to get sick. You don’t want to believe it, but you’ve been burglarized. And you say to yourself, “This expletive sucks.”

It does suck. And it just might have been prevented if you had a home security system.

Anyway, this is what you do upon discovering a burglary:

Get out: Leave your home immediately. The criminal might still be in the house. Consider him or them armed and dangerous.

Call 911: Use your mobile to get the police on the line, quick. Let them come there and secure your home to make sure it’s safe. But don’t use your landline because in some cases, police may want to dust your home phone. It’s rare, but ask first.

Don’t touch anything: Doorknobs, windowsills, remote controls, toilet handles, refrigerator doors, etc. may have burglars’ fingerprints. You’d think police get all CSI and dust everything, but they often don’t. But if they detect an obvious entry point or a dirty fingerprint, they will.

Seek safety: Go to your car and lock it behind you, or to a neighbor’s, local store, whatever—just get out. But be within eyeshot for the police when they arrive. They will want to talk to you.

Expect to be questioned: Police will ask lots of questions, and you may not understand or appreciate the line of questioning. Just know that they are doing an investigation and have their reasons.

Call your insurance broker: Your insurance broker will have a process you must go through to record what was stolen to determine what’s covered.

Expect to feel violated: In the days and weeks following a break-in, you will notice more things missing or broken. The feelings of violation won’t go away anytime soon. In some cases it might be necessary to move, as burglarized properties develop a black cloud over them in the victims’ minds.

Be proactive: Don’t let this happen again. Invest in better doors, locks, security cameras and home alarm systems. Get a big dog, take a self-defense class, properly insure your goods, live your life and try not to worry about it.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Know the 10 Warning Signs of Identity Theft

As I have witnessed throughout the many years I have worked with victims, each type of identity theft can have a devastating impact. Victims with whom I have worked are taxpaying citizens who do the right thing and work hard to earn honest livings. When their personal information was compromised, thieves opened up financial accounts in their victims’ names, and when these new accounts were opened, it affected the victims’ ability to rent an apartment, buy a car or buy a home. When your good name is stolen and stained, you are thrown into a position where you are responsible for fixing it. This means you are delayed in getting the car, home or apartment you need. For those seeking employment, it also means you could lose the opportunity to get a job, because some employers check credit scores to learn more about prospective hires.

Here are 10 signs that your identity may have been compromised.

  1. You are denied credit for no reason. People often discover that their identity has been stolen when they are denied credit. So when you apply for a loan to purchase a car or a home, and you are denied credit, you may discover that it is a result of your credit being damaged by fraud. Accounts may have been opened without your authorization, and the resulting bills would never have been paid.
  2. You are denied employment as a result of a background check. Some people learn that their identity has been stolen when they are denied employment. An employer may check an applicant’s credit history to determine whether he or she is financially responsible. If the applicant’s identity has been stolen, assuming the thief hasn’t been surreptitiously paying the bills, the employer rejects the applicant based on a credit history tainted by fraud.
  3. You are denied admission to school. Schools may also deny admission after checking a prospective student’s credit history, or the student may be unable to secure a college loan because an identity thief has opened accounts in the student’s name. Parents may also discover their identities have been stolen when they apply for loans to pay for their children’s tuition and are denied.
  4. A collection agency calls you for non-payment. Debt collectors may even call identity theft victims, demanding payment for goods or services that the victims never purchased or received.
  5. Arrests and false convictions. In a worst-case scenario, a victim is arrested for a crime he or she did not commit. The identity thief may have a fake ID with the victim’s information; once the thief is arrested and bail is posted, the thief walks while the victim is pursued.
  6. Wrong information on a credit report. When thieves open new accounts under the victim’s name, it is inevitable that the fraudulent accounts will show on the victim’s credit report.
  7. Mail stops arriving, or certain bills or statements don’t arrive. Identity thieves will steal victims’ mail—and in some cases change their mailing address via the Post Office to the fraudulent address of the identity thieves.
  8. You receive bills from companies you’ve never done business with. When an identity thief poses as you, he may buy products that are invoiced—and you receive the bill. In other situations, the thief might bounce a check or max out a credit card that was opened in your name.
  9. You are denied a tax refund. When an identity thief files taxes under your name before you do, he or she gets your refund. File early and protect your data year ‘round.

10. Psychological trauma. You end up in the loony bin because you have no idea how your life has spiraled out of control. Victims of identity theft often have no idea what is happening to them. At times they think they are going crazy and develop a sense of paranoia because they are the puppets and the thief is the puppeteer, all without them knowing it.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to discussing identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.

Consumers Hit With $14 Billion in Unwanted Card Charges

A new report by BillGuard examines the problems credit and debit cardholders are having with grey charges. Every year, millions of American consumers are forced or misled into paying fees and charges they never wanted or intended to pay. These charges, called ‘grey charges’, are typically small in nature, buried in terms of service agreements, and are written in a way that often confuses the average consumer.

The report discusses all 11 kinds of deceptive grey charges, including ‘free to paid’. The worst of the grey charges, it equates to approximately 115 million transactions, resulting in $6 billion in losses to consumers. An example of a free to paid grey charge is when a retailer offers a product for free during a trial period with a product return policy that is often misleading with obscure shipping dates, ultimately resulting in a charge the consumer didn’t want.

The problem with grey charges stems from the fact that they aren’t illegal. As a result, the existing laws on the books can’t stop them. Therefore, consumers must take control over their finances and card charges by exploring other opportunities and options.

The best option available is the BillGuard’s iPhone app. The free app intelligently prioritizes noteworthy, recent, and recurring charges across all of a cardholder’s credit and debit cards. The app uses crowdsourced analytics from BillGuard’s national Transaction Intelligence Network™ to help users quickly spot and recognize charges deemed questionable by other cardholders on their cards.

Robert Siciliano is a personal security expert & and is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailadress -to 411247.

5 Tips to Becoming Digitally Secure

Your digital life and your physical life coexist like land and sky which meet at the horizon all day and night. This means while you are present here on the ground, you also exist online. Coming to terms with this reality will help you make better decisions about securing that online self.

  1. Get device proficient: On a laptop, desktop, Mac, tablet, or smartphone, figure out what you’re doing. Take the time to learn enough about your electronics to become an expert on them.
  2. Become socially savvy: Use your devices to communicate socially. Keep in mind that online is forever. Consider that years from now, that information could be damaging or embarrassing. Assume everything you post is public and will be searchable forever, even with the strongest privacy settings available.
  3. Google your online reputation: Search your name and see what’s being said. There are plenty of websites that know who you are and mention you in some fashion. Creating your online persona socially will help establish your online presence.
  4. Invest in security: It’s not just your PCs—your identity, hardware and software are being targeted by criminals 24/7/365. Use common sense and know that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Today’s tools can insulate you from many criminal tactics and even help you locate a missing device. Whenever using free wireless, know that chances are someone is snooping on your communications. Get a VPN (Virtual Private Network)to protect your digital communications.
  5. Use effective passwords: “Princess” and “123456” are not strong passwords. Combine uppercase and lowercase letters with numbers and other characters.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures. For Robert’s FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

What are the Risks from Mobile Eavesdropping?

Ever heard of mobile snoopware? For those affected, it’s unnerving and creates a sense of paranoia. I’ve worked with families that found spyware on their phones designed to watch their every move. The hacker, they say, turned their mobiles on and off, used the phone’s camera to take pictures, and use the speakerphone as a bug. All year long I receive emails from people who have experienced the same issues. Scary.

Mobile carrier networks are encrypted and aren’t likely to be snooped on, but they have been cracked. WiFi, on the other hand, is extremely vulnerable. There are a few ways to snoop on a mobile:

  • GPRS cracks: A phone’s 3G connection sometimes defaults to the hacker-created General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) if 3G isn’t available.
  • Bluetooth recorders: If you pair a Bluetooth headset with a phone, the sound comes through the earpiece—just as does a Bluetooth recorder sold through spy shops will. However, this often requires a hacker to have direct access to your mobile device.
  • Spyware device in hand: Snooping tools can monitor calls and texts. It’s legal when the phone’s owner installs it, such as a parent monitoring his or her kid’s phone.
  • Spyware remote install: Spyware doesn’t require physical access to the device when a user clicks an infected link or the device is on a free unsecured wireless connection.
  • Cracking encryption: Don’t worry about it unless you are a high-end executive or a government agent; in that case, anyway, you probably own a device that has advanced encryption in the hardware and software.
  • Bluetooth: Require a password to access your device and turn off Bluetooth. As always, keep the device close.
  • Spyware: Keep your device’s antivirus updated and beware of what links you click.
  • WiFi hacks: Use a virtual private network such as Hotspot Shield VPN.

Protect yourself from eavesdropping:

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.