Celebrity Identity Theft Issues

The only difference between a so-called celebrity and you and I is exposure. Their lives are subjected to much more attention than most people and for that they pay a price. Ours is a celebrity obsessed culture that has multiple TV programs every day of the week that focus solely on the lives of the popular people. With that attention often comes baggage unforeseen by the individual prior. But once they are in the spotlight they either shine or crash and burn.

The unfortunate side effect of this much attention is security issues. When a person has so many millions of eyeballs on them chances are there will be a stalker or two along with someone who will do their best to swindle them.

As McAfee recently pointed out criminals are also using celebrities on the internet to hack your PC. Cybercriminals often use the names of popular celebrities to lure people to sites that are actually laden with malicious software. Anyone looking for the latest videos or pictures could end up with a malware-ridden computer instead of just trendy content. Cameron Diaz has replaced Jessica Biel as the most dangerous celebrity to search for on the Web.

Jennifer Anniston along with Anne Hathaway, Liv Tyler, Cher and Melanie Griffith, among others were victims of credit card fraud to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars by their beautician. Liv Tyler was swindled out of $214,000. If these celebs weren’t paying attention to their credit card statements chances are they ate most of those fraudulent unauthorized charges. Card holders only have 60 days to dispute fraud. After that it’s up to the discretion of the bank if they want to hear your plea.

To ensure peace of mind —subscribe to an identity theft protection service, such as McAfee Identity Protection, which offers proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on your accounts. For additional tips, please visit http://www.counteridentitytheft.com

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee Consultant and Identity Theft Expert. See him discussing celebrity identity theft on CNBC. (Disclosures)

Choosing An Identity Protection Solution

When making a purchase, word of mouth is often the best way to arrive at a comfortable decision. But what do you do when the product is weighty and complex, as with a mortgage, mutual fund, or insurance policy? You go to the experts, who know the ins and outs of an offering.

My expertise is identity theft protection. And frankly, I’m confused by what many other companies are offering. I understand the gist of most of what they do, but what they are best at is smoke and mirrors. There is a fundamental lack of transparency in the identity protection industry.

Identity protection, first and foremost, needs to be transparent. You should know what you are getting and what it does and why it is a benefit to you.

Most identity theft protection services offer “monitoring.” But they don’t say what they monitor or how they monitor or what benefit that monitoring will provide you. Monitoring can mean searching the web with readily available free search engines, or it can mean searching for your data on a specific set of websites. Monitoring can also refer to credit monitoring, in which the provider has a relationship with one or more credit bureaus and alerts you if there is activity on your credit report.

These services also say they will help you recover from identity theft, but in the fine print they tell you that recovery is limited to what they protect if their service fails.

An identity theft protection service should inform you when your personally identifying information, such as your name, Social Security number, or credit or debit card number, are used to commit fraud or other crimes.

Identity theft protection should keep pace with the evolving criminal landscape and involve multiple layers of proactive monitoring, detection, automatic alerts, and an intuitive customer experience.

McAfee Identity Protection includes:

– Daily 3-bureau credit monitoring to detect potential financial fraud

– Identity surveillance capabilities to monitor the Internet, change-of-address databases and public records for inappropriate uses of your personal information

– Immediate notifications, via email, SMS text, or your McAfee online account, if any suspicious activity is detected

– Lost wallet protection to make it easy to safeguard your credit and debit card accounts by canceling lost or stolen cards on your behalf and ordering replacements

– Unlimited credit reports from Experian to help you to stay on top of your credit history

– Unlimited phone support from dedicated fraud resolution agents, who’ll work with you to help resolve any identity issues – even issues that occurred prior to your enrollment in McAfee Identity Protection

– A product guarantee of up to $1 million that covers you if you are victimized by identity theft while subscribed to McAfee Identity Protection.

McAfee hopes to educate consumers about identity theft so that they can make informed choices on the ways to protect themselves. McAfee has launched a new website dedicated to consumer education at http://www.counteridentitytheft.com/. The site includes a tool to help consumers access their risk for identity theft and make necessary adjustments.

Ultimately, you want to make an informed decision and invest in identity theft protection from a trusted provider. McAfee is one of the world’s largest and most trusted names in digital security. Protect your most important valuable asset — your identity — with McAfee Identity Protection.

Identity Theft – Common Consumer Errors

The major problem that consumers face today is a fundamental lack of understanding of what identity theft actually is. Most people think of identity theft as when someone uses your credit card without your permission. Fraudulent credit card use is certainly a multibillion dollar problem, but it’s only one small part of the identity theft threat. A comprehensive understanding of what identity theft and what it is not empowers citizens to make informed decisions about how they should protect themselves.

People who have been victimized by identity theft often have a difficult time functioning as a result of their circumstance. Some deal with minor administrative annoyances whiles others suffer financial devastation and legal nightmares.

No one is immune to identity theft:

A woman contacted me who was previously a very successful real estate agent and the president of her local real estate group. She had climbed the ranks from sales to broker/owner and oversaw dozens of employees. A former boyfriend stole her Social Security number and his new girlfriend used it to assume her identity. Over the course of five years the ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend traveled the world on stolen credit and destroyed the real estate agent’s ability to buy and sell property. Her real estate license was suspended and her life was turned upside down.

Awareness is key:

Do you carry your Social Security number or a Social Security card in your wallet? Do you provide this number to anyone who asks for it? The most commonly dispensed advice in response to these questions is: don’t carry the card and don’t give out the number. But in reality, there are many times when you have to use your Social Security number. Because this number is our primary identifier, we have to put it at risk constantly. Refusing to disclose your Social Security number under any circumstances is like refusing to eat because the food might be bad for you. There are always risks. The key is managing those risks and making smarter decisions.

Do you know what ATM skimming is? Have you seen a skimmer? Have you been phished? Would you know what a fraudulent auction looks like? Do you put your name on a “stop delivery list” when you travel? Do you know how to update the critical security patches in your computer’s operating system? Do you know if the doctor’s office your child just went to has done background checks on all the employees who handled your and your child’s Social Security number? Most people struggle to answer questions like these.

We live in a technologically dependant time and we rely on all these tools and modes of communication, and most people do not understand the risks. The good news is, I do. And McAfee does. And what we do is keep you informed of your options, so that you know how to protect yourself and your family.

The most important thing you can do right now is not worry about this stuff. But you do need to take some time to educate yourself.

Download McAfee’s eGuide,“What You Need to Know to Avoid Identity Theft.”

Take five minutes to assess your risk of identity theft. Fill out the Identity Theft Risk Assessment Tool to get your “risk profile.”