Another Identity Theft Ring Busted

Identity Theft Expert Robert Siciliano

The feds are getting better at busting criminals every day. Seventeen criminals, many from Eastern Europe, pilfered more than 95,000 stolen credit card numbers and $4 million worth of fraudulent transactions.

The New York Times reports the men were involved in a vast conspiracy known as the Western Express Cybercrime Group, which trafficked in stolen credit card information through the Internet and used it to create forged credit cards and to sell goods on eBay. They used digital currencies like e-gold and Webmoney to launder their proceeds.

Several of the scammers — Viatcheslav Vasilyev, Vladimir Kramarenko, Egor Shevelev, Dzimitry Burak and Oleg Kovelin — were charged with corruption. Vasilyev, 33, and Kramarenko, 31, were arrested at their homes in Prague, have been extradited to Manhattan. Shevelev, 23, was arrested in Greece last year, is still awaiting extradition. Burak, 26, a citizen of Belarus and Kovelin, 28, a citizen of Moldova have not been arrested

Vasilyev and Kramarenko recruited work from home employees to advertise and sell electronics on eBay. When someone would purchase an item, the two men would pocket the buyer’s payment, give a cut to their recruit, then use a stolen credit card number to purchase the item from a retail store and send it to the buyer. In essence, they used eBay to obtain a legitimate buyer’s credit card number through a legitimate channel and didn’t actually “hack” anything. They simply set up pseudo-fake auctions that, in most cases, delivered the product, but also obtained the victim’s credit card number and then made fraudulent charges.

Burak and Shevelev were “carders” who sold stolen credit card information on a website called Dumpsmarket and, probably, in chat rooms. “Dumps” is a criminal term for stolen credit cards and “carders” are the scammers who buy and sell them. Kovelin was a criminal hacker who stole victims’ financial information via phishing emails and more than likely used the victims’ own account information against them.

Protect yourself:

  1. Check your credit card statements often, especially after using an online auction site. Refute unauthorized charged within 60 days to be made whole by the issuing bank.
  2. Don’t just buy the lowest priced product on and auction site. Use auction sellers who have been approved my many and have a solid track record.
  3. Anytime you ever receive an email asking for personal information, credit information, banking etc, do not enter it. Just hit delete. Often victims will receive and email from a trusted source like eBay directly to their account because they have been actively engaging the fraudulent auctioneer. eBays system doesn’t recommend giving your credit card information outside their network in an email.
  4. Get a credit freeze. Go to ConsumersUnion.org and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.
  5. Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft protection can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk.

Identity Theft Speaker Robert Siciliano discusses a study done by McAfee on mules bilked in work-at-home scams on Fox News

Big Time Identity Theft Hackers Indicted

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

ABC news and a bazillion other outlets report that a former informant for the Secret Service was one of three men charged with stealing credit and debit card information from 170 million accounts in the largest data breach in history. The former informant, Albert Gonzalez of Florida, A.K.A “Segvec”, “SoupNazi,” and “j4guar17,” whose motto was ”Get Rich or Die Tryin'” was alleged to have been the ringleader of the criminal hacking operation of a prolific network that spans over five years of serious criminal activity. Once a criminal, always a criminal.

Gonzalez and two other unidentified hackers believed to be from Russia have been charged with hacking into Heartland Payment Systems, 7-11 and Hannaford Brothers Company, Dave and Busters and TJX Corporation, which involved up to 45 million credit card numbers..

Gonzalez was originally arrested in 2003 by the U.S. Secret Service and began working with the agency as an informant. Federal investigators say they later learned that the hacker had been tipping off other hackers on how to evade detection of security and law enforcement worldwide.

Gonzalez provided “sniffer” software used to intercept the credit and debit card numbers for the Russian hackers. Sniffer software or “malware” malicious software, acts like a virus attaching itself to a network and often spreading. The software allows the criminal hacker backdoor access to all the data in the server and provides remote control functionality.

The NY Times reports according to the indictment, Gonzalez and his conspirators reviewed lists of Fortune 500 companies to decide which corporations to take aim at and visited their stores and used a technique called “wardriving” to monitor wireless networks. The online attacks took advantage of flaws in the SQL programming language, which is commonly used for databases.

Threat Level, by Wired magazine, reported that Gonzalez had lived a lavish lifestyle in Miami, once spending $75,000 on a birthday party for himself and complaining to friends that he had to manually count thousands of $20 bills when his counting machine broke.

Protect yourself;

1. You can’t prevent this type of credit card fraud from happening to you when the retailer isn’t protecting your data. Eventually credit card protection solutions will  be available. For now, protecting yourself from account takeover is relatively easy. Simply pay attention to your statements every month and refute unauthorized charges immediately. I check my charges online once every two weeks. If I’m traveling extensively, especially out of the country, I let the credit card company know ahead of time, so they won’t shut down my card while I’m on the road.

2. Prevent new account fraud.  Get a credit freeze. Go to ConsumersUnion.org and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.

3. Invest in Intelius Identity Theft Protection and Prevention. While not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, you can effectively manage your personal identifying information by knowing what’s buzzing out there in regards to YOU.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing credit card data breaches and the sad state of cyber security on Fox News

Identity Theft Is Easy Over P2P

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Peer to peer file sharing is a great technology used to share data over peer networks. It’s also great software to get hacked and have your identity stolen.

Installing P2P software allows anyone, including criminal hackers, to access your data. This can result in data breaches, credit card fraud and identity theft. This is the easiest and, frankly, the most fun kind of hacking. I’ve seen numerous reports of government agencies, drug companies, mortgage brokers and others discovering P2P software on their networks after personal data was leaked.

The Register reports that a Washington state man has been sentenced to more than three years in federal prison after admitting to using file-sharing program LimeWire to steal tax returns and other sensitive documents. He searched LimeWire users’ hard drives for files containing words such as “statement,” “account,” and “tax.pdf.” He would then download tax returns, bank statements, and other sensitive documents and use them to steal identities.

I did a story with a Fox News reporter and a local family who had four kids, including a 15-year-old with an iPod full of music, but no money. I asked her dad where she got all her music and he replied, “I have no idea.” He had no idea that his daughter had installed P2P software on the family computer and was sharing all their data with the world. The reporter asked me how much personal information I could find on the P2P network in five minutes. I responded, “Let’s do it in one minute.”

There are millions of PCs loaded with P2P software, and parents are usually clueless about the exposure of their data. P2P offers a path of least resistance into a person’s computer, so be smart and make sure you aren’t opening a door to identity thieves.

  • Don’t install P2P software on your computer.
  • If you aren’t sure whether a family member or employee has installed P2P software, check to see whether anything unfamiliar has been installed. A look at your “All Programs Menu” will show nearly every program on your computer. If you find an unfamiliar program, do an online search to see what it is you’ve found.
  • Set administrative privileges to prevent the installation of new software without your knowledge.
  • If you must use P2P software, be sure that you don’t share your hard drive’s data. When you install and configure the software, don’t let the P2P program select data for you.
  • Get a credit freeze. Go to ConsumersUnion.org and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name.
  • And invest in Intelius identity theft protection. Not all forms of identity theft protection can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk.

Robert Siciliano, identity theft speaker, discusses P2P hacks on Fox.

Identity Theft Attempt at Defcon

Identity Theft Expert Robert Siciliano

Hackers hacked hackers at the annual Defcon conference in Las Vegas this past weekend. Defcon is a conference for hackers of all breeds. There are good guys, bad guys, those who are somewhere in between, plus law enforcement and government agents. All kinds of inventive people with an intuition for technology decend on Las Vegas to learn, explore, and hack.

At this year’s Defcon, someone planted a real, rigged, malicious ATM right outside the security office of the Riviera Hotel and Casino. For some reason, the area outside the security office doesn’t have any security cameras, which made it an easy place to attempt a scam. Scams like this are common in Las Vegas, due to the city’s transient nature and frantic pace. Everyone is looking for a quick buck, and what better place to pull of an ATM scam than Vegas?

ATM skimming comes in two flavors. In the first scenario, a device called a “skimmer” is placed on the face of an operational ATM. When a card is swiped, the skimmer records the data on the card, and a hidden camera generally records the PIN. Usually, money is dispensed. In the second scenario, a used ATM is rigged to record data, and placed in a public area. These ATMs are only semi-operational, and do not dispense cash. This is the type of ATM that was found in Las Vegas.

A conference attendee uncovered the scam when he attempted to use the machine and recieved an error message. Upon further investigation, a computer was discovered where the security camera should have been. The computer was recording all the victims’ details. That’s when the alarm was sounded and the area became a crime scene.

You can protect yourself from these types of scams by paying attention to your statements. Refute unauthorized transactions within 60 days. Consider never using a debit card again, since credit cards are safer. When using an ATM, pay close attention to details, and look for anything that seems out of place. If your card gets stuck in the machine or you notice anything odd about the appearance of the machine, such as wires, double sided tape, error messages, a missing security camera, or the machine seems unusually old and run down, don’t use it. Don’t use just any ATM. Instead, look for ATMs in more secure locations. (Of course, just outside the security office isn’t exactly the middle of nowhere, so always be alert.) Use strong PINs, with both upper and lowercase letters, as well as numbers. And invest in Intelius Identity Theft Protection and Prevention. Not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing ATM skimming on Fox News

Debit Cards at Risk for Identity Theft

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

There are 437,000,000 debit cards in circulation, and their use is on the rise. Criminal hackers are paying attention. Credit cards offer some measure of protection, but when a debit card is compromised, the stolen money is taken directly from the victim’s bank account.

Federal laws limit cardholder liability to $50.00 in the case of credit card fraud, as long as the cardholder disputes the charge within 60 days. Debit card fraud victims must notify the bank within two days in order to maintain this $50.00 limit. After that, the maximum liability jumps to $500.00. And if a victim doesn’t discover or report the fraud until after 60 days have passed, the liability could be the entire card balance, for a debit or credit card. Once your debit card is compromised, you might not find out until a check bounces or the card is declined. And once you do recover the funds, the thief can just start all over again, unless you cancel the account altogether.

There are a few known scams that can make you vulnerable to debit card fraud.

There’s the bait and switch. When making a purchase online, you may be prompted to make an additional purchase that appears to be a one time fee, but is actually an ongoing monthly debit that is nearly impossible to cancel. That’s when canceling your card is the only way out. While this isn’t technically criminal hacking, it is very slimy marketing. The best way to protect yourself from this one is to always read the fine print before making an online purchase. Just be smart.

Unless you have been living in a cave, you’ve probably received a phishing email at some point. Criminal hackers, assisted by teams of psychologists and sociologists, are designing and selling phishing kits to one another. They know what makes you tick and they know what will convince you to click on a link. These people are professionals. There used to be a day when phish emails contained obvious misspellings and but now they are organized and sophisticated. And as more people go paperless and get their bank statements online, it is becoming more common for criminals to take advantage of that process, sending emails that appear to be statement notifications. If you think an email might be phishing, delete it immediately. And don’t click on links in emails. Either manually type the link into the address bar, or use your bookmarks menu.

According the the Secret Service, Skimming is one of the financial industry’s fastest growing crimes. The ATM Industry Association reports over one billion dollars in annual global losses from credit card fraud and electronic crime associated with ATMs. A skimmer is a hardware device that a thief places on the face of an ATM, which matches the machine itself. It’s almost impossible for a civilian to notice the difference unless the skimmer is of poor quality, or the civilian has a unique eye for security. Often, the thieves will mount a small pinhole camera somewhere near the ATM, perhaps in a brochure holder, to record the victim’s PIN. Gas pumps are equally vulnerable to this scam. Pay very close attention during ATM and gas pump transactions. If something seems wrong, it is wrong. Look for double stick tape, removable features on the face of the ATM, a card sticking inside the reader, or additional mirrors or brochure holders that could contain a small camera.

1. Prevent new account fraud.  Get a credit freeze. Go to ConsumersUnion.org and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.

2. Invest in Intelius Identity Theft Protection and Prevention. While not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, you can effectively manage your personal identifying information by knowing what’s buzzing out there in regards to YOU.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing ATM skimming on Fox News Here and credit card fraud on CNBC Here

XX

Web Based emails Insecurity Leads to Identity Theft

Robert Siciliano identity theft expert

I recently appeared on Fox and Friends to discuss email hacking. Dave Briggs, a FOX & Friends Weekend co-host, lost access to his Hotmail email account when hackers were able to guess either his password or his qualifying question. (He admitted that his password was not as strong as it should have been.) The hackers locked Briggs out of his own account and spammed all of his contacts with a fraudulent email that appeared to be written by Briggs himself, claiming that he was trapped in Malaysia and requesting that someone help him by transferring money via Western Union. Only after persistently contacting Hotmail administrators was Briggs able to regain control of his own email account.

Twitter was targeted by a similar hack, which led to a data breach. It is likely that the hacker guessed the answer to a Twitter employee’s security question and reset the employee’s password. On Wednesday, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone blogged, “About a month ago, an administrative employee here at Twitter was targeted and her personal email account was hacked. From the personal account, we believe the hacker was able to gain information which allowed access to this employee’s Google Apps account which contained Docs, Calendars, and other Google Apps Twitter relies on for sharing notes, spreadsheets, ideas, financial details and more within the company.”

And of course, Sarah Palin’s Yahoo email account was hacked into last year, during the presidential campaign. The hacker explained how easy it was in Wired.

Web-based email rocks! Since you’re no longer tethered to a PC-based client, you can access your email from anywhere. And all the data saved in your email account will be safe if your PC crashes. Many web-based email providers offer gigabytes of free storage and other useful tools like documents, RSS readers, and calendars. Life in the cloud is easier and more convenient. But is it secure?

PC Pro reported on a study run by Microsoft Research and Carnegie Mellon University, which measured the reliability and security of the questions that the four most popular webmail providers use to reset account passwords. AOL, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo all rely on personal questions to authenticate users who have forgotten their passwords. The study found that the “secret questions” used by all four webmail providers were insufficiently reliable authenticators, and that the security of personal question appears much weaker than passwords themselves. Yahoo claims to have updated all their personal questions in response to this study, but AOL, Google, and Microsoft have yet to make any changed.

Once a hacker has your email address, he or she can simply go to the “forgot password” section of your email provider’s website and respond to a preselected personal question that you answered when signing up for the account. With a little research, the hacker has a good shot at finding the correct answer.

Some of the current questions could be answered using information found on a user’s social networking profile, or through a website like Ancestry.com or Genealogy.com. Some answers might be found in the user’s trash. Some questions seek opinions, rather than facts. For example, “Who is your favorite aunt?” requires an opinion in response, but if a hacker knew the names of all your aunts, he or she could enter them all one by one. Some questions would be more difficult to answer. Unfortunately, if you signed up for your web-based email account over a year ago, before these email hacks became more common, your questions may be even easier to answer.

Gmail’s current personal questions are:

  • What is your frequent flyer number?
  • What is your library card number?
  • What was your first phone number?
  • What was your first teacher’s name?
  • Write my own question

Yahoo’s current personal questions are:

  • What is the first name of your favorite uncle?
  • Where did you meet your spouse?
  • What is your oldest cousin’s name?
  • What is your oldest child’s nickname?
  • What is the first name of your oldest niece?
  • What is the first name of your oldest nephew?
  • What is the first name of your favorite aunt?
  • Where did you spend your honeymoon?

I suggest that you check out the “forgot password” section on your own web-based email account, to see your current personal question. If it’s easy to answer, or would only require a little research to solve, update the question with one that you create based on opinion, as opposed to fact. And keep in mind that most people list “pizza” as their favorite food and “liver” as their least favorite. So be creative. You should also beef up your password. Combine uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers. Don’t use consecutive numbers, and never use names of pets, family members, or close friends.

1. Get a credit freeze. Go online now and search “credit freeze” or “security freeze” and go to consumersunion.org and follow the steps for the state you live in. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes the SSN useless to the thief.

2. Invest in Intelius Identity Theft Prevention and Protection. While not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, you can effectively manage your personal identifying information by knowing what’s buzzing out there in regards to YOU.

Includes;

Personal Identity Profile – Find out if you’re at risk for identity theft with a detailed report of your identity information, including a current credit report, address history, aliases, and more.

24/7 Identity Monitoring and Alerts – Prevent identity theft with automatic monitoring that scans billions of public records daily and alerts you to suspicious activity.

Identity Recovery Assistance – Let professionals help you recover your identity if you ever become a victim of identity theft.

Robert Siciliano, identity theft speaker, discusses hacked email on FOX & Friends.

ATM Fraud Increases Identity Theft Risk

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

A spate of recent news reports highlight growing ATM fraud. Law enforcement in New York City reported a gang had stolen $500,000 from bank accounts via ATM skimming. They installed cameras and skimming devices on the machines, and recorded the magnetic strips and the PIN numbers.

A recent survey points towards ATM fraud rising 5-9 percent. Seventy percent of those poled experienced a jump between 2007 and 2008. Many of the large data breaches that have occurred over the past few years may have contributed to the fraud.

It’s simple enough to hack into a database and compromise cards and pins. It’s even easier to affix hardware to the face of an ATM machine and do the same. Once the data is compromised the identity thieves clone cards and turn the data into cash as quickly.

Bankinfosecurity.com recently published “7 Growing Threats to Financial Institutions”. This post is a play on that; “7 Growing Threats to You”

#1 Skimming; Hardware readily available online that is attached to the face of an ATM records user card information and pin codes. In this case you may still be able to perform a transaction.

#2 Ghost ATMs; A card reader is blocked off and replaced with hardware that supersedes the machine and records all your data without allowing a transaction. The machine reads “Can’t complete transaction”.

#3 Dummy ATMs; In some cases an ATM is bought off of eBay (do a search) or elsewhere and installed anywhere there is foot traffic. The machine is set up for one purpose; read data. The machine might be powered by car batteries or plugged in the nearest outlet.

#4 Ram Raids; ATMs built into a wall or stand alone are being rammed by a truck and/or wrapped with chain and pulled out then loaded onto a truck. Once removed the thieves blow torch the machine taking the cash. This is a hot topic in Mexican banks, buy certainly happens everywhere. A bank would be smart to install battery backed GPS in any machine.

#5 PIN ID’s; Sophisticated criminal hackers break into a database or skim magnetic strips. They then go to an online banking site with a hacking software that plugs in various well known PINs. These PINs might be consecutive numbers, peoples names, pets names, birthdates, or other various simple pass phrases people use. When it finds a match it gives the criminal access to your account.

#6 Automated PIN Changes; Criminals go through the banks telephone banking system to change the customers PIN. They may try to change the customers ANI (Automatic Number Identification) is a system utilized by telephone companies to identify the DN (Directory Number) of a caller. This might be accomplished via “Caller ID Spoofing”. They use publicly available data on the card holder such as name, card account number and last four digits of the social security number to “verify” them as the banks customer.

#7 SMS Attacks; AKA Smishing or Phexting – phish texting. Customers receive a text from a bank on their smartphone requesting login information.

#8 Malware or Malicious Software; Researchers found a virus that specifically infects ATMs and takes over the machine logging card numbers and pins.

How to protect yourself;

First and foremost; Pay attention to your statements every two weeks. Refute unauthorized transactions within a 30-60 day time frame.

1. Pay close attention to everything you do at an ATM. Look for “red flags”, anything out of place. If your card sticks, odd looking configurations on the ATM, wires, two sided tape.
2. Use strong PINs, uppercase lower case, alpha and numeric online and when possible at an ATM and for telephone banking.
3. Don’t reply to phishing or phexting emails. Just hit delete.
4. Don’t just use “any” ATM. Choose ATMs at locations that are “more secure” than in the middle of nowhere.
5. Make sure your McAfee anti-virus is up to date.
6. Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Because when all else fails its good to have someone watching your back.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing ATM skimming

Social Security Numbers Cracked, Creates Identity Theft Risk

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

SearchSecurity.com reports that researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a reliable method to predict Social Security numbers using information from social networking sites, data brokers, voter registration lists, online white pages and the publicly available Social Security Administration’s Death Master File.

Originally, the first three numbers on a Social Security card represented the state in which a person had initially applied for their card. Numbers started in the northeast and moved westward. This meant that people on the east coast had the lowest numbers and those on the west coast had the highest. Before 1986, people were rarely assigned a Social Security number until age 14 or so, since the numbers were used for income tracking purposes.

The Carnegie Mellon researchers were able to guess the first five digits of a Social Security number on their first attempt for 44% of people born after 1988. For those in less populated states, the researches had a 90% success rate. In fewer than 1,000 attempts, the researchers could identify a complete Social Security number, “making SSNs akin to 3-digit financial PINs.” “Unless mitigating strategies are implemented, the predictability of SSNs exposes them to risks of identify theft on mass scales,” the researchers wrote.

While the researchers work is certainly an accomplishment, the potential to predict Social Security numbers is the least of our problems. Social Security numbers can be found in unprotected file cabinets and databases in thousands of government offices, corporations and educational institutions. Networks are like candy bars – Social Security numbers can be hacked from outside the hard chocolate shell or from the soft and chewy inside.

The problem stems from that fact that our existing system of identification is seriously outdated and needs to be significantly updated. We rely on nine digits as a single identifier, the key to the kingdom, despite the fact that our Social Security numbers have no physical relationship to who we actually are. We will only begin to solve this problem when we incorporate multiple levels of authentication into our identification process.

The process of true and thorough authentication begins with “identity proofing.” Identity proofing is a solution that begins to identify, authenticate and authorize. Consumers, merchants, government don’t just need authentication. We need a solution that ties all three of these components together.

Jeff Maynard, President and CEO of Biometric Signature ID, provides a simple answer to a complicated issue in four parts:

Identify – A user must be identified when compared to others in a database. We refer to this as a reference identity. A unique PIN, password or username is created and associated with your credential or profile.

Authenticate – Authentication is different than verification of identity. Authentication is the ability to verify the identity of an individual based specifically on their unique characteristics. This is known as a positive ID and is only possible when using a biometric. A biometric can be either static or dynamic (behavioral). A static biometric is anatomical or physiological, such as a face, a fingerprint or DNA. A dynamic biometric is behavioral, such as a signature gesture, voice, or possibly gait. This explains why, when authentication solutions incorporate multiple factors, at least two of the following identifiers are required: something you have, such as a token or card, something you are, meaning a biometric identifier, and something you know, meaning a pin or password.

Verify – Verification is used when the identity of a person cannot be definitely established. These technologies provide real time assessment of the validity of an asserted identity. When we can’t know who the individual is, we get as close as we can in order to verify their asserted identity. PINs, passwords, tokens, cards, IP addresses, behavioral based trend data and credit cards are often used for verification. These usually fall into the realm of something you have or something youknow.

Authorize – Once the user has passed the identification test and authenticated their identity, they can make a purchase or have some other action approved. Merchants would love to have a customer’s authenticated signature to indicate his or her approval of a credit card charge. This is authorization.

Effective identification results in accountability. It is being achieved in small segments of government and in the corporate world, but not systematically. Unfortunately, we are years away from full authentication.

1. Get a credit freeze. Go online now and search “credit freeze” or “security freeze” and go to consumersunion.org and follow the steps for the state you live in. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes the SSN useless to the thief.

2. Invest in Intelius Identity Theft Protection. While not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, you can effectively manage your personal identifying information by knowing what’s buzzing out there in regards to YOU.

Includes;
Personal Identity Profile – Find out if you’re at risk for identity theft with a detailed report of your identity information, including a current credit report, address history, aliases, and more.

24/7 Identity Monitoring and Alerts – Prevent identity theft with automatic monitoring that scans billions of public records daily and alerts you to suspicious activity.

Identity Recovery Assistance – Let professionals help you recover your identity if you ever become a victim of identity theft.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing identity theft

Identity Theft Expert; Fake IDs are as easy as 1,2,3

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Do an online search for “fake ids” and you’ll be amazed to discover how easy it can be to obtain an ID allowing you to pose as someone else. Or how easy it can be for someone else to obtain an ID that will allow him or her to pose as you. Some websites peddle poor quality cards, others offer excellent quality, and many websites are simply scams.

The fact is, our existing identification systems are insufficiently secure, and our identifying documents are easily copied. Anyone with a computer, scanner and printer can recreate an ID. Outdated systems exasperate the problem by making it too easy to obtain a real ID at the DMV, with either legitimate or falsified information.

Another glitch is the potential for individuals to completely alter their appearances. Men with facial hair can wreak havoc on the current system. This is sometimes done as a prank. In other cases, the individual is attempting to subvert the system to maintain a degree of anonymity. New technologies, such as facial recognition, should eventually resolve some of these problems, but they are still years away from being fully implemented.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, a man was able to obtain six different IDs. He accomplished this by visiting various different registries throughout the state and using borrowed names and stolen information. He obtained job applicant data from a failed body shop business he had owned. He used the false identities to open checking accounts at multiple banks and write fraudulent checks to himself.  He was caught while applying for his seventh ID, thanks to facial recognition software. But it is disturbing to know that he was able to acquire six different identities, all stolen from real people, without detection. It was a bank employee who eventually noticed that he had two different bank accounts under two different names. If the man hadn’t been so greedy, he would have gotten away with it.

In Indianapolis and other registries the daily photos are compared to millions of others already on file. The system constantly scans the data and presents cases that might match, requiring further investigation by registry employees.

Some of the requirements of improving facial recognition include not smiling for your picture or smile as long as you keep your lips together. Other requirements meant to aid the facial recognition software include keeping your head upright (not tilted), not wearing eyeglasses in the photo, not wearing head coverings, and keeping your hair from obscuring your forehead, eyebrows, eyes, or ears.

The fact is, identity theft is a big problem due to a systematic lack of effective identification and is going to continue to be a problem until further notice. In the meantime it is up to you to protect yourself. The best defense from new account fraud is identity theft protection.

1. Get a credit freeze. Go online now and search “credit freeze” or “security freeze” and go to consumersunion.org and follow the steps for the state you live in. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name.

2. Invest in Intelius Identity Protect. While not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, you can effectively manage your personal identifying information by knowing what’s buzzing out there in regards to YOU.
Includes;

Personal Identity Profile – Find out if you’re at risk for identity theft with a detailed report of your identity information, including a current credit report, address history, aliases, and more.

24/7 Identity Monitoring and Alerts – Prevent identity theft with automatic monitoring that scans billions of public records daily and alerts you to suspicious activity.

Identity Recovery Assistance – Let professionals help you recover your identity if you ever become a victim of identity theft.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing identity theft

Judge Rules; It is legal to post Social Security numbers on Web sites

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

B.J. Ostergren is a proud Virginian. She’s known as “The Virginia Watchdog,” but I like to call her “The Pit Bull of Personal Privacy.” She is relentless in her efforts to protect citizens’ privacy, and she is primarily concerned with the posting of personal information online. So in order to make this point, she finds politicians’ personal information on their own states’ websites, and republishes that information online.

Publicly appointed government employees known as Clerks of Courts, County Clerks or Registrars are responsible for handling and managing public records, including birth, death, marriage, court, property and business filings for municipalities. Every state, city and town has its own set of regulations determining how data is collected and made available to the public.

The Privacy Act of 1974 is a federal law that establishes a code of fair information practices governing the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of personally identifiable information about individuals that is maintained in systems of records by federal agencies.

Over the years, many have interpreted this law to allow public information, including Social Security numbers, to be posted online. I’ve seen Social Security numbers for Jeb Bush, Colin Powell, former CIA Director Porter Goss, Troy Aiken, and Donald Trump, all published on the Internet.

Years ago, B.J. discovered that several states, including her home state of Virginia, were posting our records online, and she immediately saw how this could contribute to identity theft. She has downloaded as many as 22,000 Social Security numbers from deeds, mortgages, tax liens from the websites of circuit courts, registers of deeds and secretaries of state. She made a concerted effort to inform each agency that what they were doing was unethical, at the very least, and possibly even criminal. But she was often rebuked. That’s when she decided to fight back. When government agencies stopped listening, she started posting politicians’ personal information on her own website, “The Virginia Watchdog.” This certainly attracted the attention of officials, but it also created a backlash against her.

Some states resolved the issue by redacting the Social Security numbers, but Virginia did not. B.J. persisted in informing them of the problem and, as the Richmond Times Dispatch put it, “the state decided that the person who brought the problem to their attention was the problem.”

A 2008 Virgina state law prohibited disseminating information taken from public records, and thus, prohibited B.J. from posting publicly available information on her own website. So legally, it was okay for the County Clerk to do it, but nobody else was allowed. U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Payne recently ruled that this 2008 state law is a violation of First Amendment rights. It’s a win for B.J., but this doesn’t resolve the initial privacy issue.

So how does this impact you? This means that while you can do everything possible to protect yourself from fraud and identity theft, your local government may be circumventing your security efforts by posting your personal data online. B.J.’s fight has led to the resolution of some issues and prompted some states to redact data, but the battle is far from over.

Visit B.J.’s site, The Virginia Watchdog, to become more informed about one woman’s quest to point out what’s wrong and to fight for what’s right.

Next, protecting yourself from new account fraud requires a credit freeze, or setting up your own fraud alerts. This provides an extra layer of protection. In most cases it prevents the opening of new credit.

Consider making an investment in Intelius Identity Protect. Because when all else fails you’ll have someone watching your back. Includes a Free Credit Report, SSN monitoring, Credit & Debit Card monitoring, Bank Account monitoring, Email fraud alerts, Public Records Monitoring, Customizable “Watch List”, $25,000 in ID theft insurance, Junk Mail OptOut and Credit Card Offer OptOut.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing availability of Social Security numbers