Identity Theft on the rise affecting over 13 Million

13.1 million people were stricken by identity theft last year in America, reports a study by Javelin Strategy & Research which reveals:

  • Many people who don’t trust their banks are unwittingly doing things that make crime easier for crooks. This includes not using the bank’s protection services such as e-mail alerts.
  • Oddly, there are more victims than ever, but the total amount stolen is less. But that hardly matters when you consider that in the past six years, $112 billion have been stolen.
  • 18 percent of U.S. identity fraud involving cards was carried out beyond the U.S.
  • New-account fraud is being driven by EMV.

Javelin Strategy & Research’s Recommendations

  • Every account should have a different password. Every password should be long and strong, not containing keyboard sequences or actual words or proper nouns (sorry, this means no Metallica1), and including a mix of characters.
  • Consider using a password manager.
  • Smartphone protection is a must. This means being vigilant about updates and using all security features offered by the device like passcodes or fingerprint access.
  • Sign up for account alerts. Alerts come in different flavors. For instance, you’ll be alerted for purchases exceeding a specified limit or occurring outside your state. See if your bank or credit card issuer provides alerts for international transactions.
  • Put a freeze on your credit. This will prevent anyone but you from opening an account in your name, and it’s cheap to do. But if you unexpectedly find you must open a new line of credit, the freeze can be lifted.
  • If you suspect any suspicious activity, jump on it immediately. Any delay in notifying the credit card company or bank can make it harder for them to resolve the problem.

In addition, inspect your credit card statements every month. Do not dismiss tiny charges that you’re not familiar with just because they’re tiny. Sometimes, crooks will “test the waters” and make miniscule charges to see if they can get away with it. Their intention is to then escalate and ultimately max out the card.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention

Indiana Is a Big Target for Identity Theft

As the holiday shopping season quickly approaches, identity thieves are quickly looking for their next victims. In Indiana, government officials are taking steps to stop these thieves in their tracks. Just recently, the state’s Attorney General Greg Zoeller was in Fort Wayne to announce the launch of “Freeze Identity Thieves.”

2PThis program, which is designed to protect consumers who may become victims of identity theft, allows people to freeze their credit online, for free. And it’s been around since 2008. He just figured it out.

This past year, there were reports of more than 400 data breaches in the state, which allowed for the exposure of financial and personal information. In addition, there were more than 1,000 identity theft complaints filed. Zoeller does not want this number to get any higher.

Why is Indiana such a big target? I suspect it’s due to a couple of reasons. First, I think they may simply be a bit behind on the available security upgrades. This is a simple fix, fortunately, as long as the state begins to improve their security policies. Another reason is that there could be an individual or even an identity theft ring that is wreaking havoc on residents of the Hoosier state.

Zoeller urges every resident in Indiana to assume that their information has been compromised. Agreed. Actually, if you are a US citizen, with the billion plus records breached, consider your identity stolen. Though you may not be a victim of identity theft at this point, it may be a good idea to freeze your credit information now, so you do not become a victim of identity theft later.

You may be wondering if this action will work, or if freezing your credit reports is enough to prevent identity theft. The answer is yes. This type of credit freeze is something that all states adopted in February 2008 and in my opinion, and it will lock down your credit report, which will prevent fraud.

Brief FAQ About Credit Freezing

When is it a good idea to freeze my credit?

If you are 18 years old or older and have a credit report, you should freeze your credit. You should also freeze it if you are under the age of 18 and your identity has been stolen in the past.

What should I consider before ordering a freeze on my credit?

Don’t consider anything, just do it. Your credit should be frozen across the board, even though lenders have been trying to prevent this. Why? Because they would be unable to give out instant credit, and it would “gum up” the lending system.

What does it cost to freeze a credit report?

Depending on where you live, it costs between $0 and $15 to freeze your credit report. To apply for a new line of credit, you will pay between $0 to $5 to thaw the report.

Where can I freeze my credit report?

You can freeze your credit report by contacting the three main credit bureaus by following the links, below:

Equifax

Transunion

Experian

Credit freezing stops an identity theft from using stolen information, such as a Social Security number, from accessing and racking up credit in your name. Once the freeze begins, you can lift it at any time, such as when you need a new loan or want to apply for a new credit card. Also, just because your credit report is frozen, it does not mean that you cannot use your present credit.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.

Protect your Identity when saying “I Do”

7WWho has time to think about identity protection when planning a wedding? And why, for that matter? Well, there’s good reason: Marriage begets a change in identities. The months preceding the big day should be when the couple starts taking action to avoid identity theft.

  • If you’re using any website or smartphone application to organize your wedding, make sure it’s protected with a password—a long password that contains zero clues about your wedding, identity or anything else personal. An ideal password is upper/lowercase, numbers, long and can be remembered without keyboard sequences or actual words or proper names, and includes various symbols. Please, no HoneyBunch1 or St.LuciaWeGo.
  • Health insurance will be merged once you are husband and wife, so make sure that old insurance documentation is eradicated.
  • Wedding preparations involve a lot of spending, right down to the custom made napkins at the dinner reception. Some say pay with currency as much as possible, as checks and credit cards contain information that a thief could obtain. But really, pay with a credit card and closely watch your statements.
  • Make sure nobody can get into your mail box, because it will soon be receiving scads of documents reflecting a woman’s new last name, such as a driver’s license, credit card, Social Security card, to name a few. Get a locking mail box, and maybe have the post-wedding mail delivered to a P.O. box or to your post office and then retrieve it in person.
  • Buy a shredder. This is so that you can destroy all the reams of old documents with the previous surname. This would include old checks, the old ATM card, bank statements, driver’s license, auto insurance information and so much more.
  • Once on the honeymoon make sure your wireless devices that are connected to free WiFi are protected with a VPN to prevent hackers from snooping over free WiFi.

Now ideally, people should have already, long before meeting their soulmate, gotten into the habit of identity protection. This should be an ongoing process—as much ongoing for the chronically single person as for the gushing bride-to-be.

But it’s never too late to establish smart habits for identity protection. You will need to work with your spouse on just how very personal documents will be managed and filed. There are so many things to be aware of, including keeping monthly tabs on your credit card statements and yearly tabs on your credit reports.

And here’s a tip: Don’t assume your young child’s identity can’t be stolen. Crooks are out there stealing the identities of kids—who often don’t learn about this until it’s time to apply for a college loan or a loan for their first car.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. 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.

Will a National ID Card Prevent Identity Theft?

Identity Theft Expert Robert Siciliano

In a word, no. A national ID card, on its own, will not prevent all forms of identity theft. In order for new account fraud to be entirely avoidable, a number of other factors would have to come into play, effectively establishing accountability through identity proofing. Effective identity proofing is also necessary in order to reliably prevent medical and criminal identity theft.

As you might have guessed, identity proofing simply means proving that individuals are who they say they are. Identity proofing often begins with personal questions, like the name of a first grade teacher or the make and model of a first vehicle, that only the actual person would be able to answer. Of course, this technique is not foolproof, and now that personal information is so readily available over the Internet, knowledge-based authentication is probably on its way to extinction. The next step is documentation, such as a copy of a utility bill or a mortgage statement. These types of identifying documents can be scavenged from the trash, but they are more effective proof when combines with personal questions. Biometric features, such as fingerprints or iris scans, can help further authenticate an individual’s identity.

Identity scoring is another effective identity proofing method. An identity score is a system for tagging and verifying the legitimacy of an individual’s public identity. Identity scores are being used to prevent fraud in business and to verify and correct public records. Identity scores incorporate a broad set of consumer data, including components such as personal identifiers, public and government records, Internet data, corporate data, predicted behavior patterns based on empiric data, self-assessed behavior patterns, and credit records.

USA Today reports that in the four years since Congress enacted the Real ID Act, which was intended to make it more difficult to obtain a fraudulent driver’s license, the act has languished due to opposition from several states. Real ID supporters say it will not only deter terrorism but also reduce identity theft, curb illegal immigration and reduce underage drinking, all by making the nation’s identification-of-choice more secure. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is proposing the repeal of the Real ID Act.

The Real ID Act has many provisions that are forms of identity proofing along with the potential for biometrics across the board. When Indiana checked its six million drivers against a Social Security database, it ended up invalidating 19,000 licenses that didn’t match. When Indiana began using “facial recognition” technology to make its photos secure, the state caught a man who had 149 licenses with the same photo but different names.

Is Napolitano moving backwards or forwards? Do your research and decide for yourself.

Protect yourself from identity theft;

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.

Identity Theft Speaker Robert Siciliano discussing identity theft on Fox News