Identity Theft — Types, Signs, and Protection for Victims

The internet is an awesome place where you can do things like shop or interact with family and friends you may not see all of the time. For as much fun as it is, though, it can also be quite dangerous.

Identity Theft --- Types, Signs, and Protection for VictimsAccording to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, in 2020, there were about 2.1 million fraud reports, and many of these were for the purpose of stealing another person’s identity.

Victims of identity fraud may lose a lot of money, and their credit could be damaged for years. They also might have a lot of mental anguish and stress to deal with. There is a threat of identity theft for almost anyone, but if you know how to do your best to avoid it, as well as signs of ID theft, you can help to protect yourself and your family.

The Definition of Identity Theft

Most of us have heard of identity theft, but do you really know the definition? It is when a cybercriminal steals a person’s personal or financial data, generally in order to use the information for financial gain. It means they may try to get information on full names, Social Security numbers, birthdays, address, credit/bank account information, or even driver’s license information. Once they have this information, they can use it to apply for credit cards, open bank accounts, get insurance, or even do things like buy a house or car…all in the name of the victim.

How Does ID Theft Happen?

Before we get into the types of identity theft, it’s important to know how ID theft happens:

  • A Phishing Scam – These days, phishing scams are all over the place, and they often happen via email or websites. Generally, with these scams, a person pretends to be someone you know or trust, such as posing as a customer service worker from your bank, in order to get information and personal data.
  • Data Breaches – Many companies store the information of their customers, including your doctor, your ISP provider, your credit card company, and more. If there is a data breach, criminals will have easy access to this information, and it might even get sold on the dark web.
  • Snooping on Social Media – Criminals often will get information to steal an identity by using social media. Most people, for instance, have their birthday on their Facebook page, and they might even have their home address. That, along with their name, might be all they need to gain access to other accounts. They can also look for things like pet names or kid’s birthdays, as many people use these for passwords or PINs.
  • Hacking – A hacker can easily get into phones, tablets, or computers if they aren’t protected. They use malware and viruses to do this. Having a good antivirus software can help stop this, and it can help to protect your personal information and devices from the bad guys.
  • Theft – Some criminals really go back to basics to steal someone’s identity. They can really just take it. By stealing your wallet, your purse, or even your phone can give them all of the information they need.
  • Dumpster Diving – A criminal might also simply pull your information right out of the trash. If you are throwing away documents that have information such as your name, address, birthday, or other information, a thief can find this right in the garbage. Keep in mind that things like a bank statement or credit card statement can contain your number, and a pay stub may have your Social Security number on it. Always take a couple of minutes to shred any paperwork before you throw it out.

The Five Main Types of ID Theft

 There are a ton of different types of identity theft, but there are five main ones:

Financial ID Theft

 The most common type of identity theft is the financial variety. This is when a scammer uses a victim’s data for financial gain. This type of ID theft may take the following forms:

  • A scammer might use your credit card information to buy things online.
  • A hacker can literally steal money right out of your bank account – they often do this by taking small amounts here and there from unknowing victims. This amount might be so small that you may not even notice it — but when they do this over and over again, they can collect millions.
  • A criminal can open new accounts in your name, too, by simply using your Social Security number and supporting data. For example, a person can open a credit line in your name, and then use all that credit…leaving you with the pay back.

The good news, however, is that it is fairly simple to protect yourself from ID theft by keeping an eye on your bills, your bank account, and credit card statements. If you see something that looks strange, you should immediately notify your bank or credit card company. You should also check your credit report for any changes. A decrease that you were not expecting could mean that there is some type of fraud going on. You can check your credit report in a number of ways, and most credit card providers offer it as a perk for customers.

You can also choose to place a fraud alert on credit reports, so that you can stop anyone from opening any new accounts by using your information. This means that lenders and creditors must take extra steps to verify your identity before they offer a credit increase or loans. A credit freeze might also be a great idea.

Medical ID Theft

Another type of identity theft is medical identity theft. This is when a criminal takes a person’s identity to get health care by posing as the victim. They can use this information to do things like obtain prescription drugs or even get expensive surgery done. This means that you will get the bills for all of this, and it can also negatively affect your health records. This can mean you will have difficulties getting insurance in the future, and it can also mean you won’t get the care you need in a health crisis.

You can help to minimize the risk of medical identity theft by taking the time to review any and all medical claims you might get in the mail. If you see anything that doesn’t look right, such as a prescription you didn’t get, you should immediately contact your doctor’s office and your insurer. You should also contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to make a claim.

Criminal ID Theft

This type of identity theft occurs when a person is arrested for a crime, but then they use the name of someone else. They might be able to do this by using a fake or stolen ID, such as a driver’s license, to show the cops.

This can be a difficult type of ID theft to notice if you are a victim until some type of consequence happens, such as –

  • You get a court summons for a crime you didn’t commit
  • You get a bench warrant for your arrest
  • You get information that someone is performing a background check on you

One of the things that you can do to protect yourself against criminal ID theft is to protect your ID. If your driver’s license or state-ID is stolen or lost, you should immediately report it to law enforcement or the DMV. Also, you should make an effort to limit the type of information you share online.

Synthetic ID Theft

 This is the fastest growing type of ID theft in the US, and it is the practice of people creating a fake ID using the real information of the victim. The bad guys might, for instance, use information such as the Social Security number, birthday, and address of three different people, and then combine this information to create a new ID. They can then use this information to commit fraud.

The most important thing to know about synthetic ID theft is that you may be able to stop it by knowing that it’s happening, and then acting quickly. For instance, if you get a piece of mail that has your address on it, but a different name, or you get a phone call to your number asking for someone you don’t know over and over again, this could be an issue. Again, you should be checking your credit reports for anything strange, which could indicate that there is an issue. An identity monitoring service may also help to catch this type of ID theft.

Child ID Theft

Finally, we have child ID theft. In this case, a scammer steals the information from a child to open a new account or credit line in that child’s name. Then, they can use that information to do things like apply for benefits, get a driver’s license, or even purchase a home. It is easier for a scammer to get away with this than with an adult’s information, as most children don’t have any type of credit nor financial accounts.

A sad fact, here, is that the ID theft of a child is often done by their own family or family friend, as they will have easy access to the child’s information. Most of the time, they can get away with it for years, as a minor typically won’t even realize that they are a victim until they try to do something like take out a student loan for college.

The best way to check on this is to see if your child has any type of credit report with TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax. If they do, look at the report, and then let authorities know if there is anything suspicious. You also might consider placing a freeze on your child’s report to help to minimize any type of fraud from occurring.

Signs that You are a Victim of ID Theft

None of us want to be left in the cold when it comes to ID theft, so by knowing the signs you can use to spot it, you can get ahead of it quickly.

Finally, here are some of the signs you should look for:

  • Fraud alerts from a bank or other financial institution – most banks have some type of security in place to notify them and the customer if there is something weird going on. For instance, if you are in Chicago, and your credit card is used in Tokyo, there could be a big problem.
  • Your credit score changes unexpectedly – A credit score that rises unexpectedly could mean that someone is attempting to extend your credit, and a strong dip in your score might mean that someone is trying to get a loan in your name or there is a bill in your name that has gone to collection.
  • Your financial accounts have changes – It is important to check your bank statements at least every few weeks and look for anything that seems unfamiliar to you. You should also look to see if there are any new credit accounts or lines of credit in your name.
  • You apply for credit, and you are denied – if you have a decent credit score, and you apply for credit, you probably think that you are going to get approved…. if you don’t, you should check your credit report, as someone could be up to something.
  • You get strange phone calls from a collection agency – If you start getting phone calls from a debt collector or collection agency that you don’t owe, there could be an account open in your name that you don’t know about. Check your credit report, immediately.
  • You get mail that is odd – You may also get some mail that is sent to your address that seems strange. This might be medical bills or other bills that you do not recognize.
  • Your tax filing is rejected – Additionally, you may notice that when you try to file your taxes that they are rejected. This could mean that someone has already filed in your name. If this happens to you, contact the IRS immediately.

Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

Tips to Protect Your Identity from Cyber Thieves

There are several tried and true ways that you can use to protect yourself from ID theft, and some of them you might have never even considered:
Check Your Passwords – Every online account you have should have a different password. Never use the same password for more than one account. You can easily fix this issue by using a password manager. Also, don’t use specific words/phrases or keyboard sequences when creating passwords. A password manager can even generate passwords for you.

Don’t Post Personal Information on Social Media – This including things like your kid’s school or teacher, the town your parents live in, your pet’s name, or even where and when you are going on vacation. Cyber thieves can use this information to guess passwords.

Ignore Any Email from People You Don’t Know – If you get emails from people you don’t know that have a link or attachment, never, ever click or open them.

Put a Password on Your Phone – This way, if your phone is lost or stolen, you don’t have to worry.

Shred Important Documents – Anything that comes in that has personal information, that would go in the rubbish, should be shredded. This includes credit cards bills and medical records.

Never Give Your Social Security Number Out – Unless you absolutely have to, you should not give up your Social Security number. Just because someone asks for it, that doesn’t mean they actually need it, or you should hand it over. That said, I give up my social all the time. But only on documents or applications that absolutely require it.

Check Out Your Credit Report Each Year – Every year, or every quarter, you can get access to your credit report for free. Check it out when you can to make sure it’s accurate.

Inspect Your Statements – Look for anomalies or unauthorized transactions. This includes any banking and credit card statements, and you should do this each month.

Get a Locking Mailbox – A locking mailbox is available at most big box hardware stores or online.  Or pay for a PO Box.

Stop Your Mail When You Travel – You should also stop your mail delivery when you take a long trip.

Freeze Your Credit – Consider freezing your credit. This will stop an ID thief from opening new accounts in your name.

Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

Protecting Your Parents from ID Theft

When we look at statistics,most of the people who are victims of ID theft are 50 years old or older. Unfortunately, cyber criminals have no issue taking advantage of older adults and seniors, including your parents.

old parentsThese crooks violate their trust and take advantage of their ignorance of the online world. People over 50 also tend to have more money and savings including retirement funds.

Here are some scams that are commonly pulled on older adults and seniors…like your parents.

Common Scams Targeting Your Parents

  • They get an email that seems like it is coming from their bank, the FBI, IRS, etc. The email claims that there is an issue that needs to be taken care of ASAP. Typically, it’s financial, so the scammer asks for their bank account information, or it’s for information, and they ask for a Social Security number.
  • They get a call with a sad story…their kid/grandkid needs help, and they need money wired immediately.
  • They might also get a call, email, or letter concerning their mortgage. If a scammer can get access to information like your parents’ bank information, Social Security number, or even the deed to their home, they can refinance your parents’ mortgage and keep the equity they get back.
  • There are also retirement home scams. In these scams, scammers get a job at a retirement home, and then manipulate the residents to tell them personal information.

How to Prevent These Scams

Here are some ways that you can prevent scams like these:

  • Make yourself a guardian over the personal information of your parents. When they get some type of contact that seems suspicious, you should instruct them to get in touch with you. Any information, even your mother’s maiden name, can be used in an identity theft attempt. Tell your parents to never give their personal info to anyone over the phone or via email.
  • Make sure they know to never share any personal information on social media accounts.
  • Tell your parents to check their bank accounts and credit accounts regularly. You should work with them to sign up for alerts for suspicious transactions.
  • Give them a shredder so that they can get rid of things like bank statements safely. Anything with account information, a Social Security number, or other personal info should be shredded.
  • If your parent is using a Wi-Fi hotspot, you should install a VPN for them.
  • If your parent has recently passed away, make sure you don’t put too much unnecessary information in their obituary. These are hot zones for ID theft, so leave out any info an identity thief could use.
  • Show your parents that they should only put information into a website that starts with https://, NOT http://.
  • Also, talk to your parents about emailing safely. Phishing scams are very good, so tell them not to click on any link in an email.
  • Sign your parents up for the website OptOutPrescreen.com. This helps to cut out any unnecessary offers they might receive.

Keep an Eye Out for Scammers

Don’t let your parents become a victim. You can easily prevent it, and more importantly, your parents won’t have to go through the process of rebuilding their credit and recovering their identity. Taking action now is the best way to protect against ID theft. Knowing if your parents are doing something that is risky could definitely be in your favor, as you can help them figure out what is going on and stop it.

Protecting Their Identity

We are all pretty vulnerable when it comes to ID theft, but older people are much more vulnerable. You can’t totally protect yourself and your parents, but you can make it much less likely that something will happen if you take the advice above. It’s always also worth it to invest in ID theft protection for both you and your parents, and you also might even consider a credit freeze.

Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

Synthetic Identity Theft: What Is It?

You might know what identity theft is. It’s when someone takes someone else’s personal and private information so that they can get something out of it…namely, money. What you might not know is what synthetic identity theft is. The goal is the same, but it’s a little different.

Synthetic Identity Theft

In the case of synthetic identity theft, a person makes up a new and fake identity by mixing up information from a real person with information that they create. You might not immediately see that this is a bad thing, but it can be pretty devastating.

Here are three ways that hackers can create a synthetic identity:

They Can Create a New Credit Profile

By far, the most common way that the bad guys use a synthetic identity is to create a new credit profile. Basically, they use a valid Social Security number, which they take from the victim, and pair it with a made-up name. Then, they start applying for credit with this information. Typically, these applications will get denied, but during this process, a credit profile is created. Even with poor credit, there are companies that give credit to people with bad credit, so the hackers know they can get a few hundred dollars out of this which can turn into a few thousand dollars or more.

They Can Piggyback

Another thing that people do with synthetic identity is a practice known as the piggyback. At a basic level, they look for individuals with great credit, and then they access their account. When they do this, they add a fake person as an authorized user. However, they don’t use this account. Instead, they bide their time and let it sit. While they wait, the major credit card agencies create a report of this synthetic identity, and the criminal hacker can use this new, great credit profile to apply for loans and credit cards.

They Practice Data Furnishing

Finally, they might use data furnishing. This is an effective, sophisticated method, and it requires someone else to help. Basically, the hacker needs access to someone like a manager or a small business owner from an established business. The company is already well-known, and it is approved to offer info on their customers…which they give to the hackers. A setup like this takes several months to set up, but once it is established, it can make the thieves a lot of cash.

Currently, it’s difficult to pinpoint how much financial impact these synthetic identities have, although it is thought that it could be billions of dollars in losses. For someone who gets into the business of identity theft, this could mean billions of dollars. Thankfully, there are a number of things that you can do to protect yourself, including being careful about what type of information you are sharing, especially when it comes to social media. Also, consider a credit freeze and ID theft protection, and make sure that you check your credit report regularly.

Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

How Much Do You Know About Identity Theft?

You would think with all of the attention on the news out there about hacking, data breaches, and identity theft, that people would be very focused on privacy and protecting their information from the bad guys.

Identity Theft Awareness Check

We all have a lot going on, and identity thieves know this. Always watching, these guys are betting on us being too focused with our day to day lives to notice who we are ultimately sharing our important information with. They literally are waiting for us to make one wrong move.

Are You a Victim of Identity Theft?

The shocking truth is that most of the people who become victims of identity theft don’t even realize it. You could be a victim right now and be none the wiser.

Why? Because generally, a person doesn’t know if they are a victim until they get a notification from their bank or other financial institution Each year, there are more than 16 million people who have their identity stolen.

How is it possible to share your information so easily? Well, there are a couple of ways to do it. For instance, you might have gotten married, you may give away too much information on your social media accounts, or you might have replied to a fake email, phone call, or text.

On top of this, a major life event can put you at a higher risk of becoming a victim, such as getting a new job or having a baby.

How Dangerous is Identity Theft?

Most of us consider identity theft to just be something like credit card fraud, but it is a lot more than that. Though this is common, an identity thief can do a lot more than simply open up a credit card in your name. They can also:

  • Open up a bank account and make changes to your billing address, meaning you would have no idea.
  • Taking out a big loan, such as an auto loan or mortgage, and not paying it off.
  • File a fake tax return, and then taking the money that comes from it.

If you are a victim of identity theft, you might be dealing with it for a number of years to come, and it is a big struggle to clear your name and fix your credit score.

How to Protect Yourself

Thankfully, there are a number of ways that you can protect yourself from being a victim of identity theft. Some of them include:

  • Don’t give your Social Security Number out unless it is totally necessary
  • Don’t allow mail to sit around
  • Don’t respond to any requests for information that seems suspicious
  • Don’t create simple passwords for online accounts

Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

When its Tax Time, Protect Your Identity

Tax time comes around every year, and though you technically have until April 15th each year, if you can, file earlier. There is a good reason for this; you can avoid putting yourself in a position to get your identity stolen.

How Filing Your Taxes Can Compromise Your Identity

Robert Siciliano, CSP, SAFR.MEYou might be wondering how you can become a victim of an identity thief just by filing your taxes. There are a couple of ways scammers do this. First, the thief will use your Social Security number to file taxes, but plug in their mailing address and then when your refund comes around, they take your refund.

The second way that a scammer can steal your identity is that they take your Social Security number, get a job with it, and the employer will report their earnings to the IRS. When this happens, the IRS sees it as very suspicious, and you could get stuck paying a huge tax bill.

In both cases, there could be big problems ahead for you. For example, you might not be able to get a refund or even file your taxes. There is also the chance that they have used your Social Security number to get a loan, a credit card, or cash.

How Thieves Access Your Information

The main question you might be thinking here is this: how would an ID thief get your Social Security number in the first place? Typically, they would do this by hacking. For example, there was the huge Equifax hack. 145 plus million people were affected, and you could have been involved in it. It’s easy, when these breaches happen, hackers bathe in your information.

What Can You Do if You are a Victim?

If you are a victim of a scam like this, there are some things you can do:

  • Submit Letter 5071C to the IRS – This is a form that the IRS will send if your tax return looks suspicious.
  • Submit Form 14039 – This form alerts the IRS that you believe you are a potential victim of tax ID theft.
  • Ask for an Identity Protection PIN – The IRS will give you this number so that it can confirm your identity for your future tax returns.
  • Make a Report to the Federal Trade Commission – You also should file a report with the FTC by going to IdentityTheft.gov.
  • Contact the Tax Office in Your State – Your state’s tax office might have other recommendations based on your personal situation.

If you have tried to file your taxes electronically and get rejected, you should still file a return by mail. Additionally, call the IRS Identity Protection Unit for assistance. An agent can help you start the process of taking care of the problem and ensuring your return is filed correctly.

Written by Cyber Security Expert Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now#1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

The Ultimate Guide to Spotting Fake News

Do you know when something is “fake news?” If you have half a brain, you should. However, when someone in authority makes a claim, the masses who elected that person into that authoritative position, automatically trust what has been said and spread that fake news. That needs to stop. My mother one said believe nothing of what you hear and half of what you see. And today no matter what, don’t automatically believe what you read.

fake newsThere has been a lot of talk about fake news since the 2016 presidential election, and a lot of controversy from those who spread fake stories for the purpose of influencing hearts and minds and of course the outcome of the election. This is dangerous for dozens of reasons, many of which threaten our democracy and in many cases can lead to people getting killed which has happened many times this year.

Keep in mind that not all people who spread or start fake news stories are propagandists, some are thieves and even more are advertisers. Some people just want you to come to their website so they can get clicks and traffic. Advertisers use fake news, as a way to get more clicks. This isn’t really dangerous to you, but someone is getting money because you are clicking on their site.

Other people use fake news, too, including those who want to facilitate identity theft. There are fake news sites that you click on, and then when you visit the site, you get a virus. From there, a hacker can get access to your personal information including your logins and passwords, bank account information, or even your Social Security number.

Here are some things to look out for:

  • Use common sense when looking at fake news stories. If it sounds too sensational, it probably is fake.
  • If a story is an obvious parody, it’s also obviously a fake news story.
  • If you already know some of the facts of the story, and something seems weird about the story you are reading, it’s very possible that the news is fake.
  • Look at the URL where the story is found. If it looks strange, the story is likely fake. For example, if you see a URL ending with “.com.co,” it’s a website from Colombia.
  • If there is a photo and the photo looks fake, the story is likely fake, too. But, this isn’t always the case.
  • Don’t just automatically trust.
  • The main stream media has been vilified over the past four years. And while their news is often “biased”, it’s not fake. It’s based on fact, but again those facts may be slanted in favor of the readership. Fake and biased are definitely not the same thing.

Look Closer at the Photos

Many fake news stories have photos that accompany them. Here’s how to test if a realistic photo is accompanying a fake news story.

  • Take a screenshot of the photo, making sure to exclude any graphics that are not relevant.
  • Open Google Images.
  • Upload or drag the screen shot to the search area in Google Images.
  • You will then see information about the “best guess” for the image. If the information doesn’t correlate to the story, you are probably reading a fake news story.

You can use this trick in other ways, too. For instance, if you do online dating, you can see if the person you are talking to is actually who they say they are. If not, they are a faker.

Additionally, you can do this with any image that you have. If the Google Image search gives you information that doesn’t correlate with what you think it does, it is likely a scam. Keep in mind that crooks like identity thieves often steal images and use them as their own.

When you are in doubt, it is always best to do a search on the item to see if other news sources are reporting on it, too. If the only place the story is seen is on a no-name site, you should suspect that it’s fake. If it’s not also being reported by the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, it’s probably fake.

ROBERT SICILIANO CSP, is a #1 Best Selling Amazon author, CEO of CreditParent.com, the architect of the CSI Protection certification; a Cyber Social and Identity and Personal Protection security awareness training program.

How to Protect Your Parents from ID Theft

According to research, people who are older than 50 years old, usually in the 65 to 85-year old range, are common targets of ID thieves. These criminals have no issue taking advantage of these people. They know that they are trustworthy, that they don’t know much about the internet, and that they are not savvy about scams. The bad guys also know that these people have more savings and retirement cash than others, and they are ready to take it. Here are some ways that these criminals scam your parents:

old parents

  • They often send emails to older people saying they are from their bank, the IRS, the FBI, or the CIA. The email claims that there is an issue that requires their attention. Then, they ask for information like their Social Security number or even their bank account numbers.
  • Another common scam is to toy with their emotions. In this case, the criminal calls the older person and says that they are someone the person knows, such as a grandchild, and claim that there is an emergency and they need money.
  • These scammers also try to take advantage of older people by using information about their homes. For instance, they can access a deed, and then use their Social Security numbers and bank account information to refinance, and then take the money.
  • The bad guys also take advantage of people who are in retirement homes. They start working there, and then manipulate the people living there to offer up personal info.
  • These criminals also seek out lonely people. If your parent is single, for instance, they can be a target because they are lonely and crave attention, resulting in a bank account draining romance scam.

How to Prevent Scams Against Older People

It is likely that you want to do all you can to prevent this from happening to your loved ones. Here are some tips:

  • Become the main caretaker for your parents’ personal info and financial accounts. This way, if your parents are contacted by someone suspicious, they have to go through you to get information. Even info like your mom’s maiden name can be used to commit some type of scam in the future. Make sure your parents are aware that they should not ever share any personal info, and that any request for money should go through you.
  • Do not share any personal information on any social media site. Criminals look for this, and they can target your parents by doing things like posing as their grandchildren online.
  • Make sure your parents check bank accounts and credit cards with regularity. Also, set up on your email and phone push email and text alerts about their account activity.
  • Buy them a shredder to get rid of things like bank statements. Criminals love to go through the trash to look for old financial statements.
  • If they use Wi-Fi, set up a VPN for them. Hotspots are public, and criminals can use them to get information.
  • If your parent passes away, don’t include any personal information about them in their obituary. Crooks use this information in malicious ways.
  • Talk to them about being safe with email. A common scam is phishing, and even if an email looks legitimate and safe, no one should click any links in them.
  • Help them understand the difference between http and https. Make sure they know that only https sites are secure.
  • Also, help them opt out of offers that are unnecessary. You can sign them up at com.
  • Talk to your parents about freezing their credit.

Stay Away from Scams

Do your best to not allow your parents to be the next victim of a scammer. It is easy to prevent this, and your parents will not have to go through the stress associated with identity theft.

Protect Their Identity

Any of us can become victims of ID theft, and we cannot protect ourselves every minute of the day. However, by taking these tips to heart and signing your parents up for ID theft protection and doing a credit freeze, you can keep them safe.

ROBERT SICILIANO CSP, is a #1 Best Selling Amazon author, CEO of CreditParent.com, the architect of the CSI Protection certification; a Cyber Social and Identity and Personal Protection security awareness training program.

Is Identity Theft Protection Really Necessary or is it a Waste?

I am constantly seeing articles and blogs that ID protection is not a necessity. These might be called “The Poor Man’s Guide to Identity Theft Protection,” or “Identity Theft Protection Doesn’t Work.”  Though some of the things mentioned in these articles are true, overall, they are totally missing the point.

Identity TheftHere is the situation. You cannot possibly protect yourself from every type of identity theft out there, and when you can, it really requires a lot of work. No matter what, it’s going to be time-consuming, can cost you money, and even make you pretty anxious.

For those who have chosen not to make an investment into identity theft protection say that they don’t have to because they can do it themselves. Here is what they do:

Shred Your Mail, and Be Safe

One of the things that people do to make sure their identity is safe is to always shred their mail. This is especially important when the mail contains account info. However, this step isn’t enough. Yes, you might be doing your part, but how can you be sure that your mortgage company, bank, or even water company is not simply throwing paperwork with your account information in a dumpster. Once it’s there, anyone can take it.

Opt Out of Junk Mail and Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers

Opting out of pre-approved credit card offers and other junk mail is pretty easy to do. You can do it right online at OptOutPrescreen.com. Just keep in mind that some of them will still get through and end up in your mailbox and maybe get stolen.

Pay for a P.O. Box

I’m not totally sure why people believe that it is safer to use a P.O. box, but they do. Technically, your mail is more secure at the Post Office than in your mail box, but it really doesn’t help too much. Otherwise get a locking mailbox.

Check Credit Reports

You should always be checking your credit report, but those who think they can stop ID theft by checking their credit report are not quite correct. Once you see a problem on your credit report, the damage has already been done. Ideally, you should check your report more than once a year, but you can get a free credit report online at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Set Up a Fraud Alert

Another thing that people do because they think it protects them from ID theft is set up fraud alerts. Fraud alerts are good, but they are only valid for 1 year, and most people forget to renew them. On top of this, they are simply guidelines for creditors, and they don’t even have to contact you if they see a fraud alert.

Credit Freezes

People also believe that they are totally safe if they freeze their credit. This is a good thing, and I do think everyone should look into it, but it doesn’t protect you from all types of ID theft. This includes account takeovers, tax-related ID theft, and medical ID theft.

Though all of these things can help, and in some cases, can greatly help, they are no replacement for professional identity theft service. Instead, they can put you in a tough position.

ROBERT SICILIANO CSP, is a #1 Best Selling Amazon author, CEO of CreditParent.com, the architect of the CSI Protection certification; a Cyber Social and Identity and Personal Protection security awareness training program.

Prevent Bitcoin Fraud by Securing Your Identity

Are you thinking about jumping onto the Bitcoin train? If so, you might be worried about security. The truth is, Bitcoin is definitely secure, but as with anything, there are bad guys out there who are ruining it for many. Bitcoin identity theft is when a criminal steals your identity and poses as you by phishing your passwords or hacking your computer. Here are some common cryptocurrency scams that can be prevented and some tips to protect yourself:

Bitcoin Private Security Keys:

What are they? A Bitcoin private key is a number only you should know, a secret number which allows bitcoins to be used in commerce, traded, exchanged etc. Bitcoin wallets contains the private keys and are mathematically related to all Bitcoin addresses generated for the wallet.

How do they work?

When a private key is entered in a wallets “transaction” window meant to move your funds from one wallet to another, the transaction is broadcast and sends the balance to a new address in another wallet. Simply, they are for spending and sending your bitcoins to anyone and anywhere.

How to get one?

This secret, alphanumeric password/number that is designed to spend and send your bitcoins to another Bitcoin address. Is a 256-bit long number which is picked randomly as soon as you make a wallet.

Protect Your Security Keys

The private key “ticket” allowing its owner spend bitcoins and like cash, they must kept secure. Private keys are usually stored on computers, and can be printed on paper.

Again, it’s so important that you protect your private security key. Remember, if someone gets this key, they can spend your currency.

Backup All Security Keys

If you are using private keys for your cyber currency, make sure that they are backed up on a offline

You Give Up Your Private Key

Another mistake that people often make is to give up your private key. Again, cyber criminals can get this information through your email or maybe over the phone. They also can hack into your computer and access your key if you have it stored there.

Preventing It

Keep your devices as secure as possible using security software and keeping your operating system updated. Maybe always store your private key off of your computer. You can write it on paper or store it on a USB drive. Make sure to keep this information locked up somewhere, like a safe or safety deposit box.

Cyber Thieves Steal Passwords

Many people use services to store their currency. However, to access these, you must have a password, and cyber thieves know this. So, they break into your email, ask your chose storage service to reset the password, and this gives them access to your currency.

Preventing It

To prevent this, make sure to use two-factor authentication for both your email account and your cyber currency storage account.  And don’t use the same password (password re-use) for any critical accounts.

The Bad Guys Start Impersonating

You also must make sure that you don’t get scammed by a bad guy impersonating a cyber currency employee. They might, for instance, contact you over the phone of via email about initial coin offerings. They ask you to send Bitcoins to them for fundraising purposes, but then promise that you will get that back with a return on that investment. Wrong. They just steal it.

Preventing It

Always confirm that you are investing in legitimate companies. Contact them directly

Keeping Your Bitcoins Safe

There are other things that you can do to keep your cyber currency safe, too:

Use a VPN for Your Transactions

When trading cryptocurrency, make sure to use a virtual private network, or VPN. These networks scramble your data so hackers, even if they access it, can’t read it.

Keep Separate Wallets

Instead of using a single wallet for all of your currency, it’s best to have at least two; a “hot” wallet, which is used for your various day to day transactions, and a “cold” wallet, which is where you store your currency. Think of it like a checking account (hot) and savings account (cold.)

Additional Security Tips

Finally, here are some additional security tips to keep all of your accounts safe:

Password Tips

  • Make sure every online account you have has a long, strong password. This should be a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Also, make sure that you have a unique password for every account.
  • All passwords should be 8 to 12 characters. Use both upper-case and lower-case letters, and make sure that you aren’t making it easy to guess. For instance, “hwR7os$9*” is a much better password than “IL0veD0gz.”
  • Use two-factor authentication on all of your accounts. This way, even if someone gets your password, they can’t get into your accounts unless they also have access to your cell phone.

Antivirus Tips

  • Antivirus software is required, but it’s not going to keep your devices completely safe. Yes, this software will keep the vast majority of viruses and bugs out of your system, but not all of them.
  • Make the investment and buy your antivirus software instead of using a free one. The paid versions come with other services like firewalls and antispyware. This helps to keep your information even safer.

Updates to Your System

Finally, make sure that you are always updating your computers, tablets, and smart phones. Yes, those pop-ups are annoying, but try to resist clicking the “remind me later” option. Many times, these updates contain important security updates that protect your device and data from becoming vulnerable. It’s also a good idea to set up automatic installation of these, so you never have to worry about it.

ROBERT SICILIANO CSP, is a #1 Best Selling Amazon author, CEO of CreditParent.com, the architect of the CSI Protection certification; a Cyber Social and Identity and Personal Protection security awareness training program.