Medical Identity Theft: 12 Million Patients Breached

Quest Diagnostics is a US-based company that provides medical testing services, and announced that it used third-party billing collection companies that were hit by a severe data breach. In fact, about 11.9 million Quest customers were affected.

The compromised information could include personal data of the patients, including Social Security numbers, as well as medical and financial information. However, laboratory test results aren’t included in the breach.

What Happened?

The AMCA (American Medical Collection Agency) is a billing collection service provider and informed Quest Diagnostics that it had an unauthorized user who gained access to the AMCA system, which contained personal information that AMCA got from a variety of entities, including Quest. AMCA provides its collections services to Optum360, which is a Quest contractor. Both Optum360 and Quest are working with experts to investigate the issue.

The company also noted that it still doesn’t have much information about the data security incident at AMCA, and it doesn’t know for sure what data was compromised. However, the company no longer sends its collection requests to AMCA and won’t do so until the issue is resolved.

Quest filed an SEC filing, which revealed that the attackers gained access to the AMCA system between August 2018 and March 2019.

According to one data breach website, Gemini Advisory analysts first discovered the breach. The analysts noticed a CNP (Card Not Present) database, which had posted for sale on the dark web’s market. It figured out the data could have been stolen through the AMCA online portal. Gemini Advisory attempted to contact AMCA but received no response, so it contacted the US federal law enforcement agency.

A spokesperson for AMCA says that, upon receiving the information that there was a possible data breach from a compliance company that worked with other credit card companies, it conducted an internal investigation and took down its payments page online. The company also said it was investigating the breach with the help of an unnamed third-party forensics company.

The Quest breach targeted primarily financial data with personal information (SSNs). That kind of information is significantly more lucrative than health information, which isn’t really marketable by criminals, at least not yet. The financial information disclosed was comprehensive and included bank accounts and credit card numbers. Therefore, victims could get their identities stolen and have financial transactions completed in their name.

Users of the website or the company need to get a credit freeze and monitor their bank accounts and credit cards for any unusual activity and might want to freeze their credit reports so that no new credit lines can be taken out in their name.

Action needs to be taken now to freeze your information with the credit bureau and warn the credit bureaus that your financial information might have been compromised. Along with such, financial institutions usually have programs available to take corrective action, which can prevent your credit card or account from being used without permission if your account has been compromised.

The issue is that insurance and healthcare information doesn’t have such a centralized process, which makes it extremely tough to prevent the use of this information from someone who doesn’t have permission to use it.

The Cybersecurity evangelist of Thales, Jason Hart, chimed in with the fact that multi-factor encryption and authentication of the collected data might have saved the companies and victims from having problems.

The VP of innovation and global strategy at ForgeRock, Ben Goodman, noted that this is the second known breach for Quest in just three short years. As a public company, it could lead to a variety of serious repercussions with respect to brand reputation, shareholder trust, and stock prices. He also said that the exposed data might result in litigation. When First American Financial Corporation was breached, it took just a few days for the company to get hit with a class-action lawsuit when it exposed 885 million documents full of sensitive information just last week.

The CISO and Senior Director for Shared Assessments, Tom Garrubba, wants to see just how quickly the Office of Civil Rights (an overseer of HIPAA compliance), rushes in to get information about the breach and to determine if any negligence was there and if Quest is to blame (partially or fully).

Through the HIPAA Omnibus Rule, business associates must handle any data with the care provided to covered entities (outsourcers). Those business associates have to provide due diligence to the covered entity.

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

6 More Places to Put Your Identity on Lock Down

If you have been thinking about a credit freeze, you probably should know that the process is designed so that a creditor cannot see your credit report unless you specifically allow it. This process blocks any potential creditors from viewing or pulling your file, which makes it much more difficult for an identity thief to apply for new credit using your name or information. For links to freeze your credit at the 3 major bureaus go to How to Freeze My Credit.  However, there have been reports of people complaining of having accounts opened in their name while having credit freezes. So, if you already have a credit freeze at Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax, you also might want to consider freezing at the following companies, too:

Innovis Credit Freeze

Innovis is the 4th credit bureau you need to freeze with. The process is similar to the big three and its free. Go here to freeze your Innovis Credit Freeze.

National Consumer Telecommunications and Utilities Exchange or NCTUE

One place you should contact to freeze your credit through is the National Consumer Telecommunications and Utilities Exchange, or NCTUE. Many mobile phone companies, for instance, get credit inquiries done through this organization, so hackers can still open mobile phone accounts in your name, even if your credit is locked down elsewhere via the 3 major bureaus.

In general, only mobile phone companies use NCTUE, but there are other companies, like water, power, and cable companies that also use it. You can contact NCTUE to freeze your credit by calling them and giving them your Social Security number. You will also have to verify a few other details, but the system is automated, so it’s very easy. If the system can verify your identity, your credit report through this organization will be frozen. You can also get your NCTUE credit report and risk score by calling their 800-number 1-866-349-5355 or try to do it online here NCTUE Freeze but some say this links form doesn’t work well.

ChexSystems

You should also place a security alert with ChexSystems. This is a system that is used by banks to verify the worthiness of customers who are requesting new savings and checking accounts. When you request a freeze through this organization, it is only applied to your ChexSystems consumer report. If you want to freeze your credit at other companies, you must do it directly through them. For ChexSystems, you can do it here: ChexSystems Security Freeze.

Opt-Out Prescreen

You can additionally opt out of any pre-approved credit offers by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT or you can go online and visit the website Optoutprescreen.com.

myE-Verify Self-Lock via the Department of Homeland Security

The fourth organization you should freeze your credit with is called Self Lockvia the Department of Homeland Security. This freeze helps to protect you from any employment-related fraud. When you lock your Social Security number through this tool, it will stop anyone from using your Social Security number to get a job, which is another scam. If a Social Security number that has been locked is entered into the system, it will result in a mismatch, which will flag the number as fake. It’s easy to lock and unlock your identity through Self Lock, and each time you do it, it remains locked for a year. Once that year is over, you can choose to renew the lock, too. You can learn more online at the Self-Lock Freeze.

Social Security Administration

Finally, if you want to prevent any type of Social Security fraud, you should set up an account at the Social Security Administration. There are a number of Social Security scams designed to siphon your benefits or sensitive information. Your telephone may ring followed by and automated message saying your Social Security number has been “suspended” because of some suspicious activity or be threatened with arrest if you don’t call the telephone number provided in the automated message. Simply by setting up the account you can prevent someone else from setting it up as you and posting as you. Also you can check in with then SSA should you received any calls, emails or mail to determine the communications legitimacy. You can do it online,Social Security Administration Set-up.

Here’s your Freeze to-do checklist.

  1. NCTUE Freeze
  2. ChexSystems Security Freeze.
  3. com.
  4. Self-Lock Freeze.
  5. Social Security Administration Set-up
  6. How to Freeze My Credit.
  7. Innovis Credit Freeze.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

The First Step to Secure Your Data

Your personal information and data are literally everywhere for criminals to target, and there isn’t much you can do to keep it from spreading. You use your email credentials on countless websites, you use your credit card number with countless vendors, and, believe it or not, your Social Security number is shared rapidly immediately after you’re born.

It’s almost impossible to give out your personal information nowadays. However, criminals know this, and they lurk around the same places that your information is used. You need to take action to secure your information so you are less of a target. Let me show you one simple step you can take today that will create one layer of security and improve your defenses.

There is one specific action you can take to secure your information, and after you do it, you’ll be much less likely to be targeted because criminals tend to take the path of least resistance. That said, if you DON’T do this action today, you ARE the path of least resistance.

All you have to do is set up a credit freeze. There are four major credit bureaus in the United States, and you need to get a credit freeze with them. Just use your preferred search engine and look for Experian credit freeze, Equifax credit freeze, TransUnion credit freeze, and Innovis credit freeze. You should freeze your credit with all four, but you should still review your annual credit reports. More importantly, you should dispute discrepancies with the appropriate bureau AND the lender. Getting a credit freeze won’t gum up your credit score or make it so you can’t use credit. You are able to “thaw” the frozen credit as needed and then freeze it again. You can literally do this in a single day. Then you’ll want to put more layers of defense in place to become an even harder target than the other guy.

A credit freeze will secure your information, but setting up multiple layers of defenses is really what will make you a hard target. Criminals are constantly probing defenses, and even while technology advances, crimes against your data are usually ahead of the curve. You don’t need to know everything about security, but you do need to take on the responsibility of protecting yourself. I’ve created a free guide that will make you a pseudo expert on your own security, and if you follow it’s simple steps, you will have more layers of defense than the average person. If you want to create even more layers of defenses, bring this guide to my next webinar, and I will walk you through each step so you can rest assured that you are creating a smart, secure, safer “me.”

How to Protect Your identity When Buying or Selling a Home

If you are in the process of buying or selling a home, at some point, you are going to have to disclose personal information when you go through the process. Because of this, a home buyer, especially, is much more likely to become a victim of identity theft.

Here are some ways to protect your identity when buying or selling a new home:

Ask if Communication is Secure

One thing to do is to make sure your mortgage and real estate professionals are using secure electronic communications. If they can’t articulate their security, such as they use two step verification, etc, then they aren’t generally secure. Otherwise, you should drop documents off in person.

Ask How Personal Info is Handled

Another thing to do is ask your lender how they will handle your personal info after the loan is complete. Are documents able to be stored securely? Will they be shredded when no longer needed?

Ask About Security Policies

You should also ask about the security policies of your lender and/or real estate professional. If they don’t have a security policy, they aren’t secure.

Get a Referral

Ask people you know for referrals for mortgage and real estate professionals. Verify that their licenses are current. Do business with those who others know, like and trust.

Choose a Real Estate Team That You Trust

Buying a new home takes a full team on both the sides of the buyer and the seller. So, you have to make sure that you trust them and that all of their credentials are up to date. You should also do your best to read reviews online.

Be Aware of Frauds

Fraudsters are always out there, and they take advantage of people looking to buy a home. For example, according to investigators, a California woman would offer to buy a home on behalf of the buyer because the buyer was under funded or an illegal immigrant. After the buyer provided the deposit, she would never be heard from again.So keep your eyes open as you go through the process.

Recognize Money Wire Scams

When looking at the home buying process, a report by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center said email fraud involving real estate transactions rose 1,110 percent in the years 2015 to 2017 and fraud dollars lost rose almost 2,200 percent.

Nearly 10,000 people reported being victims of this kind of fraud in When looking at the home buying process, a report by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center said email fraud involving real estate transactions rose 1,110 percent in the years 2015 to 2017 and fraud dollars lost rose almost 2,200 percent.

Nearly 10,000 people reported being victims of this kind of fraud in 2017 with losses over $56 million, the FBI report said. Real estate is only now tightening its belt and fighting back., the FBI report said. Real estate is only now tightening its belt and fighting back. The moment a wire transfer is requested via email, tell your agent or broker you want to meet them at the office to discuss. End of story.

Be Cautious on the Internet

During this process, you will be filling out a lot of forms and giving out a lot of your personal information. So, to help prevent any identity theft, you should only use a secure device on a secure network. You also have to make sure that you are using strong, varied passwords, and if you have to print out copies of documents, you should hide any account numbers or Social Security numbers.

Use Credit Monitoring or ID Theft Protection

When making a large purchase like a new home, you should make sure to have real time credit monitoring and identity theft protection.

Freeze or Lock Your Credit Until Making an Offer

You also might want to consider freezing or locking your credit until you are required to have your credit checked. Both options prevent a creditor from accessing your credit report, which stops a criminal from opening a new account.

Credit locks are available from consumer credit bureaus for a small fee, and you can lock or unlock your credit whenever you want. A credit freeze is free but slightly cumbersome. Go free and learn it.

Get a Copy of Your Credit Report

It’s also a good idea to get a credit report if you are going to finance a home. Checking this report will give you a good idea of what you can afford each month, and it will allow you to see if there are any mistakes or unusual behavior on the reports.

Stay Safe During the Closing Process Finally, remember that fraudsters are always out there, especially when people are using large sums of money. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that people lost about $1.48 billion to fraud last year, alone. So, it’s imperative that you keep yourself safe by avoiding things like phishing schemes, and if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

How to be a Grandma Identity Thief Murderer

Lois Riess is a woman from Minnesota who police say shot her husband, went on the run, and then killed a woman in order to take on her identity.  Here are some shocking facts about her:

Riess Looked Like her Victim 

The woman Lois Riess killed, Pamela Hutchinson, looked like her. This is why Pamela lost her life. When the body was found, police said her ID, credit cards, cash, and car was gone. Police put out an arrest warrant for Riess, and then started hunting for her. Police say the women did not know each other.

Lois Riess Allegedly Killed Her Husband, Too

Pamela Hutchinson wasn’t the only one who has allegedly died at Riess’ hand. Lois’ husband, David Riess, is also dead. He was found in the couple’s Minnesota home with several gunshot wounds after two weeks of not showing up at work. David’s car was missing, as was $11,000 out of his business account. It is believed that Lois used the same gun to kill both of her victims. Though Lois originally took the couple’s Cadillac, it was found abandoned in Florida several days later.

Pamela Hutchinson and David Riess

Though she was killed in Fort Myers, Pamela Hutchinson didn’t live there; she lived in Bradenton, FL. She was in Fort Myers to spread the ashes of her husband who had recently passed away.

David, Lois’ husband, owned a commercial worm farm. He was a Navy veteran and loved boating, fishing, hunting, and spending time with his grandkids.

Lois Riess was a Gambler, and She Had an Interesting Nickname

According to reports, Lois Riess was a gambler, and had an addiction to gambling that eventually destroyed her family. It is said that she stole more than $100,000 from her sister, and had the nickname, “Losing Streak Lois.”

Lois Took a Road Trip After the Killings

After killing Pamela, detective believe that Lois left Florida and traveled through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. She was driving Pamela’s car, which she took after shooting the woman.

Before Lois was even captured, she was charged with the murder of both her husband, David, and Hutchinson. She is facing a first degree murder charge in Florida along with grand theft auto, grand theft, and criminal use of personal identification. She faces the death penalty if found guilty. As for the alleged murder of her husband, David, in Minnesota, murder charges are pending, so it’s likely that she will face two counts of first degree murder when all is said and done in this case.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

2017 Was the Worst Year for Identity Theft EVER!

Javelin Strategy & Research recently released its Identity Fraud Study, and it revealed that the number of identity theft victims rose by 8% in 2017 when compared to 2016. That’s almost 17 million people, which is a record high. Despite more information and industry efforts to make people aware of these practices, $16.8 billion was stolen due to ID theft in 2016.

The study also showed a shift in how ID theft fraud was being done. Credit card accounts were the most common targets for new account fraud, we also see that there is a big uptick in other accounts being targeted, including PayPal accounts and e-commerce merchant accounts. We can also see that more than 30% of consumers in the US were notified that their information was part of a data breach, which is 12% higher than the year before. Social Security numbers also seem to be a favorite of ID thieves, as are credit card numbers. We also see that due to these breaches, consumers are becoming less trusting when it comes to companies and financial institutions that are storing personal data.

The Trends

There were four noteworthy trends that were also found in this study:

  • There was a Record High Rate of Identity Fraud – The study shows that almost 7% of all consumers were victims of ID fraud. This was almost a million people from 2016. This was mostly due to more account takeovers and more instances of fraud.
  • Account Takeover Has Grown – One of the most shocking things found in this study is that account takeover has tripled when compared to 2016 and has reached a four-year high. This is a 120% increase. It was also noted that the average victim had to pay an average of $290 out of pocket to solve these issues, and consumers spent more than 62 million hours trying to work these issues out.
  • Scammers Target Online Shoppers – The study also shows that people who shop online are most at risk of becoming a victim of fraud.
  • Scammers are More Sophisticated – Finally, the study showed that fraudsters are more sophisticated than ever before, and they use more complex methods than ever before.

Finally, the Identity Fraud Study did something new this year, too. It looked at the way news of data breaches has affected consumers. About 63% of people who responded say that they were “very” or “extremely” concerned about becoming a victim of a data breach.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video

Tips for Preventing Embezzlement and Employee Theft

If you are a business owner, you might be concerned about employee theft. If you aren’t concerned, perhaps you should be.

There are a number of ways that an employee can steal:

  • Embezzlement money, inventory or materials
  • Skimming – Diverting funds
  • Stealing business opportunities, data or trade secrets
  • Fraudulent disbursements like check tampering or billing schemes
  • Larceny – absolute theft

It might surprise you to find out that employees who steal are not usually new employees. Instead, they are those who have worked for a business for a number of years. (Three years is the average.) So, what can you do to protect your company from employee theft? Here are some ideas:

Watch Your Staff

You should be aware of the signs of theft. These include:

  • A sudden devotion to their work and/or the company
  • Working late
  • Living above their salary
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Evidence of gambling, bad check writing, or persistently asking to borrow money
  • A second job with materials available at your business
  • Strong objections to changes in inventory, financial, or supply procedures

Small businesses should always do background checks on any potential hire. Checking references is one thing, but to really understand who you are hiring, a full background check is best.

Supervise Employee Behavior

Research shows that employees are more likely to commit acts of fraud and theft when they don’t have a lot of supervision. You don’t have to supervise them constantly, but you should check on them often. It also is a good idea to have more than one person in charge of company finances.

Control All Business Receipts

Use pre-numbered sales slips and audit them frequently. This is especially the case with cash. You should not rely on a sales clerk to count and audit these receipts. Have another person do it.

Use Random Auditing

Start doing unannounced audits internally, and hire an outside company to do a yearly audit.

Use Purchase Orders

You should also use purchase orders and make sure that these are not handled by the same people over and over. It’s best to use pre-numbered purchase orders, and then always verify any orders coming in.

Keep Track of Business Checks

Use checks that are pre-numbered and make sure the amounts and recipient name is typed or in permanent ink. It’s best to produce checks from software, such as QuickBooks. If you have bank checks, make sure they are locked up.

Install Security Software on Computers

Start using security software on your computers that monitors employee activity, and restrict access to company records. You should also frequently change passwords and ensure that all of your security features are working.

Be Responsible with Accounts Receivable

Ensure that you are recording all of your incoming payments. Make sure incoming checks are marked as “deposit only.” Hire a forensics accountant at least bi-annually. Having a professional come in looking for discrepancies, or “cooked books” is worth every penny.

Use Security Systems with Inventory Management

Keep shipping and receiving as separate functions. Consider using security devices to monitor all inventory and merchandise that is coming in.

Install Security Cameras

Frankly, “trust” is overrated. It’s natural and normal to trust by default. As an “interdependent” species, humans can’t function without inherently trusting one another. But while most people can be trusted, the few that can’t need security cameras pointed at them all day.

Help Employees Report Theft by Their Co-Workers

You should make it as easy as possible for your staff to report theft or fraud by their co-workers. You want to make sure that you are doing this discretely, and you want to make sure that you don’t make it look like you don’t trust your staff.

What to Do if You Suspect Theft

If you have an employee who you think is stealing form you, here’s what you should do:

  • Use extreme caution when conducting your investigations and when making an accusation. If this turns out to be false, it could mean a lawsuit for you.
  • If you have a suspicion, investigate. If you can correctly identify the employee who is responsible, you should terminate their position immediately, revoke all network and building access and then consider contacting the authorities.
  • If theft is a complex or a large issue involving more than one employee, you should talk to a legal professional. They can help find experts who can help.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Understanding and Stopping Criminal Identity Theft

The definition of criminal identity theft is a crime where the criminal impersonates the victim in order to protect their innocence. This can lead to victims getting fines or even getting arrested and charged for crimes they did not commit.

How Does This Happen?

There are a number of ways that a criminal can pull this off, and it generally occurs when the thief steals someone’s identity. This is true and pure identity theft, often involving a drivers license with the thieves picture and the victims information. Once they have that, they are pretty much free to commit crimes in their victim’s name.

Stopping Criminal Identity Thieves

If you think that you are a victim of this crime, you should first get in touch with the police department where the charges are coming from. You should offer proof of your identity, and then fill out an impersonation report. The police will often take a photo, get your fingerprints, and run your ID info through their database. When they prove your innocence, warrants will be released. If you feel like this is a complicated situation, however, it is in your best interest to get a lawyer.

Did Someone Use Your Driver’s License?

If someone has stolen or used your driver’s license, take the following steps:

  1. Get your driver’s license record. You can get this from the DMV.
  2. Identify any inaccurate information from the report.
  3. Report any discrepancies.
  4. Discuss facial recognition with the DMV and if others photos are tied with your information.
  5. Clear all of the discrepancies. The DMV will do this for you after an investigation.

Signs That You Might be a Victim of Criminal Identity Theft

Sometimes you might not realize that you are a victim of criminal identity theft, but here are some signs:

  • Your Social Security Statement may have errors.
  • There will most likely be errors on background checks.
  • You might get fired and told your criminal record is the reason.
  • You might not get a job or apartment due to your false criminal record.

Preventing Criminal Identity Theft

There are some things you can do to make the chances lower that you will become a victim of criminal identity theft:

  • Keep your Social Security number and driver’s license safe and hidden when possible.
  • If you have to get a new credit card and/or driver’s license, make sure the numbers are different. You don’t just want the same number as the thief can still use it.
  • Get a credit freeze and consider identity theft protection.
  • Frankly, be as digitally secure as possible and manage paper records the best you can. But this is a hard crime to stop on your own.
  • Criminal identity theft happens when the victim has done nothing at all to secure their identity

Should You Be Worried About Criminal Identity Theft?

All of this sounds pretty scary, but there is only a very small chance that you would be held liable for any of these crimes. The bigger issue is that someone could victimize you for years, and you would never realize it. It could become a big headache, and it could also create a domino effect that could ultimately tarnish your good name. Preventing identity theft of all kinds is a start, and as long as you know how to fix it if it happens, you should be okay in the end. Don’t worry about it, but do something about it.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Protecting Your Parents from Identity Theft

According to statistics, those who are 50-years old and older, like 65-85, are often targets of identity thieves. The bad guys have no issue taking advantage of your parents. They violate their trust, and understand that they are often naïve about the internet and scammy phone callls. Cyber criminals also know that older people have retirement money and more savings, and this money is ready for them to take. Here are some of the common scams that the bad guys use:

Common Scams Against Older People

  • The bad guys might send them an email saying that they are from the IRS, CIA, FBI, or even a bank. The email says that there is a problem that needs the recipient’s attention. The scammers then ask for information like their Social Security numbers, bank account information, and more.
  • Another scam is to pull on their heart strings. In this case, the scammer calls the person and claims to be someone they know, like a grandchild, who needs money wired because it’s an emergency.
  • Scammers also try to take advantage of people by using their home’s information. If they can access the deed of a person’s home, they can use other information, like their bank account number and Social Security number and can refinance the home. Then, of course, they get all of that money and the person living there is none the wiser.
  • Crooks also focus on people in retirement homes. They get a job at these homes, and then manipulate the residents to give them personal information.
  • They seek out the lonely. If your parent is single because of divorce or death they are a target. Loneliness often trumps common sense. There’s a level of desperation that predators seek out.

Preventing Scams Against Your Parents

You probably want to do all that you can to prevent this from happening. Here are some methods you can use:

  • Become the main guardian over the personal information and financial accounts of your parent’s. This way, when your parent is contacted by a suspicious person, they must go through you to get any information. Even information like your mother’s maiden name might be used to commit identity theft down the road. Make sure your parents know that they shouldn’t ever share personal information and any and all requests for any money must go through you. No matter how persistent the person on the phone or via email is.
  • Don’t ever share personal or identifying info on a social media site. Criminals will target your parents in “Grandparents Scams” posing as their grand children in distress using social profiles as research.
  • Make sure your parents know to check their credit card and bank accounts quite often. You should also set up text or email alerts about their accounts.
  • Get your parents a shredder. All bank statements and any other sensitive information should be put through the shredder. Crooks love to go through trash to find old statements and other information that they can use.
  • If your parents use Wi-Fi, show them how to use a VPN. Hotspots are not protected and scammers use them often.
  • When writing an obituary, don’t use any details that a crook could use to steal an identify. Sadly, the bad guys use this information in terrible ways.
  • Explain the importance of email safety. Phishing is very common, and even if an email looks safe and legitimate, no one, including you or your parents, should click a link in an email.
  • Help your parents understand that there is a difference between http and https. Tell them that if a website has http, it is not secure, so they shouldn’t share personal information.
  • You can also help your parents opt out of any unnecessary offers. Go to the website com and sign up.
  • Work with your parents to freeze their credit.

Stay Aware of Scammers

Do not allow your parents to be a scammer’s next victims. You can easily prevent this, and most importantly, your parents won’t have to go through the stress of rebuilding their credit and recovering their identity. One of the most important things that you can do is to be aware of these scams.

Protect the Identity of Your Parents

All of us are vulnerable to identity theft, and we can’t protect ourselves 100% of the time. However, by doing things like signing up for identity theft protection or doing a credit freeze can help to keep us all safe.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Do You Really Need Identity Theft Protection or is it a Waste of Money?

I see a ton of articles that say identity theft protection is not something you really need. These articles have titles like “ID Theft Protection Does Not Work,” or “The Poor Man’s Guide to ID Theft Protection.” Though some of these articles have a bit of merit, they totally miss the point.

Here’s the deal – You can’t protect yourself from every type of ID theft out there, and the types you can protect yourself against require a ton of focus. One way or the other, it will cost you money, time, and probably a bit of anxiety too.

Those who have elected not to invest in ID theft protection say they don’t need to pay for a service that they can take care of on their own. Why? Because they do the following:

Dispose of Their Mail, Securely – One thing that people do to protect their identity is to shred all of their mail. This is especially the case when it contains account information. However, this isn’t enough. Though you might do your part, there is no guarantee that your bank, mortgage company, or even electrical provider won’t toss paperwork with your information into a dumpster. At that point, it’s free for the taking.

Opt Out of Preapproved Credit Card Offers and Junk Mail – Yes, this is good advice. You can do it online at OptOutPrescreen.com. However, keep in mind that even if you do this, you will still get some offers.

Get a P.O. Box – I’m not sure why people think that getting and using a P.O. box will help to protect them from identity theft, but they do. Yes, this is a more secure way of getting your mail and in some cases will protect sensitive data. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help much.

Check Their Credit Report – Yes, you should always check your credit report. But, people who believe that checking their credit report can stop ID theft are mistaken. You can get a free credit report each year at AnnualCreditReport.com, but you really need to check more often than once every 12 months. Checking a credit report does not proactively protect your identity.

Set Up Fraud Alerts – People also set up fraud alerts and think they are fully protected from ID theft. Again, fraud alerts are great, but they expire after 90 days, and most people forget to renew the service. Additionally, these are only a guideline for your creditors, and they are not required to contact you if they issue credit.

Freeze Their Credit – These people also freeze their credit. This is a good thing to do, and I think it is fundamental to protecting your identity, but again, it doesn’t help to protect your ID from tax-related identity theft, criminal identity theft, account takeover or medical identity theft.

All of these things help, and are necessary in addition to a Protection Service, but people who stick with these and don’t get full service identity theft protection are putting themselves in a precarious position. Instead, it’s best to get a professional product, which offers better protection.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.