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.

Protect Your Identity From Thieves

There are tried and true ways to protect yourself from identity theft—ways that you may not have even considered.

Evaluate your passwords. Does every online account have a different password or are you using the same one for multiple accounts? Fix this problem immediately by investing in a password manager software. Avoid using actual words or names, or keyboard sequences. Password managers facilitate the password creation process.

Never post anything personal on social media.This includes your pet’s name, name of your kids’ school or teacher, where you’re going on vacation, the town your parents live in, etc.

Ignore e-mails whose senders you don’t know. Never click links in e-mails or open attachments you’re not expecting.

Set your phone up with a password. If it’s lost or stolen, you’ll have no worries.

Shred everything. All your credit card offers, medical records and other personal information before tossing.

Never give it out your Social Security number unless it’s absolutely mandatory like a credit application. However, just because someone says they can’t process your request without your SSN doesn’t mean you must hand it over. The objective is to minimize how much your SSN is “out there.”

Request your free credit report every year from the three major credit reporting bureaus. Refute unauthorized accounts immediately.

Inspect your statements such as credit card and banking statements every month for suspicious activity.

Use a locking mailbox or have your mail delivered to the post office and pick up.

Stop mail delivery when taking long trips.

Get a credit freeze. This is a no brainer to protect you from new account fraud.

Invest in identity theft protection. There is no cure for identity theft. But with a protection plan in place, the restoration component will fix most of what goes wrong.

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 and the home security expert for Porch.com

Covid-19 Remote Desktop Has Significant Risks

Are you newly working from home? Or are you an old pro? Either way, it is likely you are using some form of remote desktop protocol. Those of us who have been working home as our primary means of earning a living, know these tools very well and are accustomed to eliminating the various distractions in our home environment in order to get the job done. There are some precautions to be aware of.

None of us think that we are going to get hacked, even though we have seen time and time again that it is very possible. Even the largest companies in existence have been hacked, and small businesses are even more at risk. You can add even more to this risk if you use a software called Remote Desktop.

Basically, Remote Desktop allows you to access computers remotely in your home or office and give network access to employees who are working remotely. However, when you give or have this access, you are opening up your network to hackers. Thousands of companies and individuals have fallen victim to this, and just one successful hack can be devastating to a small business.

Remote Desktop: What is It?

Remote Desktop, or RDP, is a very common software. In fact, if you have Microsoft Windows, you probably have this software and don’t even realize it. Though it is a very powerful tool for businesses, it is also not very secure.

Criminals know this, of course, and they have created a huge variety of tools to hack into this software. When they get access to the network, criminals can access company information and then take things like log-ins and passwords. Once they have this, they can buy and sell them so that other criminals can use them to access your network. Once they are in, they can do almost anything.

Are You at Risk?

There are estimates that there are over three million companies that theoretically have access to Remote Desktop. Most of them are small businesses and many manage their own IT services in house. If you are a small business and you have an in-house IT department, you could definitely fit into this category. What’s more is that hackers tend to target these businesses, too. Any company that has RDP access enabled is a target of hackers.

What Can You Do About It?

Hopefully at this point you are wondering what you can do to protect your business from hackers who like to access networks through RDP.

  • If you aren’t using remote desktop, then the first thing you should do is to remove Remote Desktop from your network.
  • Make sure to update your operating systems critical security patches which will inevitably update any software around remote desktop protocol.
  • Update all software that could allow remote desktop to be vulnerable
  • Make sure your wireless connections are encrypted which generally means password-protected.
  • If you have a good reason for keeping it, you can also choose to restrict access by setting up a virtual private network, or VPN.
  • Additionally, you can create a firewall to restrict its access
  • Setting up multi-factor authentication is also a good idea if you want to keep this software.
  • Just be aware that none of these solutions are fool proof except totally deleting the software.

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 Protection security awareness training program.

What is Synthetic Identity Theft?

Identity theft is when a person steals another person’s private and personal information, generally to make money from it. You probably already knew this, but have you heard of synthetic identity theft? This is a bit different.

With synthetic identity theft, a person creates a new and very fake identity by combining the real information from a person with made-up information. You might not think this is a big deal, but it can be very bad for anyone who has their identity stolen.

Here are three ways that ID thieves can create synthetic identities:

Creating a New Credit Profile

The most common way to create a synthetic identity is to create a new credit profile using the victims SSN but a different name. Basically, they apply for credit using these fake identities. Generally, the application will be denied, but in the process, it creates a credit profile. Then, they can apply to companies that cater to people with poor or no credit. Though the card limits are typically small, less than $500, it still gives them money.

The Piggyback

Another thing that people do to create a synthetic identity is the piggyback. Basically, they look for people who have good credit, and then add a fake person as an authorized user to the account. They do not use the account, however. Instead, they let it sit for a few months. The credit agencies create a report of the synthetic identity, who now has an excellent credit rating and can get high limit credit cards.

Data Furnishing

The third tactic is called data furnishing. This is quite effective and sophisticated and requires the participation of someone from some type of business. Basically, they need a small business owner or manager who is willing to help with this fraud. The company is already vetted and is then approved to offer information on customers. They allow fake IDs, or synthetic identities, for malicious duties. This generally takes several months to set up, but the thieves can make a ton of money.

Right now, it’s hard to really pinpoint the financial impact of what these synthetic identities have, though it is believed that it has caused billions in losses. That means, however, for an ID thief, there are billions to be made. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to protect yourself including being very careful about the information you are sharing, especially on social media. Also, make sure you have a credit freeze and identity theft protection and that you are regularly checking your credit report.

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 Protection security awareness training program.

Your Uber Driver May be a Criminal

Do you Uber? If you do, you probably feel pretty safe getting into the car of a stranger. However, you might not be as safe as you think.

Most people take for granted that Uber does background checks on its drivers, but there are actually a number of shady drivers who have recently been accused of crime, and it’s definitely not the first time they have had run ins with law enforcement. Some of these people are accused of committing crimes against their passengers, and that’s where things really get scary.

CNN recently took a look at both Uber and Lyft and found that both companies approved hiring thousands of drivers who have criminal records. Uber responded to this report by saying it knows that there were some hiring mistakes in the past, but they have improved the way they hire, and in 2017, rejected more than 200,000 people because of issues on the background check. However, both companies are not keen to adopt more scrutiny in the screening process.

Several state and local law enforcement agencies are pushing the companies to put more focus on potential drivers. Right now, for instance, they don’t do any fingerprinting nor federal background checks. Instead, both Uber and Lyft use a third-party background check company. It uses the name and Social Security number of potential drivers to check the national sex offender database, local court records, and suspected terrorist databases. The goal is to get drivers on the road as soon as possible, and many of these checks are instant.

Currently, there are 43 states that require screening for rideshare services, but these laws don’t say that the companies have to use a specific company or screen in a certain way. Instead, 42 of these states allow rideshare companies to take responsibility for the screening. Only Massachusetts requires a company background check and an additional check, which is done by the state. Only New York City requires rideshare drivers to have fingerprinting done.

It’s also worth mentioning that just because a company does background checks that include fingerprinting, it isn’t always fool proof. The FBI system that is used for this has incomplete records and it is not meant to be used in this way.

As someone who uses Uber, it’s important that you keep all of this on the back of your mind before you take your next ride. Yes, there is some type of background check done, but don’t let that fool you; your Uber driver could still be a criminal.

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 Protection security awareness training program.

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.