Be Aware of These Safe Travel Security Tips

Covid seems to be on the downswing (hopefully). Airlines are reporting record-breaking bookings. There are a number of travel security considerations to be made when traveling domestically and even more when internationally.

Rental Cars

Be Aware of These Safe Travel Security TipsIf you are planning an upcoming vacation or a business trip, you might be thinking about renting a car. “Smart Cars” are all the rage, and they connect to the internet. You get Bluetooth, navigation, hands-free calling, live-streaming, and much more. In fact, if you have a fairly new car, yourself, you probably already have some access to these features. You probably connect your devices to your car, too, so that you can stream music, text, make phone calls, etc. This is no issue because it’s your own car, and only you and your family are using it.

Now, think of this. You have your devices, you are on vacation, and you have a rental car. So, you connect, just as you do at home. But what you don’t realize is that your personal information is now on the car, and the next person who rents it might be able to access it.

I travel a lot, and I rent a lot of cars. There has not been one car that I can think of that hasn’t had information about previous renters in it, and that’s pretty scary. I could even access their address book information in some cases.

Even if all you want to do is listen to Pandora or something, connecting to the rental car might still store data onto the car, including where you are driving. This might not seem like a huge deal if you are on vacation, but what if you have a rental car at home? The person who rents the car next can access your home address, your workplace, where you shop, etc.

The vehicle can also store your phone number and your text logs, too. Again, this can get into the hands of the wrong people unless you know how to delete them.

As you can see, there is more to auto safety than simply putting on your seat belt and refraining from texting and driving. If you are connecting to a smart car, the person who drives it next could learn so much from you; information that you certainly don’t want people to know.

Do This, Not That 

Here are some tips you can use the next time you rent a car:

  • Don’t use the USB port on a rental car to charge your phone. It can transfer data to the car. Instead, buy a cheap adapter and use the cigarette lighter.
  • Check up on the permission settings of your devices. If the infotainment system allows you to choose what is sent, only give access to things that are necessary.
  • Before you turn the car on, make sure to delete your phone from the car’s system.

Will your identity get stolen as soon as you connect your phone to a smart rental car? Probably not, but by connecting it and not deleting the data, you could run into some security and privacy issues down the road, including identity theft. Be smart, and don’t put yourself in a situation where someone else might get access to your personal information.

Everything Else

Some thieves specialize in hanging around tourist spots to spot the tourists and make them victims of hands-on crimes such as purse snatching or a mugging. But don’t wait till you’re aimlessly wandering the piazza with your face buried in a huge map to take precautions against less violent forms of crime.

  1. Before traveling, make copies of your driver’s license, medical insurance card, etc., and give these to a trusted adult. Have another set of copies in your home. Scan them and email them to yourself.
  2. Never post your travel plans on social media until you return. You never know who’s reading about you.
  3. Before departing from home, make sure your credit card company and bank know of your travel plans.
  4. Clear your smartphone or other devices of personal data that’s not essential for your trip.
  5. Travel on a light wallet. Take two credit cards with you in case one is lost or stolen. Have with you the phone numbers for your bank and credit card company, just in case.
  6. Avoid using Wi-Fi in coffee houses, airports, and other public areas other than just catching up on the news. Use a VPN. Google it.
  7. When traveling internationally, read up on the safety of food and water and get whatever shots you may need.
  8. Never give your credit card number to the hotel staff (or at least, anyone identifying themselves as hotel staff) over the phone in your hotel room. The call could be coming from a thief posing as hotel staff telling you they need your number again.
  9. Never leave anything out in your hotel room that reveals personal information, such as a credit card receipt, passport, checkbook, medical insurance card, etc. If the room does not have a safe, then have these items on you at all times.
  10. Use only an ATM that’s inside a bank, never a free-standing one outdoors somewhere. Cover the keypad with your other hand as you enter the PIN to thwart ATM skimmers.

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.

Wi-Fi Hackers Snoop on Your Phone and Laptop: Here’s How They Do It

Wi-Fi is inherently flawed. Wi-Fi was born convenient, not secure. It is likely that you have heard about how dangerous it is to use an unsecured public Wi-Fi connection, and one reason is because a scammer can easily snoop. It is easier than you might think for a person to hack into your device when it is connected to a public Wi-Fi connection. In some cases they may be able to read your emails and messages, access your passwords, or even get personal information like your bank account number.

wiIt’s possible that your router or any router you connect to has been hacked and you won’t know it. A known tactic called DNS (Domain Name Server) hacking or hijacking, skilled hackers, (both black-hat and white-hat) can crack the security of a business or your home Wi‑Fi resulting in a breach. From there, if they are savvy, they’d set up a spoofed website (like a bank, or ecommerce site) and redirect you there.  From here the goal is to collect login credentials or even monitor or spy on your transaction’s on any website.

Think about this too; you are sitting in a local coffee shop working on your laptop while connected to the shops Wi-Fi. Someone sitting near you could easily download a free wireless network analyzer, and with some inexpensive hardware and software (google “Wifi Pineapple”), they can see exactly what you are doing online…unless your device is protected. They can read emails that you are sending and receiving, and they can do the same with texts.

Using a Wi-Fi Hotspot Safely: Tips

 Knowing what can happen when you are connecting to a public Wi-Fi spot, you want to know how to use them securely. Here are some ideas:

  • Don’t automatically connect to Wi-Fi networks. When initially connecting to a wireless network, we are often faced with a checkbox or option to “automatically connect” to the network in the future. Uncheck this and always manually connect. For example, if your home network is “Netgear” and you are somewhere and your device sees another network named “Netgear,” your device may connect to its namesake—which may not necessarily be as safe, potentially leaving your device vulnerable to anyone monitoring that new network.
  • When setting up a wireless router, there are a few different security protocol options. The basics are WiFi Protected Access (WPA and WPA2) is a certification program that was created in response to several serious weaknesses researchers had found in the previous system, Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), was introduced in 1997.
  • Confirm the network you are connecting to. Granted, this is easier said than done. There are rogue networks called “evil twins” that criminals set up; they are designed to lure you into connecting by spoofing the name of a legitimate network. For example, you may use what you see as “Starbucks Wi-Fi” to connect while you’re sipping your latte, but you may also see a listing for “FREE Starbucks Wi-Fi.” Or “ATT WIFI” might be real, but a hacker might have “Free ATT WIFI” as a fake network. Which one—if either—is for real? Such setups are designed to lure you in—and once connected, your data might get filtered through a criminal’s device. If you don’t know if a network is safe or not, feel free to ask.
  • This is a bit 101, but when you log into any website, make sure the connection is encrypted. The URL should start with HTTPS, not HTTP. Most sites today encrypt your session automatically.
  • Use a VPN when you connect to a public Wi-Fi connection. A VPN is a technology that creates a secure connection over an unsecured network. It’s important to use because a scammer can potentially “see” your login information on an unsecured network. For instance, when you log in to your bank account, the hacker may be able to record your information, and even take money from your account. VPNs are free to a monthly/annual fee or a lifetime license.
  • If you are using a private network, make sure that you understand that they, too, are vulnerable. Anyone who has some knowledge can use these networks for evil. Always use a secure connection, and seriously, consider a VPN.

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.

Threats to Be Aware of If You Use a Gmail Account

If you have a Gmail account, you should be concerned. Why? Because there are millions of malicious emails that are sent to users of Gmail every day.

gmailNow while Google upsets many people for many reasons, they do a pretty good job at keeping your email account secure. And they provide a number of tools to accomplish that task. The problem is not usually Google, the problem is usually in the “seat” and that’s you buddy. All of you fools using the same password across multiple accounts are potential victims of “credential stuffing” and those of you using the same pass code across multiple accounts are just, well dumb. No offense. But really, it’s just stupid.

If you want to know if your email address and it’s associated password have been included in any of the 12+ billion stolen records we have access to, head over to my company’s website ProtectNowLLC.com and plug your email address and any associated passwords in to see if you have been breached. And don’t worry, we don’t have access to any of your data nor do we store your information.

If you want to engage in best practices regarding your Google account, head over to Googles Security Checkup and run through your security settings. You’re crazy (or lazy) if you don’t.

Google is pretty secure, though, and many of these scammy emails are stopped right in their tracks. However, not all of them are, and if you use a corporate Gmail account, you could be more at risk than others. Here are some statistics for you to take a look at:

  • Scammers send more than 4 times the number of malware emails to corporate Gmail accounts than they do to personal Gmail accounts.
  • Scammers send more than 6 times the number of phishing emails to corporate Gmail accounts than they do to personal Gmail accounts.
  • Scammers send more than 4 times the number of spam emails to corporate Gmail accounts than they do to personal Gmail accounts.

Focusing on Threats to Corporate Gmail Accounts

You may be shocked to know that scammers like to focus on certain Gmail corporate accounts than others. For instance, when you think of all the corporate email addresses out there, educational entities and non-profits are more than two times more likely to be attacked with malware than others.

Google is Doing Its Best to Stop the Scammers

Google is well aware of these threats, and it has taken some big steps to stop the hacks. First, the company has installed an email classifier, which has an almost 100 percent accuracy rate when detecting scammy emails. Google also can send alerts to people who want to visit websites that are known for phishing or malware.

On top of that, Google offers two-step verification when users want to access their accounts, and the company also uses a hosted S/MIME feature, which

is helping to ensure that content of any email is secure and safe when it’s sent.

Finally, Google uses a TLS encryption indicator, which, when used, means that only the person you send the email to can read it.

Identifying a Phishing Email

Though Google has done a great job at stopping these threats, you may still find them getting into your email box. Here are some tips:

  • Expect the Unexpected – Most of the phishing emails out there look remarkably like legitimate emails. Thoroughly examine any email before you download files or click on links.
  • See Who Sent It – If you don’t know the sender’s name, be cautious, especially if the email asks for account information, including passwords.
  • Don’t Click on Links – Additionally, you should make sure that you are not clicking on links that appear in emails. If you must go to the site, type the address into the browser manually.
  • Look at Grammar – You also want to take a look at the grammar in emails. A lot of typos or bad grammar is a sure sign of a scam.
  • Notice Threatening Language – Finally, if you notice any threats in the email, it is probably a scam. A great example of this is “your account has been compromised.”

This is definitely not a full list of scams, but it does give you a good idea of what you might be up against. If something looks like a scam, it probably is.

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.

Are Your Devices Spying on You? Here’s How to Stop It

Though you might not realize it, your electronic devices are probably spying on you. These things, like your cell phone, know everything from what you are reading to where you are at any given time. How do they know it? Well, many times, you actually give the device and its apps permission to collect the information. . And while some of the following instructions are somewhat “limited”, setting up privacy requires a little bit of digging. So, dig in ! Here’s how to stop it:

Stop Your Laptop from Spying

Windows

Do you use Windows? If you do, you can limit what you share by going to “Settings” and clicking “Privacy.” Here, you can enable or disable settings for the apps you have on your laptop. You have to do this each time you install a new app.

Macs

Are you using a Mac? If so, you can definitely limit how much information you send to Apple by clicking on the Apple menu, choosing System Preferences, and then Security & Privacy. In the “Privacy” tab, you can see information on what apps can share. When you click “Analytics,” you can see more. Keep in mind that if you install a new app, you need to do this again.

Chromebook

Google is well known for its love of collecting data, so if you have a Chromebook, you should really pay attention. Go to “My Activity,” and then delete anything you want. You can also stop some of the devices data collection by choosing “Manage Your Google Activity,” and then clicking “Go to Activity Controls.”

Phones

As with laptops, you can do the same with a cell phone.

Android

If you own an Android phone, choose “Google,” and then choose “Personal Info & Privacy.” Then choose “Activity Controls.” There, you can choose what to share. As with the laptops, you have to update this each time you install a new app.

iOS

If you own an iPhone, you can find a Privacy setting when you look at the Settings menu. Open this, and then click on “Analytics.” This allows you to see what you are sharing with Apple. You can easily toggle it all off if you like. For every app, you can go back to the “Privacy” settings, and then check these settings for every app you have on your phone.

Fitness Trackers

You might be surprised to know that your fitness tracker could also be spying on you. Apps like FitBit and Strava are controlled through the Privacy and Settings options on your phone, but there is more you can do, too.

FitBit

On the FitBit app, you can tap on your profile, and then the account name. Tap on “Personal Stats,” and then “Settings” and “Privacy.”

Strava

On the Strava app, click on “Menu” or “More,” depending on what type of device you have. Then, choose “Settings” followed by “Privacy Controls.”

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.

Your Photos Are Displaying Your GPS Info!

During the holiday season, people are constantly posting family photos online, especially photos that contain kids. Sure, you think your kids are the most adorable out there, but do you really want the entire world to have access to these pictures? Do you want everyone to know where you live? …and did you know this? When you put photos like this online, pedophiles and predators can get your GPS coordinates.

You might want to put up a photo of your kids and dog opening their gifts on Christmas morning or you and your spouse toasting the New Year, but creeps can easily access the exact location each of these photos were taken, and it’s easier to do than you might think.

How is something like this possible? Each time you take a photo with a digital camera or a smart phone, it creates data called EXIF, of “exchangeable image file format.” This data essentially geotags your photo with the GPS coordinates of where you took the image.

If you remove this data, however, the bad guys can’t see where you are located. However, you have to do this for each and every new photo you want to post online.

How to Remove the EXIF Data

Here are the steps that you should take to remove the EXIF data:

 iPhone:

  1. Locate the picture on your iPhone.
  2. Open it, and tap the Share button.
  3. Tap on Options and in the next pane (up top), toggle off Location and/or All Photos Data.

Android:

From Google Play download the free app Photo Metadata Remover

Windows:

  1. First, right click on the image.
  2. Choose “Properties” to see the data, which should include the time and date that the image was taken.
  3. Click “Details.”
  4. Click “Remove Properties and Personal Information.” This is where you delete the EXIF data.
  5. You might be confused because you don’t see longitude and latitude here, but rest assured, it’s there. All you have to do to see it is to download an EXIF reader.
  6. You can make a copy of the image, which will remove data, or you can manually delete the data.

Mac

Download and run ImageOptim software for Mac

Remember, you have to delete this before you post the photo on the internet. You also might want to consider going back and doing this for all of the photos you have posted.

Obviously, doing this before you post a photo is the easiest way to go about protecting your information, and it will make you much more selective on what you put on social media, as you probably don’t want to have to go through these steps each and every time you post.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Turn off the GPS option on your camera
  • Check out the privacy settings on your social media accounts. Who can see it? Can a stranger?
  • Also, remember, that if you post on one network, like Instagram, the photo might also appear on another network, like Facebook, which has different settings.

This is one of those things that people just don’t even realize is happening. Don’t worry but do something about it now. If you have a lot of photos online, you might be panicking. It’s probably okay, but make sure you change your habits going forward. Also, if you know anyone who posts a lot of personal photos online, make sure they know about this, too.

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 to Protect Your Email from Hackers

It is easier than you might think to secure your email from hackers. The number one thing you can do is set up two step verification. Even if your username and password is compromised, bad guys will still need your mobile phone to access your account. And of course, never ever click on any links that come through your email unless you are positive it’s coming from a trusted sender. Not clicking on those links is easier said, than done, and even though is sometimes not enough.

Hackers have a saying – “Own the email, and you’ll own the person.” If you get hacked, the scammers will now have access to many, if not all, of the accounts that are associated with your email address.

How do they get access? Well, they send phishing emails, which look very much like real messages from a source you trust like UPS, PayPal, the IRS, your bank, a friend, your mom, etc.

Even people who seem smart or those who are in leadership positions can get tricked into clicking links in emails. Even John Podesta, who was the campaign chairman when Hillary Clinton, fell for a hack like this. He clicked on a link that seemed like it was from Google, but really it was a hacker…and that hacker got into his entire email account.

Don’t Let a Hacker Get Into Your Email Account

If you see a link and you want to or are supposed to click it, there are a few things you should do:

  • Hover your mouse over the URL to see if it looks strange. If the email says it’s coming from Chase Bank, but the URL looks like a bunch of nonsense, it’s probably not safe to click.
  • Many times, however, the URL can look very legitimate. So, you want to look for some other signs.
  • Look at the email for things like misspellings, grammar mistakes, or other odd things.
  • When in doubt, contact the sender via telephone

Additional Tips

  • If you see some type of urgency in the email, such as your account being compromised or your account being suspended, don’t be so quick to click.
  • There might also be some good, unexpected news in the email that you want to click…but again, be smart and only click if you are absolutely sure.
  • Is the message telling you that you must re-set your password? Be careful here. It’s likely a scam.

Emails from UPS, the IRS, PayPal, a major retailer, or your bank could also be suspicious, so again, don’t click until you are totally sure the link is safe.

Tips for Protecting Your Account

Here are some final tips that you can use to protect your account:

  • Employers need to engage security awareness training in the form of phishing simulation training.
  • Use strong passwords that are long and difficult to guess. They should be mixed with letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Use two-factor authentication for all accounts, including your email account.
  • Don’t click on attachments unless you know exactly what they are.

When you really think about it, protecting your email account is one of the most important things that you can do to keep your information safe. Everything here is simple to do and understand, and it can make a big difference in your life, especially when you consider how easy it is to get hacked.

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.

Avoiding Online Dating Romance Scams

Not too long ago, I heard from a friend, and he told me his mom was scammed. I was immediately intrigued. He goes on to tell me that since his dad died last year, his mom had signed up for online dating. My friend told his mom that online dating can be dangerous, but she blew it off. Soon, she met a man. He was a Sergeant in the US military and stationed in Afghanistan. They exchanged a lot of messages, and soon became close. One day, she got a message from him saying that he had found a large sum of money and he needed help getting it back to the US…and in only three months, he scammed her out of $242,000. Then…he disappeared.

Online DatingThis is only one of the thousands of stories out there. Scammers know that people looking for love, especially women, can be more vulnerable than others. Another guy I know of was meeting women on social media. He was charming them after sending them messages via their inbox, and ultimately tricking them into giving up their personal info. With this, the guy was able to open new lines of credit in the names of his victims.

Preventing Romance Scams

 Here are some tips to stay safe if you are going to date online:

  • Be suspicious of anyone who tries to impress you with romantic or statements that seem cliché.
  • Once they start talking love and marriage and achy breaky hearts and wanting to be with you and I love you this and I love you that, chances are it’s a scammer.
  • Remember, women can be scammers, too.
  • Be wary if the guy you met online keeps showering you with too many complements. He’s trying to be charming but might not have the best of intentions.
  • If you meet someone on a dating site, and they immediately want to exchange numbers after the first message, be cautious.
  • If someone you are newly dating asks for money, run.
  • If they want to come visit you, but then ask you to pay, it’s probably a scam.
  • Don’t talk about how much money you make or have. If he or she keeps asking, tell them you are on a very tight budget.

Who are these scammers?

Well, they might be part of scamming rings, or they might be working on their own. They are probably from a foreign country, and they almost always portray that they have some type of prestigious or exotic job, and in some way, this job is often connected to the scam. If the person says that they have a normal job, don’t get too comfortable. They still could be a scammer. They then will make up an illness or an injury and tell you that they need money.

Protecting Yourself

 Now that you have read this, you should know how to protect yourself from these types of scams. If you don’t, read this article again. Finally, here is one more trick. Right click on the person’s photo, and then click “Search Google for this Image.” If you see the image on another person’s Facebook profile, or if it’s a stock image, you should run for the hills.

None of this is difficult to understand, and it’s all common sense. But, as stated before, common sense can go right out the window when romance is concerned. So, try to have some smarts as you begin a relationship with anyone. Ask questions, don’t take anything at face value, and most of all, share this post to help other people become aware of these scams.

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.

Keeping Your SMB Bring-Your-Own-Devices Secure

If you have a small or medium sized business, it is likely that you have staff who are bringing their tablets, phones, iPads, and laptops to work every day. However, all of this puts your business to risk as they can also bring malware into your network.

On top of this, any of these devices can be lost, misplaced, or stolen. Since its extremely likely that your staff are using these devices for their work, think about all of the information that could be on there about your company…and it happens because Joe in accounting left his cell phone on the counter at a local coffee shop, and a hacker picked it up.

Also, think about this: depending on how successful your company is, there also might be a list of clients found on the devices, or at least a few. Now, someone has access to your clients, and what is stopping them from contacting your competitors and sharing your sensitive company information…for a price, of course.

Hacking also often involves the act of phishing where an employee will open up an email and then click on a link or open an attachment. When this happens, malware is unleashed, and the device and network is at risk.

Here are some tips to keep devices secure that you can share with your staff:

  • Only use apps that have been purchased from a reliable source like iTunes or Google Play.
  • Do not reuse passwords and use a different password for each login that you have.
  • Keep all apps and operating systems updated. Any update that comes in should be downloaded and installed immediately. Don’t choose to update later, as this is a great opportunity for hackers to get into a vulnerable app.
  • Start using anti-virus software. These apps can be found in iTunes or in the Google Play store.
  • Be cautious when installing anything with a “free download.” Sometimes viruses and malware can be found there, and they can get out onto your network before you know it.
  • Choose the feature where device passwords are protected and wiped clean after a certain number of log-in attempts.
  • Make sure that all staff understands that free Wi-Fi spots are not secure. So, they should be using a VPN anytime they are trying to connect to a free Wi-Fi network.
  • Phishing scams are becoming more common than ever before, so make sure that your staff knows how to recognize scams like this.
  • Don’t trust email addresses that you don’t know and don’t trust any email that claims it is coming from the CEO or Board of Directors unless it’s an email that you can verify.
  • Do not use any device that is jailbroken. This opens it up to too many viruses.

Understanding MDM

Mobile device management software, or MDM, should be used. This software helps to protect devices, and it is a safety net for any type of business or personal device. For instance, if a mobile device is lost and the person who finds it tries to enter the passcode a certain number of times, the device will lock out the person doing it. You can also set it so that the entire device is erased if there are too many login attempts. MDM also offers firewall protection, encryption, and antivirus capabilities. Additionally, it can monitor the system to add another level of security. There should be a policy in place that every employee must use this software on their device, or they can’t use it.

Utilize Additional Experts

“Do it yourself” information security for small business in theory might seem to save a few bucks. But in the long run it might cost your small business a lot more. Engaging experts such as Managed Security Service Providers, or for smaller businesses, also known as a Virtual CISO’s (chief information security officer), can run the most comprehensive vulnerability scanning software among other ethical hacking tools, will make sure bad guy hackers can’t get in and make a mess of all you have worked for.

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.

Is Your Uber Driver a Criminal?

Do you ever Uber? If you do, you probably feel relatively safe when getting into a stranger’s car. However, you might not be as safe as it seems.

Most people believe that Uber does thorough background checks on its drivers, but that’s not totally the case. Recently, there have been a number of cases where Uber drivers, who have been accused of crimes when on the job, actually have a record and several run-ins with the cops.

Simply doing a quick Google search for “rideshare assault” provides way too many search results of recent stories of sexual assaults and otherwise, perpetrated by drivers. There’s simply no shortage of predators behind the wheel.

In South Carolina a college student got into a car she thought was her Uber, police say. She was found dead in a field. I was asked to discuss this on CNN. When you watch the video on rideshare murder, you will clearly see how upset I was, and frankly, still am.

CNN took a look at Uber, and its competitor, Lyft, and the report found that both of these companies approved the hire of thousands of drivers who have records. Uber did respond to this report, and it says that it knows that there were some hiring mistakes previously, but the company has worked hard to improve the way it hires. In 2017, the company claims, it rejected over 200,000 applicants because of issues found during a background check.

A number of state and local law enforcement organizations have pushed the ride-sharing companies to put more of a focus on who they are hiring. Right now, for example, they don’t fingerprint applicants, nor do they do any type of Federal background checks. Instead, Lyft and Uber both use third-party background check companies. It uses the Social Security number and name of potential drivers to check the national sex offender database, terrorist databases, and local court records. The goal is to get people on the road quickly, so not a ton of time is spent on this.

At this point in time, there are over 40 states that require screening for ridesharing services. But these laws don’t require the companies to screen in a certain way or to use a specific company. Instead, 42 states allow rideshare companies to take this on by themselves. Massachusetts is one state the requires an additional check in addition to the regular background check, and New York City requires that all drivers for ridesharing companies get their fingerprints taken.

It is also important to mention that just because a company does finger printing along with background checks, this isn’t foolproof. The FBI system that is accessed actually has an incomplete record system, and it really isn’t meant to be used like this.

If you use Uber, keep all of this on your mind before you take your next ride. Yes, there is a simple background check that is done, but that doesn’t mean your Uber driver isn’t a criminal.

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.