Protect Your Family Online With WOT

The web is a dangerous place. Malware, scams and privacy dangers are around every corner, and children can easily find themselves face to face with sites that are not suitable. What can a parent do? One option is to try WOT, Web of Trust, a free browser add-on.

WOT rates each site on the Internet for reliability, privacy, trustworthiness and child safety. When searching a website with WOT, you will see a colored icon, red for bad and green for good, which indicates if a user should proceed. You can also use the WOT rating for every site and read reviews from those who have been on the site.

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WOT offers other features, too. For instance, when visiting a “red site” a large warning appears on the screen. This allows people to choose if they go through or surf away. Additionally, you can also click the WOT button in the browser, and you can see information about the rating of the site, too.

When performing an Internet search and you come across a link that looks fishy, WOT places a red icon next to it. You may also see a yellow icon, which indicates the site may or may not be safe, and gray icons indicate the site is unrated. Hovering over each icon will give you more details about the website, as well as ratings and reviews from users.

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The latest version of WOT has four levels of safety included. Lite, the lowest level, only shows icons for dangerous websites. The highest level, Parental Control, not only blocks dangerous websites, it also blocks any sites that are not suitable for kids.

Web of Trust is available as a browser add-in for Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, Internet Explorer and Safari.

Robert Siciliano CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, 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. This is a review opportunity via BlogsRelease. Disclosures.

Keep Accountant happy and Thieves out

Are you a shredder? I hope so. No identity thief on this planet is going to want to attempt to reconstruct cross-shredded documents.

Computer crime conceptSo what, then, should you make a habit of shredding?

  • All financial documents and information, including financial information you’ve jotted on a Post-it note.
  • Credit card receipts unless you want to file these away for end-of-month calculations, but ultimately, you have your monthly statements so you will not have use for them anyways.
  • Old property tax statements (keep the most current one). But any other tax documents you should retain.
  • Voided checks.
  • Most things with your Social Security number on it that aren’t tax related.
  • Any other piece of paper that has your or a family member’s personal information on it, including envelopes with your address. Never assume “that’s not enough” for a skilled identity thief to use.
  • Ask your accountant what they think.

Now, what kind of shredder should you get for your home or office? There are all kinds of makes and models out there.

  • Do not buy a “strip” shredder that simply slices thin strips in one direction. Identity thieves will actually take the time to reconstruct these.
  • Buy a “cross-cut” shredder. The pieces are sliced and diced too small for an identity thief to want to struggle to tape back together.
  • We can go one step further, in case you are wondering if anyone would actually take the time to lay out all those cross-cut fragments and reassemble them: Buy a micro-cut device. The pieces, as the name suggests, are tiny.
  • Read the features for that micro-shredder, as some models are more heavy-duty than others.
  • You may not want to purchase a machine online; at least you will want to see the various makes and models in person first.
  • But if you can’t locate the type of shredder that you’d like from a brick-and-mortar retailer, then of course, there are plenty online to choose from.

So get yourself a shredder on your next shopping trip; you will be so glad you did.

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

Career Criminal goes down

A sharp nine-year-old girl has a biting message to a 51-year-old man, according to an article on myfoxboston.com:

1G“You deserve to stay in jail because you break into peoples houses. Stop breaking into peoples houses and do something with your life.”

This advice was directed to Pedro Gomez, whom police are labeling a career criminal. According to investigators, he attempted to break into over a dozen houses—all within the span of hours.

One of the failed attempts occurred to a house where the nine-year-old was at at the time. Gomez’s floundering break-in attempts occurred in Shrewsbury, Mass. I’m not so sure he’s a true “career criminal,” because he certainly didn’t do things like a prolific burglar would. This sounds more like random, haphazard, desperate, non-calculated attempts to bust into the nearest homes.

Pedro even apparently stacked patio furniture up against windows in one of his break-in attempts.

There are different kinds of robbers, and one of them is that of the unskilled kind who breaks into homes to get whatever cash or small sellable items he could get his hands on to support his next drug fix. This could very well be the type of criminal that Gomez is.

Gomez tripped an alarm when he tried to get in through a slider type of door, continues the myfoxboston.com article. It was there that the police caught up with him. The report says that he had already broken into houses in three other towns.

Though he didn’t exactly hang his head upon being arrested, he will have plenty of time in prison to reflect upon the advice of the nine-year-old girl.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Online Shopping and Counterfeit Goods – The Facts Don’t Lie

As the holiday season creeps upon us, research shows that an astonishing 24% people who are buying online have been duped by scammers. Whether you are buying shoes, electronics or the latest fashions and accessories, research companies are showing that you are at risk of being duped.

9DWhen you look at the overall shopping behavior of consumers, we see that about 34% do all of their shopping online, and during the holiday season, this number rises to 39% of all consumers. That is a lot of people for counterfeiters to focus on.

Mark Frost, the CEO of MarkMonitor, explains that it is crucial for customers to stay aware of the possibility of buying counterfeit goods, especially during the holidays. Most of us are looking for a bargain, and this is exactly why we tend to jump on these deals. On top of this, counterfeiters have gotten very good at making these fake goods look almost identical to the real deal, and it is near impossible, in some cases, for the untrained eye to tell them apart. Here are some more facts:

People are Exposed to Online Counterfeit Goods All of the Time

With so many counterfeit goods out there, you have likely been exposed to them, or even made a purchase. Younger people are more at risk of buying these goods, and when looking at those in the 18-34 year old range, almost 40% had purchased counterfeit goods in the past.

In addition to these goods, about 56% of people have received counterfeit emails, or those that seem as if they are coming from a certain company, such as Nike, but in reality, all of the items are fake. Fortunately, only about one in 20 consumers are likely to click on these links, but that means that about 5% of consumers are directed to these sites, too, and may get caught up in the bargains.

This is a Global Issue

Statistics also show that about 64% of global consumers are worried about online security. These same consumers report that they feel safer buying from local extensions, such as .de, .uk and .co.

Attitudes Towards Buying Counterfeit Goods

One of the most alarming facts that come up in these studies is that about 20% of consumers continue the purchase of their goods, even after finding themselves on a website with counterfeit goods.

As you continue your holiday shopping, make sure to keep these facts in mind and make sure to research any site you choose to buy from, even those that look like they may be legitimate.

Shoppers need to be cautious when searching online to spread their holiday cheer and MarkMonitor suggests checking this list twice to find out if websites are naughty or nice:

  1. Check the URL: In a practice known as “typosquatting” fraudulent sites will often be under a misspelled brandname.com, attempting to trick consumers into thinking they are on a reputable website.
  2. Check the Price: Counterfeiters have been getting very smart about pricing lately and not discounting their wares as heavily as before, but deep discounts – especially on unknown e-commerce sites – are a tip-off that consumers should do a lot more checking before buying.
  3. Check the “About” and the “FAQs” pages: Though some sites look professional at first glance, but are not always so careful about these pages. Check for spelling and grammatical errors.
  4. Check for reviews: Many fraudulent websites’ reputations proceed them. Search for what people are saying about the site and include the term ‘scam’ with the site name to see if they are known to be a risky site.  

Robert Siciliano CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, 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. Disclosures.

8 Ways to Ensure Safe and Secure Online Shopping this Holiday Season

So, who’s on your holiday gift list this year? That list is a lot longer than you think; consider all the names of hackers that have not yet appeared on it. Scammers will do whatever it takes to get on your holiday gift list! Here’s how to keep these cyber thieves out of your pocket:

  • Before purchasing from a small online merchant, see what the Better Business Bureau says and also search Google for reviews.
  • If you see an unexpected e-mail allegedly from a retailer you shop at, don’t open it. Scammers send out millions of trick e-mails that appear to be from major retailers. They hope to trick gullible shoppers into clicking on them and revealing sensitive information. So many of these scam e-mails get sent out that it’s common for someone to receive one that appears to be from a store they very recently purchased from.
  • When shopping online at a coffee house or other public spot, sit with your back to a wall so that “visual hackers” don’t spy over your shoulder. Better yet, avoid using public Wi-Fi for online shopping.
  • Back up your data. When shopping online it’s highly probable you’ll stumble upon an infected website designed to inject malicious code on your device. Malware called “ransomware” will hold your data hostage. Backing up your data in the cloud to Carbonite protects you from having to pay the ransom.
  • Save all your financial, banking and other sensitive online transactions for when you’re at home to avoid unsecure public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Change all of your passwords to increase your protection should a retailer you shop at fall victim to a data breach. Every account of yours should have a different and very unique password.
  • Ditch the debit card; a thief could drain your bank account in seconds. Use only credit cards. Why? If a fraudster gets your number and you claim the unauthorized purchase within 60 days, you’ll get reimbursed.
  • Review your credit card statements monthly and carefully. Investigate even tiny unauthorized charges, since thieves often start out small to “test the waters.”

Robert Siciliano is an expert in personal privacy, security and identity theft. Learn more about Carbonite Personal plans. See him discussing identity theft prevention. Disclosures.

How to avoid Online Fundraising Scams

You’ve probably heard of the gofundme.com site, where all sorts of stories are posted of people seeking donations. Some are tragic, others are trite. You may be touched by a particular story, perhaps one in which an entire family is killed in a house fire.

9DYou click the “Donate Now” button and donate $50. So just how do you know that family who died in the fire really existed?

Gofundme.com and similar sites are loaded with “campaigns,” just tons of them. Think of the logistics involved if these sites hired people to verify every campaign. This would require enormous amounts of time and a lot of people and expense.

People don’t think. They just assume every campaign is for real. Do you realize how easy it is to start a campaign? Gofundme.com, for instance, only requires that you have a Facebook account with a valid-looking profile picture of the campaign starter, and at least 10 Facebook friends (last I checked, anyways).

  • Who at Gofundme.com and similar sites verifies that the profile picture is that of the campaign starter?
  • Who at these sites verifies that the “friends” are legitimate, vs. all phony accounts or “friends” purchased from seedy overseas companies that create fake profiles?
  • Even if the avatar and friends are for real, how do these crowdfunding sites confirm the authenticity of the campaigns?

It’s all based on the honor system. You take their word for it, though some campaigns are high profile cases. People have given money to fake campaigns. How can you prevent getting conned?

  • Check the news to see if the campaign story really happened. But a house fire in a small town doesn’t always hit the Internet. Nor is it newsworthy that some housewife is trying to raise money to buy her disabled son a set of golf clubs. So stay with campaign stories that you know have occurred.
  • But again, a scammer could take a real story, pretend to know a victim and scam donators. So see if there’s a legitimate pathway to donate to the real people involved in the story, such as through their local police department.
  • Stick to reputable charity sites. Offline, never give money solicited over the phone.
  • Be leery of charity solicitations for very high profile cases, as these attract scammers.
  • If donations are solicited by snail mail, check the Better Business Bureau. Any scammer could create a legitimate sounding name: “American Association for Autistic Children.”

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

7 Ways to protect Yourself Online

The biggest mistake that you can make to threaten your online safety is to treat the online world different—as far as your private information—than you would treat the physical world. In other words, if someone walked up to you and said, “Hi, can you please provide me with your name, address, birth date, home phone, cell phone, email, usernames, passowords all your friends names and all their contact info?” I think not.

9DWhat sane person would pass out cards with their Social Security number, birth date, full name, home address and bank account information to every stranger they walk past on the street? But essentially, that’s what many people do online.

Here are seven risky online behaviors:

  • Posting photos. As innocent as this sounds, photos of children have been known to get stolen and posted on child porn sites. Right click, save image as, then save to desktop; that’s all it takes. Does this mean never post photos of your kids? No. But save the picture of your naked two-year-old girl in the bathtub for your desktop. And don’t post vacation photos until after you return home.
  • Another thing about photos: Don’t post pictures of yourself engaging in activities that could come back to haunt you in some way. For example, you post a picture of yourself smoking while at a picnic. You apply for new health insurance and say you’re a nonsmoker. The insurance company might decide to view your social media pictures to catch you in the act.
  • Sounds innocent: You let your kids use your computer. But even if there are parental controls in place, your kids can still unknowingly let in a virus. Then you sit down to do some online banking…and the hacker whose virus is in your computer will then have your login credentials and bank account numbers, plus everything else. Ideally, you use a designated computer only for conducting sensitive online transactions.
  • A hacker sends (via bot) out 10,000 e-mails that are made to look like they’re from UPS. Out of 10,000 random recipients, chances are that a good number of them are waiting any day for a UPS shipment. This could be you. Will you open the e-mail and click on the link inside it? If you do, you’ll likely download a virus. This is a phishing scam. Contact the company by phone to verify the e-mail’s legitimacy. Better yet, just never click on the doggone links.
  • Do you know your apps? They most certainly know you—way too much, too. Applications for your phone can do the following: read your phone’s ID, continuously track your location, run your other applications, know your SIM card number and know your account number. Before downloading an app, find out what it can find out about you.
  • Don’t take silly online quizzes. Whoever’s behind them might just want to get as much information on you as possible with the idea of committing identity theft. Got some extra time? Read a book or do a crossword puzzle.
  • Never conduct business transactions using free Wi-Fi unless you have a virtual private network. Otherwise, anyone can cyber-see what you’re doing.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

Protect Yourself from Online Fraud

Yes, it’s possible: preventing fraudsters from getting you via online trickery and other stealthy actions. Yes, it’s possible to be thinking one step ahead of cyber criminals. Let’s begin with e-mails—the conduit through which so many cyber crimes like ID theft occur. 9D

  • Imagine snail-mailing vital information like your SSN, bank account number, a duplicate of your driver’s license and your credit card number. At some point in the delivery process, someone opens the letter and see the contents. Electronic messages are not entirely private. Recognize this risk before sending knowing that in transmission there is a chance your information can be seen. Sometimes the telephone is a better option.
  • Ignore sensationalistic offers in your in-box like some ridiculously low price on the same kind of prescription drug you pay out of pocket for; it’s likely a scam.
  • Ever get an e-mail from a familiar sender, and all that’s in it is a link? Don’t click on it; it may trigger a viral attack. As for the sender, it’s a crook compromised your friends email and who figured out a way to make it look like the e-mail is from someone you know.
  • In line with the above, never open an attachment from an unfamiliar sender; otherwise you may let in a virus.
  • If someone you know sends you an unexpected attachment, e-mail or call that person for verification before opening it.
  • Enable your e-mail’s filtering software to help weed out malicious e-mails.
  • Ignore e-mails asking for “verification” of account information. Duh.

Passwords

  • Don’t put your passwords on stickies and then tape them to your computer.
  • Do a password inventory and make sure all of them contain a mix of letters, numbers and characters, even if this means you must replace all of them. They also should not include actual words or names. Bad password: 789Jeff; good password: 0$8huQP#. Resist the temptation to use a pet’s name or hobby in your password.
  • Every one of your accounts gets a different password and change them often.

General

  • Make sure your computer and smartphone are protected with antivirus/anti-malware and a firewall. And keep these updated!
  • Your Wi-Fi router has a default password; change it because cyber thieves know what they are.
  • When purchasing online, patronize only well-established merchants.
  • Try to limit online transactions to only sites that have an “https” rather than “http.” A secure site also has a padlock icon before the https.
  • Make sure you never make a typo when typing into the URL; some con artists have created phony sites that reflect typos, and once you’re on and begin entering your account information, a crook will have it in his hands.
  • Access your financial or medical accounts only on your computer, never a public one.
  • Ignore e-mails or pop-ups that ask for account or personal information.
  • When you’re done using a financial site, log out.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

10 Skeevy Scams to watch

You may think you’re not dumb enough to fall for scams, but consider that someone you care deeply about is naïve enough to be conned. Besides, some scams are so clever that even those who think they’re scam-proof have actually been taken for a ride.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-online-risks-sign-road-banner-image34668294Sometimes fraudsters pose as an authority figure. Some claim you won a prize, while others claim you’re in trouble. Some even claim they’re a family member (needing money) and have figured out a way to convince you of this.

Some scams are done via e-mail, while others involve a phone call or snail mail. One common ploy is for the crook to pose as a rep from the electric company and threaten to shut off your electricity unless you pay a delinquent bill. Of course, the payment must be in the form of a reloadable debit card. People will actually give these cards to the “rep,” without calling the company to confirm the situation.

A big tip-off to a scam is that you’re told you won a prize or have been hired for employment—but must send money to get the prize or be trained for the employment.

Some scams are so very obvious, but still, people get taken, like those ridiculous e-mails claiming you inherited a windfall from some deceased prince named Gharbakhaji Naoombuule. But people actually fall for these, not considering that this same e-mail was sent to 10,000 others.

Top 10 Scams

  • Caller ID spoofing. Has your phone ever rung and you saw your phone number and name in the caller ID screen? How can your own phone be calling you? It’s a scam. Ignore it. If you pick up you’ll hear an offer for lower credit card rates. You’ll be told to press 1 to opt out—but you should not even be on that long to hear this option; you should have hung up the second you heard the credit card offer. Anyways, pressing 1 indicates your number is legitimate; it’s then sold to scammers. Caller ID spoofing is also perfect for scammers posing as the police, government agency, corporations etc all with the intention to get you to part with your money.
  • Mystery shopping. Though mystery shopping is a legitimate enterprise, scammers take advantage of this and mail out checks (phony) before the “shopping” is done. A legitimate company will never do this. They also get victims to give up credit card data to pay for getting a job!
  • Calls about unpaid taxes. Always hang up, regardless of threatening nature to pay up or else. The IRS always uses snail mail to notify people of unpaid taxes.
  • Puppy scam. You find a website offering purebred puppies at very low prices or even for free, but you’re told you must pay for shipping or transfer fees (wire transfer) to get your puppy. The money is gone and you never get your puppy.
  • You get a call from someone claiming to have found buyers for your timeshare. You receive a contract, but are told you must pay funds to cover some fees. The contract is phony.
  • Tech support. Someone calls you claiming your computer needs servicing. They’ll fix it after you give them your credit card information. Legitimate geeks don’t call people; you must call them.
  • Postcard survey. Out of the blue you’re told you’ve won a gift card, or, just take a brief survey to get one. Go along with this and soon you’ll be asked to provide your credit card number. Don’t bother. You’ll get no gift card while the crook gets your credit card information.
  • A notice says you’ve won a big fat prize. To claim it, just pay some fees. Yeah, right. Never pay fees to collect a prize!
  • You’re told you’re eligible for a grant or have been awarded one, but must first pay processing fees. Federal grants don’t require fees.
  • Subscription renewal notice. The notice says you can renew for a lower rate. Check to see if the notice was sent by the publication itself or some third party (the crook).

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

10 Tips to avoid Scams when traveling

Vacationers and tourists provide a vast feeding ground for all sorts of crooks: from the simple pick-pocketing specialist to the hotel room burglar to the e-thief: credit card skimming and computer crimes. You can even have your identity stolen while sunning on that white beach.

9DAvoid Traveling Scams with These Tips

  • Don’t post your vacation or other travel plans on social media. Thieves peruse social media to see who will be out of town and when.
  • Protection begins before the trip. Put a vacation hold on your snail mail.
  • Beware of hotel room scams. A person posing as front desk staff will call random hotel rooms to sucker travelers into giving up their credit card number. Never give private information over the hotel phone.
  • When using public Wi-Fi, encrypt your activities so that hackers can’t pluck them out of the air.
  • Always know where your mobile phone is, and have it protected with a password.
  • Must you always pay with a credit or debit card? Cold cash can’t be hacked into. But I still prefer credit over debit cards (and even cash).
  • Don’t withdraw more cash than you need. Don’t take out wads of high bills because you “might” spend a lot of money. And use an ATM at a bank, not a public kiosk.
  • When you do use a card (credit, not debit!), do not let the server or sales clerk walk out of your sight with it. You just never know who might be an “inside” thief.
  • As soon as you can upon returning from traveling, check your credit card statements for suspicious activity.
  • Leave the expensive jewelry, handbags, etc. at home. A thief has a lot of interest in a well-dressed person who acts like a tourist. If you want everyone to see how exorbitantly styled you are, you’ll have to include muggers and other thieves in that group.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.