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What is Criminal Identity Theft?

Identity theft gets all kinds of buzz in the news. It’s not hard to see why—in 2012, over 16.6 million Americans were victims of identity theft. What most people don’t know is that identity theft is much more than just stealing your credit card number. In other posts, I discussed how thieves use your identity to get free healthcare or your child’s identity to apply for credit. Today, I want to introduce you to another kind of identity theft—criminal identity theft—where the criminal uses your identity to make you look like the criminal.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-identity-theft-red-words-binary-code-computer-monitor-image39907813Criminal identity theft involves impersonation and it’s the worst kind of identity theft and the hardest to clean up. You don’t want to end up like Jason Bateman’s character Sandy Patterson, in the movie Identity Thief, where his identity was stolen and used by another individual and he finds out because he owes a bunch of money and has a warrant out for his arrest.

Basically, a thief takes over your identity and assumes it as his or her own. But instead of using your identity to access your bank account or apply for a credit card, the thief uses your identity to commit crimes and get off scot-free.. How? They can give your personal information (like your name, identification number, or date of birth) to law enforcement officials during an investigation or an arrest. They could also use your information to create fake identification for themselves.

Criminal identity theft can lead to a very nasty headache for you. A thief could get caught for a traffic violation or a misdemeanor and sign the citation with your name. Then you get stuck paying those annoying fees and fines. If a thief uses your name when getting arrested for a crime, you could end up with a criminal record, which could affect your ability to get a job or buy property. Another case is when the thief commits a crime using your identity, and then a warrant is issued for your arrest.  But instead of looking for the criminal, they are looking for you—you could have a warrant out for your arrest and not even know it!

Criminal identity theft can have some pretty drastic consequences. Here’s some ways to protect yourself from this dastardly form of identity theft:

  • Shred all sensitive documents. This can prevent thieves from getting their hands on your personal information.
  • Report missing identification cards. Most criminal identity thieves get your information from stealing your driver’s license or other personally identifiable information (PII) like Social Security numbers or Identification cards. If you report a missing driver license, your state might flag your license number and in the event that another driver is pulled over by law enforcement and presents your license as their own they could be questioned for further information
  • Get a background check on yourself. If you feel like someone may be impersonating you, get a background check done. This can be done via online services or by a private investigator.
  • Check State and National criminal databases. Search your name in criminal databases like the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database to see if you have a criminal record.

Stay safe!

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!  Disclosures.

2 Ways to Prevent Military Identity Theft

You’d think that servicemen and women would be better protected than civilians from identity theft, but their risk is higher, since their Social Security numbers are used so often and also abroad. In Iraq, it’s painted on their laundry bags!

2DOhio wants to introduce a bill to stifle military ID theft.

When a military individual has damaged credit and accumulated debt, they are subjected to disciplinary action. ID theft can delay or cancel a military person’s deployment and lead to revocation of security clearances.

The FTC says that ID theft among service individuals is on the rise. Last year, 22,000 filed complaints of ID theft. In Ohio, this crime jumped 20 percent between 2012 and 2013.

The proposed Ohio bill would raise the penalties for ID theft against active-duty members and their spouses. The bill would also allow the victims to file civil actions against the thieves.

New Jersey is also considering a bill that would increase the penalty for ID theft of veterans. New York and Illinois have already passed stronger penalties. North Carolina bans the release of military discharge documents.

All along, the SSN was printed on a service member’s military ID card, which was used all over the place. In 2008, the Department of Defense began removing the numbers. In 2012, they implemented removal of the SSNs from the card barcodes. These changes won’t be completed till 2017.

What can military personnel do to protect against ID theft?

Two things that service members can do is get active duty alerts and security freezes, but it would be simpler to use these tools one at a time.

The active duty alert, which is free, is done one year at a time after contacting one credit bureau. You can remove this at any time.

The security freeze, once in place, is indefinite unless you decide to remove it. It requires contacting three credit bureaus and is free online to North Carolina residents.

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.

3 Stupid Simple Tips to protect your Identity

For anyone who goes online, it’s impossible to hack-proof yourself, but not impossible to make a hacker’s job extremely difficult. Here are three things to almost hack-proof yourself.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-identity-theft-red-words-binary-code-computer-monitor-image39907813Two-factor authentication. Imagine a hacker, who has your password, trying to get into your account upon learning he must enter a unique code that’s sent to your smartphone. He doesn’t have your smartphone. So he’s at a dead-end.

The two-factor authentication means you’ll get a text message containing a six-digit number that’s required to log into your account from someplace in public or elsewhere. This will surely make a hacker quickly give up. You should use banks and e-mail providers that offer two-factor. Two factor in various forms is available on Gmail, iCloud, PayPal, Twitter, Facebook and many other sites.

Don’t recycle passwords. If the service for one of your accounts gets hacked, the exposed passwords will end up in the hands of hackers, who will invariably try those passwords on other sites. If you use this same password for your banker, medical health plan and Facebook…that’s three more places your private information will be invaded.

And in line with this concept of never reusing passwords, don’t make your multiple passwords sound schemed (e.g., Corrie1979, Corry1979, Corree1979) for your various accounts, because a hacker’s penetration tools may figure them out.

Use a password manager. With a password manager, you’ll no longer be able to claim not being able to remember passwords or “figure out” how to create a strong password as excuses for having weak, highly crackable passwords. You’ll only need to know the master password. All of your other passwords will be encrypted, penetrable only with the master password.

A password manager will generate strong passwords for you as well as conduct an audit of your existing passwords.

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.

Identity thieves bombarding Call Centers

One out of 2,900 seems very small, but when there’s a total of 105 million…then this percentage stacks up in the end. It represents the frequency of calls from fraudsters made to call centers in an attempt to get customer account details so they could steal.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-identity-theft-red-words-binary-code-computer-monitor-image39907813Many times these crooks will succeed by conning phone operators into altering personal details. The thieves will then commit ID theft, gaining access to customer information and even changing customer contact information so that the victims cannot receive alerts.

These clever cons spoofed their phone numbers to avoid detection, and used software to alter their voices, even the gender sound.

Research into the 105 million calls also unveiled that the fraudsters keyed in stolen Social Security numbers in succession until they got a bull’s-eye: a valid entry for an unnamed bank. They then tricked the victim into revealing personal data.

One expert says that if contact phone channels were monitored, this could predict criminal behavior two weeks prior to actual attacks. Many companies also believe that most attacks result from malware rather than social engineering: the tricking of victims into revealing sensitive data. The targets include the staff of the call centers, who are often conned into allowing these smooth-talking worms to get under any door.

When businesses focus on the theory that most of these problems are from malicious software, this opens up a huge door for the fraudsters to swagger their way in.

The crooks’ job is made even easier when companies assign fraud detection to a department that fails to effectively communicate with other departments.

Consumers would be smart to check in with various credit card and bank accounts “posing” as themselves to see just how easy or difficult it might be to gain access with what kind of “easy to guess” or ”easily found on social” information/questions that may be used to authenticate the caller. Then change those “out of wallet” or “knowledge based questions”

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.

Identity proofing proves who You are

Identity proofing is proof of whom you are. Proving one’s identity starts with that person answering questions that only they themselves can answer (even if the answers are fictitious), such as their favorite movie, mother’s maiden name or name of their high school. Since most people provide real answers (that can be found online) rather than “Pointy Ear Vulcan Science Academy” as the name of their high school, this technique is on its way to the dogs.

8DMichael Chertoff, the former chief of the Department of Homeland Security, stated, “I’m going to submit to you that in the 21st Century, the most important asset that we have to protect as individuals and as part of our nation is the control of our identity, who we are, how we identify ourselves, whether other people are permitted to masquerade and pretend to be us, and thereby damage our livelihood, damage our assets, damage our reputation, damage our standing in our community.”

New Jersey suffered one of the biggest unemployment frauds, and to date, has identified over 300,000 people who attempted to fraudulently collect benefits via ID theft, among other improper schemes but also honest errors. However, New Jersey is turning things around.

It’s the only state that’s used identity proofing to fight unemployment benefit fraud, which mandates that job applicants verify a number of personal details through a quiz on New Jersey’s labor department’s website.

The use of billions of public records, collected by LexisNexis, verifies the details, to filter out imposters seeking unemployment benefits. The idea is for honest people to provide answers to questions: information that crooks can’t extract from googling.

This approach has rewarded New Jersey well, with nearly 650 cases of potential ID theft prevented. The state has also saved $65 million since May 2012 after blocking foreign IP addresses from gaining access to its unemployment system. Other states are following suit.

Improper payments (including for jobless benefits) have been occurring for years. Over $176 million in grants, to stop this problem, was issued by Washington in 2013 to 40 states. The errors in unemployment benefits payments on a national level have been about 10 percent for the past 10 years.

Businesses and government frequently must take the brunt of the fraud and waste despite an unemployment insurance system in place.

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.

15 ways to prevent Travel related Identity Theft

See if you’ve been employing the safeguards below to protect your identity while traveling.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-identity-theft-red-words-binary-code-computer-monitor-image39907813#1 Put snail mail on hold.

Crooks love to scavenge through overflowing mail boxes to seek out personal information to steal an identity. Prevent this by arranging the postal service to put a stop on your mail.

#2 Clean up, thin out.

It’s been said that the laws of physics are defied when a woman empties her purse. Before traveling, dump out anything and everything: drug prescriptions, old memos, business cards, even expired documents. A thief could use this information to steal your identity.

#3 Be cautious with public computers.

A public computer is a very fertile area for identity theft, and this includes the computer in your hotel’s lobby. Never save passwords or use the auto-save function for forms. When you’re done, delete the search history. Never visit your financial institutions’ sites either.

#4 Wireless means watch out.

Free public Wi-Fi means anyone can snatch your personal information out of the air because this kind of Wi-Fi does not include encryption (which scrambles data). Use Hotspot Shield on your PC, Mac, tablet and mobile to encrypt your wireless communications.

The ability to snag your private information requires only a basic knowledge of computers plus a simple plugin, and voila—this person can spy on your browser activities. Try to use only WEP, WPA and WPA2 networks. Otherwise, visit only secure websites (they have the “https” in their address).

#5 Keep your phone number private.

Other than giving it to reps for your airline and hotel reservations, keep it to yourself. If it gets out, a fraudster could use it to pull phone scams on you.

#6 Protect your smartphone.

If your mobile device is loaded with personal information, it should have a home-screen-locking password. This can even be a fingerprint scan, depending on the model. Androids need antivirus the same as PCs do.

#7 Beware of ATMs.

ATMs can be fake or skimmers can be installed. A phony ATM kiosk can be set up on a street corner, beckoning for you. You swipe your card, and your card information is stored for later pickup by the thief who put the kiosk there.

If you must use an ATM, use a bank’s during regular business hours. Protect yourself from skimmers by blocking the keypad with your other hand as you enter your PIN. But still check your statements because keypad overlays can be installed too. Shred receipts immediately.

#8 Pay with cash.

Though stolen cash can’t be replaced, it also won’t lead to identity theft. Limit credit card use to secure payment systems found at major retail outlets and airports. Be suspicious of clerks who want to leave your visual range to swipe your credit card. And just plain don’t use a debit card when traveling.

#9 Don’t use your passport for ID.

Instead use your driver’s license or international ID. If you rely only on a passport and it gets stolen, you’ll end up in a bind you’ll never forget. Have backups of both scanned and available online.

#10 Hotel scams

Never give out private information over your hotel room’s phone, even if the caller says they’re from the front desk and need to straighten something out. Instead, deal with them at the front desk so you know it’s not a scam.

#11 Lock up valuables.

This doesn’t just mean jewelry, but use your hotel room’s safe to lock up passports, airline information, credit cards, cash and electronic gadgets unless you’re using them. Better yet, take them with you, or better still only travel with valuables you absolutely need.

#12 Review credit card statements.

Check your statements every month for unauthorized charges so that they don’t pile up.

#13 Encrypt laptop/mobile data.

When traveling with digital devices make sure to use encryption software that makes your data useless to a thief.

#14 Install tracking software.

Mobile devices should have a lock/locate/wipe software that does just that in the even your device goes mobile without you.

#15 Get identity theft protection

Both identity theft protection and a credit freeze should be used by everyone traveling or not.

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.

Medical Identity Theft Can be Deadly

If you feel like you are starting to get the flu, going to the doctor’s office can get you some medicine and get you on the road to recovery. But, there’s no pill or surgery that can protect you from medical identity theft—which can kill you. Literally. The thief who steals your identity doesn’t mean to kill you; he just wants to obtain free medical care on your dime.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-identity-theft-red-words-binary-code-computer-monitor-image39907813If a thief has access to your personal information, he can pose as you and see doctors and have procedures done—for free or for a nominal copay. The crook uses fake IDs and phony insurance cards to pull off this scam.

The problem really starts kicking in when the imposter’s medical situation gets tacked onto your medical record—since they are posing as you. This can result in a number of harmful outcomes for you. Not only can it potentially cause misdiagnoses, you could be issued a prescription to a drug that you have a fatal reaction to.

Just think about it for a moment: Someone else’s medical condition getting integrated with yours. This can cause a lot of problems. You could be denied medical coverage or lose your current coverage because of false information in your medical records. In the United States, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects your right of access to your medical records. If someone else is pretending to be you and accessing your records, you might not be able to access your own records. That’s a scary thought.

But even you are lucky enough not to suffer any negative consequences to your health as a result of the medical identity theft, cleaning up the mess can be enough to give anyone a heart attack.

So how can you prevent becoming a victim of medical identity theft?

  • Protect your mail: Install a locking mailbox so no one can access your mail.
  • Keep medical documents secure: Keep all of your hard copy medical documents in a file that locks. If it’s in cyberspace, make sure the files are encrypted and not in folder on your desktop that says “Medical.”
  • Shred all medical documents: Make sure to properly dispose of your medical documents so you don’t become a victim to dumpster-diving thieves. This includes digital files as well.McAfee LiveSafe (put tm in here and links this) service comes with a digital shredder that uses higher than government standard file shredding—don’t rely on simply putting something in the “trash bin” on your computer and then emptying it.
  • Leave medical cards at home: Only take them when you are visiting the doctor. If you’re worried you might need them in the event you have an accident and need immediate medical treatment, memorize your health ID number. If you’re unconscious upon arriving at an ER, you’ll get treated anyways—it’s the law. Simply provide your medical card after the fact. Don’t carry identity cards either: Identification cards or Social Security number cards should also be left at home in a safe place. Since many medical systems use these numbers as your identifier on the policy, you don’t want them falling into the wrong hands. And with access to these cards, a thief could easily create the fake credentials needed to commit medical identity theft.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!  Disclosures.

Graduates beware of Identity Theft

Worried about finding a job after you graduate from college? Worried about paying off your debts? It gets uglier: New college grads need to think about their identities being stolen. One-third of identity theft complaints come from young adults.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-identity-theft-red-words-binary-code-computer-monitor-image39907813A new college graduate will often have a clean credit history. If the new college graduate discovers, however, that their credit score is inexplicably low, it’s probably because their identity has been stolen. This can be a nightmare.

Compounding the issue is that some businesses will check the job applicant’s credit report and use this information against them by not hiring.

Prior to graduation, the college student should do a credit check; it can be done annually online free of charge. Young adults should never have an “It can’t happen to ME” approach to one of life’s raw realities: the proliferation of identity theft.

College students should always shred all of their bank related statements, credit card statements and all other documents that contain very personal information.

College students should avoid posting their birthdates, phone numbers and addresses on social media.

Additional Tips

  • Ask your parents to explain whatever they know to you about online scams like malicious e-mails (phishing), suspicious pop-up ads, buying apps from third party sellers, etc.
  • Avoid debit cards; use only a credit card because thieves prefer to steal identities through debit cards.
  • Memorize your SSN so you can keep your SSN card in a safe place at all times.
  • Check your credit card statements every month for suspicious charges.
  • Never give out your SSN, even if the clerk at the retail store insists they need it so that they can give you an intro 15 percent off with the store’s credit card.
  • Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to check your credit report every year.
  • Get identity theft protection and a credit freeze.

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.

10 unbelievable Identity Theft Cases

Here’s a countdown to the most incredible identity theft cases recorded, compiled by guyism.com.

9DDr. Gerald Barnes

Gerald Barnbaum lost his pharmacist license after committing Medicaid fraud. He stole the identity of Dr. Gerald Barnes and practiced medicine under his name. A type 1 diabetic died under his care. “Dr. Barnes” even worked as a staff physician for a center that gave exams to FBI agents. He’s currently serving hard time.

Mark Tufano

Mark Tufano got his joy ride by impersonating famed actors like Gary Oldman, in which he sent a video of himself as Gary Oldman portraying Andy Kaufman; it fooled the man who actually wanted Oldman to portray Kaufman in Man On The Moon. The real Gary Oldman caught wind of the scam and got it busted.

Marcelo Nascimento da Rocha

This drug smuggler impersonated Henrique Constantino, the brother of the CEO of the airline Gol Airlines, enjoying the high life but then getting busted after sleeping with a woman who actually knew the real Constantino.

Andrea Harris-Frazier

Margot Somerville lost her wallet on a trolley. Two years later she was arrested. Andrea Harris-Frazier had defrauded several banks—using Somerville’s identity—out of tens of thousands of dollars. The real crook was caught.

Brittany Ossenfort

Brittany Ossenfort got a new roommate, Michelle, who got a haircut just like Ossenfort’s. One day Ossenfort received a call at her office from the cops asking her to bail herself out of jail. “Michelle” had been hooking on the streets, posing as Ossenfort and was caught. Turns out “Michelle” was really Richard Lester Phillips, living as a woman.

Lara Love and David Jackson

This California couple one day began tapping into a neighbor’s wireless Internet router. This led to them raiding the neighbors’ personal data. Thirty victims were affected ultimately by the time this pair was busted.

Frederic Bourdin

Bourdin liked to impersonate missing children, including Nicholas Barclay, a missing teen. The teen’s family was fooled, even though Bourdin looked nothing like Barclay (including different hair and eye color–amazing, isn’t it?). More stunning is that the family was fooled for nearly a year until fingerprints proved his real identity. He’s been in and out of jail since.

Ferdinand Demara

This daring serial imposter used medical books to fudge his way through surgeries he performed onboard a ship during the Korean war, impersonating Dr. Joseph Cyr. Prior, he had faked his death and even went AWOL under a friend’s name when in the Army.

Abraham Abdallah

A busboy named Abraham Abdallah got into the bank accounts of Steven Spielberg and other famous people after tricking his victims via computer, getting sufficient data to fake being their financial advisors—then calling their banks…and you know the rest.

Phillip Cummings

This fat cat worked for a software company and sold customers’ credit card reports to a Nigerian ID theft ring for $30 each—30,000 times.

Seriously?! Really, get identity theft protection!

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.

The Future of Identity Theft

Identity theft evolves as technology progresses. The Identity Theft Resource Center explains the future of this crime.

11DDefinition of Identity

The definition will swell up to include biometrics and behavior, not just driver’s license number and SSN. So your identity can be defined by how you move a mouse and your keystroke patterns.

Medical Identity

There’s no focal mechanism for the mitigation of medical identity theft, making it easy for thieves to keep getting medical treatment. Many people get their medical identity stolen without knowing it.

Statistics

Crime rate statistics are not telling the whole story. The illusion is that crime rates are on the decline; this is because statistics do not include all fraud activity. The primary indicator in crime statistics reports doesn’t even include identity theft.

Mobile wallets will not take over the world—at least not soon, anyways.

Though mobile wallets seem to be the next big wave in purchase technology, it’s not going to be easy convincing the masses to store every bit of their financial data in their smartphone. In fact, 64 percent of survey participants said they would not convert to a mobile wallet system (Consult Hyperion).

Affordability

All of these cool developments in the world of cyber communication will not necessarily apply to every single person; products cost money. So no matter how much it seems that times are changing or that people are “switching over” to some new technology, there will still be that demographic that’s seemingly left in the dust.

Finally…

It looks as though federal data breach notification laws will at last become a reality. Or so it seems.

Extra Layers

The dual and even multi-step authentication system will become more common, as more industries pick this up, to verify a user’s identity. And even consumers seem to be warming up to this.

Can’t have it both ways:

That is, security and convenience. With all the big data breaches lately, looks like privacy and security will win over convenience for the consumer.

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.