Remember when fingerprint and facial recognition scanning was just cool spy tech seen in Mission Impossible movies? Until recently, only the CIA and top secret spy agencies had this cool technology at their disposal. Long gone are those days as everyone with a late model cell phone or mobile device can now take advantage of these cool biometric security features. However, there may be some downsides to unlocking your smartphone or tablet with a scan of your thumbprint or face.
By the year 2019, it’s estimated that there will be nearly 500 million biometric scanners in use around the world. Amounting to a staggering $25 billion dollar industry. Biometric scanning is meant to take the place of alpha-numeric passwords that we’ve all used for years and is being touted as a more secure way to lock down your sensitive information. But just like normal passwords, that are stored on encrypted clouds and servers across the globe, won’t thumbprints and eye scans be susceptible to hacking and theft as well?
But there have already been cases of biometric hacking on a large scale. An estimated 22 million people had their personal data stolen in a massive data breach at the Office of Personnel Management in December 2014, including RAND privacy expert and mother of two Rebecca Balebako. She received a letter from OPM last year informing her that her personal information, including her ten fingerprints, were stolen in the breach. – Read the full article here.
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Are there any services that offer family credit monitoring plans that cover an entire household of adults & children?
This is a question that comes up quite often actually. Mainly, because most credit monitoring plans are aimed at covering individual social security numbers. And while there are several services out there that offer plans that monitor multiple SSN’s, they are not as widely publicized and can be difficult to find. If you have a household of 2 adults and 3 children, purchasing an individual credit monitoring plan for each will run you well over $100/month. This just isn’t feasible for most families who want some peace of mind with a good, comprehensive credit & identity monitoring service.
Right now, the most affordable family credit monitoring plan is offered by IdentityGuard. The price is $27.99/month and this covers 2 adults + up to 15 children.
- Social Security Monitoring
- Online “Black Market” Monitoring
- ID Verification Alerts
- 3-Bureau Credit Monitoring
- Credit Scores*
- Identity Theft Victim Assistance
- $1 Million Identity Theft Insurance**
- Child identity monitoring (kID Sure®)
If you don’t necessarily need a plan that covers multiple children, but just yourself your significant other, IdentityGuard has a couples plan as well. This plan is $26.99/month and monitors the following list of items;
- Social Security Monitoring
- Online “Black Market” Monitoring
- ID Verification Alerts
- 3-Bureau Credit Monitoring
- Credit Scores*
- Identity Theft Victim Assistance
- $1 Million Identity Theft Insurance**
I’ve reviewed all of the IdentityGuard services and compared them to other top monitoring plans from companies such as LifeLock, TransUnion, Experian and many more. IdentityGuard is hands down the most comprehensive credit monitoring service provider on the market. They offer the best value, highest customer satisfaction ratings, top BBB ratings and numerous awards for their protection & monitoring plans. If you need a solution for monitoring multiple social security numbers, you’re not going to go wrong with the 2 IdentityGuard plans.
IdentityMonitor is a service provided by Citibank. Citibank has been in business for the past 200 years thanks to its ability to do business through what they call Responsible Finance. What this means to Citibank is that they have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into small businesses, infrastructure, and other choice opportunities to help the average consumer be able to work for themselves, protect themselves, and achieve anything they wish to achieve. IdentityMonitor comes under the realm of protection for CitiBank customers, but is available for anyone who is wishing to have credit and identity theft protections.
Daily Monitoring for Daily Results
The key to being able to catch an identity thief in the act is to monitor your information on a daily basis. IdentityMonitor does this by monitoring your credit reports every day to determine if any changes have been made to critical components, such as your address, your delinquent accounts, or new lines of credit, whether secured or unsecured.
IdentityMonitor also helps you have a hand in keeping your identity safe by providing you a complete credit report and credit score analysis upon signing up for their identity theft protection services. You then get access to this information for free on a monthly basis. This allows you to manually review your credit information to insure that all the information shown is authorized by you.
IdentityMonitor Gives You Effective Alerts
If IdentityMonitor detects information that may cause an identity theft to potentially occur or believes that a theft has already occurred, then you will be notified via the Notify Express system that Citibank has set up. This alert system lets you know when there is any change to your information that may be an indicator of fraud. You can also be notified in the way that works the best for you: through standard U.S. mail, e-mail, text messages, or by a phone call.
Get the Support That You Need
With an IdentityMonitor subscription, you get around the clock access to your credit information with a simple log-in. Some folks have questions about what it takes to adequately keep their identities and credit safe, If you believe that you have been the victim of identity theft, you also have immediate access to Citi’s Identity Theft Solutions department.
Should you become the victim of identity theft, you have access to a $10,000 – $25,000 insurance policy in most states to help you be able to work to recover your identity. This can help you to be able to defend yourself effectively, cover the costs of restoring your identity, and even cover lost wages that may occur while you are working to restore your identity. It may not be as much as the insurance policies of other companies, but unlike other identity theft policies, there is no limit to the amount of claims that you can have. Each claim you make gives you access to another policy!
Signing Up for IdentityMonitor is Easy!
You can sign up today for IdentityMonitor without being a member of Citibank! All you have to do is fill out your personal information and once you’ve agreed to the terms and conditions, you’ll have instant access to your Experian credit information. A simple and free upgrade is all that is required to get all three of the major credit bureau’s information about you around the clock.
Pricing & Value
IdentityMonitor offers only one plan of service that covers daily monitoring of your credit information and assistance in restoring your identity. You can try IdentityMonitor for the first 30 days for just $1, and then afterwards is $12.95/month. It should be noted that Citibank, in their terms and conditions, state that they can modify or cancel the IdentityMonitor program, including a change in the price of the program, without notifying you about these changes.
Protect Your Identity & Your Credit Today
Thanks to the Federal bailout, Citibank is more stable than ever when it comes to being able to provide an essential service to its customers. Becoming a customer of Citibank to make sure your credit and identity are effectively covered puts a bank on your side when it comes to fighting for you. Try out IdentityMonitor today for just a buck and discover how good it feels knowing that your identity and your credit are in safe hands.
Types of Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud comes in several different forms and even if you don’t currently have any credit cards in your name, you can still become a victim. Criminals are becoming more crafty as they attempt to find ways to steal your credit and use it fraudulently. Here are some of the more common credit card fraud methods that you should familiarize yourself with.
Application fraud: The most common type is the application fraud. Fake or stolen documents are used to open credit card accounts. This is of two types: The card obtained by assuming the identity of someone or by falsifying the financial position to obtain credit.
Assuming the identity of another person is a form of traditional identity theft. The fraudster may create false names and addresses or even steal the identity of an existing person to obtain the card.
Acquiring more credit than entitled, by exaggerating financial position is another common practice. Banks often protect their interests by demanding documents to support the financial claims or by confirming details with the employers.
Stealing: Criminals get hold of your card either by stealing or when you lose it. Postal intercepts are a common form of stealing cards whereby the card is stolen before it reaches the rightful owner by post.
Skimming: This is a type of fraud where the card is cloned or forged without the card owner’s knowledge. The data in the magnetic strip of the card is copied and used. This type of crime is difficult to spot since skimming is exposed only when the next statement is generated. The magnetic strip can be copied by a dishonest employee at the point of sale, with illegal recording devices or by skimming devices installed in cash machines.
Online fraud: Most credit card frauds are committed over the internet. The card details are hacked at the merchant site when being used to make legitimate online purchases. Another common scam is thorough phishing. The phishing sites send out false e-mails or links to fraudulent sites to deceive the card owner to part with card details. These details are then used to make false purchases.
CNP fraud: Purchasing goods on mail order or on telephone without involving a direct seller, where no PIN verification is required, can result in card not present (CNP) fraud. The card details are obtained even from old receipts and since the seller does not verify the PIN number or signature, it becomes difficult to detect such crimes.
BIN attack: Credit cards companies often come under the BIN (Bank Identification Number) attack. Fraudsters generate the last four numbers by obtaining the first six numbers (BIN) of a legitimate card. The cards in the same BIN range have similar data like expiry dates etc.
The key to avoiding such frauds is to be aware and follow safe practices. Always use strong passwords on your internet banking and credit card websites. Do not give secure information on telephone or e-mail. Report a lost card immediately to block any further transaction. Also, consider using a credit monitoring service to keep track of what’s going on with your credit reports. With such simple safe practices, you can ensure that your plastic money is safe.
Computer Data Has a Long Shelf Life
Conscientious people shred their bank statements and cut up their credit cards without a thought. But when it comes to disposing of their computer’s hard drive, they can be extremely careless. With computers constantly evolving and being made more powerful, people frequently upgrade to the newest models, casting aside millions of computers yearly. Many computer users leave sensitive information on their hard drives as they discard them at computer drop-off centers or in landfills, just waiting for an identity thief to come by. If you have a computer to dispose of, you don’t want to become a future statistic for identity theft.
Some people do not realize the process involved in removing data from a hard drive. Many computer users think if they move all their files to the trash or reformat the hard drive that the files are gone for good. Actually, those trashed files remain fully intact, unless they are rewritten. Rewriting only takes place if space is needed and most computers have ample space. In the case of reformatting the drive, data can be still retrieved with the right tools. If you are among the unaware, the Department of Defense has advice on how to remove information from a hard drive.
Wiping the Hard Drive
You can buy programs, also known as shredders, which are relatively inexpensive, or find freeware on the Internet that will do the job. These programs cover the data with zeros or random characters to make them unreadable by data-restoration software. The DOD recommends overwriting the drive sectors three times with different characters. Other experts recommend going over the data seven times to make it completely unrecoverable. Also, wiping just certain files may not fully protect your information, as copies of those files can be stored in other parts of your computer. It is probably best to use the wiping program on your entire hard drive.
Removing the Hard Drive
If you don’t want to use a wiping program, you can remove your computer’s hard drive. It is relatively small and will store easily in a safe or other secure location. If you aren’t sure where the hard drive is located on your computer, refer to your manual or manufacturer’s website. Once removed, some people resort to pounding the hard drive with a hammer, or using a magnet, or soaking it in water or acid. All these methods are ineffectual. The only method to guarantee the removal of your information is to sand the platters or use an industrial shredder which obliterates it.
The sheer amount of e-waste being generated each year is a threat to our environment. Federal regulations don’t cover e-waste, but some states have passed legislation dealing with the landfill problem. Yet, disposing of a computer is easier today than a few years ago as there are more options available. To help confront the landfill problem, some stores have unveiled take-back or buy-back programs. While online sites have also appeared to buy back old electronics, where they will revamp them to sell or recycle the components. You would be doing a great service if you consider other options rather than tossing your computer into a landfill.
Stealing your sensitive information from an old hard drive is just one way criminals can commit identity theft. Learn other methods to protect yourself from identity theft and keep your data out of the wrong hands.
1. Department of Defense, Department of Defense Directive, October 24, 2002, http://www.acq.osd.mil/ie/bei/pm/ref-library/dodd/d85001p.pdf
The post Preventing Identity Theft: Proper Disposal Of Old Computers appeared first on SIF.org.
As national unemployment figures continue to remain high, you can find cybercriminals cashing in on the wave of applicants posting resumes to a range of job banks and other employment websites. Both Monster.com and USAJobs.gov were hit with a monster-size breach in the past that allowed thieves to confiscate personal information such as IDs and passwords, email addresses, phone numbers, DOBs, and more. Earlier this year, the Cyber Investigation Unit of the FBI reported an uptick in the number of employment schemes from mystery/secret shoppers to envelope stuffing to courier services scams, all involving victims that had relinquished their bank account data, social security numbers and other personal identifying information online.
In this current economic climate it’s never been more important to circulate a resume, and cybertheives have never been more interested in finding your resume to make a profit rather than finding you employment. The key to attracting legitimate employers is to recognize when and where to post your resume, and what job offers to respond to and which ones to ignore. Minimize your risks online by discouraging fraudulent businesses from approaching you.
Fact or Fiction – Posting your resume as “private” will hinder your chances employers.
Some applicants feel that by making employers take additional steps to obtain their resume, the company will quickly lose interest. But the fact is your legal name, address, phone number, work history and even your references, when posted publicly, can potentially fall into the hands of identity thieves. Most employment websites do offer a privacy feature that allows applicants to hide private information. If you should decide to post to an employment site that does not offer this option, use a disposable email address and purchase a P.O. Box at your local post office. Replace your current contact information with the disposable email and PO Box on your resume. You’ll be avoiding possible risks should the online job site have a data breach.
Fact or Fiction – Including your references when posting your resume will increase your chances of getting the job.
While it may or may not increase your chances with potential employers, the fact remains that you need to consider that your reference’s contact information is available to everyone that views or downloads your resume. You’re placing their private information at risk, which is not the best way to handle references should you need them in the future.Fact or Fiction – Always disclose your education information.
This statement falls somewhere between fact and fiction. As far as resume formats go, it’s an absolute necessity. However, you do need to consider that anyone can call your school and request your personal information without your consent. If you’re currently in college, request a FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) form from your school’s office. Once they have it on file, only legitimate institutions and businesses can have access to your information. Students under 18 will need their parents to sign the form. For more information about FERPA forms, see the U.S. Department of Education’s website.
Fact or Fiction – Every job offer is legitimate.
The fact is online job sites have sped up the hiring process considerably, but that fact alone doesn’t necessarily make them legitimate. Most businesses continue to move through the hiring process methodically, requiring one, two and sometimes three interviews before having potential employees complete a formal written application asking for personal information, work history and references. If you feel rushed to supply the employer with your SSN or drivers’ license, then consider it a big warning to walk away. Legitimate employers do not conduct background checks until the interview process is completed. Consider the following as signs or warnings that you may be looking at a fraudulent job offer.
The employer requests your bank account numbers
The position requires you to transfer money
The position requires you to open accounts with e-Bay, Pay Pal or Western Union.
Now some of this information may seem obvious, but the cybercriminal’s key to success is to rush you through the entire process before you’re even aware that you’ve been an identity theft victim. Before you give any personal identifying information, learn how to recognize the signs of identity theft.
Here are some other tips that may cause you to reconsider that too-fabulous-to-be-true, dream position:
You receive an email about a job offer but the email address does not contain the domain name of the company.
The fax or phone number does not have the same area code as the corporate phone number.
Before giving any information whether through email or the phone, play Magnum PI and conduct an online search of the company making the job offer or the person who has contacted you. If you’re still not satisfied, contact BBBonline.com or the State Attorney General’s office where the company is located.
Call the company’s HR department and verify that the person who’s contacted you on the company’s behalf is legitimate.
Fact or Fiction – A vague email job offer is often a valid offer.
Unfortunately, this is more fiction than fact for many job seekers. The rule to remember here is, if a job offer emailed to you seems very “general” or has a “vague” job description; it may not be a job offer at all. The email might contain a link that redirects you to yet another job site inviting you to post your resume, or it might be an email marketing campaign for an employment conference, seminar or class attempting to solicit money from you. Either way, it pays to think twice before replying to these responses.
Some of the more common emails may include:
Invitation to post to another job site and the invitee doesn’t bother to tell you they get a small referral fee when you do.
Promises of a “dream job”, only after you paid their fee.
Claims they have a great opportunity for you, only the recruiter can’t seem to remember the company or the job title to this spectacular position.
Invitations to self-help seminars, promising a job only after you’ve purchased their seminar.
Some email job offers are actually valid. In a recent World Privacy Forum job search study, the best job offers come within the first month of a resume being posted. If responses seem scarce, you may want to take down your resume and start over.
There is always a downside to the efficiency that modern technology provides. While it is more convenient to carry a credit card instead of bulky cash, your identity becomes vulnerable due to the information you have provided to apply for the card. More so, you become almost too exposed with credit bureaus collecting information about you when creditors ask for it. Before you know it, you could be a victim of identity theft.
How do you know that your identity has possibly been stolen? There some telltale signs that someone is assuming your identity and one of them is when your application for a credit card, loan or insurance gets rejected due to low credit score yet you are sure that you have paid your bills on time. You can also be a victim of identity theft if a debt collector demands that you pay your credit card account that has been overdue yet you never had a credit card. It is also a sign that you are a victim of stolen identity if you receive, through mail, a credit card that you have never applied for.
If you suspect that your identity is stolen, immediately report it to credit bureaus. Place a fraud alert, which will initially last for 90 days according to the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act FRCA, and ask for a copy of your true credit report. You will then receive an e-mail of your rights as a victim of stolen identity from credit bureaus. You can ask for an extension of the fraud alert for up to seven years for as long as you have evidences that your identity is indeed being used by another person. You can cancel the fraud alerts anytime the case has been solved.
Once you get credit report from credit bureaus, immediately review the reports and look for fraudulent accounts and erroneous information. Report to the credit bureau, from which you receive your report, any anomaly that you see. Your notification will require the credit bureaus block the information from future credit reports and notify creditors of the fraudulent accounts. Check your credit reports manually or sign up for credit monitoring to get the names and contact details of the credit grantors of the fraudulent account and ask the bureau for those details if they have not included it in your report.
These are just the initial steps that you can take once you notice that someone else has assumed your identity. From here, you can proceed to more complicated measures such as freezing your account and asking the assistance of your local law enforcers. Identity theft can ruin your life if you do not act on it quickly. So be aware and stay on top of what’s going on with your credit reports.
Are you truly aware of the risks that you take when you are using public computers or Wi-Fi to access social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest? Free Wi-Fi is literally everywhere you look these days and it is a big selling point for many businesses. I can even get free Wi-Fi while I’m waiting for my doctor in that tiny little room filled with magazines that are three years old. Free Wi-FI at fast food establishments or the ever popular cyber coffee cafe often appeals to people as well. There are, in fact, many people who may end up spending many hours being active on social networks while on public Wi-Fi or at a public computer every single day. That fact alone is enough to consider getting a professional protection plan like you can get with Identity Guard or another professional organization.
Public Wi-Fi Has Many Hidden Dangers
When was the last time you actually remembered to log off of Facebook? Many of us simply close the browser or shut the lid down on our laptop when we’re finished with what we’re doing. That’s all well and good when you’re at home, but if you’re playing the latest Zynga game with your friends over your lunch break and you do that, the next user who logs into the public network can actually access your browser information and reload it.
How? Modern web browsers have a recover feature to them. In literally just a couple clicks of a mouse, someone can open up all the browser windows someone had open, and let’s be honest here – we all have a lot of them open. Heck I’ve got 12 tabs up right now! From a social network to e-mail to plenty of other items I might have up, there is likely more than one bit of identification information someone can get from anyone’s browser history.
Your Own Computer Can Be Accessed on Public Wi-Fi
If you don’t have a password on your personal computer or you’ve got a terrible password on it like “12345″ or “password,” then change it now or get a password on there. Literally go do it now and come back to finish reading this post. Why? Because when you’re on a public wi-fi network at the same time someone else is, they can have full access to whatever is on your personal computer if it doesn’t have a password or it’s a password that is easy to crack. That’s right – just bringing your own personal computer to a public network is not enough to protect you.
The Consequences Can Be Financially Grave
For some people, the only thing they experience when they make a mistake like those mentioned above is to have someone post something derogatory on their social networks or maybe send out a few spam e-mails as a joke. For others, just one mistake can lead to an identity theft incident that can result in their credit score being hit so hard by credit fraud or other financially fraudulent activities that it can make it nearly impossible to get the credit lines needed without investing a great amount of time in repair and recovery… and even then it’s not 100% guaranteed that they’ll get what they need anyway.
Logging off and putting on a password is really all it takes to increase your identity theft protection levels on your own. For some people that simple step is enough. For others who think they might have some exposure or just want to be careful, there are many identity theft protection plans available, from free ones to high cost all encompassing ones, that can give you the level of protection you need. Whatever the case may be, make sure you are limiting your exposure to an identity theft incident as much as you can every day so that you can secure your financial future.
We ranked the TransUnion credit monitoring service fourth on our list because it’s provided by one of the 3 major credit reporting bureaus and a trusted company when it comes to credit reports & credit related services. When you sign up for TransUnion’s $1.00 / 7 day trial you get immediate access to your TransUnion credit report plus 3 bureau credit monitoring. These are great benefits to be sure, but their services are very TranUnion specific, as you can imagine. If you’re looking for your Equifax & Experian credit report information, you won’t find it with this service. You will be better served going with a comprehensive monitoring package that includes 3 bureau credit monitoring AND allows you access to credit reports from all 3 bureaus. IdentityGuard & Lifelock would be better choices if this is an option you require.
The TransUnion monthly subscription costs $19.95, which is about the average price for most monitoring plans. However, once again, for that price we think there are better options that will include more detailed monitoring, alerting and credit tools.
With the TransUnion subscription you also receive:
- Lost wallet protection
- Credit file change alerting
- Personalized credit analysis tools
- 1 million dollars id theft insurance
You also have the ability to place free credit freezes on your TransUnion credit reports. This is normally a $10 charge for each lock/unlock you place. However it’s included in the TU credit monitoring monthly subscription.
TransUnion customer support is available via phone M-Th 8am-12am ET and Fri-Sun 8am-8pm ET. It’s extremely easy to get a live representative on the phone, and we found them to be extremely courteous and knowledgeable when we placed a test call.
While we like the security that comes with using a monitoring plan from a trusted company such as TransUnion, we believe the TU service is fairly limited and doesn’t offer as much as the services we ranked above it. With no access to Experian or Equifax credit reports as well as no FICO score availability, we would recommend this service only to those are are concerned solely with their TransUnion specific reports & information.