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Debit Card Safety: ATM Skimming Scheme & More

Debit Card Safety: ATM Skimming Scheme and More

Creating a custom PIN number, using your debit card in secure public places, or shielding the keypad with your hand might keep your debit card safe most of the time, but the reality is your debit card is susceptible to identity theft wherever you go.

Thieves can retrieve your debit card number, PIN number and personal information in a variety of ways, from extracting your information from an online purchase to using the ATM Skimming Scheme.

The ATM Skimming Scheme is a technique used by thieves to steal personal and bank account information. The thieves install a small piece of equipment in the ATM card reader that reads the cardholder’s electronic account information stored on the magnetic stripe on the back of the card. (For more information about the ATM Skimming Scheme, visit http://www.identity-theft-awareness.com/ATM-skimming.html).

Protect yourself and your debit card with the following tips:

  1. Never tell anyone your PIN number. Just like your email or computer lock screen password, your PIN number should be kept secret. Never write this number on a piece of paper or on your card itself, and don’t give your PIN number to anyone over the telephone – not even your bank!
  2. Keep an eye on your checking account. Check your account a few times a week, if not once a day, to make sure all of the expenses listed are actually your own. This could help you detect identify theft earlier rather than later.
  3. Understand when to use your debit card and when not to use it. For instance, it’s safer to use a credit card online, rather than a debit card. Several credit card companies actually allow you to login to your account and retrieve a unique online credit card number, so you don’t even have to use your real number when making online purchase.
  4. Block the keypad from view when entering your PIN number, and never let a cashier, bank teller, or anyone else do it for you.
  5. Make sure your ATM transaction is complete and you have received a receipt and taken your card back before leaving any ATM.

Be smart and keep your identity safe!

Perennial Sales LLC

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Protect Your Identity While You’re Away This Summer

Protect Your Identity While You’re Away This Summer

Summer is in full swing now, and most of you are probably getting ready to go on a summer vacation with family or friends. Vacation is usually a time to enjoy yourself and have fun, but remember, your identity is still at risk even while you are relaxing with your toes in the sand on the beach!

In fact, tourist areas are prime targets for pickpockets and identity thieves, and while you’re away your home is more vulnerable, adding to the risk of any type of theft.

Follow these tips so you can fully relax and let loose knowing your identity is safe while you are enjoying your vacation away from home.

  1. Hold your mail while you are away. Put a hold on your mail and newspaper deliveries, or ask a trustworthy neighbor to bring it in every day. Leaving your mail unattended or letting your newspapers pile up is like giving thieves an invitation to steal your personal information or even break into your home.
  2. Do not announce that you are out of town on your social media networks. As we discussed in our last post, it’s important to protect your identity on social media. This includes keeping personal information, like the dates and locations of your vacation, to yourself. Post photos and statuses about your vacation after you have returned home.
  3. Leave your laptop and important documents locked up in a safe place while you’re gone.
  4. Remove any unnecessary cards from your wallet, like your library card or anything with identifying information. Only carry around what you absolutely need with you, and never leave your wallet or purse unattended. If you can, utilize a traveler’s wallet that you can hide underneath your clothing.
  5. Set up a password on your cell phone. If possible, enable a GPS function or download a GPS locator application to track your phone in case it is lost or stolen while you’re on vacation.

Be safe and have a great summer!

Perennial Sales LLC

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Protecting Your Social Media Pages from ID Theft

How to Protect Your Social Media Pages from Identity Theft

In today’s world, it seems we’ve all become accustomed using at least one, if not two, three, four or even five social networking platforms to connect with friends, family and colleagues online. We easily forget that there are untrustworthy individuals and criminals who can prowl the internet and use our social media profiles to gather information and steal our identities.

Keep your social networks safe from identity thieves with these four simple tips:

  1. When you set up a social media profile, make sure you customize the privacy settings. On social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, set the privacy settings so that your personal information is only visible to you or your immediate friends – don’t let “friends of friends” or the “public” have access to this identifying information.
  2. Keep your important personal information private and to yourself – don’t post about it in Facebook status updates, tweets, etc. Never share your full birthdate, birth place, phone number or an exact place of residence. Even divulging details like your high school or your pet’s name can lead to identity theft, as these are answers to security questions often used to guard your private information, like bank account and credit card logins and passwords.
  3. Don’t “tag” or location or “check-in” to a place on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Foursquare. Along the same lines, don’t post updates to your social networks about being away from home or out of town on a vacation. Posting this information can make you vulnerable to criminals, burglars and identity thieves.
  4. Create strong and original passwords! Don’t use anything obvious, like your birthdate, pet’s name, or significant other’s name in your passwords. Always try to incorporate a capital letter, lowercase letter, number and symbol into your passwords in order to make them most effective.

Check out this great Better Business Bureau article and infographic to learn more about identity theft on social media sites.

As always, stay tuned for more updates on identity theft.

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ID Theft Can Happen to You: How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

ID Theft Can Happen to You: How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

As we see in the news every day, the horrific crime of identity theft can happen to anyone at any time. You can diminish your chance of falling prey to identity thieves by following simple steps and guidelines.

The United States Department of Justice is a great resource for information about identity theft. The USDOJ says to reduce or minimize the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud, you can start by being stingy about giving your personal information out to other people, businesses or organizations.

At home:

  • When you’re at home, adopt a “need to know attitude” and only give information to someone who absolutely needs it for a valid reason. If someone calls you asking for personal information in order to receive a major credit card, prize, etc., ask them to send you a written application (if you do in fact want whatever they are offering). Once you have received the written application, review it carefully before filling it out.
  • USDOJ goes even further, offering an interesting tip that most people might not think about: the more information you have printed on your bank checks – like your social security number or even your home phone number – the more often you are handing out personal information to people who do not need it, and you probably aren’t even thinking twice about it.

During travel:

  • When travelling, make sure to have your mail held at your post office or ask someone to pick up your mail and newspaper deliveries while you are gone.

Financial information:

  • Regularly check you financial information – make sure you’re receiving your monthly statements, and check these carefully to make sure there are no fraudulent charges.
  • Periodically check a copy of your credit report, which should list all bank and financial accounts under your name – make sure all of these accounts are actually ones you opened.

Calling lists:

The Washington State Office of the Attorney General has additional tips for how you can reduce your likelihood of becoming an identity theft victim, while also cutting down on unwanted sales pitches, by removing yourself from contact lists and restricting third party solicitations.

  • Register for the Do Not Call list at www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222. Also, contact your credit card companies to find out if any of your personal information can be distributed to partners or affiliates of the card company. If this information can be given out, ask your credit card company representative how you can cancel authorization to release your cardholder information; use the phrase: “No third party solicitations.”

We hope you take all of these recommendations into consideration in order to protect your identity from thieves! Stay tuned for more updates related to identity theft and identity theft prevention.

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Identity Theft in the News

Identity Theft is Always in the News – Here’s What’s Happening Right Now

As one of the most common crimes in America, identity theft is guaranteed to take the spotlight in the news more often than not.

In the past week alone, there have been several news articles reporting on identity theft cases throughout the country.

In Phoenix, Arizona, 92.3 KTAR-FM published a May 27 article reporting that police are on the hunt for a woman who obtained thousands of dollars by assuming the identity of another person. In total, the suspect stole $12,100 from the victim’s Wells Fargo Bank account on Feb. 19 and 20. One day later, the suspect opened a credit account in the victim’s name at Nordstrom’s, and charged more than $4,000 to the card.

In Colorado, BCDemocratOnline.com published an article titled, “Jury duty identity theft phone scam targets Colorado.” The May 28 article stated, “Due to the extreme penalties behind missing jury duty, scammers are preying on victims’ fear of legal action by pretending to be ‘jury duty coordinators’ questioning consumers about recent jury duty summons.” The scammer requested a Social Security number and date of birth, which allows them to commit identity theft and tax fraud. The article featured the following advice from Scambook.com to avoid falling for this particular phone scam:

1. Understand that jury duty is always arranged by mailed letters, not phone calls. If consumers are expecting a jury summons, they are advised to hang up on the caller and get information directly from their local courthouse’s or state attorney general’s website. Visiting http://www.uscourts.gov, consumers can learn about legitimate juror protocol or recent jury summons.

2. An official government representative will never be rude, bully people or make threats. Victims who are being harassed over the phone are advised to contact their local law enforcement to report the issue.

3. Never give private or personal information, such as Social Security number, over the phone. A real official or court representative will not call to request this information.

4. Never give money, either in the form of a credit card number or wire transfer, to an unsolicited caller. In other variations of this jury duty scam, the caller requests money to pay various fees.

5. If in doubt, get the caller’s information, do independent fact-checking and call back. Ask for the caller’s name, phone number or extension and their manager’s contact information. Then look them up on the Internet or by calling the local county courthouse. If the caller does turn out to be a real government representative, consumers can call them back.

For more information visit Scambook.com.

Across the country in Jackson, Tennessee, the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South warned of medical identity theft, as reported by the Jackson Sun on May 23. The article highlights a few cases of medical identity theft, including one case where a Colorado man received a hospital bill for a $44,000 surgery he never had. In another case a Pennsylvania man discovered that someone stole his identity and received $100,000 worth of medical treatment in his name.

Below is an excerpt from the article, titled “BBB warns of medical identity theft,” that gives tips on how to recognize is you have been the victim of medical identity theft:

The FTC says you may be a victim of medical identity theft if:

• You get a bill for medical services you didn’t receive.

• A debt collector contacts you about medical debt you don’t owe.

• You order a copy of your credit report and see medical collection notices you don’t recognize.

• You try to make a legitimate insurance claim and your health plan says you’ve reached your limit on benefits.

• You’re denied insurance because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.

Read any Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statement or Medicare Summary Notice you get to be sure that the claims match care that you received. Obtain the free copy of your credit report that you’re entitled to annually to be sure the information is accurate. Look for medical collection items that may not be legitimate.

If you’ve been the victim of medical identity theft, ask for copies of your medical or insurance records from any health care provider or health plan that may be involved. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) governs your rights to this information and the provider’s obligations to respond to a request for it. You may have to complete a form and pay a fee. You can visit the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights at www.hhs.gov/ocr to get more information about your rights under HIPPA.

Stay tuned for more information on Identity Theft in the future!

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Identity Theft – Becoming the number 1 crime

What is identity theft? These are the basics you need to know about this increasingly widespread crime.

As the world spends more and more of its time online each day, an increasing number of people fall victim to identity theft – a serious and sometimes life-altering crime that can happen to anyone at any time. According to Credit.com, most people will face identity theft at one point in their lives.

But what exactly is identity theft?

The United States Department of Justice says, “The short answer is that identity theft is a crime. Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.”

What personal information is vulnerable to identity theft?

All of your personal data is vulnerable when it comes to identity theft. Your social security number, bank account number, credit card numbers, driver’s licenses, passports and any other unique identifying numbers can be used to steal your identity.

How does it happen?

Identity theft can be very high tech or very low tech. Some cyber criminals use high tech tricks to steal personal information online, but other identity thieves use simpler methods. For instance, Credit.com says a majority of identity theft crimes stem from check forgery, credit card misuse and information stolen from the trash or what’s known as “dumpster diving.” Identity thieves also steal purses or wallets to obtain personal information like driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, etc.

Identity theft can happen in a lot of ways, and thieves can do different things with your personal information once they obtain it. For instance, the Social Security Administration says someone illegally using your Social Security number and assuming your identity can cause a lot of problems:

“Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America. A dishonest person who has your Social Security number can use it to get other personal information about you. Identity thieves can use your number and your good credit to apply for more credit in your name. Then, they use the credit cards and do not pay the bills. You may not find out that someone is using your number until you are turned down for credit or you begin to get call from unknown creditors demanding payment for items your never bought.”

Identity theft is something that every American should be aware of. Stay tuned for more posts about identity theft, including what’s happening now in the news, and a breakdown of new trends like phishing, pharming, skimming, and more.