Secure Online Personal Information
- Be Alert to Impersonators
Make sure you know who is getting your personal or financial information. Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or know who you’re dealing with. If a company that claims to have an account with you sends email asking for personal information, don’t click on links in the email. Instead, type the company name into your web browser, go to their site, and contact them through customer service. Or, call the customer service number listed on your account statement. Ask whether the company really sent a request.
-Safely Dispose of Personal Information
Before you dispose of a computer, get rid of all the personal information it stores. Use a wipe utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive.
Before you dispose of a mobile device, check your owner’s manual, the service provider’s website, or the device manufacturer’s website for information on how to delete information permanently, and how to save or transfer information to a new device. Remove the memory or subscriber identity module (SIM) card from a mobile device. Remove the phone book, lists of calls made and received, voicemails, messages sent and received, organizer folders, web search history, and photos.
- Encrypt Your Data
Keep your browser secure. To guard your online transactions, use encryption software that scrambles information you send over the internet. A “lock” icon on the status bar of your internet browser means your information will be safe when it’s transmitted. Look for the lock before you send personal or financial information online.
- Keep Passwords Private
Use strong passwords with your laptop, credit, bank, and other accounts. Be creative: think of a special phrase and use the first letter of each word as your password. Substitute numbers for some words or letters. For example, “I want to see John” could become 1W2CJ.
- Don’t Overshare on Social Networking Sites
If you post too much information about yourself, an identity thief can find information about your life, use it to answer ‘challenge’ questions on your accounts, and get access to your money and personal information. Consider limiting access to your networking page to a small group of people. Never post your full name, Social Security number, address, phone number, or account numbers in publicly accessible sites. www.usa.gov
Securing Your Social Security Number
Keep a close hold on your Social Security number and ask questions before deciding to share it. Ask if you can use a different kind of identification. If someone asks you to share your SSN or your child’s, ask:
why they need it
how it will be used
how they will protect it
what happens if you don’t share the number
The decision to share is yours. A business may not provide you with a service or benefit if you don’t provide your number. Sometimes you will have to share your number. Your employer and financial institutions need your SSN for wage and tax reporting purposes. A business may ask for your SSN so they can check your credit when you apply for a loan, rent an apartment, or sign up for utility service. www.usa.gov
What is a data Breach?
A data breach, data leak or data spill is the intentional or unintentional release of secure or private/confidential information to an untrusted environment. This may include some or all of an individual’s personal identifying information.
What is synthetic identity?
Synthetic identity theft, is when a thief uses a combination of stolen factual personal identifying information such as a social security number along with a fake name and date of birth to establish a new identity.
Why are children’s social security numbers the “Most wanted”?
Children’s Social Security numbers are the most valuable because they are inactive and will generally remain unchecked for up to 18 years. Children generally have no public information associated with their SSN, making them a prime target.
How Is someone using a Child's Social security number?
When a consumer completes an application for a credit card or loan of some type, all the application information is sent to the Credit Bureaus (CRAs).
The CRAs searches for personally identifiable information to determine whether a credit report exists. Any credit request submitted to a CRA will create a credit file. The thief’s initial application will be DECLINED, but a new credit file will be established as a result.
With the newly established credit file, the fraudster will then apply for credit with another credit card issuer. When the card company runs a credit inquiry, the CRA will return information to the card company that a profile does exist.
The profile will not have any credit history associated with it but it will have a credit file. The credit card company will probably give them a small limit such as $300. Now the new fake synthetic id can build credit.
This is the very beginning of how the new Synthetic Identity is created. It can now be used over and over again until the child (the actual owner of the Social Security Number) first applies for a credit card or student loan themselves. This is when the Fraud is detected.