Do I need Identity Theft Protection?
What is Identity Fraud?
According to Wikipedia:
Identity fraud/theft is the deliberate use of someone else's identity, usually as a method to gain a financial advantage or obtain credit and other benefits in the other
person's name, and perhaps to the other person's disadvantage or loss.
Common examples of identity fraud include:
Child ID theft - Children’s IDs are vulnerable because the theft may go undetected for many years. By the time they are adults, the damage has already been done to their identities.
Tax ID theft - A thief uses your Social Security number to falsely file tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service or state government.
Medical ID theft - This form of ID theft happens when someone steals your personal information, such as your Medicare ID or health insurance member number to get medical services, or to issue fraudulent billing to your health insurance provider.
Senior ID theft - ID theft schemes that target seniors. Seniors are vulnerable to ID theft because they are in more frequent contact with medical professionals who get their medical insurance information, or caregivers and staff at long-term care facilities that have access to personal information or financial documents.
Social ID theft - A thief uses your name, photos, and other personal information to create a phony account on a social media platform.
Phone scams have been around for a very long time. Unfortunately, they are not going away because innocent people are still falling for them.
The elderly are especially vulnerable. Sometimes they are a bit lonely and happy to talk to someone on the phone.
The scammers are often very friendly and more than happy to continue supplying false or fake information about their scam. All of the additional information adds validity to their scam.
Here are a few red flags to help you spot telemarketing scams.
If you hear any of the lines below that sounds like this,
say "no, thank you", and hang up:
- You've been specially selected (for this offer).
- You'll get a free bonus if you buy our product.
- You've won one of five valuable prizes.
- You've won big money in a foreign lottery.
- This investment is low risk and provides a higher return than you can get anywhere else.
- You have to make up your mind right away.
-You trust me, right?
- You don't need to check our company with anyone.
- We'll just put the shipping and handling charges on your credit card.
Join the National Do Not Call List www.donotcall.gov.
Phishing is when a scammer uses fake email, text messages, or copycat websites to try to steal your identity or personal information, such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, debit card PINs, and account passwords. The scammer may state that your account has been compromised or that one of your accounts was charged incorrectly.
A scammer will instruct you to click on a link in the email or reply with your bank account number to confirm your identity or verify your account. They will sometimes threaten to disable your account if you don't reply, but don't believe it. Legitimate companies never ask for your password or account number by email.
Report Phishing Scams
Forward phishing email messages to firstname.lastname@example.org or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Include the full email header of the scam message in your report. Find out how to do this by searching online for the name of your email service and the words “full email header.”
How to Protect Yourself
Here are some ways to protect yourself from phishing scams:
Reach out if you’re unsure - If you believe that a company needs personal information from you, call the number from their legitimate website or your address book. Do not call the number or use the links in the email. Tell the customer service representative about the request and ask if your account has been compromised.
Turn on two-factor authentication - If your account supports it, you can set it up to require your password and an additional piece of information (code sent to your phone or a random number generated by an app) when you log in. This protects your account even when your password has been stolen.
Don't click on any links or attachments in the email - Any links, attachments, or phone numbers that you click on may contain a virus that can harm your computer. Even if links in the email say the name of the company, don't trust them. They may redirect to a fake website.
Vishing and Smishing
Similar to phishing, vishing (voice and phishing) and smishing (SMS texting and phishing) scammers also seek to steal your personal information. However, these scams target your mobile or landline phone instead of your computer. You may be directed to call a phone number to verify an account or to reactivate a debit or credit card.
Report Vishing and Smishing Scams
If you have received one of these requests, report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Your complaint will be forwarded to federal, state, local, or international law enforcement. You will need to contact your credit card company directly to notify them if you are disputing unauthorized charges on your card from scammers, or if you suspect your credit card number has been compromised.
Find out how a synthetic identity is created
Example of how hackers get information.
Phishing is when a scammer uses fraudulent emails or texts, or copycat websites to get you to share valuable personal information – such as:
- Account numbers,
- Social Security numbers
- Login IDs and passwords
Scammers use your information to steal your money or your identity or both.
Scammers also use phishing emails to get access to your computer or network then they install programs like ransomware that can lock you out of important files on your computer.
Phishing scammers lure their targets into a false sense of security by spoofing the familiar, trusted logos of established, legitimate companies. Or they pretend to be a friend or family member.
Phishing scammers make it seem like they need your information or someone else’s,
quickly – or something bad will happen.
They might say your account will be frozen, you’ll fail to get a tax refund, your boss will get mad, even that a family member will be hurt or you could be arrested. They tell lies to get to you to give them information.
Be cautious about opening attachments or clicking on links in emails. Even your friend or family members’ accounts could be hacked. Files and links can contain malware that can weaken your computer's security.
Do your own typing. If a company or organization you know sends you a link or phone number, don’t click. Use your favorite search engine to look up the website or phone number yourself. Even though a link or phone number in an email may look like the real deal, scammers can hide the true destination.
Make the call if you’re not sure. Do not respond to any emails that request personal or financial information. Phishers use pressure tactics and prey on fear. If you think a company, friend or family member really does need personal information from you, pick up the phone and call them yourself using the number on their website or in your address book, not the one in the email.
Turn on two-factor authentication.
For accounts that support it, two-factor authentication requires both your password and an additional piece of information to log in to your account. The second piece could be a code sent to your phone, or a random number generated by an app or a token. This protects your account even if your password is compromised.
As an extra precaution, you may want to choose more than one type of second authentication (e.g. a PIN) in case your primary method (such as a phone) is unavailable.
Back up your files to an external hard drive or cloud storage. Back up your files regularly to protect yourself against viruses or a ransomware attack.
Keep your security up to date. Use security software you trust, and make sure you set it to update automatically.