Mark Pribish

Keeping information private online is difficult

By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

You may share too much personal information online. Your insurance records, credit records, driving records, employment records and purchasing records are also collected, saved and sold regularly.

In today's high tech, up-to-the-minute and impulsive environment, in which you respond to a message or search on a random topic on a whim, you need to consider the consequences.

While you may think you have control of your personal privacy, you don't - and you can't.

You may share too much personal information online. But personal privacy is not so private anymore. And your willingness to share personal information on social media makes your information more and more immediately available - and more and more vulnerable.

It's not just on you. Your home and auto insurance, health-care insurance, dental insurance and life insurance information is collected, saved and sold on a regular basis. Your credit bureau record, driving record, employment record, property record and criminal record are also collected, saved and sold regularly.

To top it off, your purchasing records, ranging from cable TV, pay-per-view TV, electronic and printed books, prescription drugs, smartphones and Google searches are collected, saved and sold regularly.

It is very difficult to secure and ensure your privacy when "Big Data" — large data-mining and marketing companies such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, LexisNexis, Acxiom, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax — collect and sell billions of pieces of our most personal information every day. What's more, all of the companies mentioned above have experienced one or more data breach events over the past few years. How's that working for your personal privacy?

Examples of how our personal and private information is used every day includes law enforcement (surveillance), marketing and sales (data mining), criminals (identity theft), and public information (marriage, divorce, criminal and property records).

Here's what every individual should remember about personal privacy:

  • Social media. Understand privacy policies before sharing personal information.
  • Search engines. Be aware that they are tracking and recording your every search.
  • Work e-mail and texts. Understand that your employers may be reading your e-mails and texts.
  • Personal e-mail and texts. They are vulnerable to both physical and virtual eavesdropping.
  • Digital books. Reader privacy should be a concern

In the end, your expectation of privacy and minimizing your risk of ID theft is limited to your participation on social media and search engine searches, as your information is constantly being collected, analyzed and viewed by others.

You need to read and understand the privacy policies of every organization you have a relationship with to know how your information is protected, saved, analyzed, sold and/or disclosed.


To learn more about these threats and how to protect yourself and your family from Identity Theft, you can read my past newsletters at the Merchants Identity Theft Educational Website at www.idtheftedu.com.


Pokémon GO Players Fall for Phishing Con

Are you playing Pokémon GO? If so, you may want to check out this week's scam alert!

July 29, 2016

The sudden success of Pokémon GO has scammers cooking up ways to cash in on the app's popularity. The latest is a phishing email that fools victims into thinking they need to pay for the game.

How the Scam Works:

You receive an email addressed to Pokémon GO players. The message reads: "due to the overwhelming response to our new Pokémon GO app and the need for more powerful servers we can no longer afford to keep your account as free." The developers are now charging $12.99 a month, and your account will be frozen if you don't upgrade.

The email urges you to click a link, log in to the app store and purchase the "full version." Don't do it! The log-in form isn't run by an official app store or Ninatic Labs, the game's developers. It's on a third party site, and it is a way to steal users' passwords.

Unfortunately, this is not the only Pokémon GO scam out there. Before the app launched, scammers lured victims with the promise of getting early beta test access to the game. Then, a fake version of the game appeared in some app stores. As long as the app stays popular, scammers will devise new ways to fool players.

How to Spot a Phishing Scam:

  • Be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments. Do not click on links or open files in unfamiliar emails.
  • Check the reply email address. One easy way to spot an email scam is to look at the reply email. The address should be on a company domain, such as jsmith@company.com.
  • Don't believe what you see. Just because an email looks real, doesn't mean it is. Scammers can fake anything from a company logo to the "Sent" email address.
  • Consider how the organization normally contacts you. If an organization normally reaches you by mail, be suspicious if you suddenly start receiving emails or text messages without ever opting in to the new communications.
  • Be cautious of generic emails. Scammers try to cast a wide net by including little or no specific information in their fake emails. Be especially wary of messages you have not subscribed to or companies you have never done business with in the past.

For More Information

Read Variety's coverage of the scam on their website.

To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam). To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker).

Courtesy of the Better Business Bureau - for more information visit http://www.bbb.org/phoenix/news-events/

If you believe your identity has been stolen, call 866.SMART68 today.