YOUR Information First
October 2006 / issue #2

In this issue:

Tip Of The Month
Feature Article
Latest ID Theft News
Scam Central
More Resources


Shield your computer from viruses and spies

Protect your personal information on your home computer. Use strong passwords; with at least eight characters, including a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. Make them easy for you to remember, but difficult for others to guess. 

Before and while you are surfing the Internet, take the following precautions: 

1. Use firewall, virus and spy ware protection software that you can update regularly. 

2. Steer clear of spy ware and download free software only from sites you know and trust. 

3. Don't install software without knowing what it is. 

4. Set your Internet Explorer browser security to "medium" or greater.

5. Don't click on links in pop-up windows or in spam e-mail. 

The more you deny thieves access to your computer, the less likely they are going to be able to steal your personal identifiable information and take over your identity. 


A New Perspective On Identity Theft 
By Mark Pribish

While I knew identity (ID) theft could happen to me, I always believed that my odds of becoming a victim were small; after all, helping businesses and consumers protect themselves from ID theft is my business. When both my wife and I became victims of ID theft on three separate occasions in the last three years, however, I came to the conclusion that our personal information and the information of every consumer is not as secure as we may think.

Identity theft has become so lucrative that criminals are now focused on obtaining complete files of personal information from businesses like your current and former employers, colleges and universities, cell phone companies, and home and auto insurance companies. Criminals use both low tech and high tech means of stealing confidential employee and customer data that can negatively impact your credit, your job, your insurance, your tax return, your medical information and more.

From social engineering to computer hacking, every company is vulnerable to thieves who are intent on obtaining its stored information.  According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, since February 15, 2005, the employee and customer information (along with social security numbers) of over 320 companies and organizations totaling 93 million individuals have has been compromised.  The breached data has been “lost or stolen” from some of the most well known, technology driven organizations including; Time Warner, Verizon Communications, General Electric, Bank of America, and Duke University.

So what can you do to protect yourself when even these large corporations are struggling to secure their information? 


 SCAM CENTRAL - "The Jury Duty Scam"

How It Works:
• The SCAM baits the victim by creating a situation where the victim is fooled into believing that a warrant has been issued for their arrest. 

• An individual receives a telephone call from someone pretending to be a jury coordinator. The caller advises the individual that they have missed jury duty and a warrant has been issued for their arrest.

• The victim never really received a notice for jury duty, but is upset and wants to quickly resolve the matter.

• The caller asks the victim for their social security number, date of birth and other personal information for verification.

• After a pause, the caller will return to the line to tell the victim that it was a mistake and the matter has been resolved. 

What you should know:
The caller now has the pertinent information that can be used to commit identity theft or other fraud. Never give out any personal information over the phone especially if you did not initiate the contact. If you have been contacted in this manner, please contact the Merchants Credit Care center at 1.866.Smart68 (1.866.762.7868) or your local law enforcement agency and report it immediately.


Are you at risk? Take our ID theft quiz
Tips about avoiding identity theft
Read the latest ID theft news articles

You’re covered. 

If you believe you are a victim of ID theft, call a Merchants’ professional Recovery Advocate now to protect yourself and restore your good name. 

1.866.Smart68 (1.866.762.7868)

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