Mark Pribish

Protect Your Identity from Holiday Thieves

By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

While information technology (IT) and hacking are the sizzle that makes the headline news for identity theft and fraud, consumer concerns for the Holiday season should focus on people, including Holiday thieves.

For the last 10 years I have written about the increased risk of identity theft during the months of November and December relating to the Thanksgiving and Holiday seasons.

This year will be no different so I encourage consumers to be more vigilant in protecting themselves while shopping online, using credit/debit cards, enjoying vacation travel, avoiding social media fraud, and receiving Holiday packages.

In addition, consumers need to heighten their awareness of Holiday scams including fraudulent charities and telephone/direct marketing scams.

According to the 2016 Javelin Identity Fraud report, identity theft cost consumers more than $15 billion in 2015 (please see here): https://www.javelinstrategy.com/coverage-area/2016-identity-fraud-fraud-hits-inflection-point

Javelin Research Graphic

Fortunately, consumer advocates such as the Identity Theft Resource Center, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and the Federal Trade Commission (see FACTS AND STATS below links) are helping to educate consumers on how to protect themselves during the holidays and throughout the year.

Identity Theft Resource Center - http://www.idtheftcenter.org

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse - https://www.privacyrights.org

Federal Trade Commission - https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/media-resources/identity-theft-and-data-security

Here are my five fast facts in protecting yourself from Holiday thieves this year:

  • Social Media Fraud - Social media fraud is on the rise as cybercriminals have found a lucrative way to make money through fraudulent accounts with counterfeit offers through phishing. Phishing scams are typically fraudulent email messages appearing to come from legitimate enterprises. These messages usually direct you to a spoofed website to get you to divulge private information. Be suspicious of any email message that asks you to enter or verify personal information. Never reply to or click the links in such a message. If you think the message may be legitimate, go directly to the company's website
  • Cash, Checks and Gift Cards - one way your risk of identity theft can increase during the year-end Holidays is when you and family members receive numerous cards that include cash, checks, and/or gift cards via the U.S. mail. Since ID thieves are not on vacation during the Holidays, families should be proactive in communicating to one another when these cards and gifts are being sent to help minimize and prevent them from being stolen by ID Theft thieves.
  • On-Line Purchases and Holiday Packages - unfortunately, online buyers have holiday packages stolen from their homes by thieves on a regular basis. A common scenario is when criminals follow overnight delivery trucks (e.g. FedEx and UPS) to the homes of individuals who have made on-line purchases. Once these thieves realize no one is home, they walk up to the house and steal your Holiday package - so I recommend receiving packages by requiring a signature.
  • Automobile Thefts and Burglaries - automobile thefts and burglaries also increase during the holiday season - especially when people leave new purchases, Holiday gifts, and valuables in plain sight while shopping and running errands during the Holidays - so be sure to put any new purchases and/or valuables (e.g. a laptop computer) in the trunk of your car.
  • Stolen Luggage - thieves steal tens of thousands of pieces of luggage from airports every year, but especially during the Holiday season. This is a great reminder to be more aware of your surroundings when traveling on vacation - whether it is the thief after your wallet/purse, laptop computer, or luggage.

To conclude, be prepared or be prepared to lose against Holiday thieves.


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.


Phishing con fools web domain name owners

October 28, 2016

If you run a business or have a personal website, you probably own a website domain (or several). This con fools domain owners into paying or sharing personal information in order to "register" with Google.

How the Scam Works:

You own a domain name for your personal or business website. One day, you get a robocall claiming to represent Google's business listing or a similar service. The recording claims that your domain listing is out-of-date and you need to update it in order to keep your spot in Google's search rankings.

In fact, the caller has no affiliation with Google. If you agree to "update your listing," the caller may ask for information about your business -- including your Google password. Sharing this puts you at risk for future scams or even identity theft. In other cases, scammers try to charge for their phony services.

How to Avoid a Domain Name Con:

Many businesses take a "buy it and forget it" approach to their website domain names, and scammers prey on that lack of knowledge. Here are a few tips for better managing this part of your business.

  • Be familiar with Google's services. Google does not charge for inclusion in Google My Business or in Google Search. Google doesn't currently cold call businesses with an offer to improve your search ranking or manage your business' online profile.
  • Don't provide your password or verification code to any caller. You should never provide sensitive information about your account (such as your password and verification code) to an unsolicited caller.
  • Select a single business to register all your domain names. Another domain name scam involves fake invoices for domains you never purchased. Avoid falling for this trick by selecting a single provider to register your domains and maintain one account.
  • Know your top-level domains. Scammers use scare tactics to sell unpopular top level domains at inflated prices. If you company doesn't do business in other countries, you probably don't need to buy a domain there.

For More Information

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

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

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