Mark Pribish

Embrace the New Year by Protecting Your Identity in 2017

By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

Based on the past year and all of the high profile data breach events in the news, cyber security experts are having a difficult time keeping pace with the dramatic rise in cybercrime.

In just the last 60 days, the Pentagon, Turner Broadcasting Systems (TBS), Quest Diagnostics, T-Mobile, CVS , Yahoo, Google Android, QVC, and the IRS have all announced some type of a data breach event related to hacking, unintended disclosure, insider threat, or physical loss (please see here https://www.privacyrights.org/data-breaches).

The cyber threat landscape includes numerous challenges such as the insider threat, ransomware, malware on smartphones and mobile devices, under-protected Internet of Things (IoT) devices, along with hackers-for-hire.

The fact is that more sophisticated cyber-attacks (from hackers to insiders) are targeting employer groups, financial institutions, healthcare providers, and educational institutions where business and consumer information are merging into personal and workplace identities.

In 2017, you have an opportunity to make a New Year's resolution to embrace and protect your personal information and your identity.

However, a common oversight – especially with personal finances – is not resolving to protect your identity and the identity of family members.

Identity theft is a real problem for both consumers and small businesses – and while individuals have little-to-no control over how a business is securing their personally identifying information (PII) – consumers can take control and resolve to be proactive in protecting their identity.

Most consumers can increase their education and awareness of the challenges of identity theft by reading the news each day; and by linking to various identity theft related websites including:

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

In addition, consumers should resolve to learn more about cyber crime (committed by fraudsters using computers and the internet), mules (where fraudsters recruit unsuspecting individuals to act as middlemen), insider crime (by current former and employees), pharming (the process of redirecting internet domain names), phishing (where authentic looking email is fraudulent in soliciting personal information), misuse of physical records (that are located at almost every hospital, doctor, dentist, insurance agent, employer group, division of motor vehicles, financial institution, utilities) and more.

Consumers can add to their resolution list by using a shredder, using passphrases and changing them on a regular basis, considering online bill paying (which is statistically safer than using the mail), and protecting their computer from spyware and viruses.

Consumers should resolve to access each of their three credit reports once every four months in the New Year through www.annualcreditreport.com. This central site allows you to request a free credit file disclosure, commonly called a credit report, once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies including Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

So as you and your family consider the numerous resolutions to begin the New Year, you should commit to a project or lifestyle change that includes increased awareness and action to protect you and your family against identity theft.


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.


Shopping Via App? Watch Out for Fakes

December 14, 2016

Be careful when downloading new apps during the holiday season.

This December, scammers are fooling holiday shoppers with a new high tech con. Phony retail apps are popping up in Apple and Android's app stores and stealing shoppers' personal information.

How the Scam Works:

You search in your smartphone's app store for a favorite retailer. Many brands provide apps to make shopping at that store easy and more convenient. Several apps appear, and they all have similar names and brand logo.

Be careful when downloading the new app. Most fake apps are fairly harmless, a way to deliver spammy advertising. But some apps require shoppers to enter credit card information or provide their Facebook password. Sharing this information can open users up to fraud.

This con is notable because it affects so many brands, in both the Apple and Android app stores. Look out for fake apps posing as mall staples, such as Dillard's and Footlocker, online retailers such as Zappos and Overstock, and luxury sellers such as Jimmy Choo. Scammers have snuck these counterfeit apps past Apple's App Store review process, so be careful no matter what type of device you use.

Tips to Protect Yourself From an App Scam

Scammers love to impersonate popular apps. Here's how to spot a con:

  • Evaluate before downloading. In the app store, look for warning signs such as apps with no reviews and no history of previous versions.
  • Look out for poor English: Most fake apps are from overseas and are created by non-native English speakers. Look for typos and poor grammar in the app name and within the app itself.
  • Make sure the retailor has an app. Not all retailors have apps, which makes it easier for scammers to pass off fake ones. When in doubt, do a quick search online before downloading.

For More Information

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

Check out New York Times' coverage of fake retail apps on their website. To report issues with apps, go here for Google Play and here for Apple's App Store.

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.