YOUR Information First
August 2007 / issue #6

In this issue:

Timely Tips
Feature Article
Latest ID Theft News
Scam Central
More Resources

TIMELY TIPS 

How To Improve Your Mobile Technology Security

Are you doing enough to secure the confidential information you store on your cell phone, laptop, personal digital assistant (PDA) and flash drives?

Here are five simple, preventative measures you can take to improve your mobile technology security:

1. Install or activate an encryption program to protect personal information (such as passwords or credit card numbers) before going wireless with you laptop or PDA. Also, using an encrypted flash drive can insure the confidentiality of the information you keep on your portable devise.

2. Before ordering anything online, look for a closed "padlock" icon on the page and make sure the address begins with "https://". This signifies that encryption software is used by the server to create a secure transaction.


3. Avoid using the "Remember Password" function on any website that contains personal or financial information.

4. Use strong passwords: with at least eight characters, including a combination of letters (upper and lower case), numbers, and symbols, easy for you to remember, but difficult for others to guess in case your device is ever lost or stolen.


5. When disposing your laptop or a desktop computer, use a hard drive cleaner software so that your files cannot be retrieved. Simply erasing or reformatting the hard drive does not completely remove the information you do not want others to have.

FEATURE ARTICLE 

A New School Year Brings More Opportunities for ID Theft
By Mark Pribish

As the school year begins in many areas of the country during the next few weeks, I was reminded of how children can become victims of identity theft – as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has estimated that about 400,000 children have their identities stolen each year.

This reminder was never more evident than when my seventh grader and I went shopping for school supplies last week and one of the required school items was a minimum 1 gigabyte flash drive.  This made me think of how school children today either have (or have access to) cell phones, laptops, PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants), and now flash drives -- in addition to the home computers of their parents.

I also thought about my children’s private information since their social security numbers are at my current and former employers (for access to health insurance); at Chase Bank related to their savings accounts; at Edward Jones related to their Virginia 529 savings plans; as well as their school or school systems.  And if you use a professional tax preparer, like I do, I am fairly certain that your children’s social security number(s) can be found in the files of your tax preparer too. 

Children can also be tricked into giving up personal information in phishing scams ranging from fraudulent websites to entering contests – where identity thieves steal personal information. 

More recently, some news articles have highlighted the challenges and pitfalls with children participating in social networking sites – where personal safety as well as personal information is at risk – especially if children are not educated on how to keep their information private.

Since children have no credit history – or better yet, no negative credit history – children are targets for identity thieves and can be a victim for years until they apply for their first job as a teenager.  One recommendation that I always make to family and friends is to check their children’s credit report every year.  This can be done at no cost by going to annualcreditreport.com or by calling each of the three credit bureaus. 

Read More...

SCAM CENTRAL - "In Store" Scam

Whether you’re out back-to-school shopping or buying a new couch, you need to be aware of the following scams thieves are using to get a hold of your personal information.

The Scams:
Individuals identifying themselves as in-store security may request a customer's help in catching a bad employee. They ask for personal information or ask you to pre-fill out a credit application and then give it to the employee. The second form involves a thief who is watching a customer fill out a form or pay for a bill with a credit card. Just prior to the employee calling it in for approval, they call that clerk and ask the information stating that the card/application is from a thief.

Your Defense:
Make sure that any store employee who approaches you has proper identification and that if a call interrupts an employee during a transaction, that you check it out with store security immediately.

If you believe you've encountered or have been victimized by this scam contact your local law enforcement officials and call 1.866.SMART68 to speak to a Recovery Advocate.

MORE RESOURCES

Are you at risk? Take our ID theft quiz
Family Safety Fact Sheet
Video: Delivering Justice

We've got you covered.  

To speak to a professional Recovery Advocate please call:

1.866.Smart68 (1.866.762.7868)


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