Tag Archives: identity theft

7 Ways To Protect Yourself From Postal Mail Identity Theft

mail-boxIdentity theft through the U.S. mail accounts for about 10% of all cases. It is a prime target for identity thieves because it is fairly simple to hijack mail from unsecured mailboxes or mail facilities with lax security measures. The good news is by taking some simple preventative security measures you can reduce your risk very quickly.

Here are 7 ways you can protect yourself from being victimized from identity theft using postal mail:

1) If at all possible install or use a lockbox for home mail delivery or use a P.O. Box.

2) When mailing any documents containing check payments or other financial or personal information take them directly to the post office or drop them in a secure USPS mail box or an internal slot at the post office. Doing this bypasses vulnerable areas of mail delivery.

3) Use Fed X or UPS signature and tracking delivery to send important documents containing personal, financial or other sensitive information.

4) When you are expecting new credit cards in the mail you should watch for them and call the credit card companies if you don’t receive them within a week of when they are expected.

5) If there is no way to secure your mail with a lockbox, or a P.O. Box is not an option, you should get your mail within an hour of delivery. Doing this reduces your exposure to possible theft.

6) Mailing bank deposits is not a good idea anymore. Criminal scumbags have infiltrated mail facilities and simply steal your account numbers. Once they have them they can create phony checks and clean out your accounts. If you must do deposits like this it is always best to FedX directly to your bank but this is still not foolproof. It is best to setup direct deposits whenever possible.

7) Finally, it is always a good practice to employ early detection systems to limit financial loss and drastically reduce recovery time.

For more information about protecting yourself and children from identity theft and fraud using U.S. mail services check out this information:

https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/

To report Identity Theft through the U.S. Mail:

https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/forms/idtheft.aspx

Smartphone Security – Protecting Your Information

iphoneThe growing use of smartphones have opened new security problems for millions of users. A recent survey found that 7% of smartphone users have experienced incidence of identity theft. This rate is about 30% higher than the rates experienced by the general public.

Experts agree that consumer behavior is the culprit because automated security measures are more advanced for personal computers and require less action on the part of the user.

In other words, to protect yourself when using a smartphone you must be more security pro-active. Here are some security tips for you and your children when it comes to smartphone security:

  1. Always update to the most current operating system to take advantage of new security measures and patches.
  2. Always use a passcode on your home screen to protect your information in case your phone is lost or stolen.
  3. Never save login information on your smartphone to prevent unknown access. This is important if your phone is left “on” where someone can quickly access it from a desk or purse without you knowing.
  4. When choosing a smartphone consider security features. Things you should ask your service provider about include file encryption, remote kill switch or remote wipe capability and authentication passcode systems.

After purchasing a smartphone you should immediately “secure it” using all these features:

  • Setup the main password so your phone is locked unless the correct code is entered. And make sure the password you use is not something easily guessed!
  • Enable all security features including file encryption, remote kill switch, antivirus software and “HTTPS” or “SSL” options for all websites transmitting personal and/or financial information.

To enhance security measures further you should follow these additional tips:

  • Disable all communication interfaces and only enable them when you need to. These would include bluetooth, wi-fi and infrared capabilities.
  • Make your phone invisible to bluetooth attackers by setting it to “non-discoverable” mode.
  • Be very selective about the apps that you upload and install. Do some research and be wary of apps that go overboard on the permissions they require. Many apps can contain malicious code that can trick you into entering financial information, send personal information to identity thieves and even send SMS text messages that you will be charged for. BE CAREFUL WITH APPS!
  • You should avoid joining unknown or public wi-fi hotspots. These areas attract hackers probing for unsecured devices or who create phoney wi-fi networks.
  • Lastly, you should always delete information stored on your phone before you discard it or sell it. Check with the manufacturer’s website about the proper way to do this.

To sum up, your smartphone is really only as smart as you are when it comes to security. You can be easily hacked and have your identity harmed without taking the proper precautions and actions.

Unfortunately, nothing is 100% foolproof when it comes to protecting your identity. The best course of action for you to avoid severe damages from identity thieves is to employ early detection warning systems. When caught early enough damages are held to a minimum and recovery time is faster and easier.

How To Prevent Email ID Theft

no more scamsThe use of email by identity thieves and scam artists is rampant. Statistics show there are over 15 million victims every year. These victims are tricked into giving up personal information by clicking an email link that takes them to an “official” looking website or unknowingly download malware that wrecks computers or gathers information to report back to thieves.

Email scammers are constantly improving and testing their methods. When they find something that works it is quickly blasted out to millions of people. You need to be on guard at all times!

The best thing to do to avoid becoming a victim is to NEVER open an email from “official” sounding financial or government institutions . Remember that these companies or agencies will NEVER send a blind email asking for information. They never ask you to confirm your account through an email link. Don’t be fooled by warnings of security problems. The best practice is to NEVER click on a link or attachment provided in an email.

Be especially careful of any emails you receive from banks, government institutions, shipping companies, online retailers and sites you have grown to trust like Facebook, Ebay, Paypal and UPS. Never fall for the trap of “confirming” your account or giving out personal details.  They also may “warn” you of account problems… don’t fall for it. The purpose of the email is to get you to click on a link and enter your account information or to unknowingly download malicious software. Just delete the email and forget it.

If you need to check an account the best practice is to physically type the company website address in your browser bar and go directly to their website. NEVER click on links in an email even if it has company logos that look official.

Of course, a good anti-virus and email scanner software is an absolute “must have” these days. A solid choice is AVG. The good news is they offer a completely free version that is excellent and that also scans your emails. Just type “AVG Free Download” into Google search and look for the official AVG download website. Don’t download the software from third parties.

There are so many email scams out there it would take pages and pages to list them all here… and there are hundreds of new ones popping up every day. Remember, there is NO free money available to you through an email. This includes advance fees, lottery winnings, financial windfalls, auction winnings and other scams.

The best practice is to NEVER trust an email unless you absolutely know the party. And even then, their email account could have been hacked. So, the best advice is NEVER completely trust an email, period.

Dean Ryan is a Garden City KS Lawyer with 30 years of experience. He can help you with many legal issues including bankruptcy, traffic tickets, divorce, child support and more. He can be reached at (620) 275-9614.