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Data Breach Aftermath

Haste certainly doesn’t make waste if you’ve suffered from an entity getting hacked resulting in a data breach. Don’t waste a single minute delaying notifying affected accounts!Haste certainly doesn’t make waste if you’ve suffered from an entity getting hacked resulting in a data breach. Don’t waste a single minute delaying notifying affected accounts! In the case of a credit card company, they will investigate; you won’t have to pay the fraudulent charges. The breached card will be closed, and you’ll get a new one. And there is more. All sounds simple enough, but the experience can be a major hassle. Below is what you should do upon learning your card has been breached:
  • If a SSN is breached, place a credit freeze or fraud alert with the three big credit bureau agencies. Placement of the credit freeze or fraud alert will net you a free copy of your credit reports; review them.
  • See if you can find companies that have accounts in your name—that you didn’t set up. Notify and cancel them. Make a list of entities that might be affected by your ID theft, then contact them.
  • If your identity is actually stolen, you may need documents to show creditors proof of your ID theft, you should file a report with the police and FTC.
  • Keep vigilant documentation of all of your relevant correspondence.
If your credit card was compromised, you also must contact every company or service that was on autopay with the old card. This includes quarterly autopays (e.g., pesticide company) and yearly autopays, like your website’s domain name. Don’t forget these! You now have to transfer all the autopays to your new card. But you also must consider the possibility that your credit card breach is only the beginning of more ID theft to come. You now must be more vigilant than ever. If it can happen once, it can happen again.
  • Check every charge on every statement. If you don’t remember making that $4.57 charge…investigate this. Thieves often start with tiny purchases, then escalate.
  • Use apps that can detect anomalous behavior with your credit card account. These applications are free and will alert you if there’s a purchase that’s out of the norm, such as there’s a charge to the card in your home town, but an hour later another charge occurs 800 miles away.
  • See if your card carrier will let you set up account alerts, such as every time a purchase exceeds a set amount, you get notified.
  • Never let your card out of your sight. The thief could have been someone to whom you gave your card for a payment—they used a handheld “skimming” device and got your data. If you don’t want to hassle with, for instance, the restaurant server who wants to take your card and go off somewhere to get your payment, then pay cash (if possible).
  • Never use public ATMs; ones inside your bank are less likely to be tampered with with skimming devices.
Other than tampered ATMs and retail clerks taking your card out of your view to collect payment, there are tons of ways your personal information could get into a thief’s hands. Here are steps to help prevent that:
  • Shred all documents with any of your personal information, including receipts, so that “dumpster divers” can’t make use of them.
  • When shopping online, use a virtual credit card number; your bank may offer this feature.
  • When shopping, patronize only sites that have “https” at the start of the Web address.
  • Never save your credit card number on the site you shop at.
  • If a retail site requires your SSN in order to make the purchase, withdraw from the site and never go back.
  • Never give your credit card or other personal information to online forms that you came to as a result of clicking a link in an e-mail message. In fact, never click links inside e-mail messages.
  • Make sure all your computer devices have a firewall, and antivirus/antimalware software, and keep it updated.
____________________ Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention.

SSN and Its Afterlife

What’s one billion? That’s about the number of possible permutations of the Social Security number. Which begs the question: What happens to an SSN when someone kicks the bucket?What’s one billion? That’s about the number of possible permutations of the Social Security number. Which begs the question: What happens to an SSN when someone kicks the bucket? Currently, SSN’s are never repeated when they’re issued by the Social Security Administration. As of June 2011, the SSA made the issuance entirely random (previously, for example, the first three numbers were determined by place of birth). With nearly a billion permutations, there’s no point in any number surviving the holder’s death and being reissued. Now in theory, the combinations will eventually run out, because eventually, a billion people will have been born in the United States. But this isn’t exactly in the near future. Why worry? Nevertheless, some people like to plan way ahead. Maybe this scenario can be mitigated with a 10-digit number. Maybe numbers will stay at nine but be recycled. But for now, your number is as unique as your DNA. But, unlike DNA, a SSN can be used fraudulently. The three credit bureaus maintain a list of the deceased based on data from the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File Index. Sometimes it takes months for bureaus to update their databases with the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File Index. Here’s how to avoid identity theft of the deceased:
  • Report the death yourself by calling the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.
  • Contact the credit bureaus directly to report a death and request the information to be recorded immediately.
  • Right now, before anyone perishes, get the person a credit freeze. Upon death (as in life), the person’s Social Security number will be useless to the thief.
  • Invest in identity theft protection. This is a layer of security that monitors one’s information, including Social Security number, in the wild. Have it activated for six months to a year after death.
  • The Identity Theft Resource Center suggests, “Immediately notify credit card companies, banks, stockbrokers, loan/lien holders and mortgage companies of the death. The executor or surviving spouse will need to discuss all outstanding debts. If you close the account, ask them to list it as: ‘Closed. Account holder is deceased.’ If there is a surviving spouse or other joint account holder, make sure to notify the company the account needs to be listed in that surviving person’s name alone. They may require a copy of the death certificate to do this, as well as permission from the survivor.”
__________________ Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention.

Don’t let tax scammers get away with it

Tax season is getting close — and for some people, so is an experience with tax identity theft or IRS imposters. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. You usually find out something’s wrong after you file your tax return.Tax season is getting close — and for some people, so is an experience with tax identity theft or IRS imposters. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. You usually find out something’s wrong after you file your tax return. Also, IRS imposters work year-round — posing as the IRS when they call and say you owe taxes. They even threaten to arrest you if you don’t put money on a prepaid debit card and tell them the card number. They might know all or part of your Social Security number, and can fake caller ID information to make it look like it really is the IRS calling. But it’s not. Ever. Want to know what you can do about these scams? January 26th-30th is Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week. That week, the FTC, AARP, and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) will be hosting a webinar. Join us to get the facts about these scams and learn how to protect yourself and those you care about:

Webinar on Tax Identity Theft and IRS Imposter Scams Hosted by the FTC, AARP, and TIGTA Open to everyone Tuesday, Jan. 27th 2:00-3:30pm EST

Find login information, as well as articles and other resources, atftc.gov/taxidtheft. _________________ The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace.

Don't Fall for This Holiday Gift Card Scam

Who couldn't use some extra cash this time of year? Don't let the promise of a free gift card fool you into taking a scam "survey." These fraudulent emails and social media posts are really a way to promote dubious products and capture personal information.

Who couldn't use some extra cash this time of year? Don't let the promise of a free gift card fool you into taking a scam "survey." These fraudulent emails and social media posts are really a way to promote dubious products and capture personal information.  

How the Scam Works:

You receive an email or see a social media post urging you to claim a free gift card. "Alert: Walmart $100 Holiday Rewards are About to Expire! Claim Now," reads the subject line of one version. Just complete a short customer satisfaction survey, reads the message, and you will receive a gift card. 

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The survey starts off with standard questions about how often you shop at the store and how you rate the website. But when you get to the end of the survey, you find there is no gift card after all. Instead, the site is offering $50 or $100 off a variety of dubious products, such as free credit reporting, wrinkle cream and background checks. 

In other versions of this scam, the "customer survey" asks for personal information, such as address and credit card number. Con artists can use this information for identity theft.

How to Spot a Customer Survey Scam:    

  1. Don't believe what you see. It's easy to steal the colors, logos and header of any other established organization. Scammers can also make links look like they lead to legitimate websites and emails appear to come from a different sender.  
  2. Legitimate businesses do not ask for credit card numbers or banking information on customer surveys. If they do ask for personal information, like an address or email, be sure there's a link to their privacy policy. 
  3. When in doubt, do a quick web search. If the survey is a scam, this is likely to reveal an alert or bring you to the organization's real website, where they may have posted further information.
  4. Watch out for a reward that's too good to be true. If the survey is real, you may be entered in a drawing to win a gift card or receive a small discount off your next purchase. Few businesses can afford to give away $100 gift cards for completing a few questions.
  5. Don't act immediately... think first. Many scams urge you to act right now. (This scam's subject line, "Holiday Rewards are About to Expire! Claim Now!" is a perfect example.) Scammers hope to fool you into clicking before you think.
_________________ The BBB is dedicated to fostering honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers in the U.S. and Canada, instilling consumer confidence and contributing to a trustworthy marketplace for all.