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Health Care Fraud

Shopping for cash?

Who isn’t looking for a little extra cash at the holidays? An offer for an easy – and fun – job could seem like just what you need. That’s the email offer I got from a major retailer (or so it said) last week: Who isn’t looking for a little extra cash at the holidays? An offer for an easy – and fun – job could seem like just what you need. That’s the email offer I got from a major retailer (or so it said) last week:
“Holidays are coming we need you in our team. We are hiring holiday shoppers. No experience needed, just an honest opinion. The job requires you to shop and evaluate our employees. You will get paid to shop and keep the products.”
While there are legit mystery shopper jobs out there, we almost never see them in offers that show up in your inbox. Or in the classified ads. Or on telephone poles. Or on your phone. So, before you apply, here are some things to think about:
  • Don’t click on links in unexpected emails, which could be phishing for your money or personal information. Or both.
  • Never pay for access to a job, a directory of shopping jobs, or any kind of certification to work as a mystery shopper. Legit companies pay you to work for them; they don’t charge you.
  • Don’t wire money or send a prepaid debit card to a stranger. Ever. For any reason.
  • If you’re still curious, do some research. Contact the company directly. Find their information online through your own search, not by following a link from the email.
Read more about mystery shopping, and if you spot a scam, please tell us. Because you know who’s definitely looking for a little extra cash – preferably yours? Scammers. _________________ 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.

Protect Yourself from Holiday Shopping Scams

Even though the highly publicized retail data breaches have involved off-line brick and mortar stores, this doesn’t mean that security is high with online shopping. Scammers and hackers are waiting for you in more ways than you know, such as: Even though the highly publicized retail data breaches have involved off-line brick and mortar stores, this doesn’t mean that security is high with online shopping. Scammers and hackers are waiting for you in more ways than you know, such as:
  • Fake product reviews
  • Non-existent products
  • Delivered products that don’t match what was seen on the retail site
  • Shoppers being tricked into typing their credit card information into a purchase form on a phony shopping site
  • Malicious attachments and phishing emails offering too good to be true discounts to install malware on your device.
Let’s explore online shopping scams in more detail. First up are malicious links and malments (malicious attachment).
  • You receive an e-mail pitching a great product deal; click on the link to learn more or to make the purchase. The scammer often makes the e-mail look like it came from a leading retailer. Clicking the e-mail may download a virus, or take you to the scammer’s website where you’re tricked into “buying” non-existent products—giving out your credit card information.
  • An e-mail may contain an attachment that, when opened, downloads a virus.
  • The e-mail may appear to come from UPS (but it’s really from the crook), and if you just by chance recently ordered something for delivery by UPS, you’re then easily tricked into clicking a “track your order” link.
  • Never click links or open attachments from e-mails that you’re not outright expecting, especially if there are typos in the message.
Coupons
  • If it’s too good to be true, then it’s too good to be true.
  • Be suspicious if a coupon site with fantabulous deals wants all sorts of personal information from you, as in, “What do they need to know that for?”
  • Fraudulent coupon sites often have typos including poor punctuation.
  • Annoying pop-up windows should send you running.
Gift Cards
  • Same thing as above: If it’s too good to be true, then assume it’s a scam.
  • Just delete any gift card e-mails pitching amazing deals, especially if there’s a link in the message.
  • Never fill out personal information in a form inside an unsolicited e-mail for some fantastic deal.
Not every gift card related e-mail is fraudulent. If the e-mail appears to be from someone you know, contact that person for verification before opening any attachment or following any links. A tip that it’s legitimate is that it has a code so that you can claim the gift; a tip that it’s a scam is that it’s asking you for your credit card information. _________________ Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to TheBestCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention.

17 ways to prevent identity theft when traveling

There should be more TV commercials for preventing identity theft—it’s nearly epidemic. But also epidemic is the lack of identity security that people have when traveling. Here are some ways to avoid having your identity stolen while traveling:There should be more TV commercials for preventing identity theft—it’s nearly epidemic. But also epidemic is the lack of identity security that people have when traveling. Here are some ways to avoid having your identity stolen while traveling:
  • Prior to leaving for your trip, clean out your purse and wallet. Figure out what you really need for the trip, then bring only those items.
  • Contact the post office to put your mail on vacation hold.
  • Get a home-screen-locking password for your smartphone.
  • Equip your computer devices with encryption software.
  • Your smartphone should have lock/locate/wipe software.
  • Bring your driver’s license with you even if you don’t plan on driving anywhere, for ID; don’t rely on your passport alone. The driver’s license and international ID should have online backups made.
  • When using public Wi-Fi (even in your hometown), use only WEP, WPA and WPA2 networks, and visit only the sites that have the padlock symbol and “https” before their URLs. That’s how you know they are secure.
  • Arrange to have enough cash with you to make the majority (if not all) of your travel purchases. Avoid using a debit card because if it gets compromised, you won’t be able to get reimbursed.
  • Back up your data prior to leaving and every day when away. Prior to your trip and during, make sure to have local and cloud backup set up on your devices. Cloud backup such as Carbonite will update your data based on custom settings as frequently as you require.
  • Even if you have encryption software, avoid financial transactions when using the hotel’s computer. The person using it after you could be a skilled cyber thief, or the person before you could have plugged a keylogger into the computer.
  • Avoid isolated ATM kiosks. Use those only inside a bank. Shield your fingers when using the keypad. Promptly destroy the receipts.
  • Never give private information over the phone to hotel staff. The “staff” could be a thief posing as an employee. When personal information is involved, always deal face to face at the front desk.
  • Any documents or paperwork with private information should be locked inside your hotel room’s safe at all times unless in use.
  • Give your phone number out only to service personnel who absolutely need it.
  • Have your credit put on freeze status (unless you plan on applying for a loan very soon).
  • Get ID theft protection.
  • Review your credit card statements monthly and look for unexpected charges.
_________________ Robert Siciliano is an expert in personal privacy, security and identity theft. Learn more about Carbonite Personal plans. See him discussing identity theft prevention. Disclosures.

Tips for Cyber Monday success

Each year, Cyber Monday promises unbelievable savings – but before you start snagging deals, here are some tips to help you save money and protect your personal informationEach year, Cyber Monday promises unbelievable savings – but before you start snagging deals, here are some tips to help you save money and protect your personal information: Know the seller and the item. Put the company or product name in a search engine, along with “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” Read the reviews. Be sure you can contact the seller if you have a dispute. Avoid clicking links in emails. Scammers know it’s Cyber Monday, too. Their phishing scams are after your money or personal information. If an unexpected email promises awesome online deals, don’t click on those embedded links. Check out the company first, confirm its web address, and type it in yourself. Pay by credit card. Credit cards give you extra protections – like the right to dispute charges and temporarily withhold payment during an investigation. Whatever the deal might be, never mail cash or wire money to online sellers. And if a company insists you only pay with a gift card, it’s probably a scam. Ensure happy returns. What are the site’s return or exchange policies? Is there a re-stocking fee? Have a safe checkout. Look for a URL that starts with https. (The ‘s’ stands for secure). If there’s no ‘s,’ if you have doubts, or if you’re asked to email payment info, leave the site. Keep records. Print or save records of online transactions until you get the goods. Keep the product description and price, receipt, return policy, and any emails related to your purchase. For more ways to help ensure a successful Cyber Monday, check out our article on shopping tips. __________________ 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.

Child Identity theft is becoming Solvable

You’ve seen TV commercials and print ads about identity theft, and the “victim” is always an adult. That’s not realistic. The actor-portrayal should be that of a child. Yes, a kid. Children are 51 times more likely than adults to have their identity stolen, says research from Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab.You’ve seen TV commercials and print ads about identity theft, and the “victim” is always an adult. That’s not realistic. The actor-portrayal should be that of a child. Yes, a kid. Children are 51 times more likely than adults to have their identity stolen, says research from Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab. Crooks want kids’ Social Security numbers. And crooks like the fact that kids are debt-free. Wow, with no debt to the child’s name, the thief could easily open up a line of credit in that victim’s name and have a field day. Or, they can file a fraudulent income tax return. The thief can then sit back and relax for many years because usually, the victim doesn’t learn something’s wrong until they’re 18 and applying for loans or a line of credit. By then, lots of damage has already been done. Many thieves of children’s identity are family members. It’s easy for them to get their hands on the victim’s Social Security number and other data. Relatives coming and going in the victim’s house could make it too simple for someone to get ahold of private information if it’s not hidden and non-accessible. How can we protect children’s identity from being stolen?
  • If you live in s state that offers a “credit freeze” then apply, right now. As of the writing: Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
  • Consider opting out of providing schools with personal information about your child. This can be done due to FERPA: Family Educational Rights Privacy Act. FERPA gives parents the right to authorize how much of their child’s personal information they want shared with a third party.
  • If a school fails to alert parents to this on a yearly basis, the school is breaking the law.
  • The FERPA does not necessarily apply to extracurricular activities of the school. Parents should investigate these on an individual level to see how much private information might be shared. For instance, a child’s Social Security number absolutely does not have to be given just for them to be on a softball team, member of the band, chess club, this or that.
  • Identity theft protection on a family plan should be a consideration. Generally these services will watch for activity regarding your childs SSN and new lines of credit.
_________________ Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.