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Sunday, June 29, 2008

On Line Identity Theft--Who Left the Door Open?

Show Notes from Episode 57 with Greer Stasko of Pre Paid Legal Services

Techno Granny TalkShoe Podcast Monday, June 9th High Tech Identity Theft

Greer G. Stasko
Small Business & Group Benefits Specialist
Pre-Paid Legal Services

*In 2007, a group called the Privacy Rights Clearing House estimates that 8.4 million people had their identities stolen.
*Every 2 seconds a person becomes a victim of IDT.

*There are no guarantees that your identity will never be stolen or compromised, there are several steps you can take to minimize your risk.
*These may sound like common things to do, but many people still don’t do these simple things!

- Shred all documents, mail, receipts, etc. that have any of your personal information
- What is Personal information? Name, passwords, SS#, address, bank info, driver’s license info, medical info, credit card info, etc, - everything.
- Unique passwords – make them have no connection to anything that someone could guess.
- Don’t give your SS# to people or companies you don’t know.
- Whenever someone asks you for any of your Personal Info, ask what they need it for – don’t be afraid to ask WHY they need it and if you don’t give it to them, then what will or will not happen.
- Think about investing in a locked mailbox. Don’t put outgoing mail into your mailbox to sit until the mail person picks it up. Take it to the post office or a secure mailbox. If you don’t have a locked mailbox, remove incoming mail promptly.
- Reduce junk mail by calling 1.888.567.8688 (OPT OUT)

- Phishing and Pharming: While phishing is a scam in which consumers are tricked into entering their personal information via a bogus email and website form, pharming occurs where hackers steal personal information from numerous people simultaneously through something known as "domain spoofing". They take over a DNS server and redirect user information to a new website that they use to gather, collect, "pharm" illegal information.
- Skimming: Thieves quickly and temporarily steal a credit card and run it through a skimmer, a credit card reader that has been reprogrammed to steal information off the card.
- Install on your computer three things – firewall program, anti-virus program and an anti-spyware program.

People who are 65 years old or older or are documented victims of identity fraud will not be charged the $3 fee for placing or removing a freeze.
What can you do?
Many people store identifying information, like their names, social security numbers, birth dates, bank accounts, financial records and tax returns, on their computers, and at times they may reveal some of this information for specific purposes on the Internet. The question thus arises as to how this identifying information can be protected so that identity theft can be avoided.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) prudently has suggested that the following steps be taken to protect against high-tech identity theft:
• Update virus protection software regularly or whenever there is a new virus alert. It turns our that computer viruses can introduce program code that causes a computer to transmit files or other stored information that includes identifying details.
• Do not download files sent by people that you do not know. Opening such a file could expose a person's system to a computer virus or program that could "hijack" the modem.
• Use a firewall program, and this is especially the case for people who have high-speed Internet connections that make their computers connected to the Internet at all times. Such a program will help stop uninvited persons from accessing a computer.
• Use a secure browser, meaning software that encrypts or scrambles information sent over the Internet. This helps protect the security of online transactions.
• Make best efforts not to store financial information on a laptop. Obviously, laptops (and other small devices such as PDA's) can be lost or stolen, making the information contained on them available to others. If identifying information needs to be stored on a laptop and portable devices, it is important to use a "strong" password — a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
• Delete identifying information before disposing of computer devices. Simple deletion by way of a keyboard or mouse may not be enough. The use of a "wipe" utility program can overwrite the entire hard drive.
• Closely analyze Web site privacy policies that should address access and security questions relating to the control of identifying information. If a Web site does not have such a policy, or if it does not promise a satisfactory level of security, move on and do not reveal identifying information to that Web site.
•The average amount stolen is over $92,000 1•The average cost to the victim including legal fees and lost work time is $16,971 2
••The average time required to straighten out the whole mess is about 607 hours 2
••1 in 4 chance of being victimized in the next five years3
1 USA Today 1/14/05
2 Identity Theft Resource Center 2003
3 Identity Safeguards 2004

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