Category: Identity Theft

3 Surprising Ways People Set Themselves up for Identity Theft

identity theft

Every year, millions of Americans fall victim to some form of identity theft, an increasingly pervasive problem. As more people shop online, hackers get more sophisticated in their methods, and people become more careless with their private information.

In 2014, the Department of Justice estimated that 17.6 million people over the age of 16 were identity theft victims. We continue hearing new stories of major security breaches: large chains such as Target and Walmart, and even a data breach by one of the three major credit bureaus, Equifax. You may already know some ways to protect yourself from identity theft, but you may inadvertently be setting yourself up to become a victim. Here are three ways you may be making yourself vulnerable to identity theft.

Boarding Passes

No matter how excited you are for your once-in-a-lifetime beach vacation to Tahiti, do not post a photo of your boarding pass on social media. Since most boarding passes contain a barcode with your sensitive information embedded in it, digital thieves can access that information and use it to their advantage.

If you’re the type of person who likes to collect boarding passes, make sure to keep them in a very safe spot in your home or in a journal, and never leave one lying around at the airport or discard it in an airport trash can. The best thing to do with a used boarding pass is to tear it up in a manner that ensures the barcode has been destroyed.

Medical Records

Believe it or not, there’s a market for your medical records, and that includes your medical history. On the dark Web (the “black market” of the digital world), people are waiting to buy your medical information in order to commit different kinds of fraud, including false insurance claims and medication fraud.

While many medical records breaches have been no fault of the patients themselves, it’s possible to protect yourself from this type of theft. Make sure your providers have a security system for record storage, and don’t post any medical information online. Additionally, make sure you keep a close eye on all of your medical bills and payment methods on file. If you see charges for medical services you didn’t receive, call your provider immediately.

Social Media

Have you ever seen someone in your social circle post very private or sensitive information on Facebook, such as a picture of a new credit card with all the numbers visible? A new driver’s license or passport photo? Believe it or not, these things happen. And even if you think you know all of your friends, it’s still better to err on the side of caution and avoid posting information that can compromise your identity.

It’s also important to make sure your social profiles are secured with strong passwords. Make them as limited to public view as possible. This includes not allowing users you aren’t friends with to view your photos, as these can be easy theft targets for identity thieves.

People steal photos from valid users, then use them to create fake profiles on various social media sites. Vet your online social profiles carefully and only accept friend or follow requests from people you know in real life. If you choose to befriend strangers on the Internet for business networking, seriously limit the amount of private information you post.

If you’ve been a victim of identity theft and want to learn more about how to initiate a credit dispute or credit repair, contact Lexington Law today at 1-800-608-8004 for a free consultation.

You can also carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

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What You Need to Know about RFID Blocking Wallet Technology

RFID Identity Theft

Guest Article by Alayna Pehrson – Digital Marketing Strategist at BestCompany.com

Although Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) has been around for many years—dating back to World War II—the idea of RFID technology leading to identity theft and credit card theft continues to frighten the public. Part of this fear is due to the lack of RFID knowledge and education as well as the general increase in identity theft crimes.

What is RFID technology?

RFID can be found embedded in some credit cards, passports, and even some driver’s licenses. When this technology was placed inside of important handheld items like credit cards, it was designed to make a person’s life easier. For instance, RFID technology was meant to make smaller, everyday purchases such as toll payments easier by sending radio signals to the RFID sensor chips on things like credit cards in order to permit faster identification and authorization without contact.

What is RFID skimming?

Advances in technology can introduce some negative consequences. The negative side of RFID technology is its lack of protection. There is no way to stop or cease the radio wave signals that are transmitted between a reader and a person’s credit card or passport. Therefore, information that is stored on an RFID embedded item can be easily stolen from several feet away if an RFID reader is put into the wrong hands. The act of wireless identity theft and credit card theft using an RFID reader is called RFID skimming. The fact that this form of theft is so simple and easy to execute causes many people to live in fear.

What does an RFID blocking wallet do?

RFID blocking wallet technology turned the tables, as it gave people a way to interrupt radio wave signals between a reader and the RFID embedded items. RFID blocking wallets create an electromagnetic-repelling shield that surrounds the items inside the wallet. This shield effectively stops reader users from committing identity theft and credit card crimes. Although RFID blocking technology has been around for a while, RFID blocking wallets continue to be a popular item among online shoppers.

Do I need a RFID blocking wallet?

RFID blocking wallets are not as vital as they may appear simply because of how rarely RFID technology is currently used in credit cards and other important handheld items. In fact, the number of credit cards issued with RFID is less than one percent in the United States. Purchasing an RFID blocking wallet might not be completely necessary, but it still doesn’t hurt to take extra precaution. Even though the likelihood of becoming a victim of RFID skimming is slim in the United States, RFID crime is still fairly prevalent in other countries. Getting an RFID blocking wallet might be a good idea for those moving out of the United States and for those who are issued a credit card with embedded RFID technology.

What should I worry about?

Although RFID technology isn’t a large threat to Americans, identity theft is. In 2016, 15.4 million people were victims of identity theft, and the numbers continue to rise. The advancement of online technology has introduced constant data threats worldwide. Victims of identity theft often experience a loss of money, negative impacts on their credit scores, account consequences, etc. It’s important to do your research on the latest data breaches and identity theft crime trends, and seriously consider getting professional protection and monitoring.

If you’re concerned about your identity being stolen, learn about your options here, and carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

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Four ways to protect your credit while shopping online

online shopping

Cyberattacks are at an all-time high. In 2016, the occurrence of data breaches increased by 40 percent from the previous year, hitting a record-breaking 1,093 reported breaches.

With online shopping at its peak, so too is the amount of personal information being hosted online. Cyber criminals know it, and they are constantly looking for ways to get their hands on the wealth of personal data being provided by unsuspecting online shoppers. If they get their hands on yours, it could spell disaster in terms of the negative impact on your credit score.

That does not mean you should not take advantage of online shopping. Instead, you need can take precautions to protect yourself and your credit from data thieves. Here are a few simple steps you can take to protect your credit while shopping online:

  1. Avoid public WiFi

Keep your online shopping activities, or any online activity that involves your personal data, to your private network. Using public Wifi to conduct any financial transactions opens you up to all kinds of security risks. You never know who may be lurking nearby on public Wifi.

  1. Be wary of suspicious emails, even from friends

You may receive lots of spam emails, but even emails from your nearest and dearest can carry some risks, especially if that person has been unknowingly infected by a virus. Even e-cards can carry malware designed to hack into your personal data. If an email looks suspect, do not click on any links or attachments. Exercise caution and delete the email.

  1. Understand the limitations of your mobile device

Thanks to smartphones, online shopping has never been easier. You can scroll, click, and buy from the palm of your hand, from any location. The problem with this convenience, though, is that mobile devices do not have the same level of encryption as computers, which means your data is easier to steal. Your phone should at the very least be password-protected. When it comes to online purchases, you are better off making them from an encrypted device.

  1. Change your p@ssw0rd!s

If all your passwords are the same, you open yourself up to serious risk, especially if on the other side of those passwords is pre-saved credit card and banking information. Take the time to update (and complicate) your login information, and come up with something someone cannot guess easily. If you are afraid you will not remember all of these passwords, write them down somewhere offline to be kept in a private location in your home. A password manager, like LastPass, can also help bolster your password protection.

Regardless of the precautions you take, cyber criminals may still find a way around them. Keep an eye on all of your accounts to make sure they have not been compromised. Check your credit reports and dispute fraudulent or inaccurate information.

If your credit is damaged as a result of cyber crime, a credit repair company can help. The experts at Lexington Law have years of experience guiding their clients through complex credit repair issues to get their credit back on track.

You can also carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

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Avoid Rip-offs by Hackers In 2018

avoid scams

For hackers, the start of a new year is the most wonderful time — which means for the rest of us, it’s one of the riskiest.

Millions of Internet users engage in risky online behavior year-round without even realizing it. But this increases tenfold during the beginning of the year — something that shrewd hackers take advantage of in order to get their hands on your personal information, rip you off, and potentially destroy your credit in the process.

Don’t get hacked in 2018! Follow these dos and don’ts to keep yourself — and your credit — safe so you can get a great start into the new year:

Don’t: Fall for black hat websites.

In other words, be wary of shopping on unfamiliar sites, even (or especially) if they are boasting incredible bargains and discounts. Fake websites are simple to create, and hackers use them to acquire your personal data and credit card information, or even infiltrate your computer with spyware.

Do: Stick to shopping on sites you are familiar with. Look for sites that start with HTTPS; the S indicates that the site is secure. Installing a script-blocking plug-in will also go a long way to protect your privacy. And when you do decide to make purchases online, use your credit card or a service like PayPal rather than debit (and never wire money); your credit card offers a bit more fraud security.

Don’t: Trust your social media.

Your friends are not the only people who can see what you post on social media. Hackers may be lurking and can take advantage of this information in a lot of ways..

First, if you constantly post your whereabouts, using “check-in” features, and sharing travel or event plans, you are basically advertising an empty home, which opens you up to burglary.

Secondly, hackers can use your social media preferences and data to create highly detailed phishing schemes, designed specifically to attract you — and defraud you.

Finally, beware of clicking on links shared by your friends that advertise too-good-to-be-true promotions and giveaways. Your friends could have been hacked unknowingly, and hackers know you are more likely to click on something if you think it came from a trusted source.

Do: Go private. If you haven’t updated your social media pages to the most secure settings, you would be wise to do so. But regardless, be wary about posting revealing information about yourself, particularly your whereabouts.

Don’t: Bank from a shared device.

If everyone in your family uses a single device to browse, shop, download music and movies, and check email, then your computer can hardly be considered a safe space. Any one of these activities, conducted by any of your family members, can introduce malware to your computer.

A particularly nefarious type of malware is the banking Trojan. Banking Trojans, once they are on your computer, can steal your bank login information, intercept transactions, and drain your accounts — even if your bank’s website is secure. What makes it particularly dangerous is that antivirus software cannot detect it — which means you need to stay vigilant.

Do: Use best online banking practices, like having a strong password and two-factor authentication. Only use your private device for online banking and stick to your own secure network as well.

Hackers often come up with new, clever ways to infiltrate your online presence, steal your data, and potentially compromise your credit in the process. It’s important to stay on top of all of your accounts to make sure no suspicious activity occurs. If you think you may have been defrauded by a hacker, and your credit was compromised or negatively affected in the process, a credit repair company like Lexington Law Firm can help you fight back. Contact us today for a free credit report summary and consultation.

Learn how you can start repairing your credit here, and carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

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How Identity Theft Can Affect Your Credit

Identity Theft and Credit

Identity thieves are out there, and they’re often just waiting for the right moment to pounce. So when it comes to your personal information, a lapse in protection can have severe consequences.

Identity theft can wreak havoc on your credit, and once your information is compromised you may struggle to undo the damage. That’s why it’s important to stay proactive, and avoid the pitfalls of fraud. Consider these three ways identity theft harms your credit and how to avoid it.

1.     Existing accounts

One of the most common consequences of identity theft is a compromised existing account, such as your credit card, debit number or your banking information. It’s bad enough if they get your credit card information, where they could easily run up your debt and harm your credit utilization, which accounts for 30 percent of your credit score. If they get your banking information, they could also drain your accounts, and debit card fraud can be harder to fight than credit card fraud.

2.    New accounts

If an identity thief gets the right information, like your name and social security number, they could potentially apply for new accounts in your name. This would result in hard inquiries on your credit report, which represents 10 percent of your credit score and can ding it by several points. While the effects of one hard inquiry are fairly marginal, multiple inquiries can send your score plummeting.

The new lines of credit will also show up on your credit report. Several new accounts could actually shorten the length of your credit history, which accounts for 15 percent of your credit score.

Finally, if the thief gets new cards under your name they could secretly run up substantial debt.

3.    Non-payment

It’s unlikely that an identity thief is going to steal from you and then help you pay back the debt. The debt charged to your account will be attributed to you and you’ll be the one left on the hook. Payment history accounts for 35 percent of your credit score, and any late payments will dramatically harm it. An excellent credit score could drop by up to 100 points as a result of a 30-day late payment.

How to protect yourself from identity theft

While identity theft is a serious concern, the damage isn’t irreparable. Here’s what you should do if you’ve been impacted by identity theft:

  1. Call the police – Identity theft is a serious crime and should be reported. The criminal could be prosecuted, and reporting the crime will help back up your dispute claims.
  2. Initiate a credit dispute – The Fair Credit Reporting Act states that fraudulent credit activities must be blocked from your credit history. Make sure to check your credit report and dispute any fraudulent activities.
  3. Freeze your credit – A credit freeze will prohibit an identity thief from opening new accounts in your name, and it won’t affect your credit score.
  4. Consult a credit lawyer or credit repair expert – If your credit has sustained serious damage as a result of identity theft, don’t try to tackle the issue on your own. Experts at Lexington Law can provide legal and credit repair advice to help you fix your credit in the wake of identity theft.

Still, it’s best to be proactive when it comes to protecting your credit. Keep a close guard over your personal information to help keep identity thieves at bay.

Carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

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