Category: Identity Theft

Equifax Breach Update: What You Need to Know

Equifax Data Breach Update

On May 8th, 2018, Equifax, a consumer credit reporting agency, has again released more information about their massive data breach back in 2017. They found that tens of thousands more could be compromised after hackers were able to obtain passports, driver’s licenses, and other identifying papers.

This new breach of information is tied to last September’s announcement that at least 145.5 million Americans may have had their social security information compromised by hackers.

As the scope and frequency of cyber attacks like the Equifax breach increases, consumers should take proactive steps to prevent breaches from negatively impacting their financial futures. In addition to reviewing their credit reports regularly to ensure all data is accurate, it’s also in consumers’ best interest to research their options if their identity has been stolen to ensure their identity stays secure now and in the future.

Equifax believes hackers accessed 12,000 Social Security cards, 38,000 driver’s Licenses, 3,200 passports, and 3,000 documents. Equifax also shared on their website that they are confident that the additional detail of the 2017 cybersecurity incident does not involve any newly impacted consumers and does not require additional consumer notification.

In the official Equifax statement, the company reconfirmed exactly how many people have been impacted.

Equifax Data Breach Numbers

In light of the Equifax data breach, we understand consumers are concerned about their personal information and confused about what to do to protect themselves should they be among the millions of Americans whose information was compromised. We here at Lexington Law understand your concerns and want to clarify your rights as they relate to credit errors that might occur because of the breach, and help you understand the law is on your side to help fix those errors.

According to The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), you as the consumer have the legal right to dispute any inaccurate items that may appear on your report as a result of this data breach, or otherwise.

Our firm’s 13 years of experience fighting for consumers have helped us develop tools and strategies that advocate for you and help fight for the credit you deserve. We help consumers utilize consumer protection laws that were created to keep you from becoming a victim of the credit reporting system, and ensure that any information that appears on a client’s credit report is fair, accurate and substantiated.

 

 

 

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Were You Affected by one of These 2017 Security Breaches?

security breach

Identity theft is the one of the most common consumer crimes in America, affecting over 15 million people a year. A CNBC report revealed that identity theft causes consumers over $16 billion in damages a year.

It’s easy to overlook the threat of identity theft when you’re unaffected, but the “it won’t happen to me” mentality can lead to a dangerous and costly mistake. In reality, many people are affected by identity theft even when they are taking the necessary precautions.

Whether you are the victim of a phishing scam, data breach, or mere bad luck, there are many ways sensitive personal information can be compromised without any fault of your own. Consider these identity theft cautionary tales, not because you should live in fear, but to understand the magnitude of identity theft on the everyday consumer and how to prevent it.

Arby’s

The popular fast-food restaurant made headlines after experiencing a major data breach early last year which compromised over 300,000 individual’s credit and debit card information. Cash registers at corporately-owned Arby’s were infected with a malware virus which saved customer financial information after every purchase. That sensitive information went to remote hackers.

Arby’s is a prominent example of the all-too-common issue of data breaches. Data breaches are more frequent than ever and a very common threat to consumer identities. In 2017 alone, there were 1,120 total data breaches and more than 171 million records were exposed.

Gmail

Gmail, which has over one billion active users, recently fell victim to a phishing scam. Phishing is a common security breach in which people are tricked into releasing sensitive information. This type of crime comes in many forms, but most commonly, and in the case of Gmail, phishers will disguise themselves as reputable sources and request personal information from unsuspecting individuals.

In spring 2017, Gmail scammers requested Drive access under the guise of a trusted contact and then stole victims’ identities. After only an hour of criminal activity, Gmail put a swift end to the phishing scam, but only after around one million users were already affected.

Uber

Uber is the most popular ride-sharing app in 108 countries, but that does not mean it is immune to fraud. Late last year Uber revealed they experienced a breach that may have compromised 57 million users and drivers.

Hackers reportedly broke into the Uber’s Github portal — a program engineers use to collaborate on code — and stole consumer data that was stored there. Famously, Uber paid the hackers $100,000 to keep the breach secret. After the incident was leaked the company received severe consumer backlash for the breach and attempted cover-up.

How to protect your identity

So, what does this all amount to? Should we all just relent to identity thieves? Well, not exactly, but that is what the crooks want you to think. In reality, there are plenty of proactive measures you can take to protect your identity, many of which begin with your credit report.

Your FICO score is a history of all spending done under your name, whether legitimate or not. Keep an eye on your credit report and be on the lookout for any unusual activity such as unfamiliar inquiries or new accounts. If you see a surprising and significant change in your score then you might be a victim of identity theft.

In the wake of a year marked by identity theft, consider professional credit repair. Lexington Law is backed by over 20 years of consumer service and stands as a leader in the credit repair industry. If your credit report is bogged down by false or misleading report items, contact Lexington Law today.

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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3 Easy Ways to Avoid Identity Theft This Tax Season

identity theft during tax season

Now that we’re almost into March, we all have our W-2s from our employers and are well on our way to being ready to file. Some well-prepared individuals have already done so. However, if you still have yet to file, beware: there are many ways to find yourself at the wrong end of a stolen identity this tax season. There are many different ways to protect yourself and maintain your good credit standing or your journey through the credit repair process. Here are some things to keep in mind as you make your way through tax season.

The IRS Doesn’t Call

Every year, we hear the same story and the same warnings are issued by the IRS. Scammers have been using the same tactics for a while now. They call someone’s home or cell phone claiming to be from the IRS and inform the call recipient that they owe thousands of dollars in back or overdue taxes. They even go so far as to provide fake badge numbers, names, and more. They will then ask for a credit card number. Never give out your credit card number to someone claiming to be from the IRS. If you aren’t sure if the person calling you is legitimate, simply call the IRS to find out if you owe taxes, and if so, how much.

Shred Documents with Your SSN on Them

Since most of us wouldn’t rifle through other people’s trash bins looking for documents to steal, it’s easy to think that no one does. Unfortunately, that is not true. Many people have fallen victim to monetary or identity theft simply through carelessness with their refuse. Any piece of paper with your personal information on it — especially your social security number — should be shredded immediately and placed in the trash. Shredders today do a fine job of turning sensitive documents into paper confetti and are relatively inexpensive. It’s definitely worth your investment.

Keep an Eye on Data Breaches in the News

If you find yourself involved in one of the major data breaches (such as the Target breach in 2013) then you’ll need to do some investigating to find out to what extent your information has been compromised. In some cases, victims of data breaches may need to contact the IRS to request an IP PIN, or a six-digit identification number that helps identity theft victims ensure their tax returns are processed safely and accurately.

All of these tips can help you further protect your identity from fraud and theft this tax season, which helps keep you on the right track with credit repair. To learn more, speak with the experts at Lexington Law. Contact us today to get started.

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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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 for a free consultation.

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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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