Common Types of Identity Theft

There are just so many Identity Theft victim stories and they are all heart breaking, especially because all of these were avoidable. I receive all types of letters from people that have become victims of this terrible crime, and they are all flabbergasted. They stand in shock not knowing what to do or who to turn to.John – The Man From Out of Town

John was retired and living out of the country. He was busy enjoying the fun and sun and had been living out of the country for about four years. He then decided to return to California and put his house on the real estate market. He came to find out that someone was renting the home and had taken out several second mortgages on the home. The thief had forged his name and a power of attorney to receive the loans. Apparently the thief had even bought a business under the victims name. The victim had no idea what to do or even how to start cleaning up the mess.

Even Family Can Be an Identity Thief

This is the story of Jasmine. She went on vacation and came back to find that her sister had used her credit card and brought charges of more than $1000.

The Long Term Victim

Then there is the guy who has been a victim for a long period of time and finds out when a company calls to verify something or when he checks his credit report. Some people even take out student loans in the persons name. There are a myriad of things that can be done when someone has your identity and important personal information.

The Break In

Peter had his home broken into and his car stolen. He reported the theft and the police found the car. Inside they found hundreds of different social security cards. He had his identity stolen and several cell phones taken out in his name.

Some criminals commit some other type of crime to get the information they need. They may break into your home, steal your wallet, or your purse and use this information to become another You! Scary, isn’t it?

To keep this from happening to you, be aware of what is going on around you, and keep track of your credit score and credit history. If you experience any kind of theft, report it immediately and then keep track of what goes on with your financial information for a while. This will keep your financial records safe and keep you from being a victim again. Always be aware of what is going on around you and if you should leave the country, this does not mean you should not keep track of your financial data. It will be much harder to clear something up the longer you allow it to occur. Sign up for a free credit monitoring service today and stay protected against these types of identity theft.

Common Charity Scams

blogpost_102614_holidayfraud1Among the many types of scams and identity theft gimmicks is the Charity Scam. This is another relatively new type of scam, but one that is fleecing people right and left. This is one that you need to be on the lookout for, especially now that the holidays are near.

Fake charity scams look legitimate. They have legitimate websites and emails so they look real and even imitate other legitimate charities. Some of these identity theft specialists even have ID cards with the charity name and logo. What makes these thieves so good at what they do is that they use several methods to draw in their victims including using non Internet related methods of collecting money, just as a charity would. They set up booths at the local department store, use the phone to solicit charity, and even go door to door. The methods used by these scammers make it difficult to distinguish them from the real charity. However there are a few things you can do to try and protect yourself against the charity scam.

Be Aware of All Aspects of Identity Theft and All Types of Scams

The best way to fight against internet theft and different types of scams including the charity scam is to be aware of the problem. By being aware of the scams you will also be wary and this will protect your interests. Always ask for credentials and for the address and phone number of the charity. You want to ask whether it is registered and get that number. Then call your Better Business Bureau and check the registration. Another great source of information about charities is www.give.org. Call the charity up and ask whether they are indeed soliciting funds, or whether they are having a charity fund that is going on.

Get a Receipt and Don’t Donate Cash

You don’t want to donate cash to the charity; instead you want to offer a check. This way you can be sure that only the registered charity can cash the check. This gives you a record for your tax return, and ensures that there is actually a charity behind the donation drive.

Ask the Right Questions

Don’t just hand over money and walk away. Find out what percentage of the donation actually goes to help the foundation or the people. A real charity will be able to answer this question easily because they are used to having it asked of them.

Careful with Email Requests

You really need to be cautious when it comes to internet requests for donations. These are emails sent out and usually claim to be raising funds for a local charity. To verify this information before sending money you should call the local charity.

When you really know how to protect your identity, then you will have done some planning in advance. You may want to sit down and choose the charities you want to donate to at the beginning of the year. This way you will have already made up your mind and decided where you are going to donate, so when you get asked for donations you can claim that you have already committed to other charities.

Try a free credit monitoring & identity protection plan for 30 days and see how you can improve on the protection and security of your identity and sensitive personal data.

Living Trust Scams & How to Avoid Them

living-trustThe one segment of the population that fraud criminals love to prey on is the older generation, and this is because they are such easy targets. Dishonest people are always trying to prey on seniors and on their fears. One of the greatest concerns of older people is that of having their assets over-taxed, or stolen by the government, or lawyers after their death. This creates a great opportunity for scammers who try to sell seniors living trust scams.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that seniors are not knowledgeable in any type of estate planning. So, the best way to avoid living trust scams is to educate yourself on the different estate planning tools.

Let’s define a few terms for you: A Trust

This is a legal commitment between several people where one person is assigned as the trustee and controls the property given to them by someone else. This other person is known as the ‘trustor’, and the receivers of the trust are known as the beneficiaries. If the trust is assigned during the lifetime of the grantor, he usually serves as the trustee during their lifetime. Prior to passing away the Grantor names a successor in case of death or incompetence.

Dishonest living trust salespeople prey on seniors’ fears that after their deaths, their life savings and assets will be stolen by the government or by predatory probate attorneys. These salespeople use high-pressure tactics and deceptive claims to coerce vulnerable seniors into buying a product that many of them don’t need.

A living trust refers to a trust that is set up when the grantor is still living. The process begins when the grantor transfers everything into the trust and he/she can still change the arrangements of the trust while he is competent.

When deciding between a living trust and a will the senior must first take into consideration several things. First he must determine whether the estate is likely to be probated. Most states allow estates that are small to go through a quicker process and so the cost is much smaller. Most low income seniors will have their assets distributed out of probate.

There is more than one way to avoid probate costs and living trusts is just one of those ways. You can also own property in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship. This means the property goes on to the surviving owners.

Seniors who do decide they want a living trust must understand that setting one up may get expensive and it does take time. A living trust is more than just a written document and is not valid until the property is transferred into the person’s name. Even if there is a living trust set up, it is still suggested that a will be made.

The Living Trust Scam

As you can see a living trust is an involved process and someone that comes knocking on your door or sends you an email is not equipped to write a legal living trust. These sales are just a means to get your money and important information from you that could lead to identity theft.

Often these fraudulent companies will send emails that appear to be from legitimate organizations like the AARP. However these non-profit organizations often don’t sell or even endorse products like living trusts. Some companies even offer living trust kits, and the do it yourself method. Use logic to determine whether a kit can offer you enough information to set up something as complicated as a living trust, and you will probably find that a do it yourself kit will be highly inconclusive, and will lack a great deal of information. After all lawyers have to go through 7 to 8 years of schooling to learn all of this information.

Some scams are complete and utter scams while others offer some information though not enough, and the price for such information is very high. Some of these scams use this type of ruse to get your personal information so they can follow up with other fraudulent activities like identity theft. These companies advertise using slogans like, ‘great tax advantages to a living trust,’ ‘probate will take a large part of the real estate value’, etc.

Preventing the Living Trust Fraud

The best way to prevent this type of fraud is through education and common sense. Ask someone who is an expert, or a family member. Consult with an attorney, and be wary of unsolicited emails offering living trust set ups.  Sign up for identity credit monitoring to give you realtime alerts if your identity is stolen or fraud is committed.

Avoid Using Free Unsecured Wi-Fi Access

150122-f-dw547-001-940x632Watch out! Don’t leave your Wi-Fi Unsecured. You could easily have your identity stolen that way. It’s like leaving your keys in the care with the car running for the identity thief.

Wireless networking has become proliferate throughout the country, and there is a reason for that. It is much more convenient to have an Internet connection that can be moved from room to room within an office or a home. There is only one negative factor to using Wi-Fi access and this can be an extremely negative, unless it is corrected.

The problem with using wireless lies in using an unsecured Wi-Fi access point. By this we mean an access point that has not been protected by a user name and password. There are many users of Wi-Fi, however there are very few people that protect their Wi-Fi connection.

Technology continues to grow and new accessories, features and ideas become integrated to what we already have. For many years we were happy to have Internet, but then as many of us started to spend more and more hours online, more versatility was needed. Laptops became a part of our every day life na d suddenly having to use the Internet with long wires that led from the modem or router became cumbersome, and so wireless internet connectivity was introduced.

The reason you should give precedence to your wireless Internet security is because anyone can connect to that wireless connection within 250 ft of your home. This means a person does not have to be in your home to have access to the Internet, but could be sitting in a car somewhere even a half a block or more away.

So, what? You might think. You may even be wiling to share your Internet access with others. However did you know that a thief could easily steal your identity and your personal information by connecting to your unsecured Wi Fi access point, or by connecting to your information using a free wireless access point? This could end up being a total disaster for you.

Even if a hacker is not targeting you personally he may be using your free access Wi Fi connection to perform his dastardly deeds and to send out mass email mailings, spam, and phishing e-mails. He may be accessing your email account through a free public access point and from there sending out spam phishing emails.

This is the reason you should protect that Wi-Fi connection and avoid using unprotected Wifi Internet access points. This does not mean you have to avoid totally using public Wi-Fi hot spots, but there are public access points that are password protected. When you as a customer ask for the password, you will be given temporary access to the Wi-Fi connection.

Sign up for a free credit monitoring service plan to help alert you in the event that your identity is stolen.

When protecting your own WiFi connection you should use WPA or WPA2 technology, which offer secure protection to Wi Fi access. Often the instructions on how to protect your wireless access point come with the wireless modem or router you bought. You just have to follow manufacturer’s instructions when performing the installation. Stay In The Loop!

Home Improvement Schemes & How to Avoid Them

home-improvement-scams-how-you-can-avoid-being-fooledEver been caught off guard by the supposed contractor whom you have paid upfront to fix something, and he either never shows up or does the job wrong. Well, there are contractors out there whose sole aim is to – rip you off – and you need to stay away from these thieves.

Most security experts will tell you that one of the most common methods that are used in identity theft is that of home improvement schemes. In fact home improvement fraud ranks among the top three as the most used type of fraud. There are many types of fraud that fall into this field and have left many homeowners thousands of dollars lighter in the pocket. To avoid being a victim of the home improvement scam here are a few tips you can use.

The Free Inspection

There are many legitimate businesses that offer free inspections or estimates. You should still avoid advertisements that offer free inspections of roofing, foundation, air conditioning systems and anything else. An inspection takes a lot of time and work, so you need to be aware of this. Sometimes free inspections are a gimmick so scammers can get into your house look at the items there and find out more about your personal life. It is very easy for them to pick up personal information, credit card bills, bank information, etc, while using this ploy.

Internet Advertising

Some times a fake home improvement company will contact you through email and try to make an appointment to see you, your home and the problem. These are very insistent, and the scammer is often looking for unsecured Wi-Fi connection, financial statements and information. You can avoid this by not clicking on a link sent to you and not making an appointment right there over the phone. Instead take a number and call them back. Find out more about the business and check with your local Better Business Bureau.

Stay Away from the Door to Door Contractor

It sounds easy to believe when the contractor knocks on your door and says he noticed your gutters needed work. He obviously noticed because he has been working in the area. All he needs is for you to sign a simple contract, give out personal information, and you have suddenly become fleeced. Remember, most contractors are going to be way to busy to go calling door to door and prefer their new customers to come from referrals.

Beware of the Contractor who Has No Credentials

You have to ask for referrals for past work experience. You should be very leery of contractors who have no past work experience or anything they can show as their past experience. A true contractor will show you before and after photos and even give you the telephone of previous customers. To avoid becoming a victim of this type of scam be sure to ask a contractor for is credentials, associations, and ask to see previous work samples. Always check a contractor out.  Keep your identity safe from all sorts of scams.  Get free 30 day credit monitoring today.

Identity Theft by Fake Job Offers

When you work at home, or freelance then you are extremely familiar with the fake job offers online and you know to beware of these, but new people joining the work at home teams often don´t know that there are lots of fake job offers out there. There are several types of fake job offers from the small time scammer who just needs a job done, and does not intend to pay to the identity theft scam.

Many identity theft, or credit card scammers use the fake job offer to get cohorts to help them get away with their scam. They are what we call “Mule jobs” where you may believe you are simply working for a small import export company, and may receive packages and then forward them to an address out of the country. Usually these packages have computer goods or electronics that are bought with a stolen credit card. Low and behold you think you have a pretty simple part time job until the FBI shows up and arrests you for credit card theft.

Another of these fake jobs scams is the one where you apply for a job and then are required to get a great deal of computer equipment from the employer in order to get the job done. You end up spending thousands of dollars and then the job never pans out.

Of course, everyone now knows of the Nigerian scam. In this scam people from many countries were arrested although it seems that a few got loose because they still try to use variations of the scam. This is the one asking you to receive millions of dollars of inheritance money because the poor schmuck can’t receive it in his country. In exchange you get a portion of those millions. Apparently according to reports this scam netted almost 500 million dollars from people all over the world.

Scams are getting even more detailed; professional looking and can fool many. Now there is a scam that offers jobs in oil and other types of companies offering incomes form $45,000 and more with many incentives.

Most emails sent with this came offer guaranteed employment if you deposit a certain amount of money. These companies only distribute your resume to prospective employees. However they do this with thousands of resumes.

To avoid these types of scams you don’t ever want to offer these people your PayPal account, your personal bank information, or credit card number. Remember you never have to give money to get a job. Freelance sites may require a membership fee, but the employer will not require any type of fee from you

Stay aware of what is going on and what the new identity theft frauds are, this way you will keep yourself safe from these scammers. Start creating your own client base so you don´t have to work with too many new clients, and you will know who tries to scam and who doesn´t. Sometimes falling into a work scam is unavoidable, and it can just be chalked up to a life experience.  Don’t fall victim to identity theft.  Get protected today with a quality credit & identity monitoring plan that will alert you if you’ve potentially become a victim.

Bank Phishing Scams

Recently there has been an influx of scams that refer to banks and the IRS, specifically W-8BEN form. The scam is used to try and trick taxpayers into giving out their bank information and personal information. The scammer then uses the information to steal the persons identity and to clear out his bank account.

The IRS has information on the scam and realizes that it is happening all over the nation. In the scam the thieves send an email which looks like it comes from the Taxpayers bank. It states that the bank is updating records and that they want to help taxpayers in their exemption of having their interest profits taxed. Currently a bank has to declare gained interest and report it to the IRS. Taxpayers then must include this as income.

The phony email includes an attached form that purportedly comes from the IRS, then proceeds to request personal information and bank information. The scam is difficult to see through because it goes on to request that the information be faxed to a number within seven days. As most banks prefer that personal information be faxed it is easy to fall for this scam.

The scheme then allows the thief to impersonate the victim and get access to his finances. The Purported tax forms are called W-8BEN or W/9095 and are attempts at mimicking genuine tax forms.

The email sent with the W-8BEN form has had a greater success rate because it preys on foreign residents. Because foreigners are more wary and concerned about mail sent by the IRS. The W-8BEN form is a legitimate IRS form for foreigners which is a certificate of foreign statis of beneficial owner for the United States Tax Withholding. The legitimate form is used by banks to make sure that the non U.S. customers meet the requirements to continue to remain exempt from tax reporting. Unfortunately the scam artist W-8BEN has been changed to request information from the victims whereas the original form does not.

To avoid this scam you should go to the IRS website at www.irs.gov and look at the real forms and compare them to the forms you have receive. When you do receive one of these scams report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration investigations at 1-800-366-4484. Also, sign up for id theft prevention services to help stay alerted to potential fraud & identity theft issues

Be aware that if you do send your personal information, a scam artist can take over your financial accounts, run up charges on credit cards, and apply for loans and credit cards using your name. He can even file fraudulent tax returns.

If you have already been victimized then you should contact the fraud or security department of your creditors, and financial institutions. You should also contact the local police department, or the TIGTA.