identity theft

CBS This Morning: Free Credit Freezes

Americans can help fight identity theft by freezing their credit – now free of charge – at the three main credit-monitoring services. This new policy is part of a law called The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act. Over a year ago, a hack of one of those credit services, Equifax, affected nearly 150 million people and exposed personal information including names, social security numbers and birth dates. I joined CBS This Morning to discuss the importance of freezing your credit, how to do it, and what to do if you are experiencing fraud.

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Identity Theft Prevention One Year after Equifax

Identity Theft Prevention One Year after Equifax

It has been one year since credit monitoring company Equifax announced that a “Cybersecurity Incident” had exposed names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license and credit card numbers, from nearly 148 million Americans, which means that it’s time for an identity theft prevention check in.

Remember Equifax?

Remember Equifax?

Remember how freaked out we all were nine months ago, after the Equifax data breach? Human nature is a tough enemy, when it comes to your personal data security and privacy. When a news event flares up, we pay attention and then as the issue recedes, we can get a bit complacent. That’s why June, aka National Internet Safety Month, and the recently enacted European Union General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) make now a perfect time for a refresher on cyber security and privacy.

Tax Season Identity Theft + Retirement Fears

The PS reminder continues: Please subscribe to our podcast, Better Off.  It's very similar to the radio show and you'll hear more money calls with our awesome listeners.

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This week we started the show with what will no doubt go down as the call of the year for 2018.  Jeff from Massachusetts is in great shape when it comes to planning for retirement.  He has a lot of money socked away.  However, he recently made a major, major decision that has totally spooked him.  I'm not going to give it away, so you're going to have to listen! 

Next up was Michael from Minneapolis with a question about life insurance.

We finished up hour one by continuing the great email purge of 2018! 

Tax season is like the Super Bowl for identity thieves and that means that you need to be on high alert for scams. To help break down some of what you need to guard against, we're joined in hour two by security expert Adam Levin, author of Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves. Here's the scams at the top of his list:

IRS Phone Scam

  • Where someone pretending to be from the IRS contacts a consumer stating they owe back taxes and threatens them with jail time if they don't pay. These fraudsters prey on fear and many consumers give in, paying a bogus fee through prepaid card, wiring money or even an iTunes card. Golden rule - the IRS never calls, emails or texts. If you receive these calls, hang up.

W-2 Scam

  • Imposters are using phishing schemes to target the HR departments of businesses asking for W-2 or W-9 information. In these spear phishing schemes, the emails appear legitimate but they are designed to steal important financial documents. If you receive this email or text, don't respond.

Child ID Theft

  • Fraudsters target children's data because they have clean, pristine credit profiles and they can use this data for a host of ID theft schemes, including tax related, medical, financial and even criminal. 
  • Parents need to be on high alert for child ID theft and should create a credit profile for their child and then freeze it.

Medicare and Social Security Scams

  • Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries across the country report receiving calls from scam operators (frequently with foreign accents), who claim to represent Medicare, Social Security, or an insurance company.
  • These callers claim that new Medicare, Social Security, or supplemental insurance benefits cards are being issued or that the beneficiary’s file must be updated. The scam artist asks the consumer to verify or provide their personal banking information, which the scammer then uses to commit ID theft.
  • The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Social Security Administration will not call you to ask you to disclose personal or financial information.

To combat tax fraud, consumers need to file early, take advantage of the PIN if they have been a victim of fraud, use long and strong passwords, enable two factor authentication, use legitimate tax preparers, store important tax docs on an encrypted thumb drive and never give out personal or financial info to someone who contacts you, even if the caller ID looks legit.

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