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3 Truly “Free” Privacy Protection Resources

privacylostThe fact is…. we live in a post-privacy era!

Daily headlines around the world confirm our greatest fears about privacy being an “endangered species”.  As most folks who reside in cyber-space already know, privacy as we knew it is dead!

Data breaches including Anthem, Sony, Home Depot, Target, JP Morgan/Chase, Uber and the U.S. Defense Department, remind us that even those with virtually unlimited financial resources cannot contain this fire.

These breaches leak our vital information and place it into the hands of fraudsters around the globe. The risks are often referred to as “asymmetrical”, because our exposure is much greater than an anonymous thief’s chances of getting caught.

Open source software and NSA oversight have left privacy advocates gasping for air in search of our long lost right to God-given privacy. Even Adam and Eve had fig leaves and loin cloths, but because of the delicate balance between privacy and security, our modern back doors are open and the front doors are open too!

Here are 3 terrific free privacy protection resources which the unscrupulous “privacy peddlers” can’t charge for. Continue Reading…

‘Let Us Prey’: Con Men Infiltrate Obamacare Marketplace

AlertEKGThe cloud of disappointment, mismanagement and controversy surrounding the roll-out of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act provides a perfect cover for criminal mischief.

Honest magicians and dishonest con artists, both instinctively know that when we focus on one hand, they can accomplish their “business” with the other hand. It’s called misdirection.

The New York Times recently published a piece entitled: Con Men Prey on Confusion Over Health Care Act. The story uncovers multiple sketchy encounters, including a Southern California woman who had a con man visit her home in a brazen healthcare fraud scheme.

“Madeleine Mirzayans was fooled when a man posing as a government official knocked on her door. Barbara Miller and Maevis Ethan were pitched by telemarketers who claimed to work for Medicaid. And Buford Price was almost caught by another trap: websites that look official but are actually bait set by fly-by-night insurance operators.” Continue Reading…

5 Reasons Your Passwords Stink

Security concept: Red Shield With Keyhole on digital backgroundIf we’re being honest here, most of us live at the extreme ends of the password creation pole.

We either give  the construction of effective passwords no thought at all, or we get stuck using the same predictable password on multiple sites and accounts.

There are some basic rules for the effective assembly and storage of passwords that can deter intruders from gaining access to your private data. Although there are many companies who offer this kind of password generation for a fee, I thought I’d share a few ways you can do it without opening your wallet. Continue Reading…

Why Red Flags Rules Matter To You

iStock_000002123532XSmallSoon, you’ll be in the market for another vehicle. Whether it’s a practical vehicle for the family’s summer vacation, sending the kids off to college with reliable wheels, or that little red Porsche you’ve eyed for years, we’re all “in the market” now and then.

As a result of financing or leasing a vehicle, your non-public personal information is put “out there” making the risk of identity theft a very real concern. The privacy risks and realities of financial transactions are real and cost consumers and business billions of lost dollars each year.

In 2007, Congress and federal banking regulators created the Red Flags Rule. Again in 2010, they enacted new legislation narrowing the definition of “a creditor”,  and recently updated a list of over 30 recommended practices (Red Flags) to safeguard consumer information.

Auto dealerships are among those financial institutions that are required by the Federal Trade Commission to protect your private information by implementing the Red Flags rules. What are they looking out for? Continue Reading…

3 Ways That We’re Being Tracked

Computer_PeekingAre you like me….a law-abiding citizen who has nothing to hide?  We’re being tracked anyway.

Bruce Schneier is a well-known cryptographer, internet security analyst and author. His perspective forces me to think about my own personal privacy and should make you ponder yours too!

In a recent opinion piece, Schneier deftly points to the existence and ubiquity of the current Orwellian style surveillance state that we all dread.

The Internet is a surveillance state. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, and whether we like it or not, we’re being tracked all the time. Google tracks us, both on its pages and on other pages it has access to. Facebook does the same; it even tracks non-Facebook users. Apple tracks us on our iPhones and iPads.”

He goes on to say:  “Facebook, for example, correlates your online behavior with your purchasing habits offline. And there’s more. There’s location data from your cell phone, there’s a record of your movements from closed-circuit TVs. This is ubiquitous surveillance: All of us being watched, all the time, and that data being stored forever.

Here are three of the ways that you and I are being tracked, whether we like it or not. Continue Reading…

New Study Verifies Uptick In ID Theft

Upward TrendFor those who continue to ignore the threat of identity theft, listen up.  It’s getting serious. Really!

Not only is financial crime growing by leaps and bounds, but we are entering a new age of breaches, hacks, mischief-ware (great new word) and privacy vulnerability.

The once encouraging two-year downward trend has now dramatically reversed itself  and is headed into dangerous new territory according to the folks at Javelin Strategy and Research.

An unnerving 12.6 million Americans were victimized by ID Theft in 2012, up dramatically from 2011. New account fraud made up the largest percentage of reported crimes, by targeting the personal information of victims and opening new credit cards and other kinds of loans. Continue Reading…

5 Tips To Avoid Tax Scammers in 2013

scamTax time us upon us once again, and the tax scammers are out in force!

This is certainly the season to be on the lookout for scams and schemes which offer to help you reduce or eliminate your tax debt.

Many consumers are unaware that the IRS has a division called the Taxpayer Advocate Service. This is a division within the IRS that is designed to assist consumers who have trouble getting certain tax issues resolved with the IRS. One of the tough issues that could complicate your relationship with the IRS is tax-fraud.

Tax related identity theft places an unusual burden on both the taxpayer and the IRS:

According to the IRS’s Taxpayer Advocate Service:

“Resource constraints also are limiting the IRS’s ability to assist victims of tax-related identity theft. Tax-related identity theft typically arises when an identity thief uses the Social Security number of another person to file a false tax return with the intent of obtaining an improper refund. Identity theft can impose a significant burden on its victims, whose legitimate refund claims are blocked and who often must spend months or longer trying to convince the IRS that they are, in fact, victims and then working with the IRS to untangle their account problems.”

Here are 5 scams to watch out for this tax season. Continue Reading…

A Few Privacy Protection Tips For 2013

NewYearsClockAs we roll into 2013, the world continues to look and feel like a potentially dangerous place to live.

This sense of danger applies not only to the real-world of evil and senseless violence, but the virtual-world of lurking cyber-thieves,  electronic eavesdropping and privacy risks to both individuals and organizations.

Thanks to a few “clues” from an updated consumer awareness list published by the Federal Trade Commission, we can all start the new year with a focus on continuing to deter, detect and defend from what has become America’s fastest growing crime for 12 years in a row.

A Few Clues That Someone Has Stolen Your Information: Continue Reading…

3 Cybersecurity Resources For Parents

My wife and have always looked for creative and effective ways to keep our family safe.

Although the internet offers a world of opportunities for people of all ages, it can be a very dangerous place for kids especially.

The following article includes three informative and relevant online resources for parents. This was originally written and posted by Nikki Junker at the Identity Theft Resource Center blog. It is reproduced here with permission.

There was a time when every parent knew what to tell their children to be safe. Children knew not to take candy from strangers, or go swimming right after eating. These days the rules have all changed and children have a new playground on which they must be trained in order to stay safe.
The cyberworld takes up a huge amount of children’s time and, unfortunately, is very dangerous. Sitting a child down and explaining to them about protecting their private information online or staying away from child predators is not easy. Here are some fun ways to teach your child cybersecurity. Continue Reading…

ID Thieves Rob Treasury Blind

News flash…..Over five billion of our tax dollars are not hard at work, they’re missing!

Alarming details surfaced this week about a report from the Treasury Inspector General For Tax Administration involving massive tax-refund fraud. Watching a flurry of reports come across the newswires about this travesty has been dizzying and alarming. U.S. taxpayers have a right to expect our legislators to weigh in on this one.

It seems that the government is aware of certain mailing addresses in the U.S where billions of dollars (that’s billions with a “b”) worth of refund checks generated by fraudulent tax-returns  have been mailed out. Sadly, many observers in the press are quietly reporting this story without the outrage and sense of personal and mutual financial loss that this debacle deserves. These are OUR tax dollars that have been stolen by modern day bank robbers/mail thieves.

We can only hope that the Feds throw as much energy and resources at bringing both current and future tax fraudsters to justice (and recovering OUR loot) as they do chasing the average Joe for his last hard-earned taxable dollar.

Continue Reading…

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