Global Payment Inc-Update


Global Payment has officially confirmed the breach of information although they are saying that it is contained and that no names or Social security number were lost.  The estimate is that 1.5 million cardholders were affected.  They have also confirmed that VISA has dropped them from their registry of provider that meet security standards.

http://www.timesunion.com/business/article/Visa-discontinues-Global-Payments-3454033.php

 

Please do not misunderstand what it means by VISA ‘dropped’ them.  Global is indeed still processing payments for VISA.  Global expects to be reinstated.  What this means is that if you have a VISA card you can still be affected by this security breach.

It is also possible that this information is being used right now.  You need to be alert and be aware.  Steps that you can take:

  • Just because names and SSNs were not lost does not mean that anyone is safe.  Thieves can still access information about you online.  Update your passwords to your accounts.
  • Make sure that your browser, antispyware, and antivirus protection is up to date.
  • Do not overlook a missing credit card statement, it could be an indication that your account has been stolen and the thief turned in a change of address, redirecting that statement to them.
  • Check your credit card statement closely for fraudulent charges no matter how small.  Thieves often test cards by submitting charges for as little as five cents.
  • Put identity theft protection in place now before you become a victim.

Identity Theft Shield will not only help you with getting the credit side fixed by working on your behalf with creditors, investigators will look for non-financial issues and help fix those too.

 

 

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Global Payments Inc suffers dataloss and merchants could be on the hook!


Once again a payment processor suffers a dataloss. Sadly merchants could be bearing the financial burden on this even though they are not the ones who lost the information. That’s bad for the merchants.

It’s also bad for the consumers whose information was lost. While consumers may not have to shoulder the financial burden, Personally Identifying Information has been exposed. The exposure of your personal information puts you at risk of becoming an identity theft victim, and the financial burden is not the only problem you have to worry about. You are more than your credit score!

Global Payments Inc has scheduled a press conference for Monday morning, look for a more in depth update then.

http://news.yahoo.com/mastercard-tells-banks-possible-security-breach-154439326.html

Don’t believe the hype!


Since I do market online in social networks, I see a lot of people sucked in by hype from questionable business opportunities.  The opportunity is just too good to be true.

Unfortunately for many who join these programs they end up getting burned.  The find themselves scammed out of hard earned money or become identity theft victims.  Most people do not take the time to look into these programs before jumping in with both feet.  And when they jump in they give out personal information that they should not be giving out.

You can avoid this if you simply take the time to look into it and think.  Before you sign up for things online, look for Red Flags.  Here are two simple Red Flags that should warn you to keep away.

Red Flag #1-Give your email address for more information

If the hype page asks you for an email address to find out what it is about, skip it.   The following information should be available to anyone going to a recruiting or affiliate page:

  • What the program is and any products services it provides
  • Terms of Service
  • Privacy Policy

Make sure you read these pages.  The TOS often will hide small print that reveals a gotcha.  For example the hype page says you will get $25 just for signing up.  In the Terms of Service you find that it is actually 25 credits which they may call ‘Program’ dollars.  And these program dollars have no value beyond what the program creators say.

Red Flag #2 No Corporate information available

Every legitimate business is listed somewhere and you should be able to find information on the corporate HQ not just dozens of affiliate recruitment pages.  Three ways you can search:

  • Search Google with the program name and the keyyords Corporate Headquarters
  • Search Whois.net
  • Search Alexa.com

If you cannot find corporate information or that information is hidden treat it as a scam.

Don’t fall victim to scams a phishing schemes that can make you a victim of identity theft.

How many permissions do you have on your social networks?


I read a great blog post the other day about social network sharing permissions.  It made me think about how many third-party apps we allow permissions on our different networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Connecting accounts this way is convenient.  Think about how often you will use the ‘Login With Your Facebook/Twitter Account’, or accept requests for all the different apps your friends use.  How many games are you playing on Facebook?  Every time you start playing a new game you have to allow that app permission to access your account.

Maybe it’s time to take a look and clean out your permissions.  The more you share permissions, the more you put yourself at risk of identity theft.  To read more on this visit the T3KD blog.

Your trash is fair game for anyone who wants it


Are you shredding all of your personal information before you put it in your trash? If not you are an identity thief’s dream. Do your realize that it is absolutely legal to go through someone’s trash? That’s right anything in your garbage is fair game once it is put out for collection.


Police will root through your trash to find evidence of wrongdoing then use that evidence against the individual to secure a warrant.  Private investigators go through people’s trash to find evidence to support claims of their clients and it’s all perfectly legal.  Your garbage is not protected by any implied expectations of privacy.   And identity thieves are perfectly within their legal rights to root through it too!

That little fact became an issue in the case of California vs Greenwood in May of 1988. the court ruled that garbage placed on a public street is readily accessible to children, animals and others. What that means is that an identity thief who roots through your trash and removes documents you have thrown out is not violating any laws at that point. It becomes a crime when he uses the information to commit identity theft.

So the smart person knowing that his garbage is fair game will shred everything to thwart the thief. After all if you are placing a whole document in the trash, it is easy to pick up, fold up and put in a pocket for later use. However if you are putting out shredded material an identity thief must collect it all and then spend hours trying to reconstruct it. There are much easier ways to get information than that.

Be prepared Mom and Dad!


Time to draw on my law enforcement experience again.  This post is directed towards parents (and Grandparants etc).  Do you have a missing child kit?  All parents should have one tucked away and it’s not a bad idea for you to give one to any other relative that your child visits regularly.

A missing child kit will reduce your stress if your child ever goes missing.  You will already have everything you need together in one place to take with you to the police department if you need to file a missing child alert.  At the very least your missing child kit should include:

  • A copy of your child’s birth certificate
  • For infants you should have a footprint card, for older children a fingerprint card
  • List of friends with their phone numbers
  • A recent photo-less than 6 months old
  • Physical Description of your child like Scars, Birthmarks  etc
  • Any additional personal information you think important including medical conditions.

 


Remember to keep the information updated!  The more detailed information you have, the better!

All of this information will be used by the police to place a missing child alert.  Missing children are placed in a nationwide computer system along with any additional information you can give them.   This alert is usually known as an Amber Alert.  The sooner the Amber Alert is placed in the system the sooner law enforcement agencies will be notified to look for your child.

If you don’t have a fingerprint card on your child, call your local police department.  In most cases they will gladly fingerprint your child.

Taking stock and taking charge


Back in 2007, the Federal Trade Commission published a booklet called “Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Business” that gave five tips for protecting personal information.

The booklet concentrates on five key things that we can also do as individuals to better protect our information.

Take stock

What personal or sensitive information do you have?  Any form of identification should be considered personal and/or sensitive.  Whether it identifies you or accounts you hold, property etc.  You need to know that you have it and get it all together in one place.

Scale down

Honestly evaluate your situation do you really need 15 credit cards?  Do you really need a credit card from every retailer you shop at.  If you have a Visa that is accepted at Sears, JC Penney, Macy’s etc do you really need a separate credit card from each retailer?

Another big and unnecessary risk we take is with all those retailer loyalty cards.  How many do you have hanging from your keychain right now?  Every one of those little keychain cards represents a different database that you are now listed in.  Do you really shop at that retailer often enough for it to be worth the risk?  If not, opt out of the program.

Lock it

Separate your information into what is necessary and what is not.  Secure your personal information.  A home safe or strongbox can serve this purpose.  Any documents you are not using should be locked away in a safe place.

Pitch it

Now how about that pile of unnecessary documents and cards?  First things first.  If you are planning to scale back on credit cards, contact these creditors and close those accounts! Identity thieves love dormant accounts.  Properly shred all of the documents and cards that you have deemed unnecessary.

Plan ahead

There is an old adage, “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”  That is exactly what you need to do, prepare for the worst.  There is no way to completely eliminate your risk of becoming an identity theft victim, so you need to be prepared when and if it happens to you.

Photocopy the contents of your wallet and lock it up with the rest of your important information.  If it is ever lost or stolen, you will know exactly who to contact to close the accounts.  It also will be easier to list what was stolen or lost on the police report that you file.

Make a list of all the loyalty rewards programs you are enrolled in so that you can easily contact them.

Have something in place to help you fix it!  Restoring an identity is not as simple as many think.  According to Wiley Rein Publications, it can take an average of 600 hours and an average cost of $1,400 to restore an identity.  This is where Identity Theft Shield from LegalShield can help.

You’d better shop around


Identity theft is a major problem and it’s not limited to the United States, it is a global phenomenon. The biggest contributor to identity theft is the accessibility of information. Information is at our fingertips, anyone can access your information in just a few moments. Freedom of Information acts means that others can legally access official information about you through public records. Anyone includes identity thieves.

We know identity theft cannot be stopped or prevented because our personal information is no longer private. Everywhere you go, everything you do, someone is collecting information on you. School records, background checks even that little customer loyalty card you’ve got from a store you shop at to get discounts is another method of collecting information about you. Even though you are doing everything recommended to prevent identity theft, these agencies and companies can expose or lose your information at any time placing you at risk. The only thing you can do is be prepared and be proactive.

Which brings up the issue of identity theft protection. All identity theft protection plans are not created equal and you need to know what to look for in a plan and why. Here are a few things that a good identity theft protection plan should provide.

Credit Monitoring

Early detection is the key to limiting your loss. Credit monitoring is very important. Experts recommend checking your credit report often, I recommend continuous monitoring. Many of the legal protections you have against identity theft and fraudulent charges are time sensitive. Continuous credit monitoring with immediate notification means you will discover this activity quickly allowing you to take full advantage of these protections.

Identity Restoration
A good plan should provide restoration services. Think of it this way. If the wiring in your house developed a short, are you going to try to fix it yourself or call an electrician? You call the electrician to fix it because you know it needs to be done right to prevent future troubles. You also know that the electrician knows how to safely deal with the power source, you don’t want to risk an electrical fire by making things worse so you let the expert do his job. The expert also knows how to check the wiring to locate all of the wiring problems in your home. That’s the job of the identity restoration investigator, to not only restore your identity but to track down trouble in other areas. What good is it to fix your credit because of those hot checks but not find the warrants that were created because of the hot checks? This brings us to the last area of coverage and perhaps the most important….

Address the Need for Legal Counsel

Your credit issues in the long run are minor. The Federal Government provides you with legal recourse for most credit issues resulting from identity theft provided you take advantage of them in the allotted time frame. Your legal issues will be the major part of your problem and an attorney could be critical. If there are warrants in your name due to identity theft you may find yourself arrested and thrown in jail, this happens on a regular basis. Criminal Identity Theft is second only to Financial Identity theft which accounts for 30% of the total reported cases. You will need a lawyer not only to help at the time of your arrest but most likely to represent you in a court of law. This is in addition to other legal issues you may be facing.

Also when looking at identity theft restoration plans, understand what they are actually offering, many plans are offering services you can do yourself for free or services that are not really protecting you such as a credit freeze. A credit freeze is great if you know you are risk to prevent NEW ACCOUNTS from being opening in your name but those existing accounts are not covered. Always read the disclaimers and make sure you understand them. If the “guarantee” is not providing you with reimbursement on your losses what good is it?

So are we safer on Facebook? Time will tell


Facebook has reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over its privacy policies.  That means we can all breathe a sigh of relief, right?  Well time will tell.

I would like to think that means my information will be protected just as Facebook says it is, but I can’t help but consider the fact that several of the points brought up in the settlement was the fact that the Facebook Privacy statement said one thing, and the reality was that Facebook was doing things totally differently.

While I can hope that things will be done correctly from now on, there is no guarantee.  Only as we move forward and see the independent third party evaluation can we hope to see if Facebook is following the terms of the settlement.  I hope that they do, but I will not take it as gospel.  I will continue to be aware of the fact that advertisers and third party application developers may very well have access to my personal information and act accordingly.

If it happens that things remain the same, I can take comfort in the fact that I have a LegalShield Membership and that I can depend on  Identity Theft Shield to fix it.

 

Old habits die hard


All of us have developed habits over the course of our lives and habits can be hard to break.  Some habits are beneficial. If it is your habit to take a walk every day that is beneficial, it contributes to your health and fitness.  Some habits are basically harmless, like tossing dirty clothes in a pile on the floor.  And other habits are dangerous like drinking and driving.

All of us are influenced by habits and often we don’t consider many habits dangerous unless they directly impact our health or lives.  In today’s information driven world many habits we consider harmless are more dangerous than we think.  These habits increase our risk of falling victim to identity theft.  By changing these habits we can lower our risk.  Take a look at these habits, everyone of them increases your risk.

Considering junk mail harmless

Junk mail shows up in our mailboxes on a daily basis and most people consider it nothing more than an annoyance.  The truth is junk mail can be a real danger.  How many pre-approved credit card offers do you get?  All it takes if for a thief to get theirs hands on one, change the address and open an account in your name.

Tossing documents in the trash without shredding them first

Look at a piece of junk mail laying around right now, does it have a bar code?  barcodes carry information, and yet most people simply throw junk mail in the trash.   When it comes to personal documents people are getting better but anything that contains a name and the following information should be treated as sensitive:

  • Social security or other identifying number
  • Account number
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Date of birth

Carrying unecessary identification cards

Many of us have multiple identification cards such as Social Security card, Military ID’s Insurance cards, Medicaid cards.  All of these cards give thieves the information that they need to steal your identity.  Only carry these cards with you when absolutely necessary.  If your wallet is lost or stolen, these cards will not be lost along with it.

Carrying too many credit/debit cards

Many of us may have multiple credit accounts or bank accounts and we have cards for each account.  Limit the number of cards you carry.  You don’t need to carry your JC Penney store credit card unless you are going shopping at JC Penney.

Giving our social security number as a matter of habit

Not everyone who asks for your social security needs or has a right to it.  Ask why it is needed.  Your employer has a need and a right to your Social Security number when you are an employee, a prospective employer does not.   Government agencies have a right to your social security number, a private company probably does not.  Also when giving your social security number verbally to someone  be aware of your surroundings, think about who may be listening in.

Leaving purses or wallets unattended

Never leave your purse or wallet inside your car.  If you must leave it in your vehicle lock it in the trunk.  A thief who breaks into your car has access to the entire passenger compartment and can search through it very quickly and efficiently.  Anything you leave in the passenger compartment is fair game.

Not checking our credit report regularly

When is the last time you checked your credit report?  When you bought your last car? When you bought your house? Never?  Checking your credit report regularly gives you the greatest chance of minimizing the damage an identity thief can do to you.  Also there are government protections in place for consumers who become victims and many of these protections are time sensitive requiring you to take action within a certain time frame.  For example fraudulent credit card charges must be disputed in writing within 60 days of when the fraudulent charge would first appear on the credit card bill.  If an identity thief changes the address and you don’t get the bill, the 60 day time limit still applies.

Evaluate your habits of dealing with your personal information.  If they are lax, work on changing those habits to lower your risk.  Remember that we can all lower our risk but we cannot eliminate it.  The more we develop good habits the less of a chance that a thief will get our information from us.  Have a plan when and if you do become a victim, LegalShield can help.