Tuesday, December 22, 2009

OPP Warns Public About Scam Targeting Grandparents

Email Hackers Pose as Family Member or Friend in Trouble

ORILLIA, ONTARIO, December 18, 2009 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), in cooperation with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), is warning people about a variation of the widespread "Emergency Scam" or "Grandparent Scam".

Traditionally operating as a telemarketing scam throughout North America, fraudsters contact potential victims while posing as a family member or friend in urgent need of cash. Often the scenario involves an accident or arrest, with a request that cash be sent through a money transfer company, such as Western Union or Money Gram.

In a recent variation of this scam, compromised contact lists from hijacked email accounts are used to send the potential victim an "urgent" email request for money from a friend or relative with whom they have a correspondence. Common themes continue to be hospitalization or imprisonment. The friend or relative is unaware that their account has been used to send out these requests to everyone on their contact list.

The OPP strongly suggests that anyone receiving a request for money, takes measures to verify the requestor's identity and the veracity of their story. Anyone who suspects an attempt at victimization is urged to call the CAFC at 888-495-8501.

Formerly known as Phonebusters, the CAFC was established in January 1993 and is jointly operated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Competition Bureau Canada.

Visit their website at www.phonebusters.com. Specific information on the "Emergency Scam" can be found in "List of Scams".

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Home Stealing - How Crooks Can Literally Steal Your Home

Article Source: EzineArticles.com By Jeff Runyon

Everyone has heard of home burglary before, right? Thugs break in and take things of value from you home. But that is not what I am talking about here.

I am talking about a new criminal activity that has recently become very popular among thieves and crooks. I am talking about literally stealing your home from you without you even knowing about it.

The term is known as 'house stealing'. It not the actual physical act of loading your home on a tractor bed and driving off. It is perpetrated by a crook or band of thieves assuming your identity and changing the ownership of your home and cashing it out. This is another version in long line identity theft techniques. Here is how it happens and what you can do to protect yourself.

These con artists and fraudsters first target a property of interest. They find out the details of the properties ownership which is readily available as a public record at your local courthouse or city hall.

They create fake identity papers such as a counterfeit social security card or a phony driver's license. Then they make a trip to an office supply store where they can easily obtain the necessary real estate documents and paperwork they need. Using their fake identification card(s) and the newly created property deeds, they file these with you local government authorities. Unless caught during the act, the property ownership transfers into the name of the new owners. Then they are free to refinance or sell the property, all without the rightful owner ever knowing this has happened!

How does this happen? Doesn't the government agency know that it is a fraudulent activity? Apparently not since proper identification was provided. Now, your house is stolen and is in someone else's name. Now the new 'owner' can refinance or sell to an unsuspecting buyer, pocket the proceeds and disappear to start the con all over again somewhere else.

House stealing can be stopped. If you use a credit monitoring service or subscribe to an identification theft protection service, you may already be protected. Check with your service provider and check to see if they provide constant monitoring of your credit reports for any liens being placed against your home.

The actual process and the ease with which this can be done are downright frightening. What can you do to protect yourself? The FBI advises that the best way to ensure you are protected is to monitor your county or local authority's deeds office for any and all liens created and assigned against your property.

And there is a website you can visit for a free solution that does just that. This is free service will monitor public documents for any association with your registered property(s) and will alert you in any case there is a change made to them.

Find out more at their website at www.epropertywatch.com

I have been writing articles and publishing editorials for over 3 years covering a number of popular topics about everyday life. My interests as of late have involved temporary handicap access options and researching motorized wheel chair options for a short term situation. Discover the innovations and choices I found about wheel chair ramp options and choices to provide for temporary access needs.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jeff_Runyon

Friday, November 13, 2009

How to Pick the Right ID Theft Service

With so many companies out there, which one should you trust?
With ID theft as the #1 crime in the world, beating out drug trafficking as the foremost moneymaker, a huge number of companies are providing services and solutions to address the crime.

Everyone is looking for a new business opportunity. The best opportunities are those that tackle problems and fears. Now, with identity (ID) theft as the #1 crime in the world, beating out drug trafficking as the foremost moneymaker, a huge number of companies are providing services and solutions to address the crime.

Here’s the problem: many of these services are band-aid solutions that give you only the illusion of being protected. Many are the same services that have always been offered—they’ve just been repackaged as ID theft solutions. Most are more focused on protecting the interests of companies—banks, insurers, etc.—rather than yours. Almost all of their ID theft solutions are offered to fatten their own pockets and empty yours....read more at Silver Planet.com

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

OPP launches redesigned website enhancing public access to OPP information

ORILLIA, ON, October 27, 2009 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) launched a redesigned and interactive website yesterday as part of its ongoing commitment to providing public access to OPP information, investigations and events. To be inclusive of people with disabilities, the website was designed to meet current accessibility standards.

Increasingly, websites are the first point of contact between an organization and the public.

Some of the advanced features of the website include:

- Content Focused Banners that will draw attention to current issues,
topics and events of general public interest;
- The "Crime Files" section provides access to a database of OPP
unsolved or cold cases and invites information or tips that may lead
to the resolution of cases. This feature includes Criminal
Investigation Branch (CIB) unsolved investigations, OPP most wanted
criminals, Repeat Offender Parole Enforcement (ROPE) most wanted,
missing persons and OPP reward posters;
- The "News" section will feature information relating to AMBER Alerts,
corporate media releases, OPP events, a media gallery, news media
kits and feature archives;
- In "Your Local OPP", the "Detachment Finder" will make it easy to
locate any of the 165 detachments across the province. Enter your
address in the finder field to locate your closest OPP detachment!
- In the "How Do I?" section you will find some of the most commonly
asked questions about the OPP;
- The "Focus" section will highlight attention to special OPP programs
and initiatives;
- The "Careers" section will provide information on OPP career
opportunities for uniform, civilian and volunteer positions; and the
- "Contact us" feature will provide the public with the ability to
locate frequently called OPP phone numbers provide feedback and
information to the OPP.

The OPP Museum is also launching a new web page as a stand alone
component of the redesign effort. The OPP Museum's new website presents a
wealth of information on featured exhibits and resources - including detailed
photographs of museum artefacts. http://www.opp.ca/museum/index.php

For more information, and to view the redesigned website, go to
www.opp.ca. The OPP invites the public to visit the website often as information is frequently updated.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Is Identity Theft Really That Serious?

from ezinearticles.com
By Jim King

If it hasn't touched you yet, you'll probably just brush it off with a laugh. The thing is that identity theft if it does involve you could be very, very serious. Just imagine walking into a store and buying that new music system. You give the salesman your credit card and he comes back apologetically to say he can't give you credit. Or maybe you've just been to an interview for a great new job and you're so sure they loved you and you'll be there next month. Well, you could just get a cold call saying you didn't get the job. It could be worse. Imagine hearing the doorbell ring and a policemen walk in to arrest you.

Does all this sound like it's taken from a movie script and a far-fetched one at that? Well before you brush if off as improbable, ask around and you'll find that the consequences of identity theft can be very bad. So you haven't been hit yet? You lucky thing, you! However, if you don't pay attention, you could be next and you could be going through these scenarios where your credit just isn't good enough. People who steal your identity don't even know who you are, neither do they care. As long as they can do it to anyone, that's all they want.... read more

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Of Hackers, Malicious Code, Spyware, Trojan Horses and Virus Checkers...O My!

From our Glossary

HACKER, ATTACKER, or INTRUDER: These terms are applied to the people who seek to exploit weaknesses in software and computer systems for their own gain. Although their intentions are sometimes fairly benign and motivated solely by curiosity, their actions are typically in violation of the intended use of the systems they are exploiting. The results can range from mere mischief (creating a virus with no intentionally negative impact) to malicious activity (stealing or altering information).

MALICIOUS CODE: This category includes code such as viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. Although some people use these terms interchangeably, they have unique characteristics.

SPYWARE: Spyware was originally, not designed to do mischief, but rather to gather information. More recently, spyware, or adware, has changed into an invader of your privacy. It examines programs and cookies on your computer looking for items used to either gain data from your computer or track your Internet use. A spyware checker is a program designed to protect your personal information. The most common type of spyware, more properly termed adware, generates pop-up and other ads.

TROJAN HORSE: A Trojan horse program is software that claims to be one thing while in fact doing something different behind the scenes. For example, a program that claims it will speed up your computer may actually be sending confidential information to a remote intruder.

VIRUS CHECKER: A virus checker or virus protection is a program that runs continuously whenever your computer is on. It monitors the contents of e-mail attachments as well as programs that run on your computer. It detects and disarms viruses and prevents damage to your computer before they start trouble.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Facebook shuts down Beacon marketing tool

As part of a settlement of a large class-action lawsuit in California, Facebook has agreed to completely shut down its "Beacon" feature, which connects users' activites outside of Facebook to the users' profiles. See: Facebook shuts down Beacon marketing tool Sympatico.ca Sync.

Beacon was one of many high-profile privacy missteps taken by Facebook over its relatively short history. I've always thought that Facebook is a bit of a game-changer and has had to blaze its own trail through uncharted territory. While mistakes happen, it has been remarkable that Facebook has not been more open to its users by giving advance warning about significant changes and the simple use of "opt in" for features that are inherently intrusive.

This underscores the theory that privacy is, in large measure, about meeting users' expectations. If users are surprised by the use of their information, they get upset. If you tell users how you propose to use their information and give them control over that, they're generally fine with it. It's just that simple.

from Canadian Privacy Law Blog

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Canada leads G-8 in adoption of broadband Internet access services

Virtually 100 per cent of Canadians now have access to broadband Internet

TORONTO, Oct. 7 /Canada NewsWire/ - Virtually every Canadian who wants broadband Internet access can get it, and most can choose to get it from a broad array of service providers and technologies.

A new report by Mark H. Goldberg & Associates Inc. and Giganomics Consulting Inc. entitled "Lagging or Leading: The state of Canada's broadband infrastructure" takes a critical look at the state of Internet infrastructure in Canada, clearly demonstrating that on balance Canadians are the beneficiaries of industry investment and government programs that have created a diversified broadband infrastructure covering virtually the entire nation.

"Access to the Internet is crucial in today's global economy, so we thought it important to look at all the facts and information to paint a true picture of the Internet in Canada," says Mr. Goldberg. "Despite the significant challenges of geography and low population density, Canada has among the best access to affordable broadband service anywhere in the world. Contrary to the conclusions of the OECD, Canada compares favorably and in many cases surpasses countries whose governments have funded the deployment of broadband networks using enormous levels of tax dollars."

In large part due to investment by private Internet service providers (ISPs), the authors found that 100 per cent of Canadians have access to broadband Internet, when you look at all available technologies rather than a narrow range or even a single option. Canada's ISPs are currently investing $8 - $10 billion every year on expanding their networks and bringing faster access to Canadians.

"The vast majority of Canadians benefit from a world-leading level of choice in access to broadband technologies, using phone lines, cable lines, wireless services (fixed and mobile) and satellite services," says Mr. Goldberg. "Moreover, Canadians have access to some of the most affordable services, while also benefiting from some of the world's fastest connection speeds for both wireline and wireless broadband services."

The report shows that Canada continues to rank first in the G-8 countries in adoption of Internet access services, and consistently ranks in the top 10 of most international comparisons on broadband penetration and speeds. This contradicts a recent student project from Oxford's Said Business School that suffers from weak methodology, leading to unreliable results.

With almost 70 per cent of Canadian households already subscribing to broadband Internet, there still remains a significant opportunity to expand broadband adoption even further.

"When you look at all the facts, it is clear Canada is a leader in broadband network deployment and that Canadians benefit from a competitive Internet industry bringing them the latest technologies and affordable pricing," said Ms. Blackwell, Giganomics Consulting. "That said, we uncovered several opportunities that deserve attention and will help us hold our enviable global position in the Internet industry. Our country's economy will only come to rely even more on broadband in the coming years, so it is critical we get this right." The report makes several recommendations:

- As we go through the process of developing a national information and
communication technologies (ICT) strategy, recognize the true state
of Canada's ICT infrastructure and take into account all established
and emerging technologies.
- Continue policies focused on fostering facilities-based competition.
- Build on the past success of private sector investment by removing
current policy and regulatory uncertainty regarding investments in
next-generation networks.
- Shift more attention to adoption issues (including adoption of next-
generation services) and encourage socio-economic research focused on
better understanding the obstacles to, and inhibitors of, broadband
- Consider programmes to improve digital literacy and the use of
incentives (tax-based or otherwise) to target and overcome any
barriers to broadband adoption.

The Mark H. Goldberg & Associates Inc. and Giganomics Consulting Inc. report, commissioned by a group of Canada's largest ISPs, seeks to understand the true state of broadband adoption in Canada and to provide the facts and analysis required to facilitate constructive debate that will help keep Canadians at the forefront of the Internet age.

To read the full report please visit www.mhgoldberg.com/blog or www.giganomics.ca

Canadians need to take control of their online personal information

Privacy Commissioner of Canada's annual report focuses on importance of making informed choices about sharing personal information online.

OTTAWA, Oct. 10 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - As more and more Canadians live their lives online, the Privacy Commissioner is cautioning them to take greater responsibility for securing their privacy and thinking twice about what they post on the Internet.

"Many young people are choosing to open their lives in ways their parents would have thought impossible and their grandparents unthinkable. Their lives play out on a public stage of their own design as they strive for visibility, connectedness and knowledge," says Jennifer Stoddart, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

"Such openness can lead to greater creativity, literacy, networking and social engagement. But putting so much of their personal information out into the open can also...leave an enduring trail of embarrassing moments that could haunt them in future," the Commissioner says in her annual report to Parliament, which was tabled today.

The Commissioner's 2008 Annual Report to Parliament on the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) highlights the issue of youth privacy. It also looks at 2008 privacy complaint investigations; technology and privacy issues; and the Commissioner's efforts to encourage the development of international privacy standards.

Commissioner Stoddart noted that many people have been fired, missed out on job interviews and academic opportunities, and been suspended from school for instant messages, wall posts and other types of online correspondence they mistakenly thought were private conversations with friends.

There is also a risk that unguarded personal information could be exploited by identity thieves.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner recently completed an investigation into the privacy policies and practices of the popular social networking site Facebook. While that investigation focused on Facebook's obligations under Canadian privacy law, the Commissioner emphasized at the time that, with nearly 12 million Canadians on Facebook, it's also important for users to adopt the appropriate privacy settings and to understand how their personal information may be used or shared online.

The Privacy Commissioner's Office has made online youth privacy a key priority, using contests, communications materials and a dedicated youth privacy website to reach out to young people and to encourage them to reflect on privacy issues and to "Think Before You Click."

"As Canada's privacy guardian, it is our role to create awareness of privacy risks, show people how to address those risks, and make it easy for them to make informed decisions," says Commissioner Stoddart.

Adds Assistant Commissioner Elizabeth Denham: "We're not suggesting the clock be turned back; we just want to ensure Canadians have the information they need to make more privacy-conscious decisions."

The annual report, available on the OPC website at www.priv.gc.ca, includes details of complaints received and investigated by the Office in 2008.

The OPC received 422 new PIPEDA-related complaints for investigation in 2008, ending a downward trend that had lasted for several years. In 2007, there had been 350 complaints, fewer than half the 723 received in 2004.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated by Parliament to act as an ombudsman, advocate and guardian of privacy and the protection of personal information rights of Canadians

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Do You Know Where Emails Are Coming From?

Just because an email says it’s from customerservice@yourbank.com, how can you be sure? One of the basic necessities of phishing attacks is an identity thief’s ability to convincingly pretend to be someone else. The core of phishing is impersonation. Identity thieves pretend to be legitimate businesses, organizations, or government agencies when they ask for your personal information. They copy the Web sites of those they are impersonating to trick you into providing your information on the sites. And once they have your information, they impersonate you to gain access to your accounts and create new accounts in your name. Authentication – getting proof that someone is who they claim to be – is key in fighting the battle against phishing.

Many phishing attempts start with an email message that pretends to be from a trusted source, such as a bank or an online merchant. Phishers have figured out ways to make it look like an email comes from a certain email address, when that actually isn’t the case. It may be impossible to tell just by looking at the “From” line in the message whether the sender truly is who it claims to be. So, what’s a consumer to do?

For detailed informationabout what to do visit our Cybersecurty for Seniors website.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fraud Afoot

Seems like everyone has become the recipient of mysterious e-mails promising untold wealth if only one helps a wealthy foreigner quietly move millions of dollars out of his country. The venerable Nigerian Scam has discovered the goldmine that is the Internet. Beware — there's still no such thing as "something for nothing," and the contents of your bank account will end up with these wily foreigners if you fall in with this.

Likewise, look out for mailings announcing you've won a foreign lottery you don't recall entering or claiming that because you share the surname of a wealthy person who died without leaving a will you're in line for a windfall inheritance.

And be especially wary if, while trying to sell or rent anything online (car, boat, horse, motorcycle, painting, apartment, you name it) you're approached by a prospective buyer/renter who wants to pay with a cashier check made out for an amount in excess of the agreed-upon price and who asks the balance be sent to a third party.

Aspiring work-at-homers promised big bucks for acting as intermediaries for international transactions wherein they cash checks for other parties or reship goods to them have been defrauded by con artists. Don't you be next.

If someone calls to announce you've failed to appear for jury duty and will be arrested, do not give the caller your personal and financial information in an effort to prove he's sending the gendarmes after the wrong guy. You're being tricked into giving up this information to an identity thief.


Sunday, August 23, 2009


from This Is True.com

Coggin Pontiac, a car dealer in Jacksonville, Fla., was a
bit suspicious of a check that a woman wrote for a new $70,000 car --
the check identified the account holders as "Mr. and Mrs. Jesus and
Emma Christ". The dealer called the woman's bank, which said the check
was not valid, so their next call was to the Jacksonville Sheriff's
Office. Deputies found Emma Kim-Tashis Harrison, 25, had multiple
credit cards in her purse, some in her name, and others bearing the
name Emma Christ. She insisted she had the money to back the check,
since she owns "a traveling Web site that people just deposit money
into." Deputies arrested her on felony fraud charges. (Jacksonville
Times-Union) ...It's unclear which is crazier: that anyone would "just
deposit money" into her web site, or that anyone would want a $70,000

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How Do Thieves Steal Your Identity?

from AOL Wallet Pop

First, they steal your personal information by...

...Going through your mail or trash, looking for bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, and tax information.
...Stealing personal information from your wallet or purse such as identification, credit, or bank cards.
...Completing change-of-address forms to redirect your mail.
...Obtaining your credit report by posing as someone who has a lawful right to the information.
...Acquiring personal information you share on unsecured sites on the Internet.
...Buying personal information about you from an inside source -- for example, a store employee that gets your information from a credit application or by "skimming" your credit card information when you make a purchase.
...Getting your personnel records at work.
Then identity thieves...

...Open new credit card accounts using your name, date of birth, and Social Insurance Number. When they use the credit cards and don't pay the bills, the delinquency is reported on your credit report.
...Establish phone or cellular service in your name.
...Open a bank account in your name and write bad cheques on the account.
...Counterfeit cheques or debit cards, and drain your bank account.
...Buy cars by taking out auto loans in your name.
...Call your credit card issuer and, pretending to be you, change the address on the account. Bills get sent to the new address, so you don't realize there's a problem until you check your credit report or get a call from a collection agency.
...File for bankruptcy using your name to avoid paying debts they've incurred under your name.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Twishing: Beware of the Latest ID Scam

This tricky combination of Phishing and Twitter Uses Common Scam Techniques to steal your identity.
By Rob Douglas, August 14, 2009 from Webopedia

Every time a new communication method becomes popular, fraudsters look for a new way to commit identity theft. One of the latest popular scams is "twishing."

Twishing is a combination of Twitter and phishing, uses the growing popularity of the microblogging service Twitter.com in an attempt to steal your identity.

Twitter, which limits users to 140-character messages broadcast to the public or directly to "followers" who have chosen to receive the updates, is one of the latest identity fraud schemes because it is growing so quickly in popularity due to the message length limitations.

Fraudsters jump on new communication methods because law enforcement is slow to respond and communications providers often will rush out new technology without thoroughly testing potential security flaws.

Security flaws enable hackers to gain access to accounts, but such thefts require some technical knowledge. It’s much easier to lure someone (the idea of fishing lures gave rise to the term "phishing") to reveal private information than to hack into their account.

The idea of luring someone to reveal private information is nothing new. Famous check scam artist Frank Abagnale, subject of the movie "Catch Me If You Can", used clothing (e.g., dressing like a pilot) to lure people to give him sensitive information. While the movie was based on facts, a fictional television program, "The Rockford Files" also featured the lead character using fake business cards and smooth talk to obtain information.

Twishing works the same way. A short public message like “see what they're saying about you on xyzblog" followed by a link can direct the unwitting Twitter user to a blog that looks like Twitter, but is actually a site operated by the fraudster, who then seeks to gain personal information. Twitter recently changed its look, which will likely deter twishing for at least a while. But fraudsters are always looking for the next scam.

This is very similar to fraudsters who misrepresent themselves as being from a large financial institution while sending out millions of official e-mails trying to trick legitimate account holders into revealing personal account information. While most of these e-mails will go to people who have no banking relationship with the financial institution, the phishing e-mail will reach some legitimate account holders. The e-mail will ask account holders to resend their account information – often with the threat of suspending the account if they don’t.

Some of the telltale signs that a phishing e-mail is a fraud are typos, poor grammar or incomplete information in the phishing message. But the message limitations of Twitter make it easy to overlook such details. Twitter users will use chat and text message abbreviations (e.g., “u" for “you") and grammatical rules are largely ignored. So the hints aren’t as obvious.

However, some of the basic steps to protect one’s identity work to protect against twishing just as they do against phishing:

Don’t provide personal information online

If a message looks suspicious, it probably is

Be cautious in opening “retweeted" items. The last sender may not be aware of the malicious nature of the message.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Tips To Beat the Scammers

Beat the scammers in 2009! If that was not among your New Year's resolutions, maybe you should think seriously about adding it. Because all the signs are that the scammers are planning a BIG year in 2009.

They know the economy is in trouble and that we're all looking for ways to save, earn extra cash or help those less fortunate than ourselves. And that's all prime territory for crooks planning to hoodwink us into parting with our money.

Plus, more people down on their luck will mean more people tempted to try their hand at scamming.

And please don't think that if you're one of the lucky few who've never been targeted for a scam that you're immune to these tricksters. Sooner or later you'll encounter them -- in your mailbox, your email inbox, on the phone or face to face.

OK, that's enough gloom. We want you to be able to celebrate 2009, so we've put together some tips to help you beat the scammers.

Tip #1. Be very skeptical -- and trust almost no one

That's right, we say trust almost no one. That's because even people we think we know, including family and friends, may have innocently been tricked into becoming part of a scam.

They may pass on investment "advice" from someone they know. Or their identity may have been stolen so what you think is coming from them -- an email for instance -- is really from someone else.

A good example of exploiting our trust is the grandparent scam, where a victim gets a phone call supposedly from a desperate grandchild asking for money.

Thousands of people have been fooled into wiring hundreds or thousands of dollars to the scammer. You can find more on the grandparents scam on our website Cyber Security for Seniors.

Another good example is identity theft. As we've previously reported, fully 50% of reported identity theft is perpetrated by relatives, friends and neighbors, or acquaintances of the victim!

That's why we encourage you to be skeptical. Always ask yourself: What if this isn't what it appears to be? What steps can I take to check it out and confirm it?

Here are the main keys to being a healthy skeptic:

Don't believe sob stories from people you don't know. The vast majority of them are untrue.

Don't believe someone is who they say they are unless they can 100% prove it.

Don't believe you've won, inherited or otherwise gained a huge sum of money from a source you didn't previously know.

Which brings us to our favorite, which we never tire of repeating: Whether it's a miracle cure, a fantastic bargain or incredible luck, if it seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

When you do buy, never wire money via Western Union, never deposit a check and return a portion of money sent to you which is an overpayment, and whenever possible, pay by credit card (especially one-use credit cards if they are offered by your credit card company).

More tips to come...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Are You at Risk For Identity Theft?

Kathryn Lively
- EzineArticles.com

These days, it isn't unusual to hear stories about people who have had their identities stolen, credit ratings trashed, and reputations put at risk. The Internet, unfortunately, provides a forum for making identity theft easier and more expedient. However, there is no need to panic, for one can take measures to decrease the possibility of this happening to you. Common sense and vigilance are the keys to keeping your identity - and consequently your finances and future - safe.

Good Steps to Take to Prevent ID Theft

If you are concerned about private, sensitive information being exposed for thieves to use against you, there are things you can do to maintain your security, especially on the Web. Here are a few suggestions for keeping your ID your own.

Shred Important Documents and Receipts: Once you are finished with invoices, credit card statements and anything else that has personal or financial information, make sure it is shredded thoroughly. But watch for personal shredders, because even the craftiest white collar criminal can piece together strips. Look in your area for community shredding events, where professionals will take your paperwork and shred it with an industrial strength machine.

Be Careful When Shopping Online: Buying products and services via the Internet may be easy, but if you give credit card information over an insecure website you risk exposing that information to hackers. Look for the lock icon on your browser when you shop, and only make purchases from sites you trust. If you receive e-mail newsletters from vendors, be wary of clicking through to websites unless you have opted-in to a specific mailing. Many times scam artists disguise e-mails to look like a legitimate company advertising to you. Sometimes hovering your mouse over the links will reveal a dubious address.

Change Passwords Periodically: If you are the type to use the same password for a multitude of protected websites, consider mixing it up a little, and changing your password from time to time. Do not use a password closely associated with you - children's names, phone number, etc. - that somebody could figure out.

Give as Little Information on Yourself as Possible: Social media is a popular trend right now, with millions of people using Facebook and Twitter to connect to friends. If you feel the need to be social, don't give out too much information about yourself. Use an e-mail address with a gender neutral ID and try not to volunteer geographical information if you can.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Identity Theft Protection: A Vital Concern For Every Citizen, Rich Or Poor

Only people that live far from big cities and in places where identity thieves have as yet not extended their operation to will the need for proper identity theft protection be something that is of less than of extreme importance. The fact is that today identity theft is a huge problem that affects millions of people all around the world and particularly in the USA. Even if you are not given to purchasing goods and services online there is still no assurance that identity thieves won’t get to you.

Don’t Shop Online?

Identity theft protection is vital for even those people that never shop online or who buy from brick-and-mortar stores because recent studies have been able to prove that online activity is not a major concern as far as identity theft goes. This means that even if you have never shopped on the net; not ensuring identity theft protection will not prevent identity thieves from getting to you. It is not a question of whether you will become a victim of identity theft but more a question of when will the identity thieves get to you.

The best identity theft protection is of course to understand the modus operandi of identity thieves and then to take preventive measures to ensure that the identity thieves cannot use these methods on you. Even those innocuous looking offers that pop into your mailbox on a daily or perhaps weekly basis can be one of the ways that identity thieves will strike you down. Unfortunately, as yet the US postal service is not able to spam out fictitious mails and so they deliver whatever is posted to you into your letterbox.

Therefore, proper identity theft protection means throwing away these so-called offers without giving them another thought. However, before you throw away the offer makes sure to shred the offer so that your name and address cannot be found by those that rummage the garbage looking for just such information.

Identity theft protection is also not an activity that is relevant to only rich and wealthy people because ordinary citizens too need to be on their guard at all times. It is very sad that today you cannot throw away your garbage without needing to worry that you have not taken the appropriate identity theft protection measures such as shredding useless documents and bills and of course those good-for-nothing offers.

Vigilance is crucial to proper identity theft protection and in fact you can also make use of identity theft protection services to handle this vigilance for you. By enrolling with such service companies you can rest assured that you will be informed regarding changes to your credit reports and so be warned in time when something false shows up on these reports such as someone having made off with your identity and who then ran up bills that you will have to pay.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Advance-fee fraud

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Nigerian 419 scam originated in the early 1980s as the oil-based Nigerian economy declined. Several unemployed university students first used this scam as a means of manipulating business visitors interested in shady deals in the Nigerian oil sector before targeting businessmen in the west, and later the wider population. Scammers in the early-to-mid 1990s targeted companies, sending scam messages via letter, fax, or Telex. The spread of email and easy access to email-harvesting software made the cost of sending scam letters through the Internet low. In the 2000s, the 419 scam has spurred imitations from other locations in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, and, more recently, from North America, Western Europe (mainly UK), and Australia.

The number "419" refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code (part of Chapter 38: "Obtaining Property by false pretences; Cheating") dealing with fraud. The American Dialect Society has traced the term "419 fraud" back to 1992.

This scam usually begins with a letter or e-mail purportedly sent to a selected recipient but actually sent to many making an offer that will ultimately result in a large payoff for the intended victim.

The email's subject line often says something like "From the desk of Mr. [Name]", "Your assistance is needed", and so on. The details vary, but the usual story is that a person, often a government or bank employee, knows of a large amount of unclaimed money or gold which he cannot access directly, usually because he has no right to it. Such people, who may be real but impersonated people or fictitious characters played by the scammer, could include the wife or son of a deposed African or Indonesian leader or dictator who has amassed a stolen fortune, or a bank employee who knows of a terminally ill wealthy person with no relatives or a wealthy foreigner who had deposited money in the bank just before dying in a plane crash (leaving no will or known next of kin), a U.S. soldier who has stumbled upon a hidden cache of gold in Iraq, a business being audited by the government, a disgruntled worker or corrupt government official who has embezzled funds, a refugee, and similar characters.

The money could be in the form of gold bullion, gold dust, money in a bank account, so-called "blood diamonds", a series of cheques or bank drafts, and so forth. The sums involved are usually in the millions of dollars, and the investor is promised a large share, typically ten to forty percent, if they will assist the scam character in retrieving the money.

Whilst the vast majority of recipients do not respond to these emails, a very small percentage do, enough to make the fraud worthwhile as many millions of messages can be sent. Invariably sums of money which are substantial, but very much smaller than the potential profits, are said to be required in advance for bribes, fees, etc.—this is the money being stolen from the victim, who thinks he is investing to make a huge profit.

Insa Nolte, a lecturer of University of Birmingham's African Studies Department, stated that "The availability of e-mail helped to transform a local form of fraud into one of Nigeria's most important export industries."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tax Season Alert - The 3 Big Myths That Can Make You a Victim of Identity Fraud

The continued popularity of electronic tax filing has made this annual burden incredibly simple for many taxpayers. As a result, these individuals mistakenly equate ease-of-use with safety. This assumption too often leads to the #1 most-committed crime in the world - identity theft. The opportunities for your personal information to unwittingly fall into the hands of thieves wanting to commit fraud has grown exponentially along with the explosion of online tax return submissions. Do not falsely presume that your identity is protected.

Here are the 3 biggest myths that risk your identity during tax season, as well as important security tips to avoid the time, money and hassle related to identity theft.

Myth #1: Documents, PDFs and personal information used in the creation of your tax returns are safe just sitting on your computer.

Truth: Hackers may access your computer in various ways at ANY time via viruses, Trojans and Botnets. Confidential information on PDFs is NOT safe.

· Password-protect all tax returns that you print to PDF from your tax software so that Social Insurance Numbers are secure. Permanently shred unsecured documents on your computer that contain personal information used to prepare your tax return.

· Configure all peer-to-peer file sharing programs to disable the sharing of your personal folders so identity thieves can't download your tax return.

· Install the latest updates to your operating system to prevent known Windows or Mac vulnerabilities from being exploited by hackers.

· Don't save your password in your web browser when accessing payroll services, employers, banks and other institutions that keep your personal information because it could easily be stolen.

Myth #2: It's safe to electronically transmit confidential data to an accountant, employer, or the CRA.

Truth: Your personal information is at the greatest risk when it is en route from one location to another. Hackers and thieves have the ability to eavesdrop or spy on it when it is unprotected.

· Encrypt supporting tax documents you plan to email to your accountant to prevent anyone from snooping on your network and gaining access to your financial information.
· Create strong passwords when registering to download your CRA forms, and other personal tax documents from your employer so that they are not easily guessed by strangers.

Myth #3: Paper copies of your important tax documentation are always safe since they are in your control and are not accessible to electronic hackers.

Truth: Identity thieves are incredibly creative and will attempt to access your confidential information for their own personal gain however and wherever possible, especially when you least expect it.

· When you postal mail your tax return to the CRA, send it from a secured location, like the post office or an official Canada Post collection box; do not let it sit in a box overnight as it could be stolen. For added security use certified mail.
· If making photo copies of your financial documents, make sure the photocopier does not store images of them in memory.
· Using a traditional paper shredder, destroy the printed documents used during tax preparation that you no longer need.

The government takes your tax dollars on April 30th. Do not let a thief take your identity too. Employ a multi-step approach in the prevention of identity theft that includes awareness, changes in behavior, and security tools. Doing so will secure your personal information this tax season and allow you to rest easier on May 1st and after. One final tip:

· Monitor your credit report regularly.

adapted for Canadian use originally posted at eZine Articles

Saturday, February 28, 2009

ATM Skimming - What is It?

ATM skimming is a method used for stealing your identity during an ATM transaction. This method utilizes a credit card skimmer to collect, record and store your credit card number and pin number. The person "Skimming" your card can then use this information to program his own credit card with your information!

This skimming device, when placed on the ATM machine is virtually undetectable if you are not looking for it. It looks like a normal part of the ATM. And just when law enforcement agencies have gotten a handle on the technology being used by ATM skimmers, along comes a break through technology that is leaving even veteran investigators astounded. The first device discovered by an ATM user and obtained by authorities was taken to the CIA and they indicated they had not seen anything like it!

The method used included two devices. A type of skimmer placed over the card slot on the ATM accompanied by what appeared to be a speaker mounted on the ATM above the keypad. When the card was inserted, a device placed over the slot scanned the magnetic strip and the account information was sent (wireless ) to a modified cell phone hidden behind the fake speaker placed on the ATM above the keypad. A small camera concealed in the fake speaker would then record the pin number entered and stored it on a flash memory card.

The perpetrator would then steal a gift card that has not been activated and transfer the account information to the gift card via the magnetic strip thus turning it into an ATM card. This device has been credited with stealing in excess of $300,000 from peoples accounts in Pennsylvania!

In order to prevent being taken at the ATM, the obvious safeguards should be taken. Look for anything that just doesn't appear to belong, or looks out of place such as the fake speaker or a skimming device placed over the card slot. Also, when typing in your pin number, shield the keypad with your other hand in case there is a camera watching. Always check your bank statements or better still, apply for on line account monitoring with your bank so you can check instantly to see if someone has been in your account.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=James_W_Albert

Friday, February 27, 2009

Desjardins supports Fraud Prevention Month

March is the ideal month for Desjardins to remind its members and clients of the importance of protecting themselves from identity theft.

MONTREAL, Feb. 27 /CNW Telbec/ - During the 2009 campaign to raise
awareness about fraud prevention, Desjardins Group is pleased to join the Fraud Prevention Forum along with several other partners, chaired by the federal Competition Bureau.

Throughout March, caisses, branches and other components of Desjardins
Group will be raising awareness about identity theft among their members and clients, highlighting the importance of following rules to guard against identity theft and protect their personal information. Web surfers can go to www.desjardins.com to learn more about different types of fraud, like phishing, and how to protect themselves.

"A study by the Canada Research Chair in Security, Identity and
Technology showed that in 2006-2007, Québec had 338,000 cases of identity theft, which is why we feel it is important to raise awareness among our members and clients about this fraud that is being committed every day," stated Yves Beaudoin, Vice-President, Specialized Advisory Services Division, Fédération des caisses Desjardins.

This presents yet another opportunity for Desjardins to encourage its
members, clients and employees to adopt good behaviours to protect their identities and their personal information.

"Our alliance with the Bank Crime Prevention and Investigation Office
(BCPIO), a group that is part of the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA), whose main objective is to share information in order to prevent financial crimes, and our ties with the Institut de sécurité de l'information du Québec (ISIQ) show that we take identity theft very seriously," said Yves Beaudoin.

Other than this campaign, Desjardins has instituted several precautionary measures - and has for some time now - to ensure the security of its members and clients and their personal information. In fact, these measures are posted in the Online security section of its Web site at www.desjardins.com. More than just a source for reliable information, it's also a tool to raise awareness and educate people on the different types of fraud being committed.

About Desjardins Group

Desjardins Group is the largest cooperative financial group in Canada,
with overall assets of $150 billion, as at September 30, 2008. It comprises a network of caisses, credit unions and business centres in Québec and Ontario, and some twenty subsidiary companies in life and general insurance, securities brokerage, venture capital and asset management, many of which are active across the country. Drawing on the expertise of its 40,000 employees and the commitment of more than 6,500 elected officers, Desjardins offers its 5.8 million individual and corporate members and clients a full range of financial products and services. Its physical distribution network is complemented by
leading-edge virtual access methods. To find out more, consult

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Identity Theft Protection and Tax Scams

You need to make identity theft protection a number one priority in your life. The fact is that statistic reveal that in any ten year period, you are likely to become the victim of identity theft. In other words, you actually run the risk of becoming the victim of identity theft more than one time during the course of your adult life.

In considering your identity theft protection needs and objectives, you need to make yourself more familiar with some of the different types of identity theft schemes that are being "pulled" in this day and age. For example, one type of identity theft scam that is being used today in many countries around the world involves issues pertaining to tax payments and tax refunds. Simply, an identity thief will contact you through the Internet, by phone and sometimes even in person under the guise of needing to get information from you in regard to your taxes.

In undertaking identity theft protection related to a tax scam online, you need to be on guard for what might appear to be an official looking email regarding your taxes. Oftentimes such an email will indicate that you are due a supplemental income tax refund. But, in order to process the refund, it is necessary that you provide personal and financial information about yourself. In the alternative, the official looking email might contain a link that purports to take you to the website of a taxing authority. Once at this sham site - which will look very official, in fact - you will be asked to input your personal and financial data ... all of which will go directly into the hands of an identity thief.

In the brick and mortar world, when it comes to identity theft protection against a tax related scheme, you need to guard against phone calls allegedly from a tax official. Once again, the pitch is a good deal like what might happen online. For example, you are due a tax refund but personal and financial data is needed in order to process the refund itself. (A similar pitch is made when a thief actually goes door to door working to steal identities using the tax scheme as the pitch.)

In the end, by taking care to develop a comprehensive identity theft protection plan you will be in the best position to protect yourself against becoming the victim of this crime. You will be able to better ensure that you do not have your identity stolen today or at any point in the future.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hoax Emails - Stealing Your Identity

What is a hoax email? Simply put, one that is a fake, counterfeit or a forgery. The forged part is that of the sender's identity and his or her intention. The email may appear to have come from a legitimate source - perhaps your bank, PayPal or even eBay. Even the actual name of the sender may look genuine and impressive (such as info@paypal.com).

The text of the email may look exactly like that on your own bank's (or other source's) real, official, site. The logos will look the same. Even the wording may appear the same.

They may even exhort you to "be careful regarding your online security and ensure you are dealing with a trusted source". these guys are clever, very clever.

The email may send you to a hoax website or web page. Again, this may look wholesome and perfectly genuine, although on closer inspection, the address bar will show that the site in question has an address different from that of your own bank (or other institution). This is the point where you will be asked for your personal information - date of birth perhaps. Name, address, login name or password. You must not give these details.

Any reputable institution would never ask for these details by email. They would, if they were writing to you at all, call you by name (not "Dear customer") and they would always have security measures in place to protect you from fraudulent activity such as a secure web page - look for the "https" in the address name or the "padlock symbol" at the bottom of the web page.

Simple emails like these can be sent to millions of people at once, making it easy for the criminals to pocket many millions of dollars of cash.

By Dr. Mark Clayson 

Article read more

Sunday, February 15, 2009

High-Tech Driver's Licence to help stop ID Theft, Fraud

British Columbians will soon be carrying new, redesigned, high-tech driver’s licences that will be harder to alter, forge or obtain under different identities than current licences, Solicitor General John van Dongen announced today as part of government’s latest efforts to prevent identity theft and other criminal activity.


“Driver’s licences are widely trusted as ID and, when tampered with, can cost people, businesses and financial institutions millions of dollars each year,” said van Dongen. “The cutting-edge features we are introducing, like facial recognition technology, will greatly enhance the integrity of these cards as identification.” (read more)

Buyinga Reliable Shredder

Identity theft is a major crime in this day and age. Therefore, a good game plan needs to be a paramount concern for you. When it comes to identity theft protection you need to take all steps possible to ensure that you do not become the victim of this serious crime.

A common tactic that is employed by people involved in this type of crime is what commonly known as dumpster diving or trash mining. As these monikers suggest, through these tactics, an thief actually goes through trash in order to obtain documents and materials that contain personal or financial information about an individual. The bottom line is that when it comes to identity theft measures, a huge number of people do nothing when it comes to disposing of documents and materials that contain personal or financial information.   (read more)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

How to use the three D’s to avoid ID theft

According to a pamphlet recently issued by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, people can use the three D’s - Deter, Detect and Defend - to cope with a newer problem for North American citizens called identity theft
Identity theft is a serious crime. It occurs when your personal information is stolen and used without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes. Identity theft can cost you time and money. It can destroy your credit and ruin your good name.
DETER identity thieves by safeguarding your information and using the following six suggestions:
...First, shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before you discard them.
...Second, protect your Social Insurance number. Don’t carry your Social Insurance card in your wallet or write your Social Insurance number on a cheque. Give it out only if absolutely necessary or ask to use another identifier.
...Third, don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you know who you are dealing with.
...Fourth, never click on links sent in unsolicited emails; instead, type in a web address you know. Use firewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software to protect your home computer; keep them up-to-date.
...Fifth, don’t use an obvious password like your birth date, your mother’s maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Insurance number.
...Sixth, keep your personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your house.
DETECT suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements. Be alert to signs that require immediate attention: bills that do not arrive as expected, unexpected credit cards or account statements, denials of credit for no apparent reason, or calls or letters about purchases you did not make
Inspect your credit report. Credit reports contain information about you, including what accounts you have and your bill paying history. The law requires the major nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax and TransUnion — to give you a free copy of your credit report each year if you ask for it.
Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228, a service created by these companies, to order your free credit reports each year.
Your financial statements. Review financial accounts and billing statements regularly, looking for charges you did not make.
DEFEND against ID theft as soon as you suspect it. Place a "Fraud Alert" on your credit reports, and review the reports carefully. The alert tells creditors to follow certain procedures before they open new accounts in your name or make changes to your existing accounts. The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have toll-free numbers for placing an initial 90-day fraud alert; a call to one company is sufficient:
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
Placing a fraud alert entitles you to free copies of your credit reports. Look for inquiries from companies you haven’t contacted, accounts you didn’t open, and debts in your accounts that you can’t explain.
Close accounts. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or established fraudulently
Call the security or fraud departments of each company where an account was opened or changed without your okay. Follow up in writing, with copies of supporting documents.
Ask for verification that the disputed account has been closed and the fraudulent debts discharged.
Keep copies of documents and records of your conversations about the theft.
File a police report. File a report with law enforcement officials to help you with creditors who may want proof of the crime.
For more fraud tips, visit the Fraud and Security section of the Canadian Bankers Association website or PhoneBusters at http://www.phonebusters.com

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Avoid the Grandparents Scam...

 ...Don't Be Scammed By Phony "Grandkids"

Just when you may have thought scammers couldn't sink any lower, some have plunged to record depths. Recently, some scammers have bilked the elderly out of hundreds -- or thousands -- of dollars by posing as their "needy" grandchildren. 

According to Consumeraffairs.com, the grandparents scam usually works like this: 

You receive a phone call from someone who greets you with, "Hi Grandma." 


"Do you know who this is?" 



Without knowing it, you just made a mistake. Instead of saying, "No, I don't know who this is," you supplied the scammer with the name of a grandchild. He then proceeds to impersonate that grandchild. 

Your "grandchild" claims he's gotten into some kind of trouble -- auto accident, overdue rent, minor brush with the law -- and needs money to fix the situation. "Can you please help? But don't tell mom. She'd kill me if she found out!" 

This may seem like an obvious scam, but it's fooled plenty of people -- mostly because the scammers are good at what they do. They choose their targets carefully, tug on the heartstrings, and keep other family members "out of the loop" until it's too late. 

One scammer "victimized dozens of seniors and found his victims by scanning the phone book for old-fashioned sounding names. One of his victims, an 86-year-old grandmother, even had to use a walker in order to get to her bank and withdraw money for him." 

The scammers are cunning -- one couple could have sworn the guy REALLY was their grandson. 

Recommendation: There's one easy way to expose the fraud: DO NOT fill in any "blanks" for the scammer. For example: 

"Do you know who this is?" 

"No, I don't. Who is this?" 

"It's your granddaughter." 

"Really? Which one?" 

Most likely, the next sound you hear will be a click, followed by a dial tone. 

That's the easiest way not to fall for the grandparents scam.