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Use Google Alerts to monitor your online identity

Google logoGoogle provides a free service called ‘Google Alerts’. It allows you to be your own personal ‘identity managers’ or as I like to call it ‘preference managers’. Preference management will be a major business in years to come, especially given the volume of personal identifiable information we are all uploading to the Internet.

It’s my belief that ‘Preference Managers’ will be as important tomorrow as ‘financial advisors’ are today. The flip side will be the reputation services offered will be expensive, so most people will not be able to afford them.

That said there is a free service today, that will allow you to be your very own ‘Preference Manager’ and monitor and manage when your name, address, place of work etc. is referenced in the online world. Thank Google for ‘Google Alerts’:

  • Google Alerts will allow you to receive free regular email updates whenever any mention of your name, address ,website or keywords appears anywhere across Google Search.
  • You have the choice to monitor type of content (search query), which might be everything, news blogs, videos, discussions or books.
  • Specify a region and decide how often and how many results you want to receive.
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A fraudster steals your identity – read all your junk mail

junk_creditThe following is an example of how easy it is to steal your identity and commit identity fraud. Remember it’s not identity fraud until a fraudster actually uses your stolen data. All you need to appropriate your good name is your full name, address, date of birth, partners name, directorships of companies etc. This and more is all public information. (UK readers only)

Here is a simple scenario of why you should open your junk mail:

  • You arrive home and decide to open your junk mail.
  • You notice junk mail from a bank – a bank loan (normally monthly payments for a fixed period) has been taken out in your good name.
  • The loan indicates the purchase is for an Apple computer – you might receive an email confirmation from Apple (the fraudster might already have your Apple ID).

How did the fraudster(s) steal your personal information to obtain credit in your good name? Well, it actually depends on the bank. By this I mean no one banks process for authorising credit is the same.

  • Identity data is often taken from a mobile phone contract – remember each financial institution does different credit and identity checks.
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How to manage your Google identity when you die

Google_logo_150x155If you have lost a loved one, or don’t want your personal life to remain in the online world when you die, it might be a good idea to register with Google Inactive Account Manager. Why would you want to do this or worry about your online identity? It’s a simple answer – *Deceased identity fraud or as some refer to is – “ghosting” is a growing fraud against the dead. In some instances relatives can bear the cost, so it’s great to see Google introducing Inactive Account Manager. Facebook, it is now your move!

*Deceased identity fraud is a growing fraud both in the US, Europe and UK, so it’s even more important that you understand the risks of leaving your personal data in cyber space. Deceased identity fraud is where people assume the identities of dead people to fraudulently obtain credit card accounts, apply for loans and mobile phone contracts. Each year 2.5m deceased Americans were victims of “ghosting”. ID Analytics, March 2013

Why would you use Inactive Account Manager?

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How hackers possibly stole celebrity financial data

Credit_card_fraudA website xxxxx.su (think “simple past tense” here) on Monday published credit report details on several celebrities and public figures. These included Kim Kardashian, US Vice President Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Aston Kutcher, Donald Trump, Robert Mueller (FBI chief) and Arnold Schwarzenegger. So how did they do this?

Firstly if reports are correct, Equifax* (a US credit reference agency) was alerted to the fact that Personal Identifiable Information (PII) was used to access various celebrity and public figures credit files. The PII would start with collecting credit/debit card data – a card dump of 16 digits along with full name and card expiry dates and CVV code can easily be skimmed, but this would have to be done in person.

*AnnualCreditReport.com is a triple report facility allowing individuals to check their credit files with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Hackers used this site to bypass authentication measures.

So right now I’d guess the ‘hackers’ have been collecting the data from their network of people working in say retail for several months. Collecting Social Security Numbers (SSN), date of birth, phone numbers, and address (including previous) information isn’t that difficult to research online and dumpster diving. Fraudsters will spend considerable time collecting the data to build a profile of their “marks” (“marks” are identity fraud targets).

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UK identity fraud continues to be a problem

This week in the UK is National Identity Fraud Prevention Month. This is where partners from the public and private sector embark on a month-long initiative to help support UK citizens fight personal identity fraud in four simple steps. This year, the message is “Don’t let it be you“.

This message is backed by Action Fraud, CIFAS – The UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, Equifax, Symantec, Get Safe Online and Fellowes (shredders). Research commissioned for UK Fraud Prevention Month has highlighted some alarming data that should be a wake up call for UK citizens or so they claim.

Currently one in four UK residents have been affected by identity fraud (how is this classified?) compared with 17% across Europe. Also the research highlighted that UK identity fraud appears more of a problem than elsewhere in the Europe. The research identified 52% of people in the UK receive a scam email purporting to be from that persons bank compared with 31% in Europe.  What was also interesting was that 47% of UK people are still not taking basic precautions for protecting their identity i.e shredding (including envelopes folks :))

Lastly the research showed that 75% of the UK population has been exposed to identity fraud – is this actually the case? I think not. Here is why….

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