Online Prevention Tips

Identity theft is the No. 1 complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission with over 15 million victims each year. Estimated cost of identity theft is over $50 billion.

Along with identity theft victims, there are now individuals who had their personal information fraudulently used. Providing some protection to the online dangers.

Even if a recently loved one has died, they can be targeted in identity theft as well.

Send copy of the death certificate to the IRS (the funeral home may help). Cancel driver’s license, notify credit agencies, banks, insurance, and financial institutions.

Several steps are available in all kinds of identity theft cases. Stay aware of your privacy settings on the sites you use. Report a identity theft incident to the credit bureaus and ask the fraud unit to place a ” fraud alert” on your credit report. Order copies of your report for reviewing for additional fraudulent accounts opened or unauthorized charges in your name. Consider closing the compromised accounts.

Follow up in writing and keep the reports you have flied with law enforcement.

Contact bank or financial institution to cancel accounts after checking for fraud.

Check for outstanding checks and consider the option to file a compliant with the federal Trade Commission by calling their toll free hotline 1-877-IDTHEFT.

You may have lost your driver’s license and can ask to flag it if you are a victim of identity theft. To reach the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles fraud section call 850-617-2405. Florida’s Attorney General provides hotline for victims of fraud for assistance. 866-966-7226. The US Postal Inspection Service will investigate if the mail has been stolen and used to obtain new credit or commit fraud. Contact the nearest district office to submit documentation and reports for additional help.

In today’s world, technology has the real power to change your life, for better or for worse. Set a good strong password or pin for every desktop, laptop, smart phone and tablet you own. A lost device without a screen lock becomes an unprotected gateway for thefts who may be able to access your email messages, banking and social accounts, changing your passwords and then taking control of your life.

Use stronger and even strange passwords to have a better chance of protection.

Your birth date? The last four digits of your social security number? Your phone number? These are horrible, no good, terrible pins, do not use them. Unsolicited mailings can be intercepted and filled out by identity thieves who have credit cards sent to an alternate address, start piling up debt using your good name. You can put a stop to most of these offers by calling 888-567-8688. The service, run by Consumer Credit Reporting Industry, will turn off the spigot permanently or for five years.

If you give a company your name and address, chances are good your information will be added to the direct-marketing lists and used by other companies to send you solicitations. Remove your info from many mailing lists if you don’t want the offers. If you give a company your name and address, chances are good the information will be added to direct-marketing lists and used by other companies to send you solicitations. Remove your info from many mailing lists if you don’t want the offers.

Return to Sender. Life as a direct-marketing target: You go to the mailbox, filter out offers you don’t want, put in the recycling bin and repeat. Find an unwelcome letter with the phrase “Address Correction Requested” or seeing “Return Postage Guaranteed,” you have an alternative. You can write “Refused/Return to Sender” and mail it back—no postage required. Making the marketing company pay the return-trip postage on the marketing letter. It’s a tiny win, but it is still a win.

Another development is controlling the TV data, by hunting through your TV’s “smart” settings for the feature—which may be called Live Plus, SynPlus, or anything but ACR—and turn it off. Facebook can extract your location or whereabouts from your mobile phone. Turn the function off using your phone settings. For an iPhone, you’ll find the controls under Location Services. If you’ve an Android device, look under Facebook Permissions in Applications Manager.

Check Links Before You Click Suspicious of a link in an email or online ad? Check its safety with Sucuri SiteCheck or urlvoid.com. First, hover over the suspicious link and the full address will appear in the bottom corner of your browser; right-click to access the drop-down menu, and select Copy Link. Now paste the URL into your link checker to get a report. Foolproof? No. A good hint if there’s a problem? Yes.

Surprised to find an email message from a bank or social site asking you to log on?

Don’t click; open a new browser window and type in the address of the company website instead. Be aware of the privacy settings on the sites you use. Be leery if an institution asks for your log-on credentials through email or a text message. Instead of directly replying to the request, consider calling the company customer service.

Public Wi-Fi is so dangerous because literally anyone can “spoof” a Wi-Fi spot. While you’re surfing on the phony network, the network’s creator can access all of your data using easily obtained software. Unfortunately, most people will click on these spots and have no idea they’re not on the real Wi-Fi spot created by Starbucks or Holiday Inn. As you navigate the internet using the passcodes to various websites, the criminal is rapidly downloading all of your sensitive information.

This idea is especially scary since free Wi-Fi is available practically everywhere these days, from the local McDonald’s to the mall. The majority of people do not know to take the proper steps to safeguard their information, because they don’t realize how easy personal information is retrieved and used for identity theft.

Don’t become an easy victim to the criminals stealing your identity the next time you’re surfing the internet on a free Wi-Fi spot at a hotel, airport, or anywhere else.