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Identity #theft alert: How 77,0000 Canadians lost $99 million last year in #extortion, #phishing and #romance scams

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

Identity #theft alert: How 77,0000 Canadians lost $99 million last year in #extortion, #phishing and #romance scams

Randy Chester was visiting one of his usual second-hand haunts this summer, a Value Village in Toronto’s east end, when he spied a beautiful shirt and vest for $20. Excited about his new finds, he tapped his debit card, only to be shocked by the resulting message: Insufficient funds.

“I was upset because I knew I had money,” he recalls. He tried the card again at a variety store, a restaurant and then at an ATM belonging to his bank, CIBC, and got the same message. When he called the bank to see what was going on, they asked him if he had been shopping at Yorkdale Mall in the city’s north end. There was a $1,500 purchase debited from his account, but Chester, a cancer patient on disability who uses a walker, had been at a medical appointment at the Princess Margaret Cancer Hospital that day.

“It’s like, hello!” he jokes. “Value Village, yes. Yorkdale Mall, no. I couldn’t get there with my walker.”

Then he remembered that a young man had called him on his flip-phone a few days before, claiming to be from CIBC and saying there was a problem with his debit card. Chester knew better than to talk to anyone about his banking information and hung up. The next day, he got a text message, purportedly from CIBC, that had the last four digits of his debit card number in it, and asked him to text back “Y” for yes if it was his account. He assumed because they had his number already, it was legitimate. He hit Y and send.

“The bank told me they would never send a text message,” says Chester, 61. “I didn’t know that.”

Once he reported the problem, the bank locked down his account, reversed the charges, and gave him a new bank card. But it’s impossible to tell how the scammers got his bank information, which is often the case when it comes to identity theft, says Jessica Gunson, the acting call centre and intake unit manager at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre in Thunder Bay, Ont.

“It certainly sounds like a variation on phishing,” she says, but notes that it’s unusual because the thief already had Chester’s bank information when he or she sent the text.

“We do know thieves have been known to dumpster dive, and it underlines the importance of having a paper shredder in the home and in the office. We need to treat our personal information like cash.” For that reason, experts advise leaving your Social Insurance Number card and birth certificate in a safe place at home, since thieves can do a lot of damage with your name, birth date and SIN.

The Canadian Anti-fraud Centre, jointly managed by the Ontario Provincial Police, the RCMP, the federal Competition Bureau, manages the central database for fraud complaints. Investigators across the country rely on its vast stores of data to compare notes on mass-marketing fraud and online scams. In 2016, it logged more than 77,000 complaints that resulted in losses of more than $99-million, with the top scams by complaint involving extortion, phishing, and fake computer-service companies. The frauds that resulted in the most money lost were romance scams, at more than $20-million.

Though Gunson could not begin to guess how criminals got Chester’s information, she said it is important never to leave a paper receipt of a transaction in or near the banking machine, and to use online banking to check balances, rather than printing them out at ATMs.

“When it comes to identity theft and identity fraud, the difficulty is in pinpointing the source. Unless (investigators) find a boiler room where people are mass producing ID, it is difficult to determine on an individual basis where it is coming from.”

The good news is most cases of identity theft and identity fraud result in little financial loss to the victims, but Gunson says it takes time and effort to untangle the mess.

In Montreal, actor Paul Burke figures someone used a surveillance camera or fake keypad or card reader to obtain his PIN, which they used to empty his account of $700 in the summer of 2010. He called the bank, which contacted the RCMP. And then he waited.

“ I called them back after a week and I said, ‘I have zero money. I need my money back,” says Burke, 48.

Within a day or two of that call he had the money in his account, but to this day he has no clue what happened.

“It was so bizarre. I consider it a one-off, but obviously I should be more careful.”

The post Identity #theft alert: How 77,0000 Canadians lost $99 million last year in #extortion, #phishing and #romance scams appeared first on National Cyber Security Ventures.

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A Student’s #Guide on How to Help #Protect Against #Identity Theft

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

A Student’s #Guide on How to Help #Protect Against #Identity Theft

Your college career is supposed to be about finding yourself and forging your identity—not having it stolen. But, in the United States, over 15 million consumers experienced identity fraud in 2016.

There’s a new victim of identity fraud every two seconds, according to the 2017 Fraud Study from Javelin Strategy & Research. Many of those victims could be college students.

The risk you face? A thief who steals your identity can commit crimes in your name or prevent you from getting that coveted job after graduation.

It’s smart to take steps to learn how to help protect yourself against identity theft. This guide can help. Think of it as “How to Help Protect Against Identity Theft 101.”

An identity-theft definition
What is identity theft? Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information — such as your name, address, Social Security number, date of birth, and more — and commits fraud in your name.

Criminals may use your personal data to take over your bank account or open new credit cards and run up debt, all while pretending to be you. They might file fake tax returns, buy or rent property, or commit a host of other crimes using your information.

As a college student, you have plenty to do without having to worry about identity theft. But, like a looming final exam, identity theft isn’t going away. Learning how to help protect yourself—and your financial future—is fast becoming a required course.

What’s in ‘A Student’s Guide’
Here’s what you’ll find in this guide:

Facts about identity theft
How students can help protect their identity
How identity theft happens—from low-tech to high-tech techniques
We’ve also included two additional sections:

A Teacher’s Guide on How to Help Protect Against Identity Theft
A Campus Police Officer’s Guide on How to Help Protect Against Identity Theft
Facts about identity theft
Here are two things you should know about identity theft: It’s big and it can affect your future.

How big? Consider these statistics:

In 2016, over 100 million hours were spent by identity fraud victims trying to resolve their issue, according to a 2017 Fraud Study from Javelin Strategy & Research.
22 percent of students found out they had been a victim of identity fraud after being denied credit or contacted by a debt collector, according to a 2015 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy & Research. Also, the study found students were three times more likely to be victims of identity-theft fraud than the general population.
Identity theft and your future
As for your future, you came to college to prepare for it. But if you become a victim of identity theft, you could spend hours, days, or more dealing with the mess. You also may face obstacles to starting a career and becoming financially independent.

That’s because when an identity thief commits fraud in your name, it can become part of your record. Your financial history—including an identity thief’s bogus dealings—will likely appear in your credit file. Credit bureaus store that data, and a credit file showing financial misdeeds can lead to a low credit score. A low credit score can make it hard to qualify for a variety of financial products and certain life necessities.

Lenders and other businesses typically check your credit report before deciding whether to lend you money or make other big decisions involving your future. Here are a few ways a damaged credit file can hurt you.

You may have a hard time getting approved for a credit card or loan.
You may not get a job offer from a potential employer.
You could have trouble renting an apartment.
You may be unable to get a cell phone account.
No one can prevent all identity theft. But you can take steps to help minimize the risk, and those start will helping to protect your personal information.

How students can help protect their identity
As a college student, you probably have personal information in a lot of places — in your computer, cell phone, academic file, wallet, even on the top of your desk. The goal is to protect this information.

Here’s how to help protect against identity theft from happening:

Guard your numbers. You have a lot of them — credit and debit card numbers, driver’s license number, PINs. Your Social Security number is your most valuable identifier and one of the most prized by identity thieves. Share these numbers only when absolutely necessary, and only when there’s a legitimate reason to provide them. It’s a good idea to memorize your important numbers and never leave them in plain view of someone else.

Avoid public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi networks are not secure. That means that when you go to a café to do work on your computer, someone can intercept what you’re looking at on the web. That might include your email, browsing history and passwords. Your defense? It’s always smart to use a virtual private network. A VPN creates an encrypted connection between your computer and the VPN server. As a result, a nearby hacker can’t intercept your information. If you’re tempted to perform a financial transaction—like, buying something on the web—a VPN is essential.

Beware of shoulder surfing. Always be aware of your surroundings. Take time to make sure someone isn’t glancing over your shoulder while you enter your PIN number at an ATM or key in personal information into your cell phone. Think twice about providing a credit card number over the phone if someone is within listening distance.

Don’t overshare. Identity thieves often seek to bundle your personal information. What you post on social networks can be a rich source of information. Identity thieves can glean details from your life that could help answer security questions on websites—like, “Where were your born?” or “What’s your favorite food?”

Keep personal information in a safe place. It’s easy to leave a credit card or driver’s license lying on your desk. But colleges are social places. It’s hard to predict who might pass through your living space and potentially steal the information on those cards. It could be a friend, or a friend of a friend, or an out-of-town guest of your roommate.

Shred documents that contain personal information. A paper shredder may not have the same college appeal as, say, a refrigerator in your room. But it’s essential for shredding papers that include your personal information. For instance, you probably receive credit card offers in the mail. Don’t just toss them in the trash, where someone could retrieve them. Shred them right away.

Protect your computer from malware. Malware—short for malicious software—includes computer viruses and spyware. It can get installed on your computer or mobile device and you might not realize it. Identity thieves use malware to steal personal information and commit fraud. What to do? Install security software from a reputable company. It’s also essential to keep all your software programs up to date. Another precaution: Back up your information in case a hacker corrupts your computer.

Get savvy about online scams. Identity thieves may try to trick you into clicking on links that install malware on your computer. Or they might set up fake websites offering amazing “deals” to lure you into providing your credit card information. Stick with reputable websites. Never click on a link or an attachment from someone you don’t know.

Keep track of your credit history. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act allows you to get a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus annually. This is where you can look to see if anyone has opened an account in your name. If you see something suspicious, you can take appropriate actions. You can get your free reports at annualcreditreport.com.

Use strong passwords on all your devices. A strong password includes letters, numbers and symbols. It’s a good idea to have separate passwords for all your devices, including computer, tablet, and cellphone. Never share your password with someone else. And remember to change it periodically. Or consider using a reputable password manager. A passport manager is a software application with strong security features that manages and stores your passwords.

Mind your bank cards. Notify your bank or credit card company if you misplace your credit or ATM card. They’ll likely cancel your card and send you a replacement with a new number. Usually they will review recent transactions with you to identify any suspicious activity. As a general rule, check your bank and credit card statements regularly to make sure all activity is legitimate.

A Teacher’s Guide to How to Help Protect Against Identity Theft
As a teacher, you could have the opportunity to help protect students from identity theft.

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the information in A Student’s Guide on How to Help Protect Against Identity Theft. It will help you understand how identity theft happens in college. And you can help guide students in how to minimize the risk.

A Teacher’s Guide includes a list of resources that you can share with your students to help them keep their identities safe.

Here’s a checklist of ways you can help.

Encourage students to practice smart online habits. Let students know, for instance, that not all networks on campus may be secure. If your course requires purchasing materials online, remind students to use a secure network or virtual private network (VPN). Discuss the risk of sharing personal information when students work collaboratively on projects.
Help keep your students’ numbers safe. It’s a good idea never to use a student’s Social Security number as official identifier in coursework or assignments. A student’s Social Security number is a key piece of information for identity thieves.
If appropriate, let students know there are key ways to help protect their identity. These range from checking their credit reports for suspicious accounts to never using a library or public computer to provide personal information.
Find out if your college offers any presentations or workshops on identity-theft protection. Keep a list of available resources handy.
Remind students to lock their computers and protect them with strong passwords. In general, students should never leave their computer where someone can snoop for personal information or steal it.
Point students to resources that can help provide additional information related to identity theft. Here are a few good ones:
U.S. Department of Education: Offers identity-theft prevention tips and materials.
U.S. Federal Trade Commission: Includes prevention and recovery tips. Also offers free publications in bulk.
Identity Theft Resource Center: Includes tips for students and parents.
Finally, it’s important to remind students that protecting their identities is important to their college career and future. Your identity is one of your most important assets.
A Campus Police Officer’s Guide on How to Help Protect Against Identity Theft
As a college law enforcement official, you know that your job is to keep the campus safe and secure. Helping students protect themselves against identity theft may be a crucial part of that.

Here’s a check list of things you might do:

Be familiar with A Student’s Guide to Help Protect Against Identity Theft. It will help you understand how identity theft happens in college, and how you can help students minimize the risk.
Encourage safe practices: Consider reminding students that campus theft often involves the loss of personal information—whether it involves a wallet, computer or personal documents.
Consider a policy for protecting lost devices, such as computers and cellphones that have been turned in to the campus police department. Establish a protocol for making sure the devices get back to their rightful owners.
Become an active partner in protecting against identity theft. Develop and distribute materials about what students can do avoid identity theft.
Encourage students to lock their dorm rooms or apartments when they’re away.
Point student to resources that can help provide additional information related to identity theft. Here are three good ones:
U.S. Department of Education: Offers identity-theft prevention tips and materials.
U.S. Federal Trade Commission: Includes prevention and recovery tips and facts about identity theft. Also offers free publications in bulk.
Identity Theft Resource Center: Includes tips for students and parents.

The post A Student’s #Guide on How to Help #Protect Against #Identity Theft appeared first on National Cyber Security Ventures.

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Michigan among #states most #vulnerable to #identity theft, fraud

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

Michigan among #states most #vulnerable to #identity theft, fraud

Michigan ranks among the worst states for identity theft and fraud, a new analysis by a personal finance website shows.

The report by WalletHub put Michigan at No. 6, behind California, Rhode Island, Washington D.C., Florida and Georgia, and just ahead of Nevada, Texas, New York and Connecticut.

The Michigan attorney general’s office, which is charged with protecting consumers, suggested that identity theft and fraud is likely not as bad in the state as the report suggests.

“It could be underreported in other states,” Andrea Bitely, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said, challenging the report’s results. “The more people in a state, the more likely you are to be up at the top.”

“But,” she added, “the attorney general is not taking this lightly.”

October has been designated National Cyber Security Awareness Month by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

WalletHub, which is based in Washington D.C., compared all 50 states and the nation’s capital this week using a data that looked at identity theft, fraud and public policy aimed at keeping personal information out of the hands of thieves.

While Michigan ranked No. 6 overall, it was No. 8 specifically for identity theft, No. 12 for fraud, and No. 10 for public policy.

Michigan was No. 2 for the most identity theft complaints per capita, behind Washington D.C., and ahead of Florida, and No. 4 for the most fraud complaints per capita, behind, Washington D.C., Florida, and Georgia and ahead of Texas.

“Equifax has proven that absolutely no one is immune to cybercrime,” the report said. “In September 2017, the credit bureau announced that it had fallen victim to one of the biggest data breaches in recent history.”

Moreover, the WalletHub report said: “Even credit bureaus, government agencies, and financial institutions — the organizations consumers trust and expect to treat their confidential information with utmost care and security — cannot take enough precautions to prevent such attacks.”

Earlier this month, Equifax announced that 2.5 million more consumers were impacted by the breach than originally thought, bringing the total number of Michiganders with potentially compromised information to 4.6 million.

To raise awareness of identity theft, the state attorney general’s office is holding two free seminars:

  • From 12:05 to 12:50 p.m. Friday at 525 West Ottawa Street, Lansing, in the G. Mennen Williams Auditorium.
  • From 12:05 to 12:50 p.m. Wednesday at 3068 West Grand Blvd., Detroit, in Room L150.

Still, the WalletHub report warned:

“While the federal government and various businesses in recent years have taken more aggressive measures to build up our defenses, criminal strategies continue to evolve and grow in sophistication, keeping consumers vulnerable to identity theft and fraud.”

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Chinese Bitcoin exchange denies hacking rumors after theft of $2.5M

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

A Chinese Bitcoin trading exchange has denied rumors that it suffered a hacking attack after its users lost a total of $2.5 million in Bitcoins to unknown actors. On 4 October 2017, OKex, a cryptocurrency exchange which functions as part of the Chinese Bitcoin company OKcoin, acknowledged that several of…

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Man sentenced for role in Regina mail, identity theft scheme

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

Less than a month after his associate was jailed for an identity theft scheme involving stolen mail and forged documents, the second man involved received his own prison term. This isn’t the first time James Donald Provost — who has a record of more than 200 convictions — has been…

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Yes, your child could be a victim of identity theft

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

Could your child have a credit report even if he or she has never used a credit card or borrowed money? It’s possible when identity theft is involved. Your child’s Social Security number (SSN) may be exposed in a number of ways — school records and medical records are just…

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How healthcare providers can curb medical identity theft

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

Medical records are valued at 20 to 50 times more than financial identities on the black market. Medical identity theft is on the rise. Medical records are a hot target for hackers because, according to the FBI, medical identities are valued at 20 to 50 times more than financial identities…

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Russian cyber hacker pleads guilty in identity theft case

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

A Russian cybercriminal identified as a leader of a $50 million identity theft and credit card fraud ring has pleaded guilty in Atlanta to helping to steal millions of debit card numbers and swiftly loot accounts in cities around the world, federal authorities said. Roman Valeryevich Seleznev pleaded guilty Thursday…

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5 Ways to Protect or Freeze Your Credit After Identity Theft

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

In the wake of the Equifax data breach, which compromised the personal information of up to 143 million Americans — nearly half of the U.S. population, according to NBC News — many Americans are looking to prevent potential identity theft. The Equifax breach is just the latest in a string…

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Westport teen behind 2015 fake shooter report charged with hacking, ID theft

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

A 17-year-old Westport juvenile — the same youth responsible for calling in a fake active shooter incident at Westport High School in 2015 — was arrested Thursday for hacking into a Texas man’s Amazon account and buying $1,000 in computer equipment, police said. Detective Jeffrey Majewski said the male juvenile,…

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