Cybercrime & Identity Theft Resources
As your trusted advisors, helping you achieve your life goals is part of our mission. This includes educating you on how to protect yourself from things that threaten those goals. In today’s digital world, one of the most crippling threats comes in the form of cybercrime and identity theft.
The following information provides tips and ideas that can empower you to protect yourself and your family. Please click on each of the drop-downs to learn more:
A security freeze is the best way to protect yourself from identity theft because doing so prevent thieves from opening up new lines of credit in your name. Starting Sept. 21, due to federal legislation, credit freezes became free for everyone, including children.
A security freeze takes commitment on your part because it also prevents you from opening up new lines of credit in your name without having first thawed or removed that freeze.
To perform a security freeze correctly, you will want to freeze your credit with all three consumer credit reporting agencies. This is a process that can be done most efficiently online.
This article provides additional info for freezing credit for a child and a link to each credit bureau: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2018/09/21/identity-theft-after-equifax-breach-how-freeze-childrens-credit/1366671002/
The process for freezing credit for kids is more involved and requires more steps as you have to prove you are the legal guardian. However, it is still the best method to protect children from having their identity stolen.
Additional notes regarding credit freezes:
When freezing your credit, you’ll be asked to supply your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information.
Freezing and unfreezing your credit in no way impacts your credit score. It also does not prevent you from getting your free annual credit report.
When opening a new line of credit, you can find out which credit bureau the creditor works with and then you will just need to temporarily thaw your credit with that bureau. Once the creditor has the info they need, you should re-freeze your credit.
Can a Deceased Person's Social Security Number be Used for Identity Theft?
This was a question asked during the presentation that I said I needed to go back and research – and just like the person I overheard at the spring training game down in Florida – I definitely learned some new things.
The quick answer is “Yes!” Identity theft of people who have dies can and does happen.
An identity thief’s use of a deceased person’s Social Security number may create problems for family members and can also victimizes merchants, banks, and other businesses.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a national file of reported deaths for the purpose of paying appropriate benefits. The file contains the following information: Social Security number, name, date of birth, date of death, state of last known residence, and zip code of last lump sum payment.
The SSA generally receives reports of death from a family member or a funeral home. Sometimes delays in reporting can provide time for identity thieves to collect enough personal information to open credit accounts or take other fraudulent actions using the deceased’s information.
To prevent this from happening, a surviving spouse or other authorized individual, such as an executor, can notify the credit bureaus. This will ensure that the deceased’s files are flagged with a “deceased” notation.
Signs of possible identity theft include calls from a creditor or collection agency on an account opened or used in the deceased’s name after death. If you discover such signs, contact the affected creditor or collection agency in writing, explaining that the account was opened or used fraudulently.
In most cases, a funeral director will report the person’s death to SSA. To ensure the death is reported promptly, a family member can make a report directly to an SSA representative by calling SSA toll-free, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, visit SSA at: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10008.html
To flag the credit files of a person who is deceased, the surviving spouse or executor needs to notify the three national credit bureaus in writing. The surviving spouse or executor must include the following information along with the alert request: 1) a copy of death certificate, and 2) proof of executorship or marriage. Then mail the notification documents to the credit bureaus at the addresses below.
P.O Box 105518
Atlanta, GA 30348-5518
Experian National Consumer Assistance Center
P.O. Box 9701
Allen, TX 75013
1561 E. Orangethorpe Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92831
Two-factor identification requires a password and some other identifier – frequently it is entering in a four-digit code sent to your cell phone – when accessing a web site or app. In some cases it is with each login; other times it is when just logging into a new device. Below are links on how to do this for some companies and institutions. If your bank does not have you set up for this, it’s likely that you just need to contact them and ask how to enroll.
Below are links to information and third-party reviews about Password Management software
Comparisons of Password Managers:
The following is an article on password management software:
Other Online Resources:
This Federal Trade Commission web site walks identity theft victims through the various processes to report and recover their identity.
This simple web site allows you to enter in any word you are considering using as a password and tells you how long it would take to hack that password. It is also safe to enter in existing passwords to see how strong they are as you are only entering in passwords – not the web sites or user IDs they are associated with.
This is the web site for Brian Krebs, one of the leading authorities on cybercrime and cybersecurity. Krebs was a reporter for the Washington Post from 1995-2009, authoring more than 1,300 blog posts for the Security Fix blog and produced eight investigative front page stories on cybercrime. His site regularly produces interesting news and helpful tips.
This web site allows internet users to check if their personal data has been compromised by data breaches. The service collects and analyzes dozens of database dumps containing information about hundreds of millions of leaked accounts, and allows users to search for their own information by entering their username or email address. Users can also sign up to be notified if their email address appears in future data dumps.