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Top Tips to Stop Tax-time Identity Theft – Part 1


Tax Time Identity Theft: Part 1 – Tax Preparers | Part 2 – Protecting Computers | Part 3 – IRS & Tax Scams

Tax season can be a stressful time of year for individuals and business owners alike, especially those who fail to plan in advance and then sacrifice focus and performance as they race to meet the filing deadline. But that stress is nothing compared to the potential destruction of your financial reputation brought on by tax-time identity theft. And tax-related identity theft is on a precipitous rise.

An audit published on July 19, 2012 by the U.S. Treasury Department, found that the IRS paid fraudulent tax returns to identity thieves worth a total of $5 Billion in 2011. The study also predicted that the IRS (and therefore, you as a taxpayer) will lose an estimated $21 Billion in fraudulent claims over the next five years. Tax-related information is the Holy Grail of identity theft because it contains virtually every piece of information, including a Social Security number (SSN), which a fraudster needs to defraud you.

Posted in Identity Theft Prevention by Identity Theft Speaker .
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Top Tips for Tax ID Theft Prevention: Part 3

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Tax Time Identity Theft: Part 1 – Tax Preparers | Part 2 – Protecting Computers | Part 3 – IRS & Tax Scams

Stop falling for IRS and tax ID theft scams.

Because we are distracted during tax season, we are primed to be socially engineered or manipulated by tax scams and can end up becoming the victim of tax ID theft. Here’s how to combat the problem:

  • When someone asks for your SSN, TIN or other ID, refuse until you verify their legitimacy.
  • If someone promises to drastically reduce your tax bill or speed up your tax return, suspect fraud and tax ID theft.
  • If anyone asks you for information in order to send you your check, they are scamming for your identity. The IRS already knows where you live (and where to send your refund).

Posted in Identity Theft Prevention by Identity Theft Speaker .
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Will breach-proof internet eliminate need for data security training?

Data Security Training Breach Proof Internet

Although there is a great deal of excitement over the concept of a breach-proof internet, for now Data security training is the only foolproof protection businesses have against the Syrian Electronic Army, Chinese hackers and a host of other internet-based attackers.

Such attackers know that employees tend to be the first line of defense against hackers targeting businesses and they’ve been succesfully breaching sensitive data—financial records, trade secrets and personal information — in more and more high profile cases.

But what if the internet was “hacker-proof”?

Researchers at Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico believe they have found a way to use quantum physics to cloak internet communications.  Businessweek explains that this method, which researchers call “network-centric quantum communications,” uses “digital keys, generated by a truly random set of numbers, theoretically [leaving] hackers with no way to figure out the key’s internal coding.”

As you might imagine, it’s a complicated process, and one that is not without its flaws:

Posted in Cyber Data Security by Identity Theft Speaker .
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Your Online Data Security may be in Danger if you use Skype

Online Data Security Skype

Skype is often praised for being free to use, but your online data security may be the real price you pay.

A recent experiment conducted by Ars Technica, with the help of independent security researcher Ashkan Soltani, proved that Skype operator, Microsoft, just can’t keep its nose out of private messages.  Soltani and Ars Technica sent through four test links and discovered that two of them were clicked on.  Even though snooping is technically within its right due to the terms of use customers agree to, the Skype encryption assurance states:

“All Skype-to-Skype voice, video, and instant message conversations are encrypted.  This protects you from potential eavesdropping by malicious users.”

I guess they consider themselves exempt. Of course, Skype reserves the right to see personal details in order to delete viruses and protect against fraud. In other words, they intend to use this ability for your own good.

Posted in Online Privacy by Identity Theft Speaker .
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Why the boss should also be the privacy expert

Privacy Expert Boss

If you’re the head of a company, it’s your duty to be no less than a privacy expert. Cyber criminals are betting on the fact that you aren’t one, and your whole company could suffer if you don’t take action to become one.

We’ve discussed before the necessity of keeping employees well-trained against cyber attacker’s tricks, such as spear-phishing. Well, it turns out that the big bosses are actually even more likely to fall for social engineering attacks according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

The article quoted a study by Verizon that indicates these executives are often exempt from company-wide security rules and are more likely to open email or click on links that expose their company’s secure information.  Especially at a time when so many are hit with phony emails, no one can afford to be lax on cyber security. CEOs and other high-level bosses are usually highly visible, public-facing, have access to proprietary information, and are often disengaged from the online security process: in other words, they are the perfect target. 

Posted in Online Privacy by Identity Theft Speaker .
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Scorecard grades tech companies’ online privacy protection efforts

Online Privacy Protection Scorecard

We trust our information with companies every day, but online privacy protection may not be their highest priority.

Some of the most widely-used tech companies in the world do a miserable job of protecting users’ online privacy. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has gathered data on the privacy protection efforts practiced by organizations like WordPress, Apple, Comcast and others (many of whom have also been victims of data security breaches recently) for its annual “report card.” Then it awarded stars to the companies as if they were hotels.

The results are abysmal for anyone who still thinks that corporate behemoths have their users’ best interests at heart.

Stars were given based on how well a company performed in various categories. Out of 18 companies measured, only two passed with flying colors in all six categories: Twitter and internet service provider The rest scored poorly. Facebook earned 3 out of 6 starsApple and AT&T scored one star and Verizon struck out with zeroes across the board. If this were a real report card, most of these companies would have been expelled.

Posted in Online Privacy by Identity Theft Speaker .
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Social Media Privacy Laws Provide Protection for Employers and Employees

Social Media Privacy Laws

Do you know your social media privacy rights as they pertain to your workplace?

They will be different depending on where you live because the laws vary from state to state. Utah recently became the fifth state to put into effect such a law that governs the rights of both employees and employers. Legislation has also been introduced or is pending at the Federal level and in 35 states.

This has become a hot topic because more than 90 percent of employers use social media sites to help screen applicants. Since applicants have the ability to determine their online privacy settings to decide what is out there for public viewing, some employers have asked for access to their private social media content to get the real picture.

Posted in Social Media Privacy by Identity Theft Speaker .
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How long will Weiner’s bad online reputation haunt him?

Weiner Online Reputation

Anthony Weiner is notorious for a gaffe made on Twitter, but will his online reputation recover?

I’m sure everyone remembers the infamous 2011 incident when Representative Weiner became something of a national punchline for lewd tweets that revealed his “private data,” so to speak.

Or do we remember?

At the time, Weiner’s indiscretions left him a laughingstock and a near-disgrace in one fell swoop. Now, as he ramps up a possible New York City mayoral campaign, he’s returned to the same social platform that almost cost him his political career. Is it possible that we will forget and forgive so soon?

A natural byproduct of our 140-character driven world is that everything is always old news. By the time the next tweet or Facebook post appears, we have forgotten the last one. Our online reputation, on the other hand, never disappears. And at some point, we will again value character in our public figures – making digital reputation a permanent, if often inaccurate, representation of that character.   

Posted in Digital Reputation & Trust by Identity Theft Speaker .

Anti-fraud training could keep you from getting peeled like The Onion

Anti-Fraud Training The Onion Hacked
The Syrian Electronic Army strikes again, in a case that could have been avoided through anti-fraud training. 

Satirical news site The Onion has a reputation for fooling people with its outrageous fake headlines, but earlier this month, it was The Onion’s turn to get tricked. It may not be the Associated Press, but The Onion’s Twitter feed has more than 4 million followers, and that’s undoubtedly part of why the SEA targeted it in another phishing scam that led to that account getting compromised. As it had previously, the SEA used the opportunity to post its own damaging tweets before order was restored (although one questions the wisdom of crafting fake posts for an organization known for being sarcastic anyway).

On its official tech blog, The Onion gave a detailed description of how the hack took place.

Posted in Fraud Detection & Prevention by Identity Theft Speaker .