Tag Archive for: identity theft expert

Nigerian Scam Takes a New Form

Nigerian scams happen everyday to thousands of victims in various ways: email, snail mail, fax, Facebook and for the first time in our experience, the “Contact Us” page on our website. This is significant because it shows the the technology of the Nigerian crime rings has advanced enough to foil the Captcha device on our website.

Nigerian scams (more accurately known as advanced-fee fraud) have been around for ages and were named because they originated in Nigeria. To create the scam, criminals generally claim that there is a large sum of money that can only be released to a relative of some deceased member of royalty.  Victims are asked to provide a bank account into which the money can be transferred and are promised a large percentage of the money for performing the service. In some cases, victims may also be asked to pay a fee or a series of fees for the release of the money.  Once the victim has provided account information, the criminals will often drain their bank accounts, and occasionally use that information to open new, fraudulent accounts.

If you have never seen one before I highly recommend you read this. They change frequently and recently have been taking more complex forms, but the intention is always the same: to steal your money in exchange for the prospect of wealth that never materializes.  After seeing how they try to lure you into helping them with a compelling story,  you will be able to spot them with ease and protect yourself form becoming a victim.

From: refugee camp (helise)
Date: July 24, 2010 4:11:08 AM MDT
To: john@
Subject: Contact Submission [ThinkLikeASpy.com]

Below is a contact request from ThinkLikeASpy.com

Name: helise
Email: refugee camp

Dear friend,
My nane (sic) is Miss Helise Mambo Robert.I am constrained to contact you because of the maltreatment I was receiving from my uncle since the death of my parents. She has taken away all my late father’s treasury and properties from me since the unexpected death of my beloved parents. Meanwhile I wanted to escape to the Europe but he hides away my international passport and other valuable traveling documents. Luckily, He did not discover where I kept my father’s file which contained important documents. So, I decided to run to the refugee camp where I’m in a the Refugee now.
My late father of blessed memory deposited the sum of Fifteen Million five hundred thousand US Dollars.(US$15.5M)some where with my name as the “next of kin”.The money was inherited from my father who was the Chairman of the Zimbabwe Gold Mining Corporation before he was assassinated by the country’s president, Robert Mugabe. However, I shall forward you with the necessary documents on confirmation of your acceptance to assist me receive the fund in your country for further investments on my behalf. As you will help me in an investment, and I will like to complete my studies when I will come over to your country as I was in my 1st year in the university when the crisis started.This is the reason why I decided to contact you.
The money has been lodged with a company, since 2008. I now want to move this money abroad and invest it in Profitable ventures, as the time is now ripe for such move.I was in the school when my father and mother were assasinated (sic) by the president.Our houses and other properties were distroyed (sic).The group pretended to be rebels but we knew that it is the president that sent them because he has disagrement (sic)with him on the issue of killing the white people who are farmers in my country.My father opposed the killing and my father told him that he will expose him if he goes ahead in killing the with farmers.


1.Firstly to assist me move this money to any stable country abroad.
2.To assist me invest the money in profitable ventures in your country or any other suitable country where you have good connections.
3. To help me re-locate me to the suggested country.
4. To manage the money in a profitable manner, preferably a joint venture deals with you. It is risk free.
Immediately I hear from you I will detail you on the procedure of moving the money to your country.

For your assistance you will get 30% (Thirty Percent) of the total amount.
You can contact me through my e-mail above for more details.
Sincere regards

Miss Helise Mambo Robert

John Sileo became America’s top Identity Theft Speaker after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His newest Book Privacy Means Profit:Prevent Identity Theft and Secure You and Your Bottom Line is available now. His clients include the Department of Defense, the FTC, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.

Online Privacy: 5 Good Habits

People will do something—including changing their behavior—only if it can be demonstrated that doing so is in their own best interests as defined by their own values.
—Marshall Goldsmith, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

People don’t change bad habits until they have a compelling reason. Too often that compelling reason is the result of a habit’s negative outcome; but the promise of positive rewards resulting from the establishment of good habits can be a strong motivator. In the workplace, aligning responsible information stewardship with personal and professional gain can set the stage for good privacy habits.

Here are 5 steps you can take towards perfecting your own Privacy Habits:

  1. Tighten up online passwords. Use a password management software like 1Password, Dashlane, LastPass or Keeper to create, protect and share long, strong, alpha-numeric-symbol passwords.
  2. Use Two-Step Logins. Watch this video about two-factor authentication for one of the best tools to protect your online accounts.
  3. Secure your Facebook. Tighten up the privacy settings and make your profile only available to your friends. We do a lot of posts on Facebook Privacy Settings because they have a tendency to change frequently. Watch the site and subscribe to our newsletter to stay current on how to protect yourself and your profile on Facebook.
  4. Opt-Out. Take the time to call 1-888-567-8688 or visit www.OptOutPreScreen.com
    to stop financial junk mail from ending up at your house and inevitably – your trash. Those mailers give thieves an easy way to set up credit card accounts in your name without your consent. They spend money on the card and default on the balance, leaving you with the mess of proving that you didn’t make the purchases.
  5. Order your free credit report. By law, you are entitled to one free report from each agency once a year. The easiest way to get a report is to visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. Make sure that you request your free annual credit report from one credit agency only, as you can order the other two reports throughout the remainder of the year. By spreading the reports out over time, you will be monitoring your files consistently and frequently.


Are Your Kids Safe Online?

As a parent you are often worried about what your kids are being exposed to on the Internet. Apparently so are Facebook and the PTA. They have teamed up to teach parents and children about responsible Internet use. They plan to cover cyber-bullying, internet safety and security and “citizenship online,” according to a news release.

“Nothing is more important to us than the well-being of the people, especially the many teenagers, who use Facebook,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer.

Facebook is the number one social media site with over 500 million users and a minimum age requirement of 13. Even that requirement can be easily fudged because Facebook has no way of verifying a user’s age besides asking for their birth date when they register. Parents are having trouble deciding whether to let their children join Facebook prematurely and what they should be cautious of if they do so.

Learn more on Protecting Your Children Online.

It is important to be educated when dealing with any form of social media or social networking website. Social networking is immensely powerful and is here for the long run, but we must learn to harness and control it. You should know the ins and outs, pros and cons, risks and rewards to using these online tools. Because teens and children don’t necessarily have the life experiences to recognize the risks, parents must educate themselves and pass that knowledge on with open and honest discussions on Facebook and Online Safety.

John Sileo became one of America’s leading Social Networking Speakers & sought after Identity Theft Experts after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.

Facebook Announces New Privacy Settings

Last week we announced that Facebook was changing their privacy settings – again! Well the new changes have arrived and should be active on your Facebook the next time you log in. The Instructions that will lead you through the new settings will be posted at the top of your mini-feed.

By clicking on the Learn More button you will be directed to the Controlling How You Share Page.

This page will contain a long list of descriptions of your privacy settings, what you can control and what is made public and out of your control.  Click Edit your privacy settings to make the appropriate changes to protect your information and what you want to share on Facebook.

Take the time to make sure you go step by step. Missing one option or click could mean sharing more information than you would like. Make sure you visit your Applications and Websites, Block Lists (if there is a specific person you are hiding your page from), and your Basic Directory Information.

Keep in mind, while the ability to understand your privacy settings has been made simpler, the settings themselves have not changed. You are still sharing information with businesses and advertisers with every “like” you click. Your interests are still linked and by choosing friends of friends you are still basically allowing everyone to view your profile.

Also, one of the main gripes about the recent Facebook Changes was the new “Instant Personalization” feature, which provides information about you to Yelp, Pandora, and a new Microsoft service called Docs.com to help them customize your experience. The main issue was that it was turned on by default – and it still is! If you don’t want to share this information, make sure you visit the Privacy Settings for Instant Personalization and turn it off.

Although these settings will help you keep your Facebook Profile protected, it isn’t foolproof. We offer a Facebook Safety Survival Guide that can help you protect yourself and your children online.  The best way to protect yourself while on social networking sites is to limit what you post and use your common sense.

John Sileo helps businesses tackle social networking privacy concerns. His clients include the Department of Defense, the FTC, Pfizer and the FDIC. John also wrote the Facebook Safety Survival Guide. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference or working directly with your business, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076

Medical Identity Theft Increasing

Medical records are one-stop shopping for identity thieves. There is no need to slowly gather bits and pieces of someone’s personal information – it’s all packaged together: Social Security number, name, address, phone number, even payment accounts. Crooks have received everything from medication to a liver transplant using a stolen identity. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg! More than just medical treatment is at stake. Once a thief’s medical information is entered into your records, it’s extremely difficult to get rid of that information. It’s conceivable, for example, that at a later date, you’ll need a Type A blood transfusion but be given the thief’s Type B with dire consequences.

Identity theft of medical records has more than doubled since 2008, as stated in Javelin’s 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report. It’s not difficult to imagine the misery that a million Americans have suffered during the past two years when their identities were stolen. And the Poneman Institute, in their National Study on Medical Identity Theft, states that another half million people loaned their insurance cards to uninsured family members and friends. The unsavvy lenders have incurred huge medical bills in this “friendly fraud”.

Larry Ponemon says that, on average, it costs $20,000 to resolve a medical identity theft case. Unlike credit card companies,where the banks incur the losses, the victims often have to pay for the fraudulent care and sometimes lose their health insurance or have to pay higher premiums to restore their accounts. Even though there are HIPAA laws to protect your privacy, not all health care organizations have strict safeguards in place.

The risk goes even further: if someone is treated using your identity, your medical records will more than likely be altered and could compromise your treatment and ability to get service.  According to Larry Ponemon, “stolen medical records offer a complete dossier to get a passport in a victim’s name that could be used for terrorism.”

Ways to Protect Yourself:

  • When you receive an Explanation of Benefits from insurers, read it carefully and save – don’t throw it away even when it says “this is not a bill”! If a treatment date or doctor’s name is not familiar to you, call the insurer and the billing physician to resolve.
  • If your wallet is stolen, contact your insurance company just as you would your credit card company. Don’t carry your Medicare card in your wallet. Carry a photocopy and black out the last four digits of the SS#.
  • Urge your health care providers to ask patients for photo ID’s.
  • Ask your doctors for copies of everything in your medical files, even if you have to pay for them.
  • Monitor your credit report at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. If you see medical billing errors, contact your insurer and the three credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.
  • Avoid Internet and storefront offers of free treatment and supplies.
  • Ask for a list of benefits paid in your name and an “accounting of disclosures” which shows who got your records.

John Sileo became one of America’s leading Information Control Speakers & sought after Identity Theft Experts after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.

Tax Time Identity Theft Prevention Tips

Identity theft speaker John Sileo shares his tax-time identity theft prevention tips.

This past week, I have been helping a gentleman recover from the theft of all of his tax records.  Before it is all over, this gentleman will have spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars simply preventing any further fraudulent use of his identity. That doesn’t account for any damages already done to his finances, criminal record, medical records or social security benefits. There is very little that is more damaging and dangerous to your identity than losing your tax records. After all, tax records generally contain the most sensitive personally identifying information that you own, including Social Security Numbers (for you, your spouse and maybe even your kids), names, addresses, employers, net worth, etc. Because of this high concentration of sensitive data, tax time is like an all-you-can-eat buffet for identity thieves. Here are some of the dishes on which they greedily feed:

  • Tax documents exposed on your desk (home and work)
  • Private information that sits unprotected in your tax-preparer’s office
  • Improperly mailed, emailed and digitally transmitted or filed records
  • Photocopiers with hard drives that store a digital copy of your tax forms
  • Copies of sensitive documents that get thrown out without being shredded
  • Improperly stored and locked documents once your return is filed
  • Tax-time scams that take advantage of our propensity to do whatever the IRS says (even if it’s not really the IRS asking)

Top Tips for Tax Time Identity Theft Protection Safe Preparation. Your greatest risk of identity theft during tax season comes from your tax preparer (if you use one) either because they are dishonest (less likely) or because they are careless with your sensitive documents (more likely). Just walk into a tax-preparers office on April 1 and ask yourself how easy it would be to walk off with a few client folders containing mounds of profitable identity. The devil is in the disorganization. Effective Solutions:

  • Choose your preparer wisely. How well do you know the person and company preparing your taxes? Did they come personally recommended, or could they be earning cash on the side by selling your personal information. Do they have an established record and are they recommended by the Better Business Bureau?
  • Interview your preparer before you turn over sensitive information. Ask them exactly how they protect your privacy (do they have a privacy policy?). Are they meeting with you in a room full of client files, or do they take you to a neutral, data-free, conference room or office? Do they leave files out on their desk for the cleaning service to access at night, or do they lock your documents in a filing cabinet or behind a secure office door? Do they protect their computers with everything listed in the next section?
  • Asking professional tax preparers these questions sends them a message that you are watching! Identity thieves tend to stay away from people they know are actively monitoring for fraud. Remember, losing your identity inside of their accounting or bookkeeping business poses a tremendous legal liability to their livelihood.

Secure Computers. Last year, more than 80 million Americans filed their tax returns electronically. To prevent electronic identity theft, you must take the necessary steps to protect your computer, network and wireless connection. Additionally, your tax preparer should be working only on a secured computer, network and internet connection. Hire a professional to implement the following security measures:

  • Strong alpha-numeric passwords that keep strangers out of your system
  • Anti-virus and anti-spyware software configured with automatic updates
  • Encrypted hard drives or folders (especially for your tax preparer)
  • Automatic operating system updates and security patches
  • An encrypted wireless network protection
  • A firewall between your computer and the internet
  • Remove all file-sharing programs from your computer (limewire, napster, etc.)

Private information should be transmitted by phone using your cell or land line (don’t use cordless phones). In addition, never email your private information to anyone unless you are totally confident that you are using encrypted email. This is a rarity, so don’t assume you have it. In a pinch, you can email password protected PDF documents, though these are relatively easy to hack. Stop Falling for IRS Scams. We have a heightened response mechanism during tax season; we don’t want to raise any red flags with the IRS, so we tend to give our personal information without much thought. We are primed to be socially engineered. Here’s how to combat the problem:

  • Make your default answer, “No”. When someone asks for your Social Security Number or other identifying information, refuse until you are completely comfortable that they are legitimate. Verify their credentials by calling them back on a published number for the IRS.
  • If someone promises you (by phone, fax, mail, or in person) to drastically reduce your tax bill or speed up your tax return, don’t believe them until you have done your homework (call the IRS directly if you have to). These schemes flourish when the government issues economic stimulus checks and IRS refunds.
  • 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 rebate)! By the way, the IRS will NEVER email you for any reason (e.g., promising a refund, requesting information, threatening you).
  • To learn more about IRS scams, visit the only legitimate IRS website, which is www.irs.gov. If you are hit by an IRS scam, contact the IRS’s Taxpayer Advocate Service at www.irs.gov/advocate.

Mail Safely. A good deal of identity theft takes place while tax documents or supporting material are being sent through the mail. If you are sending your tax return through the mail, follow these steps:

  • Walk the envelope inside of the post office and hand it to an employee. Too much mail is stolen out of the blue USPS mailboxes and driveway mailboxes that we use for everything else to make them safe.
  • Send your return by certified mail so that you know it has arrived safely. This sends a message to each mail carrier that they had better provide extra protection to the document they are carrying.
  • Consider filing electronically so that you take mail out of the equation. Make sure that you have a well-protected computer (discussed above).

Shred and Store Safely. Any copies of tax documents that you no longer need can be shredded using a confetti shredder. Store all tax records, documents and related materials in a secure fire safe. I recommend spending the extra money to have your safe bolted into your home so that a thief can’t walk away with your entire identity portfolio. Make sure that your tax provider appropriately destroys and locks up any lingering pieces of your identity as well. Tax returns provide more of your private information in a single place than almost any other document in our lives. Don’t waste your tax refund recovering from this crime.

John Sileo became one of America’s leading Social Networking Speakers & sought after Identity Theft Experts after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.

Detection-Fraud: 15 Signs You’re a Victim of Identity Theft!

Detection: Fraud and Identity Theft.

“Consumers are spending considerably more time on fraud Resolution, up to an average of 30 hours in 2008. This increase may be attributed to the increased sophistication of fraud schemes.”
–    2009 Identity Fraud Survey Report, Javelin Strategy & Research

Most cases of identity theft are discovered by the victim, which reinforces the importance of monitoring your various accounts for suspicious behavior. Here are a few of the most common warning signs for the detection of fraud, identity theft or data breach:

The Top 15 Ways Victims Detect Identity Theft

  1. You receive a data breach notice in the mail from a company you do business with.
  2. Your bills or statements are not arriving in your mail (or email) on time.
  3. You notice unauthorized charges on your credit card bill or debit card statement.
  4. You notice new accounts or erroneous information on your credit report.
  5. You are denied credit for a purchase.
  6. You receive credit card bills for cards you don’t own.
  7. You are contacted by a collection agency about an item you didn’t purchase.
  8. You receive bills for unknown purchases, rental agreements or services.
  9. Businesses won’t accept your check or credit card.
  10. You are unable to set up new banking, loan or brokerage accounts.
  11. You notice withdrawals on your checking, savings or brokerage account that you didn’t make.
  12. The checks listed on your bank statements don’t reconcile with those listed in your check register. Many times these checks are made out to “Cash.”
  13. You notice a downward trend in benefits on your Annual Social Security Statement.
  14. The police show up at your door.
  15. A subpoena to appear in court arrives in the mail.

According to Javelin Strategy & Research, over the past 3 years, stolen data being used in less than one week jumped from 33% to 71%.  Identity thieves count on our lackadaisical attitude toward monitoring our wealth. Remember, actively monitoring your accounts, credit reports, and other identity documents is the best strategy to catch identity theft in its earliest stages, before it becomes a problem.

John Sileo became America’s leading Identity Theft Speaker & Expert after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.

Discover and Recover Quickly from Identity Theft in 2010

Picture 16

Since you can’t protect yourself 100% from identity theft, make sure that you Monitor the Signs! Heading into a new year people make many resolutions that they may or make not stick with, but protecting your identity should always be a top priority. Here are 3 effective tips to help discover and recover quickly if you become the victim of identity theft:

  1. Create a Dossier – A dossier is a collection of documents that are stored in a fire-safe and that you regularly review and update. It is a paper summary of your identity as the outside world sees it (businesses, organizations and governments). It is made up of several key documents: your credit report, bank and credit card statements, Social Security statement, wallet photocopies and your password list. Virtually any of your vital documents could be included in your dossier as well (birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc.). A dossier is a place where you can quickly access a complete record of your vital information in case your identity is stolen and you will have the necessary account and phone numbers at hand to cancel credit cards, bank accounts and to file credit disputes. And you can do it quickly.
  2. Order and Monitor Your Credit Report and Set up regular calendar reminders every 4 months for your next Credit Report. A credit report is a historical record of how you pay off money you borrow from others. There are currently three main credit bureaus in the United States—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Credit bureaus track your credit history, generate credit scores and produce credit reports—all for sale to other businesses. If you own a home, have a credit card, lease a car, or apply for or use credit of any sort, this information is reported to one, two or all three of these credit bureaus. In addition, they collect information on how timely you pay your bills, how often you are tardy, how frequently your credit is checked by companies and any changes of address, employment, or personal information. By monitoring these reports closely, you will know when someone else is using your credit file to their benefit. If an identity thief opens a new credit card or loan on your Social Security number, you will see it on your report. The quicker you spot the problem, the less trouble it will cause. You can also sign up for an Identity Monitoring Service and Identity Theft Insurance.
  3. Set up Account Alerts bank, credit card and investment accounts and make sure you check your monthly statements for any suspicious activity. Account alerts automatically notify you by email or text message (to your cell phone) when a transaction is made on your account. For example, if you make a purchase on your credit card, it will automatically send you an alert detailing how much was spent, where you spent it, and on what date. They will also alert you when a payment is due or is not received on time or when private information is changed on the account (often a sign of fraud). Alerts are a simple way to keep track of credit card usage, bank transfers, low account balances, investment moves and a handful of other helpful tasks without doing any extra work.

These 3 simple changes make a world of difference when it comes to protecting your Identity. Early detection will save you time and money in the long run. Make it a priority to protect your identity in 2010 for a safe, successful and headache free year!

John Sileo became America’s leading Identity Theft Speaker & Expert after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC.  To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.

Facebook Privacy Settings Update

During a time when rules, laws and privacy settings are having trouble keeping up with technology, Facebook is having trouble keeping up with their ever growing population. Recently topping 350 million users, Facebook is scrambling to satisfy them all. Recently, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, posted an open letter on the website discussing changes to the Facebook privacy setting that they are implementing to help make their users data less public. Take a minute to read the full article and protect your profile.

Order your copy of the Facebook Safety Survival Guide to make sure you and your children are protected online.

John Sileo became America’s leading Identity Theft Speaker & Expert after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC.  To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by [intlink id=”15″ type=”page” anchor=”Contact John Sileo”]email[/intlink] or on 800.258.8076.

Google Dashboard Calms Privacy Critics

Google introduced the Google Dashboard on November 5th to help calm privacy critics. This provides a summary of the application data associated with your Google account.

Users are able to see what sites they visit, how many Docs they have created and share, how many iGoogle gadgets they are using, Google Reader info, Profile info, Tasks and YouTube history. This is great way for users to be able to see and control their data. It makes people more aware of what they put out there and allows them to set certain privacy settings. The Google Dashboard is currently available in 17 languages and you can Click Here to Read More.

John Sileo provides identity theft training to human resource departments and organizations around the country. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.