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Sileo Identity Theft Prevention & Online Privacy Checklist

CheckmarkIdentity theft prevention is not a one-time solution. You must accumulate layers of privacy and security over time. The following identity theft prevention tips are among those I cover in one of my keynote speeches.

  1. Review your Free Credit Report 3X per year at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
  2. Opt-Out of financial junk mail.
  3. Stop Marketing Phone Calls at www.DoNotCall.gov.
  4. Freeze Your Credit. State-by-state instructions at www.Sileo.com/2.
  5. If you don’t want to use a credit freeze, place Fraud Alerts on your 3 credit files.
  6. Use sophisticated Identity Monitoring software to detect theft before it’s disastrous.
  7. Stop Sharing Identity (SSN, address, phone, credit card #s) unless necessary.
  8. Protect Your Wallet or Purse. Watch this video.
  9. Protect Your Computer and Online Identity. Privacy Means Profit
  10. Protect your Laptop. Visit www.Sileo.com/laptop-anti-theft for details.
  11. Bank Online: online bank statements, account alerts and bill-pay.
  12. Buy a Shredder (or 2) & shred everything with identity you don’t need.
  13. Minimize Social Networking Exposure. Privacy Means Profit
  14. Lock down your Social Networking Profiles www.Sileo.com/facebook-safety.
  15. Realize that approximately 50% of the worst ID theft crimes are committed by Acquaintances & Friends.
  16. Set up two-factor authentication with your bank.
  17. Stop Clicking on Links in emails and social networking posts that you don’t recognize as legitimate.
  18. Avoid emails/faxes/letters/calls/people promising Something for Nothing.
  19. Know that protecting Other People’s Privacy is part of your responsibility.
  20. For more tools, purchase a copy of John’s Latest Book on Information Survival, Privacy Means Profit.
  21. Subscribe to The Sileo Report eNewsletter and follow John’s Blog.
  22. Consider bringing John Sileo to speak to your organization on identity theft, cyber crime, social engineering, social media exposure and other topics of information exposure.

Cyber-Bullying and Social Networking Identity Theft

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With the meteoric rise in cyber-bullying, parents are desperate to find a way to shield their children. Unfortunately, most parents are far behind their child’s proficiency with technology. Many don’t text, aren’t on Facebook, and are oblivious to the many ways in which kids can taunt each other with technological ease. Although children may be quick and nimble with technology, they lack the maturity to understand its consequences.

A recent article in the New York Times on Digital Bullying (read the MSN version here) addressed these very issues and gave true and heart-wrenching accounts of how parents were left helpless at the hands of their children’s online bullies. “I’m not seeing signs that parents are getting more savvy with technology,” said Russell A. Sabella, former president of the American School Counselor Association. “They’re not taking the time and effort to educate themselves, and as a result, they’ve made it another responsibility for schools.”

Kids have a great deal of anonymity on the internet if they want it, and can easily impersonate another child or steal their identity. This modified form of identity theft (character theft, I tend to call it), allows the bully to hide behind his or her computer with no real consequences for what they are saying. A scathing remark made in passing by one child can haunt another child for the rest of their lives.

In a recent case, a young boy was taunted at school by classmates that claimed he was in turn bullying them on Facebook. He quickly became socially withdrawn until his mother looked on Facebook to see that someone with his name and picture was in fact taunting other students online. Except, of course, that it wasn’t him. Some fellow classmates had stolen his Social Networking Identity and set up a false Facebook account as if they were him. The bullies then berated other kids, attracting negative attention to the victim. The victim’s mother found out that it’s not so easy to stop this cycle.

For one thing, Facebook doesn’t make it easy to reclaim one’s identity. In the previous case, the mother had to contact police, who went through a process to subpoena both Facebook and the internet service provide to uncover the bullies’ identities. Only then were they able to shut down the account, but the damage to the victims reputation had already been done.

Some parents prefer to resolve the issue privately, by contacting the bully’s family. Although psychologists do not recommend that approach with schoolyard bullying, with cyber-bullying, a parent’s proof of cruel online exchanges can change that difficult conversation. So what do you say?

Approaching another parent can be awkward. Most parents see their children’s actions as a direct reflection of their ability to raise their child. This means they can easily become defensive and almost submissive of the actions. As quoted in the Times article, experts recommend you follow a script like:

“I need to show you what your son typed to my daughter online. He may have meant it as a joke. But my daughter was really devastated. A lot of kids type things online that they would never dream of saying in person. And it can all be easily misinterpreted.”

In most situations, the reporting parents should be willing to acknowledge that their child may have played a role in the dispute. To ease tension, suggests Dr. Englander, an expert on aggression reduction, offer the cyber-bully’s parent a face-saving explanation (like that it was probably meant as a joke). If they are willing to accept what happened, they are more likely to take action.

Parents need to be mindful that their children might be victims of cyber-bullying, and they need to be just as aware that their kids might be the cyber-bullies. Here are some steps to get you started down the right track with your kids:

  • Have short, frequent coversations over dinner about what it means to be cyber bullied
  • Establish a no-tolerance stance on your child bullying anyone, in person or on line
  • Friend your child and if possible, your child’s friends to keep tabs on the dialogue taking place. Let them know that you are interested and observant by communicating with them using social networking. If you are more fond of the stick approach, post a sticky note on your monitor (like another parent in the article did) that says “Don’t Forget That Mom Sees Everything You Do Online.”
  • Be open and honest with your child. Communicate the real issues of cyber-bullying and how in some cases this leads to very negative consequences, like suicide
  • Encourage your children to talk with you if they have any concerns about their online life
  • For more answers and background on keeping yourself and your kids safe, take a look at the Facebook Safety Survival Guide below.

Facebook Safety Survival Guide
Includes the Parents’ Guide to Online Safety

This Survival Guide is an evolving document that I started writing for my young daughters and my employees, and is an attempt to give you a snapshot of some of the safety and privacy issues as they exist right now.

Social networking, texting, instant messaging, video messaging, blogging – these are all amazing tools that our kids and employees use natively, as part of their everyday lives. In fact, they probably understand social networking better than most adults and executives. But they don’t necessarily have the life experiences to recognize the risks.

I’d like to make their online vigilance and discretion just as native, so that they learn to protect the personal information they put on the web before it becomes a problem. Social networking is immensely powerful and is here for the long run, but we must learn to harness and control it.

Facebook Privacy Breach – Eventually, We'll Lose our Trust

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According to a Wall Street Journal investigation, Facebook apps are sharing more about you than you think.

The Journal stated in their article, Facebook in Privacy Breach, that many of the most popular applications on the site are transmitting personal information about you and even your friends to third party advertisers and data companies. Apps such as BumperSticker, Marketplace, or Zynga’s Farmville (with over 50 million users) can be sharing your Facebook User ID with these companies. This can give as little information as your name, or as much as your entire Facebook Profile. In some cases, your data is being shared even if you have set your Facebook privacy settings to disallow this type of sharing.

According to the Journal:

“The most expansive use of Facebook user information uncovered by the Journal involved RapLeaf. The  San Francisco Company compiles and sells profiles of individuals based in part on their online activities.. The Journal found that some LOLapps applications, as well as the Family Tree application, were transmitting user’s Facebook ID numbers to RapLeaf. RapLeaf then linked those ID numbers to dossiers it had previously assembled on those individuals… RapLeaf then embedded that information in an Internet-tracking file known as a cookie.”

RapLeaf in turn transmitted this Facebook ID and user information to a dozen other advertising firms.

Rapleaf has said that it was inadvertent and they are working to fix the data leakage problem. On their website they have posted a response to the article.

“RapLeaf has taken extra steps to strip out identifying information from referrer URLs…When we discovered that Facebook IDs were being passed to ad networks by applications that we work with, we immediately researched the cause and implemented a solution to cease the transmissions.  As of last week, no Facebook IDs are being transmitted to ad networks in conjunction with the use of any RapLeaf service”.

This Facebook privacy breach is affecting tens of millions of users and even those that have taken the proper precautions with high privacy settings.

This revelation goes against my latest post Facebook, Cigarettes and Information Control. I used this post to make users aware that although there are privacy issues with Facebook, they have given you the proper controls to protect yourself. The Wall Street Journal investigation clearly shows that Facebook is not doing their part. While you can supposedly better secure your privacy settings after last week, Facebook is clearly not holding their third party applications to the same standard.

Many of these third-party applications have declared that they are not keeping or using this data. Regardless, the transmission of this information violates the Facebook Privacy Policy. Facebook has said that it is the applications that are violating their privacy policy – not them directly. A Facebook spokesperson had this to say:

“Our technical systems have always been complimented by strong policy enforcement, and we will continue to rely on both to keep people in control of their information.”

Many wonder if there is there anything you can do to prevent this or protect themselves from personal data leakage. The answer right now – is no.  Because many of the most popular applications used on Facebook are transmitting your personal data, it is hard to do much more than adjust your privacy settings to the highest level and realize that you are trading the security and privacy of your personal information in order to connect with your Facebook friends. This is where Facebook needs to step up and deliver on what they promise their users. If you go the extra mile to hide your personal information from third parties, they need to make sure that your information is protected.

Social Networking Safety – Travel

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Identity theft and social networking speaker John Sileo discusses what you should and should not reveal through Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other social networking sites while traveling. When you are away from home, identity creeps and other thieves can use this knowledge to take advantage of your home or office.

Be conscious of what you share on social networking sites and always remember that what you post is public, permanent and exploitable!

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

John Sileo became one of America’s leading Social Networking Speakers & sought after Identity Theft 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.