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What Do Mitt Romney and Duchess Kate Have in Common?

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Privacy. Or lack of it, to be specific. This past week, nude photos of Duchess Catherine (formerly Kate Middleton) were published in several French tabloids. The photos were taken from hundreds of meters away using sophisticated photographic equipment to capture a moment meant to be highly private.

Also this week, Mitt Romney was secretly videotaped at a small fundraising event dismissing 47% of the electorate as victims who take advantage of government and the taxation system.

Put aside for a minute what you think of Kate or Mitt, and ask yourself what you BELIEVE about our right to privacy.

Some people say that in the digital surveillance age, you are naive to think that anything is private. Everything outside of your own walls is fair game. But Romney and the Duchess thought that they were operating inside of their own walls. Others argue that we are entering a dangerous age of constant surveillance, and that the government and corporations are gaining too much access to our images, words and thoughts.

I believe that both statements are true: the reality is that there is very little privacy left outside our own walls (and sometimes within them) and that government and corporations have too much access to our private information. But that doesn’t mean that we have to allow it to remain that way. How would your opinions change if the pictures were of your daughter rather than the Royal Family? How would you feel if your private conversation among friends showed up on CNN?

Privacy is a slippery right to nail down; it’s hard to legislate. But most of us know when it has gone too far, and by the time it has gone too far, victims like Mitt and Kate can do little to stuff the cat back into the 24/7 media darkness. Most of us will share our opinions on Kate and Mitt, but few of us will air our beliefs on privacy. If you believe in having a bit of privacy left in your life, speak out when the privacy of others is violated. Privacy will probably never be effectively governed by law, but it’s violation can be preventively discourage by social pressure. When you buy the tabloid, Google the nude photos or email blast the Romney video, you’re advocating for less privacy.

What do you think? Share your comments below.

John Sileo is an award-winning author and keynote speaker on privacy and reputation. He is CEO of The Sileo Group, which advises clients on how to defend their Privacy, Identity and Reputation. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, the FDIC, and Homeland Security. Sample his Keynote Presentation or watch him on Anderson Cooper, 60 Minutes or Fox Business. 1.800.258.8076.

SCAM ALERT: Target Texting Scam

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SCAM ALERT! There is a Target texting scam going around. The text looks similar to the one in the picture to the left, and generally says you’ve won a $1,000 gift card if you simply click on the link and collect the money. When you click on the link, it takes you to a Target-looking site that a criminal has set up to collect your private information. The information is then used to steal your identity. In other cases, clicking on the link installs a small piece of malware that takes control of your phone and forwards your private information to the criminals.

Where do the criminals get my mobile phone number to text me in the first place?

  1. They purchase it off of black-market sites on the internet
  2. You give your mobile number away to enter contests, vote on reality shows, etc.
  3. You post it on your Facebook profile for everyone to see
  4. Data hijackers hack into databases containing millions of mobile numbers
  5. Most likely, the thieves simply use a computer to automatically generate a text to every potential mobile phone number possible (a computer can make about a million guesses a second).
What can I do to protect myself and my phone?
  • If you receive a text from any number you don’t know, don’t open it, forward it or respond to it
  • Instead, immediately delete the text (or email)
  • If you accidentally click on the link, never fill out a form giving more of your information
  • Place yourself on the national DO NOT CALL list.
  • Stop sharing your mobile phone number except in crucial situations and with trusted contacts
  • Remember when you text to vote or to receive more information, enter sweepstakes or take surveys via text, they are harvesting your phone number.
  • Resist the urge to post your mobile number on your Facebook wall or profile

John Sileo is an award-winning author and international speaker on the dark art of deception (identity theft, data privacy, social media manipulation) and its polar opposite, the powerful use of trust. He is CEO of The Sileo Group, which helps organizations protect their mission-critical privacy. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, the FDIC, and Homeland Security. Sample his Keynote Presentation  or watch him on Anderson Cooper, 60 Minutes or Fox Business.

Gadgets Attract Thieves at Starbucks – Privacy Project Episode #01

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On this episode of Privacy Project, John confronts a coffee drinker about leaving their laptop totally alone as they talked outside on the phone at Starbucks.

America’s top Privacy & Identity Theft Speaker John Sileo has appeared on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper, Fox & in front of audiences including the Department of Defense, Pfizer, Homeland Security and hundreds of corporations and associations of all sizes. His high-content, humorous, audience-interactive style delivers all of the expertise with lots of entertainment. Come ready to laugh and learn about this mission-critical, bottom-line enhancing topic.

John Sileo is an award-winning author and keynote speaker on the dark art of deception (identity theft, fraud training, data privacy, social media manipulation) and its polar opposite, the powerful use of trust, to achieve success. He is CEO of The Sileo Group, which advises teams on how to multiply performance by building a culture of deep trust.

Electronic Pickpocketing Hype Banks on Your Fear!

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Electronic Pickpocketing is Possible, but Over-Hyped.

There is a new wave of hi-tech identity theft that allows thieves to steal your credit card information using inexpensive technology to intercept credit card (and sometimes even passport) information without even touching your wallet. Watch the video to the left or read our Electronic Pickpocket post to learn the basics.

And make sure you pay attention to the fact that the person they are interviewing for the news piece in the video MAKES MONEY FROM YOUR FEAR OF ELECTRONIC PICKPOCKETING! The gentleman they interview runs a company that makes shields for your credit cards and passports to stop electronic pickpocketing. I’m not saying that the products don’t work or aren’t somewhat valid; I’m saying that you have to take this gentleman’s perspective into consideration before buying the hype. He benefits from your fear, so do a little more research before you go gettin’ all paranoid.

The amount of hype this old form of theft is receiving (yes, this has been possible for years, despite all of the attention it’s getting now) is a bit overblown. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • The person being interviewed in the video benefits from your fear of electronic pickpocketing.
  • When a thief steals this information from you, they generally get your credit card number, expiration date and quite possibly your name. They DO NOT get your 3-digit security code or address. This is the same amount of information that the average waiter or retail clerk gets simply by looking at your card.
  • Because they don’t get your 3-digit security code or address, it is much more difficult for them to use the credit card number to make purchases on the internet, as most sites require some form of address verification or 3-digit security confirmation.
  • Only a fraction of cards utilize the RFID/Contactless Swipe technology, lowering your chances significantly.
  • As long as you catch your card being used fraudulently (see the protection suggestions below), you will not be held liable for the losses, the business that accepted the illegal card will. Even if your information is used to make a new card, if you are monitoring your identity properly, your out of pocket will be minimal.
  • Most cards only transmit 2-3 inches, which means that someone has to get a laptop-sized bag within two inches of your purse or wallet. This isn’t impossible, but it takes a fair amount of time and skill (notice how the news report doesn’t show them doing it without asking the people first). In most cases, this amount of work is too time intensive for the identity thief – it’s more lucrative to hack into a system that contains hundreds of thousands of credit card numbers (and other information) all in one place.
  • Fraud departments in credit card companies have come a long way. Most credit card companies are able to detect fraud on your card faster that you can. More secure credit card companies will call to confirm suspicious purchases or purchasing patterns.
  • If you want to get technical, which you probably don’t, credit card theft isn’t actually identity theft. They don’t have access to the personal items they need to actually steal your identity.

But it can happen, and it’s worth preventing. Which is simple:

  • First, check to see if you even have credit cards with the ability to beam your information to an RFID receiver (look for the circled symbol in the photo to the right). If not, stop worrying and just monitor any future cards you receive.
  • Second there are sleeves and wallets built to protect your cards and make them unable to scan and be lifted. Several companies, like Checks Unlimited make RFID wallets & products that shield the electromagnetic energy necessary to power and communicate with contactless smart cards, passports, and enhanced drivers licenses.
  • Next, set up account alerts and monitor your statements to cover yourself in the small chance that it happens to you. That way if your credit card is compromised, you can detect it immediately and take the necessary steps to contact the bank, report the fraud, and cancel the card.
  • If you are worried about having a credit card that can transmit your personal information, call your credit card company and ask them to send you a card that doesn’t transmit or have RFID capabilities (you know it transmits if it has the small broadcast or sonar icon circled to the left). Get rid of the source of the fraud!
  • Never leave your purse or wallet in an easy to scan place. Get rid of all of the excess credit cards that you don’t use and lower the chances that one of them will be compromised.
  • For added protection, especially for your Passport (which carries a much higher volume of very sensitive information), consider purchasing a sleeve or shield that makes RFID scanning less likely.  Checks Unlimited offers a wide variety of these types of RFID blocking sleeves & cases.”

But whatever you do, don’t buy into the hype and paranoia just because a video has gone viral on YouTube.

John Sileo is the award-winning author of two identity theft prevention books, Stolen Lives and Privacy Means Profit (Wiley, August 2010) and America’s top Identity Theft Speaker. His clients include the Department of Defense, FTC, FDIC and Pfizer; his recent media appearances include 60 Minutes. Contact him on 800.258.8076.

Electronic Pickpocket Video – Identity Theft Expert

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There is a new wave of Hi-Tech Identity Theft that the average person has no idea is possible. Identity Thieves are able to steal your credit card information without even touching your wallet.

RFID, or radio-frequency identity technology was introduced to make paying for items faster and easier. What many probably didn’t expect is that the same technology can be used by thieves to get your payment information just as easily. All major credit cards that have this technology have a symbol (pictured to the right). It means that your card can communicate via electromagnetic waves to exchange data (your credit card number) between a terminal and an electronic tag attached to an object, for the purpose of identification. With a quick scan of the card, the same way you would scan it to pay for items,  all of your payment information is directed towards a source or identity thief’s computer in this case.

With a laptop and an antenna, it’s possible that a virtual pickpocket can steal credit card information, without ever touching their victim.  All that is needed is a credit card reader that you can purchase online and a laptop computer. With a simple scan the crook can lift your credit card number, expiration date, and in some cases your name. Since 2006 all U.S. passports also have RFID technology so identity thieves are able to scan those just as easily and pick up more personal information in order to rip you off. These passports contain specific contact information as well as date of birth.

The statistics on this type of theft are not available because the detection rate is low and it is so new. There would be no way right now to prove that this method was used over other similar methods that steal your card information. There are a few ways you can protect yourself.

First, set up account alerts and monitor your statements. That way if your credit card is compromised you can detect it immediately and take the necessary steps to contact the bank, report the fraud, and cancel the card. Second there are sleeves and wallets built to protect your cards and make them unable to scan and be lifted. Several companies make products that create an RFID shield by blocking the electromagnetic energy necessary to power and communicate with contactless smart cards, passports, and enhanced drivers licenses.

Before you finish this article, pull out all of your cards to see if they have the sonar symbol above. Even one of these puts you at risk.

John Sileo is the award-winning author of Stolen Lives and Privacy Means Profit (Wiley, August 2010), a professional Financial Speaker and America’s leading identity theft expert. His clients include the Department of Defense, FTC, FDIC and Pfizer; his recent media appearances include 60 Minutes. Contact him on 800.258.8076.

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.