How to Avoid Disaster-related Scams

How to Avoid Disaster-related Scams

Dealing with the aftermath of a disaster is always difficult. Unfortunately, scammers will jump at the chance to take advantage of those who are trying to assess and recover from the tremendous damage that weather-related events, such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires, tornados, along with pandemic-related COVID-19 can cause.

 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests a few ways to help avoid common post-disaster scams:

 

Be skeptical of anyone promising immediate clean-up and debris removal. Some fake vendors will quote sky-high prices and demand payment up-front.

 

Do a background check on them. Before you pay anything, ask for identification, licenses along with proof of insurance in writing.

 

Never pay in cryptocurrency, wire transfer, cash or via a gift card. Only make the final payment until the work is completed satisfactorily.

 

Always guard your personal identifying information (PII). “Only scammers will say they’re a government official and then demand money or your credit card, bank account or social security number.”

 

Understand that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will never ask for an application fee. FEMA has provided over $1 billion to more than 165,000 people to assist with COVID-19-related funeral costs for deaths occurring on or after January. “If someone wants money to help you qualify for FEMA funds, that’s probably a scam.”

 

Spot and report disaster-related charity scams. If you are fortunate enough to be able to help others, visit this link for advice on how to donate wisely and avoid charity scams.

 

For more information and other tips, visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/dealing-weather-emergencies

 

Be vigilant. Be strong. Stay in the know. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our Member Services immediately. We are always available for you 24/7/365 at 888.966.GUARD (4827).

 

Photo courtesy credit to Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com.

How to Spot a Hacker Going After Your Business

How to Spot a Hacker Going After Your Business

When you think of a “bad guy,” what comes to mind? Someone sitting alone hunched over a keyboard in a dark hoody in a dark basement with fast typing fingers and maybe sporting a three-day-old beard? And what do you picture this anti-social “bad guy” doing? Are they only going after huge corporations and corrupt politicians? Nope! But that is what pop society has been assuming cybercrime is and that the everyday individual or smaller organizations aren’t being targeted.

 

The reality is that many of the faces of modern cybercrime don’t look like what we have read in fictional books and seen on tv and in the movies. These cybercriminals are much harder to spot because “they look a lot like legitimate businesses than you might expect,” Hubspot reported. “The work they might do day-to-day to steal personal information and disrupt businesses is pretty boring.”

 

So why do they hack? Money! Cybercrime has cost the world just under a trillion dollars in 2020.

 

The fact is that your Personal Identifying Information (PPI) is just like a currency. When stolen and aggregated, PPI can be sold for a hefty profit and “it’s a lot easier to try to get into your business’s data than to try to gather their own to sell.” Many websites sell aggregated collections of email addresses and passwords that have been gathered from past data breaches. From there, all it takes is a bit of unsophisticated scripting to use these emails and passwords to try to log into different websites across the internet.

 

“These folks aren’t looking to hit the biggest, most valuable businesses. It’s a case of quantity over quality.” These villains take a few thousand emails and passwords and see how many of them work out against high value services (such as email providers or CRMs) to see what data can be pulled out of those accounts to sell or how they can use those accounts for phishing emails or ransomware.

 

Look at the statement released by Darkside, the group whose ransomware attack brought down the Colonial Oil Pipeline and caused gas prices to spike in May this year. They released: “We are apolitical, we do not participate in geopolitics, do not need to tie use with a defined government and look for other motives. Our goal is to make money and not creating problems for society.” They want cash flow not world domination.

 

Hubspot reported in a blog last month written by Ryan DiPetta, “A lot of hackers look and behave like legitimate businesses, even if they do illegitimate things. Maybe they work a regular nine to five schedule. Maybe they take vacations with their kids. They’re trying to build a business just like you, too … but their business is built on theft and exploitation of your business and the data and trust of your customers.”

 

Are you and your employees protected? For more information on how to protect your company’s bottom line and employees by providing this must-have voluntary benefit, please click HERE.

 

Our team at Guard Well Identity Theft Solutions is available 24/7/365. Contact us at 888.966.GUARD (4827) or email memberservices@guardwellid.com if you suspect fraud or have any concerns. We are here to help!

 

Photo credit: Markus Spiske via Unsplash.com

The Steps We Take to Protect Your Identity

The Steps We Take to Protect Your Identity

Identity theft is inevitable. If it hasn’t already, it will victimize you, a family member, or an employee’s life in the near future. ‘Data Harvesting’ has become a major threat to identity protection. Browsing history, online shopping, and messaging data is being used against you.

 

The statistics are overwhelming. Cyber attacks, malware, and phishing scams have increased over 1000% since Covid-19 began. There are 3.5M Google searches every minute and 4.4B Facebook messages each day … all of that information is collected, stored, and sold. Essentially, your data is being stolen then sold back to you.

 

As a leader in the identity protection space, we are advocating for laws to protect the American consumer from Data Harvesting. Additionally, of the 8.5 billion IP addresses worldwide, 3.5 billion of them are malware. It is our hope that stronger IT security efforts are implemented in America (and worldwide) to block the thieves from stealing your information.

 

Protecting identity includes five main steps:

 

1. Implementing proactive safeguards with Guard Well fraud specialists.

2. Protecting personal identifying information (PII), such as social security number, date of birth, driver’s license ID number, financial institution account numbers, passport number, IP addresses, passwords, etc. Remember that even the smallest amount of stolen PII can be used against you.

3. Browsing in incognito or private mode, deleting unused email accounts, using two-factor authentication whenever possible, changing your passwords every 60 days, and removing your information from ‘people finder’ sites.

4. Monitoring credit and identity to quickly detect theft/fraud when it occurs.

5. Resolving all theft/fraud issues completely and continuously monitoring for recurrence.

 

Finally … we always strongly recommend that you DO NOT CLICK on any online link that you are not 100% certain is safe, secure and legit.

 

For more information on how to protect your employees by providing this must-have voluntary benefit, please click on the flyer: GW_Flyer_070821_OnePageMktgPiece

 

Our team at Guard Well Identity Theft Solutions is available 24/7/365. Contact us at 888.966.GUARD (4827) or email memberservices@guardwellid.com if you suspect fraud or have any concerns.

The Biggest Ransomware Attack Ever

The Biggest Ransomware Attack Ever

On Friday, July 2nd, an affiliate of the REvil gang (Russian-linked) infected millions of victims in at least 17 countries via the US IT software company Kayesa. Our cybersecurity team has learned that the company’s software was used to slip into victims’ systems, which they’re now holding hostage.

 

The hackers have demanded $70 million in cryptocurrency to end what is now the biggest ransomware attack on record. The attack was specifically timed for the 4th of July holiday weekend when most office workers would be out of office. As reported in The Washington Post, most of the 1,500 victimized organizations were public agencies and small businesses.

 

The ransomware attack “has temporarily shutdown hundreds of Sweden’s Coop grocery stores because the cash registers locked up. The full scope of the attack probably won’t be known for quite some time.” The Associated Press noted that “due to the potential scale of this incident, the FBI and CISA may be unable to respond to each victim individually.”

 

Unfortunately this is not REvil’s first attack. Last month, timed with the Memorial Day weekend, the group extorted $11 million from meat supplier JBS after forcing it to shut down all of its manufacturing facilities.

 

Please contact us 24/7/365 at 888.966.4827 (GUARD) if you have any concerns or suspect identity theft. Additionally, you can email memberservices@guardwellid.com. Day or night, we’ve got your back and will always be open for you.

 

Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

Bogus COVID Vaccine Survey

Bogus COVID Vaccine Survey

As millions of Americans are being vaccinated against COVID-19, scammers are working hard to steal their money and personal information through bogus COVID vaccination surveys. This can be confusing especially since there is a ‘v-safe’ after vaccination health checker that you are asked to download at the vaccination site after your first dose. V-safe is a legitimate app, which is a smart-phone based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Literature from v-safe says, “Through v-safe, you can quickly tell CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers, someone from CDC may call to check on you. And v-safe will remind you to get your second vaccine dose if you need one.” For more information, visit https://vsafe.cdc.gov/en/.

 

Although v-safe is safe and legitimate, scammers have developed a new trick to steal. It doesn’t matter if the vaccine received was Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca, people all across the country are being asked to complete a one-time survey in exchange for a free reward but one that requires the victim to pay shipping fees. According to the Federal Trade Commission, “No legitimate surveys ask for your credit card or bank account number to pay for a ‘free’ reward.”

 

What should you do if you receive an email or text you’re not sure about?

– In order to prevent malware that steals your personal information, don’t click on any links or open attachments.

– Don’t call or use the number in the email or text. The first thing you can do is run a search of the company that supposedly sent the message by looking up their phone number online.

– Don’t give out any bank information, credit card or other personal information to any organization that contacts you out of the blue.

– Consider adding a filter to prevent unwanted text messages on your phone by contacting your wireless provider and/or utilizing a call-blocking app.

 

Be vigilant. Be strong. If you have any concerns or think you have been a victim of a COVID vaccination scam, please contact our Member Services immediately. We are always available for you 24/7/365 at 888.966.GUARD (4827).

 

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash.com

ClientTether.com Breach Alert

ClientTether.com Breach Alert

Our security teams have recently discovered several large sets of compromised data on the Dark Web. The website, ClientTether.com has been affected.

 

ClientTether is an automated CRM and lead engagement sales automation platform. Users can send personalized text messages, receive a phone call, and send an email within seconds. Entrepreneur Magazine has recognized this popular website as a Top Franchise Supplier for 2020. Over 750,000 users have been impacted since the November 2020 breach origination date. The type of data exposed includes email, phone, name, address and gender.

 

If you have visited ClientTether.com or have engaged in business activity with this company, please call us at 888.966.GUARD (4827) to speak with a fraud resolution specialist. Likewise, if you have questions or concerns feel free to call anytime. We are available for you 24/7/365.

Guard Well Introduces Three Bureau Credit Report & Score Center

Guard Well Introduces Three Bureau Credit Report & Score Center

Now more than ever, having the right identity theft protection in place is critical. “Cyberattacks, especially phishing scams, are on the rise and that means that identity theft rates are increasing as well,” remarks E. Allan Hilsinger, Founder and CEO of Guard Well Identity Theft Solutions. “Although identity theft is not preventable, it is key to be proactive and identify issues swiftly. This is why we developed the Guard Well Credit Report and Score Center.”

 

In order to assist Guard Well Members and the general public in being cyber smart, Guard Well’s new ‘a la carte’ feature will help save time and identify issues before they could potentially turn into huge problems.

 

To obtain your three-bureau credit reports and score, please visit the Guard Well website and click on the red button in the upper right-hand corner that says Get My Credit Report and Score. Or, visit www.guardwellcredit.com to view your reports and scores within seconds.

 

 

You do not have to be a Guard Well member to utilize this special feature. For a one-time fee of $19.95, you have access to all of your credit reports and scores within seconds. The process is clearly explained with easy to understand instructions to walk you through the activity quickly.

 

First, you will enter your personal information and then agree to Terms and Conditions. Then you will verify your identity by accurately answering the questions provided. On the next page, you will enter your credit/debit card payment information. Once submitted, all three credit bureau reports and scores (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) will appear in seconds for you to review and print.

 

After you complete this process, reach out to us immediately if you notice anything unusual in your reports. Be smart. Be vigilant. Be strong. We are always available 24/7/365 if you ever have any questions or concerns. Call us at 888.966.GUARD (4827) or email memberservices@guardwellid.com.

 

Photo credit: Photo by Dylan Gillis via Unsplash.com.

 

 

 

 

Veteran Data Exposed in Recent Breach

Veteran Data Exposed in Recent Breach

Last month the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Financial Services Center reported that the personal identifying information (PII) of more than 46,000 veterans had been stolen. Social security numbers may have been included in the hack. The VA Financial Services Center is in process of alerting impacted individuals via mail.

 

If you are a veteran (or next of kin of a deceased veteran), we suggest that you be on the lookout for any signs of fraud.

 

– Continue to watch your credit and individual account statements for activity that you have not initiated.

 

– Do not respond to any emails, phone calls or direct messages from anyone saying that they are from the VA Financial Services Center. The VA will contact anyone impacted via mail only.

 

Please reach out to us immediately if you have any questions or concerns about this alert. Be smart. Be vigilant. Be strong. As always, we are available for you and your family members 24/7/365 at 888.966.GUARD (4827) or memberservices@guardwellid.com.

 

Photo credit: Photo by Samuel Branch on Unsplash

Websites with Compromised Data on the Dark Web

Websites with Compromised Data on the Dark Web

Our security teams have recently discovered several large sets of compromised data on the Dark Web. The websites listed below have been affected. If you have visited these websites or have engaged in business activity with any of these companies, please call us at 888.966.GUARD (4827) to speak with a fraud resolution specialist. Likewise, if you have questions or concerns feel free to call anytime. We are available for you 24/7/365.

 

– apollo.io

– appen.com (formerly crowdflower.com)

– scentbird.com

– swvl.com

– promo.com (previously slide.ly)

– mathway.com

– truefire.com

– ggumim.co.kr

– dave.com

– chatbooks.com

– hurb.com

– liveauctioneers.com

– kreditplus.com

– execupharm.com

– dunzo.com

– verifications.io

– catho.com.br

– bhinneka.com

– wattpad.com

– gigasize.com

– netsential.com

 

 

Memorial Day Hacks and Hamburgers

Memorial Day Hacks and Hamburgers

Memorial Day is a special time of year to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the U. S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Visit History.com for more information.

 

Always the last Monday in May, this holiday also marks the unofficial beginning of summer fun … pool season, popsicles, and plenty of barbeques. Americans have traditionally observed Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings, and participating in parades. This year the weekend activities will likely look a bit different while social distancing, but we will continue to reflect on the sacrifices our soldiers made for us while lighting up our grills. Speaking of, take a visit to Chowhound.com for some amazing tips for the most perfect hamburger ever (80/20 lean to fat ratio ground chuck always!) and clever grilling hacks (Did you know you can use a spare a cooler as an insulated warmer to keep food hot and juicy right off the grill?). One tip you won’t see there is a favorite of mine … folding a dollop of mayo into each burger patty for optimal juiciness before they even go on the grill. Try it. You’ll love it!

 

Sadly, with the holiday, come the crooks that feed on our gratitude. Watch out for Memorial Day scams where hackers use a patriotic or military approach when contacting service members for money. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) suggests to be on the lookout for three specific scams during this time of remembrance:

 

High-priced military loans. No legitimate lender will guarantee a loan as being instantly approved. Watch for ads that may also say no credit check is required. If this is the case, the loan will likely come with hidden fees as well as outrageously high interest rates.

 

Veterans’ benefits buyout plans. These plans offer an attractive cash payment in exchange for a disabled veteran’s future benefits or pension payments. The cash payment is typically only 30-40% of what the veteran is entitled to receive.

 

Overpriced life insurance policies. The military are often targets of high pressure insurance salespeople, who want them to purchase an unnecessary and pricey life insurance policy.

 

Stay safe this weekend and please reach out to us if needed. As always, we are available 24/7/365 at 888.966.GUARD (4827) and at memberservices@guardwellid.com. And, if you have any great grilling ideas of your own, please share them in the comments below.