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.

 

The Quick Rise of Phishing Scams – Do Not Click!

The Quick Rise of Phishing Scams – Do Not Click!

Many of us have been experiencing much more free time on our hands, which is great if you enjoy the sport of fishing, have a pile of books to read or Netflix shows to catch up on. Unless you are on the front line, life, as we know it during this pandemic, has forced the majority of us to slow down.

 

Our ‘new normal’ environment is a breeding ground for scammers to take advantage of you and your identity. Last month we wrote several blogs that specifically discussed the various types of coronavirus scams we had been witnessing. Check out Coronavirus Scams Are on the Rise, And More Coronavirus Scams, and Working From Home Cybersecurity Tips if interested in a quick refresher course or two.

 

Over the last two weeks we have seen a 70% increase in email phishing scams during this pandemic, which has undoubtedly touched every facet of our lives. These phishing scams may come across as emails and/or posts promoting coronavirus awareness. These messages will often offer prevention tips on how to stay well, what the symptoms of the virus may include and what to do in case you or a family member feel ill. Some are even creating fake “cases” of COVID-19 in your neighborhood so you feel more inclined to help out. They also may be asking you to donate to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, or contain malicious email attachments. Don’t fall for any of it … but, in case you do, we suggest that you read our blog from October 2019 Accidentally Clicked on a Phishing Link – Now What?.

 

Today our advice is very simple: If you are not 100% certain of the origin of the email and/or link that you are being asked to click on … DO NOT CLICK. If for some reason you accidentally do click, there are some imperative steps to take to alleviate harm to you and/or the network you may be connected with:

 

– Try not to panic. This happens to everyone. Antivirus and anti-malware will come into play and you will need to have a full system scan. But first …

 

– End the session immediately by turning off Wi-Fi, unplugging from an ethernet cable or completely shutting down all of your devices.

 

– Initiate a back up of your files. Since you won’t be connected to the internet at this point, you won’t be able to accomplish this to the cloud. Having an external drive, DVD or thumb drive are always nice to have on hand during times like these.

 

– Change your login/password to email account(s) and enable two-factor authentication if this hasn’t already occurred.

 

– If you are employed by a company or organization, reference your manual and let your network administrator know of the potential issue.

 

– After all is said and done, check your antivirus/anti-malware software and run a full scan.

 

Being informed of what steps you may need to take before a slip up happens can help ease the potential damage (and your stress level) if it does. Be smart. Be vigilant. Be strong. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help. We are available 24/7/365 for you and your family members at 1.888.966.GUARD (4827) and memberservices@guardwellid.com.

Small Business Owners Targeted by Coronavirus Loan Scams

Small Business Owners Targeted by Coronavirus Loan Scams

We understand that this is a very confusing time when anxiety levels are extremely high. New programs are being launched and the details might not be completely understood at first. As of today, federal disaster loan assistance is now available for businesses, private nonprofits, homeowners, and renters negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

If you are a small business owner, keep in mind that you may receive unsolicited calls, letters or emails. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is urging small business owners to keep an eye out for coronavirus-related loan scams as many of their members have received multiple loan scam emails and phone calls in the past few days. What do you do if you aren’t sure if an offer is legitimate or a scam? Understand that:

– No one should be charging an application fee to apply for the coronavirus disaster relief loan.

– You should not release any personal identifying information (PII), such as Social Security numbers, your date of birth, credit card information, or financial institution account data, in response to an unsolicited call, letter or email.

– The Better Business Bureau is available for more information on a company before you commit to anything.

– If ever in doubt, contact your state’s Attorney General’s office. You can search for that contact information HERE.

 

Be smart. Be vigilant. Be strong. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help. We are available 24/7/365 for you and your family members at 888.966.GUARD (4827) and memberservices@guardwellid.com.

 

 

Visit https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ for more information on federal disaster loans.