Scammers are Impersonating FTC Inspector General Katsaros

Scammers are Impersonating FTC Inspector General Katsaros

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has released that scammers are using the names of their employees, including the Inspector General Andrew Katsaros to trick people into sending money or giving up their personal identifying information (PII).

What you need to know:

The FTC won’t threaten you or demand a payment. If you receive a phone call or mail with the name of the FTC Commissioner or staff member that threatens some dire consequence if you don’t pay immediately, it’s a scam. Don’t pay.

The FTC doesn’t give out prizes. If someone contacts you claiming that you need to pay to get your prize, it’s a scam. Don’t pay.

FTC employees won’t identify themselves with a badge number. If someone claiming to work for the FTC gives you a badge number, it’s a scam. Don’t fall for it and keep your PII safe!

Guard Well Identity Theft Solutions exists to provide you, your family, and your employees from the damages of identity theft. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our Member Services team immediately. We are always available for you 24/7/365 at 888.966.4827 (GUARD).

Source: Federal Trade Commission

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bermix Detail via unsplash.com

Financial Tips for 2023 Grads

Financial Tips for 2023 Grads

It’s that exciting time of year! Cap and gowns are coming in and Pomp and Circumstance is running through your head as you prepare for the big event. If you’re a parent of a soon-to-be high school graduate, dollar signs may be running through your head as well, along with advice … and lots of it!

If you’re a grad, get ready to hear life experience stories from your graduation speaker and many others. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has some advice for you as well. Learn how to recognize financial scams. Younger people report losing money to fraud more often than older generations. According to Colleen Tressler, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC, 43% of those who reported fraud were in their 20s, while only 15% were in their 70s.

What can you do to help avoid financial fraud?

Never give out money or any personal identifying information (PII) in response to an unexpected request. Be wary of texts, phone calls and emails. Scammers commonly pretend to be someone you trust.

Do your research. Be smart with your online searches and use terms like “complaint,” “scam” or “alert” along with the company name when you search.

Understand that there’s no such thing as truthful caller ID anymore.

Don’t wire money. Government and legitimate companies will not require you to pay for products or services with a re-loadable gift card. Even using cards like iTunes and Google Play are risky.

Recognize that robocalls are illegal and should be reported to the FTC. If you mistakenly answer one of these calls, hang up immediately.

Looking for a job after graduation can be quite stressful especially if you’re supporting yourself for the first time.

Check out job placement firms closely. These companies should not be charging high fees in advance for any type of service without a guarantee of placement.

Keep in mind that the promise of a job isn’t the same thing as job. If you have to pay for that promise, it’s likely a scam. Read More

Realize that there are many fake jobs listed on social media. Google the company name and visit their website along with the search term “career.” If jobs are not listed on their website and nothing comes up on Google, those are red flags.

Don’t give out any credit or bank account information over the phone to a company unless they have hired you and have agreed to pay you something.

Get job details in writing and take time to go over the small print. A legitimate company won’t pressure you into making an on-the-spot decision regarding your career.

CNN recently reported some smart money moves for graduates, such as aiming to live within your means and knowing what your means actually are. Check out their tips HERE.

Congratulations and make sure you enjoy your special day. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors!

For more information, visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov.

Photo courtesy Jonathon Daniels via unsplash.com.

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 [email protected]. Day or night, we’ve got your back and will always be open for you.

 

Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

Keeping Your Summer Vacation and Holidays Happy and Fraud-free

Keeping Your Summer Vacation and Holidays Happy and Fraud-free

Yes, it’s that wonderful time of year … enjoying the long summer days, going on vacation (FINALLY) and celebrating holidays like the 4th of July. Whatever your plans are, having time off of work, fun with friends and family, and hopefully a few days of laziness … are wonderful to look forward to. But, when we are caught up in the excitement of buying new flip-flops and sparklers, it’s important to remember that there are some other ‘things to do’ on the checklist to help keep your family and identities safe during this special time of year.

 

In addition to stopping the mail, finding that special neighbor with a green thumb to water your plants, and arranging for pet care for your fur babies, there are some pre-trip actions that you can take to help prevent identity theft from becoming a huge holiday memory. Just some small preventative measures, such as updating the operating system and antivirus software on your mobile devices, can go a long way toward fending off a few identity thieves. Below are some tips for what you can do before you leave home, as well as while you’re away and after your return.

 

Before you leave home:

– Password protect your devices and update operating systems

– Alert your bank(s) about your travel plans

– Visit your post office and put your mail on a vacation hold

– Keep the number of credit cards you travel with to a minimum and have copies of your driver’s license, medical id cards, passports and travel confirmation numbers at home in a safe place

– Turn off auto-connect Wifi and Bluetooth connections

– Consider adjusting your social media account settings so posts aren’t tagged with GPS data

 

While out of town:

– Avoid using public Wifi and even your hotel’s if at all possible

– Do not use public computers

– Keep your travel documents in a hotel safe

– Log out of websites on your smartphone and any websites if you bring a laptop or other device with you on your trip

 

Upon your return home:

– Consider changing passwords for your major accounts

– Thoroughly go through your account statements for any irregularities

– Check your credit report to make sure no new accounts were opened in your name while you were away

 

If you suspect identity theft or fraud, please contact us immediately at 888.966.GUARD (4827) or email [email protected]. Day or night, we’ve got your back and will always be open for you.

 

Photo by Raphaël Biscaldi on Unsplash

Fraud Trend Alert: End-of-life IT Gear

Fraud Trend Alert: End-of-life IT Gear

There is a new fraud trend we are seeing that almost victimized a client of ours who is a very large, well-known employer in the Cincinnati, Ohio tri-state region. We highly suggest that you share this blog to your company IT contact or a company team member whose duties include data security – IT security – technology security and/or IT gear and infrastructure protection.

 

One of our Guard Well product offerings is Enterprise Data Risk Mitigation. It is a program we developed to help organizations by purchasing their end-of-life IT gear, wipe and certify the drives … at no cost … then repurpose the gear. Essentially we turn a data risk and pending expense into a liability shift and a profit. It’s a very effective … and popular program.

 

Last week we were preparing to pull a large lot of gear from one of our clients when two individuals, claiming to be hired by a third party, showed up on the campus insisting they needed to pick up any used IT gear for “processing.” Luckily our client sensed something was incorrect and reached out to Guard Well asking us if we had sent two men to pick up the gear. We informed them that we did not send these individuals and by the time our phone call ended both men had left the campus.

 

What these men were attempting to do is steal the IT gear, most likely to harvest the sensitive company data and sell it to hackers or hold it for ransom until the company paid them to return the data. Due to the large security concerns, we highly suggest that your organization verifies steps taken to protect the sensitive data stored in end-of-life IT gear. Guard Well will partner with any organization looking for a safe, reliable way to manage the proper decommissioning of this gear and turn a profit from its remaining, but depreciating, value.

 

We can work anywhere in the USA, so please let us know how we can help. Be vigilant. Be strong. If you have any concerns or think you have been a victim of fraud, please contact our Member Services immediately so we can fully resolve the issue for you. We are always available 24/7/365 at 888.966.GUARD (4827).

 

Photo credit: Malachi Brooks via unsplash.com

Ten Signs You Have Been a Victim of Identity Theft

Ten Signs You Have Been a Victim of Identity Theft

Identity theft is rampant. One in three data breach victims will experience fraud according to a 2018 study by Javelin Strategy & Research. The number of identity fraud victims in the United States alone is at 16.7 million with over $16.8 billion stolen. Read More

 

Do you know the latest signs of identity theft? Here are the top ten red flags that trouble is brewing:

– You receive a notice, either in the mail or via email, that you have been a part of a data breach.

– Your credit score quickly drops without explanation.

– Withdrawals from your bank account start to occur … and they are withdrawals that you haven’t scheduled or already made.

– Although you haven’t filed any insurance claims, your rates rapidly rise.

– Your Social Security statements aren’t matching your records.

– There are suspicious charges on your credit card.

– You are turned down for a loan or credit card unexpectedly.

– Your credit report shows accounts that you have not opened.

– Either federal, your state or local taxing authority alerts you to their receipt of multiple filings in your name.

– You receive a bill for an item or service that you have not purchased … and from a company that you have never done business with.

 

Have you experienced any of the above? If yes, contact a fraud resolution specialist immediately.