Help Spread the Word: Identity Theft Awareness Week

Help Spread the Word: Identity Theft Awareness Week

Welcome to Identity Theft Awareness Week. January 29th to February 2nd, otherwise known as #IDTheftWeek, exists to spread resources so you and your loved ones can stay ahead of identity thieves. Whether you’re a business owner, a young adult, a service member, an older adult or someone caring for a senior, understand that knowledge is power and identity theft knows no boundaries.

With tax season right around the corner, it is especially important to know that one of the biggest signs of identity theft is when you are unable to file your tax return because someone else has already filed one using your personal identifying information (PII). Other signs of identity theft include seeing unfamiliar transactions on one of your accounts and/or seeing new accounts you didn’t open on one of your credit report checks.

Here are five tips from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to help protect your identity:

– Read your credit card and bank statements carefully. If there is something that you don’t recognize, check into it. Even though you might have dreamed about a Louis Vuitton handbag, chances are you would know if you purchased one and certainly wouldn’t be footing the bill if you didn’t.

– Know your payment due dates. If a bill you pay regularly, such as your electric or water bill, doesn’t appear in your mailbox (or inbox), contact the provider immediately. The last thing you want is to have anything shut off in the dead of winter or an energy bill that is three times what you were expecting.

– Shred any documents that contain your PII, medical or financial information. Many national chains provide shredding services if you don’t own a personal shredder. Check out your local UPS store or FedEx Office for options.

– Review each of your three credit reports at least once a year. Visit our credit report check for more information.

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).

 

Photo courtesy credit: Dylan Gillis via Unsplash.com

 

Investment Opportunity or Not? Keeping Eyes on Your 💰

Investment Opportunity or Not? Keeping Eyes on Your 💰

One of the top scams of the century involving investments is making a comeback in 2024. A fixed deposit, otherwise known as a term deposit, has traditionally been an investment plan that allows you to earn a safe guaranteed rate of interest for a lump sum over a fixed period of time. Funds can be withdrawn during the fixed term but there are fees to do so. Unfortunately, anyone with access to your personal identifying information and banking credentials can withdraw the money from these accounts.

Scammers desiring to cash in on anyone’s deal are offering fake investments that the masses are falling for. Here is how to get on the band wagon of what you need to know about fake fixed term deposit investment scams so you don’t fall victim:

– Understand that there is no such thing as easy money and it definitely doesn’t grow on trees.

– Every investment has some degree of risk. There is also risk in not investing at all so working with a reputable company registered with the Financial Industry Regulation Authority (FINRA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or your state securities regulator is imperative.

– Get it in writing. If there isn’t any documentation that can mean that the investment may not be registered with the SEC and is not legit.

– An unsolicited phone call, text or email promising guaranteed profits is a really good reason to block the number or sender. With artificial intelligence (AI) having entered the pictured the last couple of years, it is understandably confusing as to who is real and who isn’t.

– If you are rushed to make any type of investment decision so you ‘don’t lose out’ and your gut tells you this investment is smelling fishy, then it’s probably ‘phishy,’ a scam technique that isn’t going away anytime soon. To learn more about phishing scams, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s article on the subject HERE.

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).

Photo courtesy credit: Micheile Henderson on Unsplash.com

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

Cryptocurrency: Deposits with No Returns

Cryptocurrency: Deposits with No Returns

Cryptocurrency is not a topic that many people know about or understand. Crypto, such as bitcoin and Ether, is a type of digital currency that in most cases exists only electronically in a digital wallet. You are able to buy it using your device, computer or a cryptocurrency ATM. But why would you? People buy it as an investment, to quickly pay for things and to avoid transaction fees that a traditional bank would charge. Another advantage of paying with crypto is because it offers some degree of anonymity. Crypto can also be earned through a complicated process called mining.

Scammers are banking on the fact that the general population doesn’t know much about this topic and crypto-related scams are popping up quickly. The Federal Trade Commission offers several tips on how you can avoid such a scam:

– Don’t trust companies who make big promises or guarantees. Only scammers guarantee big money in crypto with no risk.

– Do your homework. Research the company or specific type of crypto platform by using search engine terms such as “scam,” “complaint,” “review” and “news.”

– Understand that crypto accounts are NOT backed by the government like traditional Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) bank accounts are.

– Learn as much as you can about cryptocurrency and scams so you can recognize the red flags when they pop up.

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).

Photo credit courtesy: John Tuesday via unsplash.com

Working from Home Cybersecurity Tips

Working from Home Cybersecurity Tips

Coronavirus has forced millions of Americans to work remotely from their homes. Although working from home helps with social (physical) distancing by preventing the spread of COVID-19, there are many new challenges that have come with teleworking. For example, many states have closed schools for weeks, and for some, the entire rest of the school year. Parents may be juggling work while their children are learning remotely. You may find yourself becoming an expert with practicing mindfulness along with new software and conferencing programs, such as Zoom and GoToMeetings (or if you aren’t, your children blessedly are).

 

As we are being forced to slow down the pace of everyday life, we recognize that a lot of good can come out of this time. But, on the other side of the coin, there is the growing opportunity for cybercriminals to trick us into forking over passwords during this learning transitional period. Reuters reported last week that “some researchers have found hackers masquerading as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a bid to break into emails or swindle users out of bitcoin, while others have spotted hackers using a malicious virus-themed app to hijack Android phones.” Our blogs last week provided some details on these new scams.

 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has some tips to help protect your devices and personal information while working from home:

Start with cybersecurity basics. Keep your security software up-to-date. Use passwords on all your devices and apps. Make sure the passwords are long, strong and unique. The FTC suggests using at least 12 characters that are a mix of numbers, symbols and capital and lowercase letters.

Secure your home network by starting with your router. Turn on encryption (WPA2 or WPA3), which scrambles information sent over your network so outsiders can’t read it. If no WPA2 or WPA3 options are available with your current router, considering replacing your router altogether.

Keep an eye on your laptop and make sure it is password-protected, locked when you aren’t using it and secure. We suggest that it is never unattended, such as out in plain sight in a vehicle. Even if your doors are locked, windows can easily be broken.

Securely store your physical files. Strong physical security is an important part of cybersecurity. If you don’t have a file cabinet at home that is lockable, consider using a locked room. Read this blog by the FTC to learn more tips about physical security.

Dispose of sensitive data securely. Invest in a shredder if you don’t already have one. Throwing paperwork you no longer need in the garbage or recycling bin can be a treasure for a pirate especially if it includes personal information about customers, vendors or employees.

Follow your employer’s security practices. Since your home is now an extension of your office, make sure that you understand the protocols that your employer has implemented.

 

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 [email protected].

.