What is your prepaid card costing you?

Prepaid Cards can Protect you from Credit Card Fraud

You go out to eat at a local restaurant and pay with your Debit Card. The waiter copies the Debit Card information and buys a new 42″ HD TV. You are now a victim of Bank Card fraud (not Identity Theft). $513.44 disappears from your checking account. Your rent, power and cell checks bounce. The bank charges you NSF fees of $105 that causes more payments to bounces. Now you have to proof you did not purchase the TV. You have to beg the bank to refund the $513.44, plus the NFS fees.

Ok, let’s say you used a Credit Card rather than a Debit Card. The waiter steals the Credit Card information and buys the TV. Now you call the Credit Card company and tell them the charge is not yours. They remove the charge. No extra fees, but you do need to get a new card. Plus you need to update all those auto payments.

It is easier to say you will not pay a fraudulent charge than it is to beg for the return of your money.

Another option is to pay with cash. The forth option is a Prepaid Card. You load an amount on the card. If the card information is stolen, then you are only out the money you loaded on the card. There are fees for using Prepard Cards, so you need shop around.

Tip: Do not use Debit Cards.

Posted in Identity Theft Protection | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft happens. It’s an unfortunate fact of modern life. But there are certain steps you can take to help keep your personal information from falling into the wrong hands.

Every day, you do things to protect what’s most important to you. And you know what? You do them almost automatically. Routine things like looking both ways before you cross, brushing your teeth, and buckling your seat belt.

Another routine to get into is keeping tabs on your identity and personal information. Here are five easy ways you can do it.

Read your credit card and bank statements carefully and often.

Know your payment due dates.

If a bill doesn’t show up when you expect it, look into it.

Read the statements from your health insurance plan.

Make sure the claims paid match the care you got.

Shred any documents with personal and financial information.

Review each of your three credit reports at least once a year. It’s easy, and it’s free.

And before you know it, protecting your personal information can be as routine as locking your doors at night.

For more tips and tools on dealing with identity theft, visit ftc.gov/idtheft. That’s ftc.gov/idtheft.

Posted in Identity Theft Protection | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Check Your Credit for Free

Shopping for a car? Applying for a job? Look for a home? Or just getting your financial house in order? Then it’s time to check your credit report.

Good news– it’s free. The law entitles you to one free copy of your credit report from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies every 12 months.

Why is it important to check your credit report? It has important information about your financial accounts, how you pay your bills, and if you filed for bankruptcy. You want to make sure everything is accurate, especially before you buy a house or a car or apply for a job. If you notice something wrong, contact the credit reporting company and business providing the information to correct the error.

Checking your report can help you guard against identity theft. Visit ftc.gov/idtheft if you spot accounts that aren’t yours.

How do you order your free credit report? Order online from annualcreditreport.com, the only authorized website for free credit reports, or call 1-877-322-8228. You will need to provide your name, address, social security number, and date of birth to verify your identity.

Keep in mind– you’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. So the next time someone asks how’s your credit, you’ll have the answer. To order your free credit report, visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.


Posted in Identity Theft Protection | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Watch Out for Malware Disguised as Sudoku Generator

Guest post from the Better Business Bureau

A scam that promises unlimited Sudoku puzzles is extra tempting this time of year. You have hours to kill sitting through a slow day at work, waiting at the airport or hanging out at a relative’s house. It’s a great time to waste time. 

How the Scam Works:

You receive a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that promises to automatically generate Sudoku puzzles. However, when you open the file and try to create a new puzzle, you get a message that you need to “enable macros” by disabling the software’s security setting.

If you do so, you will allow the malware to run on your computer. It will scan your system and send an email with details about your machine, according to computer security blog Naked Security.

What are Macros?

If you perform a task repeatedly in Microsoft Excel (or another Microsoft Office program), you can speed up your work by automating the task with a macro, a series of commands. However, macros are also a common way for scammers to sneak malware onto your computer.

Back in the 1990s, scammers frequently used this trick until Microsoft set all its software to automatically block macros. This adjustment forced scammers to abandon this technique and find new ways of fooling users. With this new malware, scammers hope that today’s Excel users have forgotten all about macros.

My File is Asking me to Enable Macros. Is This a Scam?

It can be hard to know when to allow macros in your Microsoft files. Follow these tips to ensure you don’t accidentally allow a virus to run on your computer.

  • Whenever you open an Excel workbook that contains macros, you can verify their source before you enable them. Just look for the digital signature, an electronic stamp of authenticity. See Microsoft’s page on macro security for more information.
  • Set your macro security level to control what happens when you open a workbook that contains a macro. You can choose to run macros based on whether they are digitally signed by a developer on your list of trusted sources. (To find this setting, go to the Tools menu, Macro submenu. Then, click the “Security Level” tab in the “Security” dialog box).
  • Watch out for macros in other Microsoft software. This scam involves Excel, but if this technique works, scammers will produce similar tricks using Power Point and Word Documents.

For More Information

Learn more about macros on Microsoft’s support website.

To find out more about scams, check out the new BBB Scam Stopper

Posted in Identity Theft Protection | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Criminal Identity Theft can happen to Anyone

Criminal identity theft occurs when a criminal fraudulently identifies himself to police as another individual at the point of arrest. The charges may then be placed under the victim’s name. Often the victims of Criminal Identity Theft do not find out about the wrongful record until they are arrested.

If your driver license or other ID is lost or stolen, you need to file a police report. You need to monitor your driving record, credit reports and financial statements for evidence of identity theft. If find evidence that you are a victim, you again need to file a police report.

Victims of Identity Theft need to:

  1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports
  2. Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
  3. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
  4. File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.

When a criminal steals an identity and uses the information to comment crimes, often it is the victim who gets arrested. Rarely can the Identity Theft victim clear up the mess on their own. They will need to spend thousands in legal and other professional help to clear their name.

If you are wrongfully arrested, call an attorney. If you don’t have an attorney, consider getting LegalShield.

Additional information:

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: What to do if it happens to you

FTC: Recover from Identity Theft

Posted in Identity Theft Protection, Security Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

IRS missing billions of tax dollars to Identity Theft

Over 5 Billion Dollars lost to Identity Thieves filing false 2011 Returns

There is a filing gap that thieves take advantage of to steal our tax dollars. Tax returns can be filed as early as January 15th, but businesses and institutions do not report to the IRS until March 31. Thus, the IRS does not know there is a problem until it is too late.

IRS also has systems problems. They do not seem to have the proper red flags in place to detect even obvious fraud. There were 21,000 returns filed to one address in Michigan which should have triggered an alert.

Nearly all of the false returns were filed electronically. The IRS needs to expand their Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) program to ALL tax returns filed electronically.

Tax Refund Fraud

Are You a Victim of Tax Identity Theft?

IRS Identity Theft Affidavit IRS Form 14039

It’s our money. Let’s make it harder to steal.

Posted in Identity Theft Protection | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Is Your Family Prepared for an Aged Parent’s Life Events?

You cannot know all the future holds, but it is possible to prepare for the legal challenges that you, your parents and your loved ones may face as all grow older. Seniors and their children must prepare now to meet these challenges successfully.

It may be a stroke, a heart attack or the slow on set of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

These challenges include, but are not limited to, needs for powers of attorney, guardianships, abuse and neglect matters, healthcare, billing problems, scams, government and pension benefits, long-term care insurance and estate planning. These issues are often intertwined, can be extremely complex and become even more difficult to manage if a major cognitive health issue such as dementia or Alzheimer’s is involved.

For example, many think a power of attorney can be given at any time. This is not accurate. Only a person of sound mind can give a power of attorney. Dementia or Alzheimer’s can make this impossible. A power not given or not properly given can cause family members to undertake a costly and emotional court process to appoint a guardian to handle the affairs of their relative.

Seniors and their children who do not prepare in advance for the legal challenges of aging are extremely vulnerable. Do not become one of those heartbreaking stories. Here are common examples of the consequences of failing to prepare.

A mother could no longer remember her own name. She had no designated guardian or power of attorney. Her finances and health quickly deteriorated. Had she given her daughter a power of attorney, her daughter could have acted quickly to protect her finances and get her the healthcare she needed.

An elderly father lived alone. He could take care of his physical needs, but he became confused easily. An unscrupulous “financial planner” visited him in his home and convinced him to agree to a “financial plan” that cost him his life savings. With no one empowered to help him with his affairs or act on his behalf, the father lost his savings, the children lost their inheritance and had to support their penniless father for the balance of his life. This could have been prevented if he had given someone he trusted his power of attorney to handle his affairs or if the children had sought the appointment by the court of a guardian of his financial affairs.

On the other hand, good planning can help avoid uncertainty and make difficult decisions easier.

An elderly wife suffered a massive stroke and went into an irreversible coma. The husband and wife had executed advanced medical directives (also known as living wills) that set out how they wanted to be treated if they were severely and permanently comatose. Her living will saved the family from the anguish of not knowing what her wishes were for treatment and, worse yet, from the possibility of an extended court fight between family members over the issue.

Many difficult situations can be avoided if the senior and their children work together to craft a plan for long-term security. A well-drafted estate plan, an advanced medical directive and a power of attorney given to someone trusted is the first step, but your LegalShield provider law firm can also help you navigate health insurance, government benefit concerns, guardianships and so much more. Avoid the disastrous consequences that can occur to seniors and their children without proper planning.

Whether you are a senior or a child of a senior, do not be among the many who suffer because of their failure to plan: http://www.BruceDemarest.com

Posted in Family Law, Identity Theft Protection, Medical Identity Theft, Security Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment