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15 Famous Identity Theft Cases That Rocked The Nation

I have had my identity compromised. It sucks. While I shudder to think about what the thief did with the stolen information, it has forced me to develop good online security practices and get the best identity protection services. Identity theft cases are rising globally, especially in the United States.

The US Federal Trade Commission received nearly 1.4 million identity theft fraud reports in 2021. Apparently, this was fuelled by uncertainty over COVID-19.


Most Common Search Terms That Can Infect Your Kids With Malware

HSH---Dangerous-search-terms-for-kids

Today’s children are no strangers to computers and the internet. Information and entertainment are just a click away. However, this convenience comes with a catch – the lurking danger of cyber threats.

Children, with their eagerness to explore, often find themselves one click away from potentially harmful content. They are unknowingly drawn into the web of cyberattacks, and it all starts with seemingly innocent search queries.


American Attitude Toward Zoom’s Data Sharing For AI Training

Social Image

With the rapid growth of AI, worries about cybersecurity and protecting personal data have intensified. The recent signs of companies accessing users’ information for AI training, particularly with the recent update of Zoom’s terms of service, have raised concerns regarding the ethical use of AI.


Most Invasive AI Apps in 2023

HSH-Herosection

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has stirred mixed emotions among tech enthusiasts, professionals, and users. Some believe the technology is the gateway to superior tech advancements, while others view it as a threat because of its ability to intrude on user privacy. But is there any truth to this claim?

By researching the most intrusive AI apps, we have mapped out the power of AI to intrude on your data. This report is a three-section summary of our findings on the invasive nature of AI applications.


Threads Is The Worst Social Media Platform For Protecting User Privacy

In today’s digitally interconnected world, concern over user privacy has become an increasingly pressing issue, particularly when it comes to social media networks. While it is widely acknowledged that most of these platforms struggle to safeguard user privacy adequately, a closer examination of their practices and policies reveals a complex landscape of varying degrees of protection.


How Can I Safely Dispose of My Old Smartphone?

A man is breaking a smartphone lying on wooden table with a big hammer

My last office job was managing a help desk for the state government.

I helped with the transition from Blackberry phones to iPhones, but long before that, we were dealing with desktops, laptops, and tablets.

Every year, we’d have a crop of new devices arrive at our door. We’d unbox them and move them into the storage room, where they’d remain as we gradually set up each one and move it to the assigned employee.

As you can probably guess, we also had a lot of old computers ready to be sent off to the computer graveyard.

At first, we just wiped the computer and took it to Surplus Property, the division that handled selling it secondhand to the public.

Over time, though, it became clear that wasn’t enough. Resetting a smartphone or formatting a hard drive doesn’t remove every trace of data. A crafty criminal might be able to grab information from it.


Privacy-Focused Browsers and Search Engines

Privacy-Focused Browsers and Search Engines

It’s not that I don’t want privacy. Most of the time, I forget about it.

Yet I always assumed if you wanted complete privacy while browsing and searching, Google’s incognito mode was the way to go.

According to leaked emails from Google employees, though, incognito mode might not be as safe as we think. 

Google’s pretty transparent that devices connected to a server can’t use incognito mode to guarantee privacy. In other words, if you’re surfing inappropriately at work, your company’s I.T. team could be watching.

Those Google insider emails indicate your boss might not be the only one who’s watching, however.


Mobile Banking App Security: How Safe Are Your Accounts?

Mobile Banking App Security

If you’re like most of us, you use a mobile banking app. They have become extremely convenient, allow us to avoid a trip to the bank just to deposit a check, allow us to check accounts (or even investments) on the go, and can offer so much more.

However, given that they are linked to what is effectively our financial life, it is rational to have some concerns about it. A leak of your account information could lead to identity theft or just regular old theft. A major security vulnerability could be catastrophic to the industry and people’s personal lives. 

Here’s what you need to know about the current state of mobile banking app security and how you can better protect yourself on these apps.


Identity Theft Recovery: Steps To Take If Your Identity Is Stolen

Identity Theft Recovery

Identity theft is a major problem worldwide and is only growing in popularity among criminals. 

There were more than 1.1 million identity theft cases last year in just the United States. This led to the loss of $43 billion in total.

If you’re reading this, you might be worried that you could be one of these cases, but you don’t have to be; you can mitigate losses and regain your identity.


Is McAfee Identity Theft Protection Worth It?

McAfee website

Identity theft protection services are important for helping consumers guard their identity and personal information. They help you spot fraud faster than you may be able to do on your own.

The majority of these services provide comparable advantages, like keeping a watchful eye on the dark web for any instances of personal information being exposed.

However, not all identity theft protection services are created equal

Some services provide more features that fit your needs. Others may offer a very favorable price point that fits your budget exactly.

For an identity theft protection service to be worth it for you, it must give you the features you need at a cost that’s comfortable for you.

So, is the McAfee identity theft protection service worth it?


What Is Malspam? How Do You Prevent It?

E-mail popup warning window concept

A senior cybersecurity analyst spotted ransomware as it made its way onto his servers.

The malicious email appeared to be an agreement requested by the recipient. But the message included a ZIP file, and that ZIP file was password protected.

Recipients didn’t even have to track down the password. It was provided in the message itself.

When the recipient executed the file, it was set to download ransomware. The ransomware would encrypt the entirety of the end user’s hard drive.


Who’s Who In America Scams — What You Need To Know

an open book laying on top of an open book

I was a high school student the first time I found out I was important.

Okay, I was still a total dweeb with my nose perpetually stuck in a book. But there, in black and white, was my name. I was somebody.

My name was listed in a directory called Who’s Who Among American High School Students. I have no idea how I even ended up in the book. I do remember that we bought a copy (of course, we did!).

Yes, it was a vanity ploy. But they also had us believing that being listed in the book might help us with college acceptance and scholarships.

Really, though, it was all about being seen. This was before the Internet and social media. Literally, nobody knew your name unless they went to school with you or met you somehow.

Who’s Who Among American High School Students is no longer in print –– at least not in its original form. Anyone can start a Who’s Who book, though, so it might only be a matter of time before the high school version returns.


Credit Repair Scams – What They Are And How To Avoid Them

Gradient credit assessment concept

Qualifying for new credit can be tough if you have a bad history.

That’s why one Texas consumer jumped at the chance to start over.

When she saw online ads promising a “Credit Privacy Number (CPN),” she signed up. With a CPN, she’d get a new number that she could then use to apply for credit.

The number looked like a Social Security number, so it should work, right?

She paid $1,500 for the number, which she immediately began using instead of her Social Security number. Her credit score began notching upward. She found her score in the 700s.

Then federal agents showed up at her work. The mother of three was facing up to 30 years in prison.

That was definitely not good news.


Credit Score Scams – How To Identify And Avoid Them

Credit Card Credit Score

Looking for an apartment can be a time-consuming process, especially in this market.

So when one consumer found a good prospect on Craigslist, it was time to pounce. First, though, the supposed landlord wanted a screenshot of the renter’s credit score. All the applicant needed to do was click a link and input a name, address, and Social Security number.

The renter did as instructed and received a showing time. The problem? There was no house number listed, and the landlord wasn’t answering calls or emails.

As it turned out, the renter was one of many consumers who have been duped by a rental scam. The issue is so prevalent it merited a BBB scam alert.


How To Protect Your Bank Account From Identity Theft

person holding white and red card

It was a typical McDonald’s visit.

A Virginia woman made a quick trip through a McDonald’s drive-thru to buy a Happy Meal for her son.

Once she was home, she noticed that more than $300 had been charged to her account. Someone had bought wigs, hair supplies, and food using her card.

As she was on the line with her bank, the woman realized the card in her hand wasn’t her own. The cashier had swapped the cards.

Police were able to access surveillance video that showed the McDonald’s worker using the swapped card to make purchases. Now, the victim is warning others about the dangers of having a debit card in a worker’s hands, even temporarily.

And unlike a credit card, a debit card hits your bank account directly.


MOVEit Data Breach: Everything You Need To Know

turned-on laptop computer

Everything about the MOVEit data breach will make you angry.

It has caused millions of dollars in damage to unsuspecting victims who did nothing at all wrong. 

Among the victims are public institutions, nonprofits, and schools thrown into chaos because of this callous cyber attack. 

And perhaps worst of all – the attack started because of a flaw in a service that was supposed to make things MORE secure

That’s right – the defenders dropped the ball (more on that later). 

We hear about cyber attacks constantly these days. So much that they tend to blend together. Every once in a while, though, a particular attack rises above the rest to capture our collective attention. 

MOVEit is one of those attacks


A Family Member Opened A Credit Card In My Name: What To Do And How To Save Your Credit

A Person Doing Business Transaction Online

If you’re reading this, you are likely in a difficult situation. A family member has betrayed you, using your credit for personal gain by opening a credit card in your name.

Unfortunately, the situation is all too common. That doesn’t make it any less tough emotionally and practically. And all too often, the perpetrator gets away with it.

Don’t be one of the victims who doesn’t get justice. You don’t want this financial albatross hanging around your neck, and you don’t want the situation to get worse.

Here’s what you need to know and what you need to do.


Someone Opened A Facebook Profile With My Identity!

facebook mobile page on a mobile Safari browser

It seems unthinkable—almost like seeing your double walking down the street.

What are we talking about? An increasingly common form of fraud creating big headaches and large financial losses for people across the country. 

Scammers are creating fake Facebook profiles to pretend to be other people. Even worse, they’re using profiles with your name and picture attached to scam other people…including your friends and family. 

If there’s someone impersonating you on Facebook, you need to be aware of it. And once you’re aware—you need to take immediate action. 

The following sections cover everything you should know and do. Don’t skip any detail. 


What Can Someone Do With My Social Security Number?

Green Classic Typewriter with White Paper

The Social Security number system was created alongside Social Security to track benefits due to Americans at retirement and other times. 

It is also used as a major form of identification (which explains why it’s so popular with scammers).

It allows access to so many accounts and opportunities, and no other piece of information is so directly tied to a person in this way. 


Someone Opened An Instagram Profile With My Identity – What Can I Do?

Instagram Mobile Smartphone image

Instagram impersonation is easier than you think. Many people on Instagram don’t know the real you, there’s probably a post history just waiting for someone to use, and it’s very easy to create an Instagram account.

While it is easy for the perpetrator, impersonation can devastate the victim, especially if they have a strong online presence. Others around the victim might be affected, trust is shaken, and it can go a long time without detection.

If you’re reading this, it has happened to you, or you’re concerned about the possibility, don’t worryIt can be dealt with, and I’m here to help you figure out your plan.


How Do I Remove My Personal Information From The Internet?

Everyday tool composition

I watch many true crime shows – I just saw one before writing this article. 

There are a lot of scary people out there. And those people don’t have to look too hard to track down victims.

Take the case of a Japanese pop star whose stalker tracked her down through a reflection in her eye.

Yes, her eye!

See, all this woman did was post a selfie on social media. Her stalker, who proclaimed himself her biggest fan, spotted a train station in the reflection of her eyes.

Using Google Street View, he matched the train station and located her.

It might seem like an extreme case, but is it really? How often do we post pictures of ourselves online? And as high-definition images become the norm, those little details could put us at risk.


Dave Ramsey Identity Theft Protection: What Is He Selling And Is It Good?

zander site

In passing, you’ve probably heard the name Dave Ramsey before, even if you don’t know what he does or advocates for. 

The personal finance celebrity has long been working to give people more control and information over their finances. He’s become a household name in talk radio as a result.

As part of this, he advocates for some products and practices. Protecting oneself from identity theft is one of those positions (and one we agree with).

However, to do so, he recommends Zander, a leading identity theft protection service that has partnered strongly with Dave Ramsey.


What Are Hospital Bill Scams And How To Avoid Them

Emergency Signage

Being served legal papers is no fun.

So when a Mississippi consumer got a phone call asking them for an address, it was no doubt scary at first.

The caller claimed to be trying to serve papers about an unpaid medical bill. The caller even knew the person’s partial address and the last four numbers of the Social Security number.

Still, something didn’t feel right.

The person asked for the name and phone number of the business calling and immediately tried to call back. The company was called Document Delivery Services, based in Nevada.

When the person contacted the business office of the local hospital, it turned out there wasn’t an unpaid bill. It had been a scam attempt.

Luckily, that scam attempt failed.


Signal App Scams: Protecting Yourself From Scammers On The Privacy-Focused Messaging App

signal app

Scams are part of the Internet. Scams have become part of many messaging services as a result. 

Signal, a more privacy-focused app that millions of people use globally, is not an exception, and scammers are regularly working on ways to get people to part from their information and money on the platform.

So what do you need to know, and what do you need to do? I’ll guide you through the scams, the defenses, and how it all works


Twitter Scams – What They Are And How To Avoid Them

twitter app

Social media scams can become so predictable.

That’s why one Twitter user decided to have a little fun with her scammer.

When a man contacted the woman claiming to be her one true love, she was amused.

When he asked for $3,200 to visit her, she had a better idea. She’d travel to see him.

And that was when her imaginary journey began. She sent a series of pictures of her “travels,” which included crashing in a helicopter and being stranded in the snow.

Of course, she’d never left home. But her tales panicked the scammer, who begged her to stop traveling and simply send her the $3,200 so he could come to her.

It wasn’t the first time the 42-year-old self-proclaimed bored Twitter user had fun with a scammer. Typically, her conversations end with the scammer blocking her. But at least she’s never lost a dime to a Twitter scam.


8 Dangers Of Posting Your Pictures And Information Online

Apple iPhone XR showing Instagram application on mobile

I’m probably going to offend many people here, but posting your pictures and information online is dangerous.

Wait, I’ll explain.

It’s okay to share beautiful moments like Christmas trees, Thanksgiving, and other festive periods with your friends on Facebook and Instagram.

But many people tend to overshare, revealing sensitive details in pictures that shouldn’t be made public.


How To Tell If Someone Is Using Your Identity

Hackers Team concept

When I got scammed of $5,700 in late June 2013, I only found out after a store refused my personal check.

The damage had been done. 

That’s the reality of identity theft. You usually don’t know until it’s too late.

And if I didn’t walk into that store, the financial losses could have been even more disastrous. 

Millions of Americans suffer from identity theft yearly. Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal information to steal money or commit crimes.

I lost six thousand dollars, which is a lot of money. But it could be worse for others.


How To Protect Your Identity Online

google

What if protecting your identity online was easier than you thought? 

At first glance, figuring out how to protect your identity online feels like a monumental and complicated task. You know it’s important, but where do you even begin? 

That’s where these 12 simple steps come in. 

If you put all of these into practice, stealing your identity would be a near impossibility. And you can act on most of these in as little as a few hours.

So, if protecting your identity online is something you’ve been meaning to get around to, there’s no better time than now.


How To Protect Seniors From Getting Scammed

vector illustration of senior couple conflicting with hacker via smartphone

Seniors like our parents and grandparents aren’t tech-savvy, which already makes them vulnerable to being scammed. 

Plus, they tend to have more money in the bank because they’re retired or close to and have a fixed income. 

Put these variables together, and it’s no wonder they’re the likeliest demographic to be fraud victims after children.

For example, American seniors aged 60 and above lost over $1.6 billion to fraudsters in 2021 alone. And studies show this doesn’t tell the whole story.


How To Protect Your Child’s Identity Online

Child Identity Theft

You need to protect your child’s identity online. If not, they’ll be part of the 1.3 million kids with their identities stolen yearly.

And there are dire consequences.

For example, you don’t want to realize your child’s identity has been stolen and used to commit financial fraud when it’s time for college.

But beyond financial risks, you should protect your child’s identity from creeps. Your child could also be used as a weak link to target the entire family. 

Children are innocent. So, they’re more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. 


How To Remove Hard Inquiries From Your Credit Report

Documents on Wooden Surface

It starts out innocently enough.

You hear about a great interest rate on a personal loan, or you apply for an apartment that offers a lower monthly rent than what you’re paying now.

But without realizing it, you may have lowered your credit score.

The credit reporting agencies classify two types of credit checks: hard and soft. With a soft inquiry, a creditor simply checks your score to make sure you qualify. These often happen with creditors that advertise they’ll “preapprove” or “preauthorize” you for an opportunity. Soft credit checks don’t show up on your credit report and don’t impact your score.


Zelle Scams – What They Are And How To Avoid Them

Illustration showing credit card functions for different payments

I remember the days before peer-to-peer payment services.

Most of the time, credit and debit worked fine. But there were times when you just needed to hand cash to a friend. Sometimes, we’d have someone come to the house to do work, and paper checks were the only option unless we happened to have hundreds of dollars in cash on hand.

We never do!

Now, thanks to apps like Zelle and Venmo, we can zap cash to anyone we need. I use these apps to send money to colleagues collecting flowers for a peer. Sometimes my stepdaughter needs a little extra cash.


How Does Tax Identity Theft Occur?

tax form

Last summer, a Pennsylvania college student received a letter in the mail from the IRS. Had she filed a tax return?

The answer was no, but to set the record straight she had to agree to a video call with an IIRS agent. Once that was done, she thought the drama was over, but it had just begun.

On March 15 of this year, the student received another IRS letter. Once again, another tax return had been filed in her name and a refund was on the way to the filer.

The student had to get in touch with the IRS. This time, she had to wait 40 minutes to tell someone that this other return was fraudulent. Finally, the return was flagged and the IRS promised to look into it.

Unfortunately, the issue had an inconvenient side effect – she was a dependent on her parents’ tax return. Due to the repeated fraudulent returns, though, her parents could no longer file electronically. They had to file a paper return.


The Dark Web: What Is It & How Hackers Sell Your Identity On It For Pennies

iceberg in an ocean

In 2015, my co-worker Mike told me about the dark web and the insane things that happened there. 

I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around how there was a place where people could anonymously sell personal information or even hire hitmen online!

Right there, Mike asked for my wife’s name and, within seconds, found her Social Security Number for sale – for $2.50! 

There’s more.

The website he found it on claimed to have over 160 million other SSNs and dates of birth for sale. That was half of the United States population at the time.


Venmo Scams – What They Are & How To Avoid Them

money and phone

When a Detroit woman saw a post offering Morgan Wallen tickets on social media, she couldn’t resist the deal. The seller said she’d bought them for her daughter’s birthday, but that she couldn’t use them.

The buyer did exactly what we’ve all been advised to do. She clicked over and took a look at the seller’s profile. It looked legitimate.

She sent the money and waited. The seller claimed she was having trouble sending the tickets, then vanished. The tickets never came.

Worse, within days, the buyer’s bank account was emptied by the seller. Apparently, the scammer had hacked her Venmo account, accessed her debit card information, and found their way into her bank account from there.

Yikes!

So, what is this scam? And, how can you avoid it?


PayPal Scams – What They Are & How To Avoid Them

paypal app

Like many of us, I’ve had a PayPal account for years.

I remember using it for the first time when I began shopping on eBay. 

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I prefer my PayPal account more than newer digital payment methods like Venmo and Apple Wallet. 

I can still recall a few scam emails I got in the early 2000s. Since I worked in information systems at the time, I knew better than to click links. I’d cleaned up more than a few viruses caused by those clicks. I always went straight to PayPal, logged in, and checked to see if there were any issues with my account.

But it’s not as easy to avoid scams these days. PayPal scammers can be pretty creative in getting you to click. It can be hard to tell what’s real and what’s phony.

Luckily, we’re here to help.


Snapchat Scams – What They Are And How To Avoid Them

snapchat app

When a California teen received a flirty Snapchat message, he eagerly went along with it.

After all, the flirty user, who went by the name Errina Angels, was offering $500 a week if he agreed to be her “sugar baby.”

But when she wanted him to deposit two checks into his bank account, his Spidey Senses went on alert. However, he did as requested. He deposited the two checks she sent, then forwarded the funds to her via Zelle, minus the promised $500 he could keep for himself. The checks bounced.

Even though the victim of the scam was only 17, his bank wouldn’t cover it. He’d authorized it, after all.


What Information Hides In Your IP Address?

fingerprint

“My what?” 

An IP address – that ultra-boring, long number issued by your Internet Service Provider (ISP)? 

Yes, that one

Paying so little attention to it can become a HUGE source of grief since an IP address is a very valuable digital asset that a threat actor could use for malicious purposes. So, what’s the potential harm if your IP falls into the wrong hands?

Let’s dive in…


7 Serious Consequences Of Being Victim Of Identity Theft

Consequences Of Being Victim Of Identity Theft

With the widespread use of the internet, smartphones, and social media, identity theft is a significant problem for consumers. Scammers and criminals continue to develop new ways to steal people’s personal information online, using their confidential details to commit fraud.

The consequences of identity theft are serious and affect people’s lives and health in various ways. In addition to lost time and money, identity theft causes anxiety and sleep problems because of financial and emotional stress. Depending on the type of crime, the damage can last days or years, and even after the issue is resolved, victims live with the fear of it happening again.


Lost Your Wallet? Here’s The 11 Things You Need To Do Right Away

Close-up Photography Two Brown Cards

I was at a business conference the last time I lost my wallet.

I’ll never forget the panic that set in. Your first thought is to find it. You look everywhere. Then you start backtracking. Did you leave it at the restaurant? In your hotel room? In your car?

Once the reality starts to set in, though, you do a quick inventory of all that you might have lost. In my case, it was…


6 Must Do Things Immediately After Losing Your Credit Card

a woman who lost her credit card

The last time I lost my credit card was a decade ago. I can still remember it like it was yesterday.

I pulled out my wallet to pay for a purchase, only to find an empty slot where that gray piece of plastic should be. Of course, my first move was to search my purse, my pockets, my car, and everywhere else that wallet had been.

My second move was to retrace my steps.

Luckily, in that case, I could clearly remember the last time I’d used it. We’d eaten at a pizza place the previous night. I crossed my fingers and called the restaurant. I got very, very lucky. They had the card.


How To “Freeze” Your Social Security Number

a woman in front of her computer

The last time I lost my credit card was a decade ago. I can still remember it like it was yesterday.

I pulled out my wallet to pay for a purchase, only to find an empty slot where that gray piece of plastic should be. Of course, my first move was to search my purse, my pockets, my car, and everywhere else that wallet had been.

My second move was to retrace my steps.

Luckily, in that case, I could clearly remember the last time I’d used it. We’d eaten at a pizza place the previous night. I crossed my fingers and called the restaurant. I got very, very lucky. They had the card.


How To Protect Passwords From Hackers and Identity Theft

How To Protect Passwords From Hackers and Identity Theft

When I worked in I.T., I always knew where to look for passwords.

I’d be stuck in someone’s office, trying to troubleshoot an issue. At some point, I’d need to log in as the end user, and that was when I’d start searching.

I was surprised at how often that password was hidden under the keyboard. Sometimes they were even posted on the keyboard tray on sticky notes, visible to anyone who entered the office.

In a few cases, the passwords were stuck to the monitor.

We, of course, discouraged all that, but it still came in handy when I really needed the password.

The problem was, it would also come in handy to anyone who entered that office. Our building was secure, but there were cleaning crews in and out of there at night. It wasn’t too out of the question that someone could log in as that user.

That’s when the real damage can be done.

What exactly can a scammer do with a lost or stolen password? Read on to find out.


How Do Hackers Hack Your Phone?

a worried woman holding her phone

In May of last year, a woman suddenly found that her cell phone no longer worked. She contacted her provider, Spectrum, to have them check into it. 

As it turned out, her phone had been hacked.

And, the damage was far-reaching. Soon, the criminals opened credit cards in her name, and stole money from her personal and business accounts.

Although the victim was never 100 percent sure how the hackers accessed her phone, she’d been traveling recently. Authorities believe the incident may have happened while she was using public Wi-Fi.