4 Ways to Avoid Cybercrime When Banking and Shopping on Your Smartphone or Tablet

business man hand use mobile phone streaming virtual business network process diagram

The nature of identity fraud is changing. With the rollout of smart chips in credit and debit cards making it more difficult to steal using cards themselves, thieves have their eyes on your data instead.

If you don’t protect yourself, you could join the millions of Americans who reported they got hit by identity thieves.

While mobile banking and payments are certainly making it easier and more convenient to handle one’s finances and conduct business, the same ease and convenience make them a ripe target for criminals, says Madeline Aufseeser, CEO of fraud prevention company Tender Armor.

“Because merchants are trying to make it easier for consumers to shop online and on their phones, all your credentials are stored online, including payment information, and you don’t even need a basket — just click a button and boom, you get charged. Because they have gone down this path of making things easier to purchase online, it makes it easier for the fraudsters to get to the data,” said Aufseeser.

Consumers are turning to their phones more often to manage their finances, from depositing funds to paying bills to splitting dinner and a movie among friends. Mobile payment apps are growing in popularity, particularly among Millennials.  A survey by FICO found that 32% of consumers 18 to 34 had used some kind of mobile payment app, and 23% had used a peer-to-peer lending app.  According to consulting firm Accenture, 94% of consumers under 35 access their banking services through the Web and mobile apps.

Don’t be a victim!  Here are 4 ways to protect yourself and your finances:

Safety tip # 1: Update that OS

People who are not careful about how they use their mobile payment apps, where they use them and how they manage their mobile devices, are putting themselves at risk. For starters, avid users of mobile payment services should always keep their mobile operating system, or OS, up to date. Ignoring updates for Android or iOS means ignoring free security patches for vulnerabilities hackers already know how to exploit.

Safety tip # 2: Update that app

The same goes for the apps themselves — keeping a payment app completely up to date means keeping its security protocols as strong as they can be. Some apps introduce new security features, like biometric sign-in capabilities. Aufseeser stresses the importance of two-factor authentication for passwords and personal information to double down on account protection.

Safety tip # 3: Beware of Wi-Fi

Accessing a mobile banking app or a payment app while on public Wi-Fi also makes it easier for criminals to “eavesdrop” on the information one’s phone is sending and accessing, exposing usernames, passwords and any stored information on the phone — including saved credit or debit card info from payment apps. Consumers with data to spare should limit their use of public Wi-Fi hotspots when accessing sensitive information, checking a bank statement, sending a payment, etc. Keep in mind, fraudsters and hackers can eavesdrop on any information sent over public Wi-Fi, so mind your browsing and emailing in public spaces.

Safety tip #4: Watch out for person-to-person payments

Besides guarding yourself from hackers, you have to be on guard about the people you do business with as well. The wild west of mobile payments has tangible, real-world fraud risks associated with it. The incredibly popular person-to-person payment app Venmo, has exposed some of the weaknesses in the mobile payment ecosystem.

While users expect their payments to be safe and instantaneous, the reality is more complicated. Payments take time to process, which leaves a period of time during which scam artists can abuse a clause in Venmo’s user agreement that prohibits “business, commercial, or merchant transactions.” The buyer cancels their payment and the seller cannot get the money back because, technically, they broke Venmo’s rules. In short: If you sell something to someone and they take back their payment, you’re out of luck.

This phenomenon is not unique to Venmo — various frauds and scams have plagued person-to-person payment sites and apps since the dawn of the Internet. Fraudsters populate websites like Craigslist and Ebay and use PayPal scams to rip off unsuspecting users, like having a seller send their item to a different address than is listed on the buyer’s PayPal account, effectively voiding any protections from PayPal and allowing the scammer to recall their payment and keep the item. However, as the Consumer Federation of America noted, there is no federal law that provides payment dispute rights.

Without laws in place, it falls to the company that owns the payment platform to resolve disputes — and when it comes to cybercriminals and fraudsters, they are pretty good at covering their tracks and leaving their victims high and dry. The moral of the story is – be mindful when sending payments with your mobile phone or tablet.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Be sure to enroll in our Identity Theft Protection Program from Sherpa today. The best part? You can enroll right online, 24/7. You can trust in First Financial and Sherpa to help keep your personal information protected. Packages begin at just $5.99 per month – so click here to enroll today!

Article Source: 

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/04/20/security-identity-theft-cybercrime-banking-shopping-mobile-phones/82466908/ by Benjamin Mitchell

What’s the Most Dangerous Kind of Identity Theft?

6a0154366bdf49970c017d4230dc0a970c-800wiLike the thieves behind the crime, identity theft can take on many disguises depending on the information stolen. When identity theft goes undetected, these crimes can not only cost victims their money, but also their health and well-being.

It’s nearly impossible to avoid identity theft, but awareness and vigilance are key to fixing the problem if you do get hit. As each kind of identity theft could be more deadly than the next, here are three particularly dangerous types of identity theft.

Child ID Theft

  • What makes it dangerous: Thieves often go after children’s identities through stealing data from schools or even taking their relatives’ information. Children will likely not know they were victims until they grow older and are denied for their first loan, credit card or even housing – because of a poor credit history. This blemished credit report could cause them to be denied new lines of credit, which could stunt their financial wealth.
  • How to avoid this identity theft: Check your child’s credit by requesting a free credit report (you can get your own credit reports for free once a year) and dispute and close any unauthorized accounts that were opened.

Medical ID Theft

  • ​​What makes it dangerous: Although consumers may think their medical information is not a target for cybercriminals, healthcare companies are becoming increasingly targeted. Data breaches in the healthcare sector could result in your information falling into the hands of thieves who could then use this data to take advantage of medical services. A report by the Ponemon Institute found medical identity theft has risen 22%, resulting in patients’ health information potentially being mixed up with thieves’, which could lead to potentially deadly medical mistakes.
  • How to avoid this identity theft: Always read the data privacy statement your healthcare provider gives you before agreeing to the terms and monitor your accounts in case of fraud.

Tax ID Theft

  • What makes it dangerous: Tax fraud through identity theft is an easy way for criminals to make money. The Internal Revenue Service has been known to give out billions in fraudulent tax refunds.
  • How to avoid this identity theft: File your income taxes early each tax season and shred any and all documents with your personal information on it.

While medical identity theft is dangerous in almost every aspect of your well-being – from a health to a financial standpoint – these other types of identity theft could also pose a threat to your or your loved ones’ futures. By protecting your personal information, you could help curb this crime and keep yourself from becoming a victim. Any large, unexpected changes in your score could signal new-account fraud and a sign that other serious forms of identity theft are on the way.

Be sure to enroll in our Identity Theft Protection Program from Sherpa – don’t wait until it’s too late! The best part? You can enroll right online, 24/7. You can trust in First Financial and Sherpa to help keep your personal information protected. Packages begin at just $5.99 per month – click here to enroll today!

*Original article source written by Patricia Oliver of USA Today.

4 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen

Smartphone in hand, concept of data protection, blue

Your phone’s SIM card could be taken. This is a hacking con in which a criminal uses a SIM reader or scanner to copy the information on your SIM card, a memory chip in your mobile phone. Once a thief has the code to your SIM card, they can copy it and basically use your phone’s information to make phone calls for free. Well, it isn’t free of course. You get to pay for those calls. Be wary of where you leave your mobile phone.

You could fall prey to visual hacking. This is when you are hacked by someone who spies your computer screen and steals information.

Given how easily strangers can come in contact with us at work – and in life, it’s worth thinking about. It’s also easy to imagine a thief pulling out a smartphone and taking a close-up photo of someone’s driver’s license, credit card or bank statement and slipping away without anyone being the wiser.

A spokeswoman for the Visual Privacy Advisory Council, suggests putting privacy filters and screen protectors on computer monitors, tablets and smartphones. That way, you can see what’s on your screen, but someone next to you, say on an airplane, can’t. And for those who are really worried, there are software filters that use facial recognition to recognize the computer user.

Someone could kidnap your digital identity. It may not be as troubling as getting your Social Security Number or credit card stolen, but it’s easy to imagine how someone could do a lot of damage to your reputation and more in this realm (i.e.; pretending to be you on Twitter).  Be sure to keep an eye out for this and review your security settings, along with changing your password frequently.

You could meet an old school thief. You might think that going off-the-grid has never sounded better. Give up an online presence. Get a landline. Just use cash. But you still need to be careful not to overlook old fashioned methods of identity theft.

One idea – if you use a check book, you may want to leave it at home and put a blank check in your wallet, if you’re going to be writing a check later in the day.  Just make sure your wallet isn’t left somewhere it can be swiped. Or photographed.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Check out First Financial’s ID Theft Protection products – click here to learn more.

Article Source: Geoff Williams for http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/06/09/4-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen

6 Things You Can Do to Ward Off ID Theft

magnifier_finger1. Be vigilant with your online information.

Only log into your online banking and financial institution sites from home or a secured location. This may seem simple, but it can be easy to forget.

2. Don’t use a debit card for online purchases.

A debit card is directly connected to your checking or savings account, so if there is fraud, your account can be drained — ouch!

A credit card is just that, credit. If there are purchases you don’t recognize, you can dispute them without your funds having already been withdrawn from your account. Consider having one credit card specifically for that purpose.

3. Monitor your accounts monthly.

When you go “paperless,” it can be easier to neglect checking your statements.  Be sure to review your bank accounts and credit card statements regularly to make sure they are correct and to watch for unauthorized purchases.

4. Simplify your financial information.

When you have multiple accounts and can fan out your credit cards like a deck of playing cards, it’s a challenge to stay on top of things. Consider paring down your accounts in order to better stay on top of them.

Also consider using an aggregation service, such as Mint.com, so all of your accounts and daily transactions are viewable with one single sign-in. This can help you easily stay on top of your account activity.

5. Check your credit information regularly and take advantage of free (or low-cost) credit monitoring services.

One problem with identity theft is that you may not know what you don’t know. If someone opens an account in your name and changes your address, you are left in the dark.

Subscribe to a credit monitoring service, like ID Theft Protection from First Financial. Don’t wait until it’s too late! To learn more about our ID Theft Protection products, click here and enroll today.

6. If you see something, report it right away.

If you suspect that your identity has been compromised, you can place a fraud alert on your credit file by calling any one of the three major credit reporting agencies shown below. A fraud alert is a notation on your credit file to warn credit issuers that there may be a problem. The credit issuer is asked to contact you at the telephone number that you supply to validate that you are the person applying for the credit.

TransUnion: 1.800.916.8800

Experian: 1.888.397.3742

Equifax: 1.800.685.1111

In accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, it is permissible for consumers to request a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian and Equifax).

To order a free credit report: www.annualcreditreport.com 

Article Source: Nancy Anderson for Forbes.com, http://www.forbes.com/sites/nancyanderson/2015/06/13/7-things-you-can-do-to-ward-off-identity-theft/

 

10 Signs You Might Be a Victim of Identity Theft

download (1)Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the country, with almost 10 million incidents a year. In fact, every minute, 19 people become victims, and the average cost to the victim is about $500 and 30 hours. ​

Those are some scary stats. The good news is that you can protect yourself by catching potential problems early and enlisting the support of your financial institution. Here are some tips for keeping your identity out of thieves’ hands:

  1. If you lose your credit card, let your card issuer know right away. Not only will the issuer cancel the card and get a new one with new numbers right away, but the customer service representative will let you know if any erroneous charges have already been made on the card and can ​prevent any new ones from going through.
  2. Avoid using ATMs in obscure locations because it’s easier for thieves to install “skimming” devices on them that steal your information when you swipe your card. According to Shaun Murphy​, founder of PrivateGiant, a company that seeks to protect personal information online, consumers should also avoid using their card on websites that do not have the “lock” icon in the browser, because they aren’t as secure as sites that have the icon.
  3. Check your account statements for errors. This is likely the first warning sign you’ll encounter. When checking your statement, you might see an unexplained or inaccurate entry – such as a withdrawal, a check, an electronic transaction or a purchase that you don’t recognize.
  4. Look for mistakes on your credit report. You can request a free copy of your credit report through annualcreditreport.com and review it for any inaccurate information. The most common indicators of identity theft include a credit inquiry you don’t recognize or a new account you didn’t open. That could suggest someone else is impersonating you. Let the credit bureaus know about any errors so the false information can be removed.
  5. Respond to calls from your financial institution. Financial institutions are constantly on the lookout for strange charges on your account; in fact, they might notice a problem before you do. If you receive a notice about a potential problem, be sure to call them back to sort it out. If the message comes in the form of an email, make sure it’s not a phishing email (where a fraudster masquerades as a trusted entity to try to acquire your personal information).
  6. Follow up on odd bills you receive. If you start getting calls from debt collectors related to accounts that don’t belong to you, or you receive bills for medical treatments you’ve never had, then someone else could be using your identity and your health insurance information. Follow up with the provider and your insurance company to protect your account.
  7. Stay on top of missing mail. If you don’t receive your bank statement by mail and you usually do, there could be a problem. The perpetrator may have changed your address with the financial institution. If other pieces of mail are missing, it may mean the perpetrator is collecting information about you to develop a profile. Similarly, if you don’t receive your email statement, someone may have conquered your online account and altered the settings to lock you out. Follow up directly with your financial institution or the biller to get the problem fixed ASAP.
  8. You receive unexpected mail. You might get a notice from the post office that your mail is being forwarded to another address when you haven’t requested an address change. Or you receive a letter concerning an account you never opened. Other mailings that could be a sign of identity theft: You receive a credit card in the mail that you never applied for or the IRS notifies you about unreported wage income you didn’t earn. If you find yourself in any of these situations, then it’s time to follow up with the institution sending the mail to clarify the issue.
  9. Look out for errors on your Social Security statement. If the earnings reported on your statement are greater than your actual earnings, someone might have stolen your Social Security Number and is using it for wage reporting services. It’s another red flag that there could be a problem that needs your attention.
  10. Investigate if you’re denied an application based on your credit. If you have good credit but are denied an application for a new credit card or a loan, that may indicate that your identity has been stolen. It’s time to pull your credit report and do a full review of all your accounts to get to the bottom of the problem.

With these strategies in hand, you can help reduce your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! To learn more about our ID Theft Protection products, click here and enroll today.

This article is courtesy of US News: Money.

Credit Cards Can Be Stolen Right Under Your Nose

635576298599917158-468266197-4-There are several things people freak out about when their wallets or purses have been stolen: knowing a thief has your ID (and your home address), losing irreplaceable gift cards or cash, and having to cancel your credit cards. That’s usually the first thing people do — call their banks, but it’s easy to act quickly when you realize you’ve been robbed. Sometimes, it’s not that simple.

Thieves steal credit and debit cards all the time without taking the physical card. The most common kind of card theft results from data breaches. Each year, millions of U.S. consumers have their cards replaced after their information was compromised in one of the many massive cyberattacks on retailers, even if their cards didn’t show unauthorized activity. People have gotten used to the idea that data breaches are inevitable, but there are lots of daily activities that put your cards at risk for theft, without you noticing.

1. Drive-thru’s

A Pennsylvania woman was arrested for allegedly swiping customer cards on a personal card reader while she worked the drive-thru at a Dunkin’ Donuts, WFMZ reported, reportedly using the information to create duplicate cards and charge more than $800 to the accounts.

That’s not the first time a story like this has popped up, and it’s likely to happen again, because the situation presents an easy theft opportunity to drive-thru workers: Customers hand over their cards and usually can’t see what the cashier is doing with it on the other side of the window. It’s not like you should avoid the drive-thru for fear of card theft, but it’s one of many reasons to regularly check your account and card activity for signs of unauthorized use.

2. Restaurants

How often do you see your server process your dinner payment? Usually, he or she takes your card away from your table and completes the transaction out of your sight. Many restaurant workers have taken advantage of this situation to copy customers’ cards and fraudulently use the information. Once again, regularly check your account and card activity for signs of unauthorized use.

3. On the Phone

People are pretty trusting when making orders over the phone, assuming that whoever takes the order is entering the credit or debit card number, expiration date and security code into a payment system, not just copying it down for their own use. On the flip side, it might not be the person on the other end of the call you should worry about — plenty of people read their card information aloud within earshot of strangers, making it easy for someone nearby to write down the numbers.

4. RFID Scanners

Most radio-frequency identification (RFID)-enabled credit and debit cards have a symbol (four curved lines representing a signal emission) indicating the card has the technology for contactless payment. If you have one of these cards, you have the ability to use tap-and-pay terminals found at some retailers, because your card sends payment information via radio frequencies, received by the terminal.

That same technology also allows thieves to use RFID scanners to copy your card data if they get close enough to it and your card isn’t protected. If you’re not sure your card has RFID technology, call your issuer, and if it does, use signal-blocking materials and products to protect it.

5. Card skimmers

Thieves have been installing copying devices at gas pumps and ATMs for years: They tamper with card readers to install skimmers that copy your card data when you swipe it, so a thief takes your credit or debit card information while you complete an otherwise routine transaction. Experts advise you look closely at card readers for signs of tampering, use ATMs serviced by your bank, and check your card activity regularly for signs of fraud.

That’s really the best way to combat credit card theft: Watch closely for it. With online banking and mobile applications, it’s easy to check your accounts every day, making it more likely you’ll spot something out of the ordinary than if you only looked at card activity once a week or so. You can also check your credit score for sudden changes, which can be a sign of fraud or identity theft.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Check out First Financial’s ID Theft Protection products. To learn more, click here and enroll today!

Article source courtesy of Christine DiGangi, Credit.com.