Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud

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1 Concierge Security Report March 2018 Volume 4, Issue 3 Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud Introduction According to the US Department of Justice, identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. With the rise in security breaches in 2017 and so far in 2018, Americans are increasingly concerned about identity theft, which often leads to credit card fraud or bank fraud. These criminal acts can damage your credit status and cost you time and money to restore your good name and reclaim lost funds. You may not even know that you are the victim of ID theft until you experience a financial consequence (e.g., mystery bills, credit collections, and denied loans) down the road from actions that the thief or hacker has taken with your stolen identity. While identity theft and credit card fraud can occur nearly anywhere or to anyone, there are a few ways fraudsters and hackers target you for your ID and your credit card information: Criminals surf social media profiles - While many cases of identity theft involve someone the victim knows, many others involve a stranger using the internet to obtain your personal information. The easiest way for them to do that is through your social media profiles. Criminals set up fake WiFi hotspots - Almost all of your personal information is on your smartphone, especially if you use it to shop online or do online banking. Do not trust WiFi connections unless you know the secure Wi-Fi connection is from your home, your office or a trusted source. It is preferable to use a cellular connection as opposed to the free WiFi at the coffee shop. Hackers target known vulnerabilities and unlocked data - Since almost all of your private and important information is on a device your phone, tablet and/or laptop, keep your software updated and use screen locks or passwords to protect your user data. Criminals look and listen for loud talkers - We know you have heard these people in airports, restaurants, or at the grocery store. They are talking so loud on their phones that anyone within a 50 foot radius can easily overhear their entire phone call. If you listen for a few minutes, most of the loud talkers will disclose personal information such as their phone number, home address, a credit card number, names, important dates, and so on. Be aware, even if you think you are alone or in a private, yet public place. This report focuses on various aspects of identity theft and credit card fraud, as we typically see these two crimes go hand-in-hand. The report also presents information on: 1) what to do if you become victimized; 2) how to report ID theft and/or fraud; 3) synthetic ID fraud; 4) online fraud; and, 5) recommendations for prevention and protection. Inside this issue Types of ID Theft CNP Fraud....2 Stealing Credentials American Perspective Reporting Crimes Synthetic ID Theft Online Shopping Fraud...4 Preventing ID Theft New Scams Beware of Ads & Pop-ups Travel Protection....7 Recommendations

2 CNP Fraud When it comes to credit card fraud, the big development in the US over the last few years has been the move from magnetic stripe readers to EMV smart chip authentication at payment terminals. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard, Visa. It is the global standard for chip-based debit and credit card transactions. It is a joint effort between Europay, MasterCard and Visa to ensure security and worldwide acceptance so that MasterCard and Visa cards can be used everywhere. Common Types of Identity Theft According to the Federal Trade Commission, the government agency that maintains a sort of warehouse for identity theft complaints, the crime falls into six major categories. Note the percentages add up to more than 100 because some complaints involved more than one type of identity theft and may fall into more than one of these categories: Source: Employment- or tax-related fraud (34%) This is when a criminal uses someone else s Social Security number and other personal information to gain employment or to file an income tax return. Credit card fraud (33%) This is when the thief uses someone else s credit card or credit card number to make fraudulent purchases. Phone or utilities fraud (13%) This is when the criminal uses another person s personal information to open a wireless phone or utility account. Bank fraud (12%) This is when the fraudster uses someone else s personal information to take over an existing financial account or to open a new account in someone else s name. Loan or lease fraud (7%) This is when a fraudulent borrower or a lessee uses someone else s information to obtain the loan or lease. Government documents or benefits fraud (including tax fraud) (7%) This is when a criminal uses stolen personal information to obtain government benefits. Mindstar has also seen an increase in Social ID theft when a thief uses your name, photos, and other personal information to create a phony account(s) on a social media platform. With enough identifying information about an individual, criminals can take over that individual's identity to conduct a wide range of crimes both online and in the brick-n-mortar world. Criminals also appear to be more active in some states rather than others. The map (above) presents information about the susceptibility of identity theft and credit card fraud depending on where you reside. California, New York, Florida and Texas residents appear to be the most vulnerable. A quick look at the immediate effect of the EMV migration shows that counterfeit fraud decreased by 27% in terms of overall US dollar volume in January 2016 compared to January 2015, before the liability shift. While EMV chip cards have cut counterfeit fraud, card not present (CNP) fraud is rising. CNP fraud includes telephone, Internet and mail order transactions in which the cardholder does not physically present the card to the merchant. According to a 2017 report by the US Payments Forum, the increased security of chip cards forced criminals to shift the focus of their activities to CNP transactions. The United States is especially vulnerable to CNP fraud, as it leads the world with the highest percentage of e-commerce sales, with 77 percent of US merchants selling goods and services online. The Payments Forum report includes a prediction that the EMV implementation is projected to lead to an increase of CNP fraud in the US from $3.1 billion in 2015 to $6.4 billion in

3 American Perspective Experian conducted a survey to assess what Americans think about ID theft. Most Americans know it is a problem but most of them believe it will either end up being someone else s problem or it is not worth the work to protect themselves. Here are some of the highlights that came from Experian s survey, in which they polled 1,000 consumers 18 years old and older: 84% of consumers are concerned about people taking their personal information. Targeting, Hacking, and Stealing Credentials There are so many ways people are targeted for their identities and/or their credit card numbers. In public places, criminals may engage in "shoulder surfing" watching you from a nearby location as you punch in your various PIN numbers, passwords, or credit card numbers or listen in on your conversation if you give your credit-card number over the telephone. At airports, coffee shops or anywhere, hackers may stand up fake WiFi connections that appear to be legitimate and may even have stronger signals than the WiFi the hotels or the coffee shops actually offer. These fake Wifi hotspots may have convincing names such as StarbucksGuest or HiltonBar. As people use the free WiFi, their data can be compromised as it transits through the hacker s network. If you receive applications for "pre-approved" credit cards in the mail, but discard them without tearing up the enclosed materials, criminals may retrieve them and try to activate the cards for their use without your knowledge. Also, if your mail is delivered to a place where others have ready access to it, criminals may simply intercept and redirect your mail to another location. Many people respond to "spam" unsolicited that promises them some benefit but requests identifying data, without realizing that in many cases, the requester has no intention of keeping their promise. In some cases, criminals reportedly have used computer technology to steal large amounts of personal data. 64% of consumers think it is too much hassle to actively protect their identity. 52% think it s not very likely they will be hit with identity theft. 72% said they think thieves are only interest in rich people s information. Experian found it pretty fascinating that a majority of us are just plain lazy about taking action to protect ourselves. Mindstar concurs and sees and hears this numerous times we just don t have time to do that, or why would anyone want to steal my ID? or I will just get a new credit card from my bank. Many people believe it is too much effort to take a few steps for prevention or protection, yet are happy to spend hours of mindless time sifting through pins on Pinterest. With everything being automated and run through apps these days, it is too easy to go on financial auto-pilot and not be vigilant about checking your accounts on a daily or weekly basis. Make the technology work for you. Most banking apps and online banking options make being vigilant very easy by showing transactions in near real time and by offering various types of alerts. Reporting ID Theft, Fraud and other crimes Schemes to commit identity theft or fraud may also involve violations of other statutes such as identification fraud, credit card fraud, computer fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, or financial institution fraud. Each of these federal offenses are felonies that carry substantial penalties; in some cases, as high as 30 years' imprisonment, fines, and criminal forfeiture. Call the companies where you know the fraud occurred. Report the fraud to your bank/credit card company in case they did not alert you to the incident(s). Review your credit reports and all of your bank/credit card statements. Report identity theft to the FTC. File a report with your local police department. If the incidents are serious enough, you may be able to file a report with a federal agency such as the FBI, USPS or USSS. Do note that thousands of cases of ID theft and fraud are reported to local law enforcement (city, county and state police) each year. Unfortunately, there is very little law enforcement can do in most cases. Many jurisdictions are lacking sufficient resources and/or expertise and will simply take a police report of the incident. It will be up to you to find mitigation services. In the cases where the amount of fraud reaches a threshold between $5K and $25K (depending on the state you reside in), federal prosecutors may become interested in the case and work with federal investigative agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Secret Service, or the United States Postal Inspection Service to prosecute identity theft and fraud cases. The process for gathering evidence whether the case is local or federal is painfully slow, if a law enforcement agency decides to get involved at all. The incident response and remediation plans are basically left up to you to manage if you do become a victim of ID theft or credit card fraud. 3

4 Online Purchase Fraud Online purchase scams are now the riskiest consumer fraud type, according to the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust. Online purchase scams jumped from the fourth-riskiest scam to the top spot, likely due to the overall increase in online shopping activity. Scammers use the latest technology to set up fake retailer websites that look like genuine online retail stores. They may use sophisticated designs and layouts, possibly stolen logos, and even a legitimate looking domain name. Many of these websites offer luxury items such as popular brands of clothing, jewelry and electronics at very low prices. Sometimes you will receive the item you paid for but they will be fake, other times you will receive nothing at all. The biggest indicator that a retail website is a scam is the method of payment. Scammers will often ask you to pay using a money order, pre-loaded money card, or wire transfer, but if you send your money this way, it is unlikely you will see it again or receive your purchased item. A newer version of the scam involves the use of social media platforms to set up fake online stores. They open the store for a short time, often selling fake branded products. After making a number of sales, the stores disappear. So, be careful of clicking on pop-up ads for coupons or other lures while you are accessing your social media accounts. Not all of the online stores, discounts, or coupons are legitimate - it is best to avoid clicking on anything that is presented to you. If you are interested in a particular offer or sale, go to the retailer s website yourself by typing in the URL or by researching the store and its reviews. Synthetic Identity Fraud Synthetic Identity Theft is a type of fraud in which a criminal combines real (usually stolen) and fake information to create a new identity, which is used to open fraudulent accounts and make fraudulent purchases. According to an ABC News report, synthetic identity theft accounts for 85 percent of all identity fraud in the United States and costs consumers around $2 billion every year. In a 2017 press release, the United States Attorney s Office Northern District of Georgia said that synthetic identities are one of the fastest growing forms of identity theft in the United States. Source: Typically, fraudsters will use a real SSN and pair it with a name not associated with that number. Fraudsters seek SSNs that are not actively being used, such as those of children and from those who have passed away. Synthetic identity thieves target children s SSNs because they are inactive and will generally remain unchecked for up to 18 years. Children generally have no public information associated with their SSN, making them a prime target. Unless a victimized minor s parents are tipped off by a bill collector, the child begins receiving credit card offers in the mail or the child is denied a driver s license or college loan, the fraud may not be discovered. Attaining SSNs from those people who have passed away is actually very easy. Genealogy sites such as Ancestry.com allow just about anyone to access SSNs of the deceased. While Ancestry.com does not provide the SSN in their index for any person that has passed away within the past 10 years they do provide SSNs for those individuals who have been deceased for more than 10 years. Sites like Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org have access to the Social Security Administration s Death Master File which currently contains over 94 million records. This file is created from internal records from the Social Security Administration of deceased persons possessing social security numbers and whose deaths were reported to the Social Security Administration. In addition, you can run a social security number lookup on someone by using online people finder services, such as USATrace.com or Intellius. Most people finder websites will allow you to run this kind of social security number lookup and the reports you will receive contain everything from past criminal records, professional and business licenses, driving records, voter registrations, marriage licenses, mortgage/real estate records, and more if you are willing to pay a small fee somewhere between $29.99 and $ If attaining SSNs from genealogy sites and people finder sites were not enough, the United States Department of Commerce offers to provide access to the Master Death files with a login to their website. The scary part is that anyone can create login credentials for the Department of Commerce s website - even establishing credentials using fake first and last names and a generic gmail account we know, because we tried it. In most cases, synthetic identity theft goes undetected for years. Victims only find out about the crime after the thief defaults on making payments and they start receiving harassing calls from debt collectors, based upon their SSN. To protect yourself from these threats, look for warning signs and take precautions with your information. 4

5 Preventing ID Theft There is no silver bullet or magic potion that will stop identity theft, however, a few things you can do include: Check your children's credit report at least every other year until they are 18 years old or are employed at a younger age. At the age the children are employed, their SSN will be active and the detection of misuse is a bit easier. Try to keep your SSN and other personal identifiable information out of the fraudsters hands by shredding documents that contain your Social Security number. Also shred anything that contains your date of birth, bank and credit card account information. Do not give out your SSN to anyone and that includes doctors offices and hospitals. Patient forms are notorious for asking for patients or guardians SSN, but you are legally not required to provide that information to health care providers. Your health insurer may have your SSNs, but the only thing a doctor or dentist will need is your health insurance number not your SSN. Health care organizations are top targets for hackers, malware, ransomware, and other scams. In fact, the medical sector has more reported identity theft than any other industry. Numerous industries and databases already have your SSN, so there is no need to further proliferate the disclosure. You should be wary of unsolicited phone calls or s seeking your personal information. Scammers may claim to be from the Internal Revenue Service particularly this month - or your financial institution. If you receive such a call and think it may be legitimate, hang up and call the IRS or your bank back directly using a number you look up yourself. Conduct a Google search for your own SSNs using only the last 5 digits see if any websites or other online sources have a match to your full number. You never want to put your full SSN into any search engine or online database. Watch for US mail, FedEx, UPS or other physical mail that comes to you, but has someone else's name on it. If other names are attached to your address, it may be a tip that your home address has been stolen or hijacked and is being used to establish residence for a fraudster. Regularly check your credit reports and those of your family members. You also should keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements and verify all the transactions. Checking regularly on all of these things needs to become second nature and part of your routine. Remove any documents or notes that contain your SSN from your electronic devices. If you must keep documents which contain your SSN and other personal identifiable information, consider encrypting those files. For additional information on synthetic identity theft, check out a great article presented in Forbes Magazine 5

6 Beware of Ads, Pop-Ups, and Links Sometimes we can become mesmerized when surfing, shopping online, or just clicking around social media. When online shopping, on social media, or using Never click on ads, coupons, associated or linked articles, sales/deals, or pop-ups. Many of these very attractive and very legitimate looking ads contain malware. Only use your card for purchases on websites you trust. Do not click links in s, especially those from any company or individual you do not recognize. Even if you recognize the address, it could still be a phishing attack. If the appears to be from a known person but sounds odd or has links or attachments that you are not expecting do not click on anything or respond via . Respond by phone or text to see if the is legitimate. Never enter your card information (or social security number, etc.) in response to an , a web link, a phone call, or in person. No one needs your social security number except for the IRS even doctors offices should not be recording your SSN. New Scams Criminals use clever schemes to defraud millions of people every year. Hackers and fraudsters often combine sophisticated technology with age-old tricks to get people to send money or give out personal information. They add new twists to old schemes and pressure people to make important decisions on the spot. One thing that never changes: they follow the headlines and the money. There are no limits to the creativity these criminals are using in their schemes. The following are new scams everyone should be aware of and include: 1) Airbnb; Fake Bank Apps; and, 3) Porting Scams. Airbnb Scam This scam involving users of the popular Airbnb site that lets travelers rent an apartment or house. The scam starts with an impostor home or apartment owner directing the renter towards a fraudulent or spoof website to finalize payment for the rental. Those fake sites result in lost money and no place to stay because the rental property being discussed is usually not even available. In fact, the real owners are most likely unaware that their property is being spoofed by scammers. Fake Bank Apps Big banks have scammers posing as them in the form of apps. A recent survey by an Avast, a multi-national cybersecurity firm, found that one in three worldwide users mistakenly believed that a fake mobile banking app was the real thing, putting their financial data at risk. Thieves use the big customer base of major banks to try to get past the secure app stores and collect personal information. Porting Scams The scam called porting involves criminals stealing your phone number and your phone service in order to get access to your bank account through confirmation text messages. Scammers start by collecting your name, phone number and then gather any other information they can find about you such as your address, Social Security number, and date of birth. The scammers then contact your mobile carrier and state that your phone has been stolen and ask that the number be ported to another provider and device. Once your number has been ported to a new device, they can then start accessing your accounts that require additional authorization such as code texted to your phone. During the month of April, everyone should be aware of the Return of the Tax Scam. Fraudsters pull this one out every year during tax season. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are two variants of this scam. 6 When entering card information online, check the page you re on to make sure it s secure (e.g., starts with or includes a lock symbol in your browser bar). In the first scenario, identity thieves file a fake tax return and have the refund deposited into your bank account. The thieves then contact you, often by phone, and posing as the IRS or debt collectors for the IRS demand you return the money to the IRS. But following the thieves instructions actually sends the money to them. In another version, after you get that erroneous refund, you get an automated call, allegedly from the IRS, threatening you with criminal fraud charges, an arrest warrant, and blacklisting of your SSN. The caller gives you a case number and a telephone number to call to return the refund. Be alert and if you spot a scam, report it to: ftc.gov/complaint.

7 Protection While Traveling When traveling overseas there are a few things to consider to reduce the risk of fraud: Use a Single Sign on or Disposable Credit Card. See if your card issuer offers a disposable or one-time use card number, which still links to your account but expires after one use (or is only good for use at a single merchant). Notify your banks and credit card companies prior to your travel. Alerting your companies will help avoid your card being frozen while you travel while you travel so that you can make purchases far from home. Furthermore, alerting your card companies will help agents spot any activity that does not fit the parameters of your trip, and proactively allow you to catch any fraudulent charges. Recommendations There are some actions and best practices that can be implemented to reduce the risk of identity theft and credit card fraud. Below are five easy preventative measures to consider: 1. Avoid hooking into fake WiFi always have full control and knowledge of your devices connections. In your smartphone and your ipad/tablet, change your phone settings to turn off Wi-Fi altogether. Turn ON Cellular Data. Eliminate one of the most common ways hackers can steal your data by eliminating your exposure to malicious WiFi connections. NOTE - Make sure phones and tablets are set up on unlimited cellular data plans, or at least high capacity data plans so that you do not have to worry about using too much data or being charged extravagant overage rates. 2. Make sure your home router is new and is up to date. If your home (or office) router is compromised, it does not matter how many times you change your passwords or get new credit cards, because once you submit a purchase through a compromised router, the criminal can eavesdrop and get your credit card information again and again. 3. Check your home/office for inoperative WiFi hotspots in the home, or repair them. A dormant WiFi device can become a point of exposure if you are not typically paying attention to it. Any WiFi connection points in the home that are not functioning should be deactivated and removed from the network altogether, or they should be repaired so that they do work. 4. Sign up for banking and credit card alerts all of the major banks and financial institutions have an array of options regarding fraud alerts or purchase alerts. Talk to your banking representatives about their offerings. 5. Consider putting a freeze your credit. A security freeze will prevent potential lenders from accessing your credit reports (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion), stopping a thief from opening an account or getting credit even if they have your personal information. Or if you do not want to freeze your credit, check your credit report every week or at least once a month. And, take additional precautions when traveling. Remember even legitimate hotel WiFi networks have been hacked. So, use your own connectivity (MiFi and cellular) to reduce the risk of being compromised. Taking a bit of time upfront can save a great deal of time and frustration if you are victimized by ID theft or credit card fraud. 7 Mindstar Security & Profiling specializes in security solutions for family offices, high profile/high net worth executives, and their families. Our customized focus includes the security trifecta of Internet/Social Media Safety, Physical Security and IT Security Sycolin Rd SE, Suite 1A Leesburg, VA Phone: Fax:

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