This one number makes all the difference to identity thieves… your social security number. When you apply for a job, the application asks for your social security number. When you apply for a bank account, they want your social security number. When you file a tax return, apply for a loan, get medical treatment, apply for government benefits, you are asked for your social security number.
Last week, Washington Post reported that Marriott International disclosed a massive data breach in which hackers had access to the reservation systems of many of its hotel chains for the past four years, a breach that exposed the private details of up to 500 million people. This data breach – one of the largest in history – makes it clear that in today’s world our data and personal information is more vulnerable than ever before. Once your identity has been used fraudulently, it can take months and even years to correct it entirely. Unfortunately, credit and I.D. theft can be very difficult to “unwind”. And most people don’t realize their identity and credit have been compromised until they receive a bill from a new account that was opened by the thief or they notice their credit statements have unauthorized charges.
A few months ago, a relative of mine in Sacramento received a call from his granddaughter. She was calling from a jail in Florida after having crashed her car, broken her nose, and getting arrested. She was sobbing, and pleaded with him to not tell her parents or anyone else, and to send money along in the form of Best Buy gift cards so she could make bail. In a panic, he bought a large number of gift cards (to the strenuous objections of the Best Buy employees who were helping him make the purchase) and transferred them to his “granddaughter.” Read More
You can spot a Nigerian email scam without opening it. You know what you’re doing when it comes to keeping ID thieves from conning you. And if someone tried to get the kind of personal information needed to open credit in your name, well, it just wouldn’t happen. Read More
Those annoying, beeping and longer stays at the checkout counter when inserting a chip credit card into a clunky machine that may or may not work are paying off in one big way — less fraud.
Chip cards, also known as “EMV” cards for the three companies that developed the technology: Europay, MasterCard and Visa, have decreased counterfeit fraud, according to Visa. Most U.S. consumers became familiar with chip cards for their debit or credit cards in 2015, when U.S. banks started requiring retailers to have them or be held liable for in-store fraud.