Cheque Fraud

Cheque fraud isn’t a topic that makes news headlines often, but it does represent a lot of business for identity thieves. The National Check Fraud Center now estimates Check Fraud in North America exceeds $1 Billion per year.  Again, it can be only an estimate because not all such fraud gets reported.  Several types of crime are all related to Cheque Fraud: Counterfeit Cheques – Forgery – Cheque Alteration – Bank Fraud and White Collar Crimes.  As individuals, we have more control over some of those crimes than we do over others.

Our blank cheques can be used by criminals in their forgery activities.  They can access those in stolen wallets and purses, burglary and stolen mail.  We recommend that when ordering new cheques, have them come to your financial institution rather than directly in your mail.

Cheque “washing” occurs when criminals use various chemicals to erase the “Payee” name and /or the dollar amount, then enter their own name and increase the dollar value.  You can prevent that by writing cheques using gel pens formulated to penetrate the fibers of the paper and prevent “washing”.  We recommend the Unibal207 and the Zebra Z-Grip Max Gel.

From The National Check Fraud Center

  • FORGED SIGNATURES–legitimate blank checks with an imitation of the payer signature;
  • FORGED ENDORSEMENTS–often involves the use of a stolen check, which is then endorsed and cashed or deposited by someone other than the payee;
  • COUNTERFEIT CHECKS–due to the advancement in color copying and desktop publishing capabilities, this is the fastest-growing source of fraudulent checks today;
  • ALTERED CHECKS–information on a legitimate check, such as payee or check amount, changed to benefit the perpetrator;
  • CHECK KITING–the process of depositing a check in one bank account into a second bank account without the sufficient funds to cover it.

DON’T GIVE OUT BANK OR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION OVER THE PHONE
NEVER PAY ANY MONEY FOR ANY PRIZE YOU HAVE WON
FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AND CREDIT CARD COMPANIES DO NOT SEND E-MAILS REQUESTING UPDATED PERSONAL INFORMATION.

Please go to lloydkenney.wearelegalshield.com for more information on how you can protect you and your family through IDShield and LegalShield. Contact us at callcraft@shaw.ca.

For information on other services we have available, please visit performanceplanning.ca.

Social Media

We have talked about the fact that much of our personal information is in places over which we have no control.  We’ve also pointed out some steps we can take to keep that information safe where we do have control.  In this technological world, the area that appears to be the biggest problem for us – and a great source of information for the criminals, is Social Media.  Many criminals view social media as a primary source for #Identity Theft.  In the June, 2016 issue of MoneySense magazine, an article discusses data compiled by Equifax Canada and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.  “Canadians between the ages of 19 and 35 now account for a whopping 50% of the more than $10 billion annually defrauded through identity theft scams.”

You probably know of situations where individuals have shared personal information unnecessarily on social media.  Each of us has control over that in our own use of social media – let’s use that control!  We may think we’re sharing something with our friends, but technology may be allowing our friends’ friends to also receive that same information.  MoneySense simply says, “Don’t over share personal information (like your home or e-mail address) on social networks.”

This use of social media is now starting long before the age of 19.  Parents should be discussing these dangers with children when the child first starts using social media, insisting that if the child isn’t sure about something, check with a parent before sharing information.  But in many cases, the information may not seem dangerous to the child, which means constant communication and monitoring by parents.  Just one more task added to your “To Do” list!

It has been stated that in the U.S., more than 140,000 children are having their identities stolen each year.  Unfortunately, the theft may not be recognized for many years – until the child is old enough to apply for other documents or cards.

Reduce your risk and that of other people you know, by limiting the personal information you provide through social media.  Prevent #IdentityTheft!

Please go to lloydkenney.wearelegalshield.com for more information on how you can protect you and your family through IDShield and LegalShield. Contact us at callcraft@shaw.ca.

For information on other services we have available, please visit performanceplanning.ca.

Internet of Things 2

Last month we published the first article on “Internet of Things” and since indications are that there is significant growth in this crime, more information may be useful.   You may recall that Internet of Things simply refers to all devices in your home which are accessed in any way via an internet connection.  While some statistics are from the U. S. Federal Trade Commission, it’s safe to assume Canadians have the same kind of risk.

The primary targets of criminals seem to be routers and connected cameras – those representing 90% of the attacks.  Many families have routers in their residences and Home Automation systems frequently include connected cameras.  ConsumerAffairs reported that there were an average of 5233 attacks on such devices each month in 2018, with an increase of 12% in the attacks on cameras alone.

Symantec has reported that criminals have frequently used the following passwords to access systems: 123456, [BLANK}, system, sh, shell, admin, 1234, password, enable and 12345.  Those passwords are obviously very common, since cybercriminals have been successful at gaining access to systems so often.    

Based on this information and whether or not you have routers and /or cameras, make sure you have secure passwords and keep all security systems updated.                             

Please go to lloydkenney.wearelegalshield.com for more information on how you can protect you and your family through IDShield and LegalShield.  Contact us at callcraft@shaw.ca.

For information on other services we have available, please visit performanceplanning.ca.

Please share this information to help keep others safe.

Internet of Things

Smart phones and tablets are used for a multitude of activities, including “Apps” which are downloaded for various purposes.  Home automation is becoming popular – allowing you to remotely control various equipment items in your home; everything from your refrigerator to your security system.

Internet of Things is when you pair, or connect, your smart phone or tablet with all those consumer products, including your car.  Since you are using the internet to access those products or pieces of equipment, you are also  creating an opportunity for hackers to steal all your data and personal information.

If you feel you have been a victim of this type of criminal activity, report it to the police and get a copy of the police report.  Depending on what you have added to your network, you may also need to contact your insurance company, health care providers, the Credit Bureaus and certainly the Canadian Ant-Fraud Centre.

Having all the convenience of remote control can be very beneficial – just recognize that there are added risks.

Please go to lloydkenney.wearelegalshield.com for more information on how you can protect you and your family through IDShield and LegalShield.  Contact us at callcraft@shaw.ca.

For information on other services we have available, please visit performanceplanning.ca.

Please share this information to help keep others safe.

Photocopying

In the last issue, we suggested photocopying the contents of your wallet or purse, in case they are lost or stolen and become #IdentityTheft.  Having copies of everything makes restoring your identity much easier.  However, you must be sure to use a secure photocopier when doing so.  This topic draws a lot of attention in our #IdentityTheft Seminars.

Virtually every photocopier made since 2002 has  a hard drive which captures and stores all documents ever scanned on it.  That means when the machine is sold or traded in on a newer model, all of that scanned material may go with it.  It’s common for us to ask a business or organization to make a copy of a document for us, without realizing that the document is likely to go with the copier some day. 

We understand that Sharp now makes a copy machine with a built-in program to delete scanned documents, but check with your machine’s manufacturer.  There are two possible solutions, at least for your copy machine.  First, when yours is worn out or obsolete, remove the hard drive and drill some holes through it.  Second, hire a technician with high grade software to over-write everything on the hard drive.  That may be expensive, but not nearly as bad as being a victim of #IdentiyTheft through information you gave away.  That takes care of documents on your machine.

Copy machines owned by someone else is another story; many businesses and institutions now lease copy machines rather than buying them outright.  Unfortunately, at least for security reasons, many lease contracts require that when the lease ends, the copy machine must be in working condition.  Of course that means the hard drive couldn’t be removed, so the over-write option is the only one available to most lessees.  But check with the maunufacturer.

The best thing you can do if you have a photocopier, is to contact the manufacturer and determine what you can and cannot do.  If you are leasing a machine, this would be a good topic to discuss with your supplier, not only for the machine you have, but also about the next one you lease.  Avoid being a victim of #IdentityTheft!

Please go to lloydkenney.wearelegalshield.com for more information on how you can protect you and your family through IDShield and LegalShield. Contact us at callcraft@shaw.ca.

For information on other services we have available, please visit performanceplanning.ca.

Necessary Documents

Many of us are in the habit of carrying various pieces of identification most of the time.  Some of that identification, and the information it contains, needs to be carried with us – an example is our Driver’s License.  And no doubt we need our credit cards on a regular basis.  Not only may we need those pieces of identification, the Driver’s License also provides Photo ID.  But two things to keep in mind:  First, criminals now have the technology to create their own forged Driver’s License using all of your information and their own picture that’s #IdentityTheft!.  Second, Credit Cards can be copied, at least to the extent that the number can be transferred to a blank card (white card with a mag stripe).  Those examples simply indicate the risks if our wallet or purse is lost or stolen.

Another issue is the fact that most of us carry information that isn’t necessary.  The two best examples are Birth Certificate and Social Insurance Card.  Police tell us that we should never  carry those documents with us unless we need them where we are going!  There are two reasons for that:  First, if you lose your wallet or purse, or have them stolen, the criminals love to have those documents to completely steal your identity; they can literally become you – that’s complete #IdentiyTheft!  Second, if you keep those pieces of identification in a safe place at home or safety deposit box, and your wallet or purse is lost or stolen, you still have those cards to re-create your identity.

Another step you can take to speed up the process of restoring your identity is to make a photocopy of all your personal information.  The only caution there is that you should use a photocopier over which you have some control.  Most copiers now capture and retain everything that is ever scanned.  This topic will be covered in more detail in the next issue.

While it’s fresh in your mind, look at all the cards and personal information you have in your wallet or purse right now.  Remove whatever you won’t need the next time you leave home.  Let’s take control of the information over which we already have the ability to control!

Prevent #IdentityTheft!

Please go to lloydkenney.wearelegalshield.com for more information on how you can protect you and your family through IDShield and LegalShield. Contact us at callcraft@shaw.ca.

For information on other services we have available, please visit performanceplanning.ca.

Biometric ID Theft 2

In our last post we discussed the fact that Biometric Identification, while appearing to be a more secure system, also has its limitations since once added to a computer database it becomes digitized just like a credit card or Social Insurance Number.

Jake Stroup, in an article for “the balance”, points out that biometric identification has its own limitations.  For example, “You may be able to get a new credit card in two weeks once you have all the information to the bank or credit issuing authority, but who will issue you a new set of fingerprints to replace the stolen ones?”

He also points out that a smile can distort facial features – the reason why we’re told mot to smile and show teeth in a driver’s license or passport photo.  “But the biggest consideration is that a biometric identity system is only going to be as good as the information that’s put into it in the first place.  In other words, your fingerprint won’t tell anyone who you are, all it can do is keep you from using somebody else’s identity once you are in the system.  In fact, identity theft expert John Sileo said, ‘If we implement biometrics without doing our due diligence on protecting the identity, we are doomed to repeat history – and our thumbprint will become just another Social Security Number.'”

The message is simple – Biometric Identification has some benefits, but don’t let it give you a false sense of security.

Please go to lloydkenney.wearelegalshield.com for more information on how you can protect you and your family through IDShield and LegalShield.  Contact us at callcraft@shaw.ca.

For information on other services we have available, please visit performanceplanning.ca.

Please share this information to help keep others safe.

Biometric ID Theft

You’re probably familiar with the term “Biometric Identification” – using your unique finger prints, facial recognition, voice or retinas to identify you.  They may be unique, but when installed on a computer, the information is still a string of numbers, it’s digitized.

The article, “Biometric Identification and Identity Theft”, by Jake Stroup at “the balance” states that when the information is stored on a computer, a database is a database, whether it’s a credit card number or a digital voice print. A hacker can still steal such data from a computer or network. 

“As far as security is concerned, many experts agree that maintaining “token” forms of identification are probably superior.  Token identification is a card, password, personal identification number (PIN), etc.  It is something that can be canceled or changed if it is lost, misplaced or stolen.  On the other hand, biometric identification can’t be lost, misplaced, or loaned to a friend, but it also can’t be replaced if it’s compromised either.  This reality, combined with certain privacy issues (tracking, profiling, consumer-related privacy issues, etc.), is making experts give serious consideration to whether biometrics are a viable option on a large scale.

More information on Biometric Identification in our next post.

Please go to lloydkenney.wearelegalshield.com for more information on how you can protect you and your family through IDShield and LegalShield.  Contact us at callcraft@shaw.ca.

For information on other services we have available, please visit performanceplanning.ca.

Please share this information to help keep others safe.

Synthetic ID Theft

In our Identity Theft, Fraud and Scam seminars, we often mention that in 2005, at any given time, there were approximately 300 internet chat rooms on which 60,000 criminals around the world were buying and selling our personal information.  Now we see why!

Experian has reported that according to the Federal Trade Commission, Synthetic Identity Theft is now the fastest growing type of identity fraud.  It is representing 80 to 85% of all current identity fraud.

Criminals create synthetic ID theft by merging real and fake personal information of individuals to create a new identity.  The information used can be names, addresses, birthdays and Social Insurance Numbers, all bought on the Dark Web.

Be aware that if you start to receive mail or phone calls asking about new credit accounts, or you get mail addressed to a different name, it may indicate synthetic ID theft.

Note that starting in 2018, our IDShield from Kroll includes 24/7 monitoring of personal information on the Dark Web.

Please go to lloydkenney.wearelegalshield.com for more information on how you can protect you and your family through IDShield and LegalShield.  Contact us at callcraft@shaw.ca.

For information on other services we have available, please visit performanceplanning.ca.

Please share this information to help keep others safe.

Travel Scams 6

In this post we’ll identify some criminal and some simply unethical activities you might encounter when travelling.

In some countries, specific products may attract your attention.  One good example is hand woven rugs and carpets available in several Middle East and North Africa countries.  While some may be top quality at reasonable prices, others may be expensive but worthless.  Do some homework so you are somewhat knowledgeable about such products and what features to watch for, before spending your money.

 Another popular tourist item is jewellery.  You may find items billed as genuine gems or pure gold, but which instead are only a “pure” scam.  Once again, try to obtain some basic knowledge before spending money on such items.

Last, but not least, may be a situation where you are offered a tour of a famous church, temple or other famous attraction.  However, you then may be informed that the attraction is closed for some holiday, but you’re taken to a souvenir shop where your host or driver is receiving a commission.  This could happen even when the tour was supposed to be in your itinerary.  Be sure the specific tour offer is in writing, if it’s pre-planned, or ask around if it’s a last minute side trip while you’re in the area.  Get some assurance before paying the host, driver or tour guide.

Travel safely!

Please go to lloydkenney.wearelegalshield.com for more information on how you can protect you and your family through IDShield and LegalShield.  Contact us at callcraft@shaw.ca.

For information on other services we have available, please visit performanceplanning.ca.

Please share this information to help keep others safe.