Digital Assets and Death

Chances are you have a will and other paper documents that have been prepared in the event of your death. What you may not have is information on how family members can access your digital assets upon your death. It’s something that many never think to disclose. However, if family members don’t have access to this information, it can be difficult to follow the instructions in your will. Not only that, but family members may also have trouble accessing important files, such as family photos. The following explains the importance of giving access to digital assets to your family upon your death and how to do it.

Many people rely on online financial institutions for a number of services. You may have your IRA account, life insurance, and at least one bank account through an online company that doesn’t have physical offices. Without passwords, it can be impossible for family members to access this information. This means that it may be impossible for them to pay for a proper funeral or carry out your final wishes. If you work online, you may also have quite a bit of money in a PayPal account and have clients that need to be notified. All of which your family will need to know about.

It’s not only financial accounts that your family will want to access. Chances are you also have a number of family photos stored digitally. These photos should be passed down and cherished by your family, not be erased because no one knew they were on the hard drive.

There are actually a number of ways you can help your family access your digital assets. When it comes to passwords, you never want to have a file in your home that contains this information. However, what you can do is create a list of accounts and log-in information and put it in a safe deposit box at the bank. The key could then be placed with your will along with instructions on where the deposit box is located. You could also have a trusted family member keep the file. When it comes to family photos, you could also make a note in your will about their location.

Digital assets are often overlooked, but this can really hurt your family. If you want to make sure your family accesses all your accounts upon your death, you need to find a way to share this information. Whether you share your passwords before your death or leave clues on where to find the information in your will, you can make it easier for your family to move forward.

Dirty Money: Is Money Making You Sick?

Do you think the interest rates on your credit card are crappy? Well, there may be even more crap lingering on your credit card. A recent study actually showed that one in seven banknotes and credit cards in Birmingham, UK had feces and e.coli bacteria on the surface. While poo-covered credit cards are certainly disgusting, credit cards are also likely to carry the rhinovirus. In fact, 78% of banknotes and 80% of credit cards contain traces of the bacteria. But, what does all this mean to the average spender?

Think about the times when you’ve been struggling with several bags and your debit card. There’s probably at least one time you’ve placed the card between your lips to free up your hands. This means you’re exposed yourself to some pretty nasty germs. Even if you’re not apt to place your card in your mouth, think about the times you’ve paid for a meal and then sat down and started eating. Yep, you’re moving that food to your mouth with hands that are possibly covered in poo. Talk about a major ick-factor.

Not only is dirty money gross, it can make your horribly ill. E.coli can cause severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and  nausea. The symptoms can last up to two weeks, but usually subside after one week. However, there are those that don’t experience any symptoms, but may pass the bacteria on to others. As for the rhinovirus, this is what’s know as the common cold. You’ll experience sneezing, runny nose, headaches, a sore throat, and other typical cold symptoms. With the average adult having 2-4 colds per year, you have to wonder how many of those colds were the result of dirty money.

The good news is there are a number of ways to protect yourself from dirty money. First of all, always wash your hands before eating. You should also avoid touching your face when handling money. This means that if you work in a job where you handle money throughout the day, you will want to keep hand sanitizer nearby and use it frequently.

Put simply, dirty money isn’t just obtained through criminal acts. There’s actually a good chance that most of the money you come in contact with is dirty. With up to 17% of money and credit cards carrying traces of feces and 78-80% carrying the rhinovirus, you need to practice good hygiene and wash your hands whenever handling money.

Identity Theft Risks: Cross-Dressing Not Uncommon

In a recent story, an Iowa man was arrested for impersonating a woman in order to steal her identity. Not only did the man go so far as to dress like the woman, but he also used her information to obtain a driver’s license. Charged with theft, identity theft, and forgery, the man will face 10 years in prison. This leaves people wondering how common it is for people to cross-dress in order to steal someone’s identity.

A search on Google reveals that it’s quite common for people to cross-dress to make identity theft easier. Not only was a man caught in Florida cross-dressing to use stolen credit cards, but one man in California dressed like his victim for 13 years before finally being caught. Of course, it’s not only checks and credit cards that are getting stolen by cross-dressing identity thieves. Some are using identities to steal medical services.

It’s truly shocking the number of crimes that have been carried out by those dressed as the opposite sex. Not only do people have to worry about others of their own gender stealing their identity, but they have to worry about everyone stealing their identity. What’s stranger is that cross-dressing isn’t the most extreme changes people have made to steal someone’s identity.

Some people may goes as far as to alter their appearance. This is very common with Continue reading Identity Theft Risks: Cross-Dressing Not Uncommon

Smartphone Users Under Attack From Malware

While many smartphone users take extreme care to protect their computers from malware and viruses, the same can’t be said for their smartphones. Many users think of their phones as a mini computer, but still fail to take the proper precautions for protection. With the latest round of malware affecting Android smartphones, it’s plain to see that something needs to be done. Let’s take a closer look at the latest threats as well as how to protect your smartphone.

 The Latest Malware Scams

Two malware scams have recently came to the forefront and it seems the attacks are being targeted at Android smartphones. Named Loozfon and FinFisher, these threats can not only affect your phone, but may affect the phones of your contacts as well. The first piece of malware in question, Loozfon, uses the promise of online work from home jobs to lure smartphone users to the website, where the malware is loaded onto the phone. The malware then accesses the information of the user’s contacts and the user.

FinFisher is a bit different in that the spyware is installed onto the phone in order for the attacker to be able to remotely control the phone. The malware may be placed on the phone after visiting a certain website or the user may receive a text message with a link that leads to a supposedly important update. Of course, both of these scams are just two of the newest malware scams to affect smartphone users. There are many more out there waiting for the opportunity to infect your phone.

How to Keep Your Smartphone Safe Continue reading Smartphone Users Under Attack From Malware

Platinum Credit Card Company Closed by the FTC

As if you needed another reason to be weary of credit cards from unknown sources, the Federal Trade Commission has shut down the operation known as Apogee One Enterprises and Marquee Marketing. The company was found guilty of doling out platinum cards that weren’t what they claimed to be. It turns out that the platinum credit cards with limits up to $9,500 were only usable through the company’s website, even though the company claimed that users could purchase items wherever Visa, American Express, and MasterCard were accepted.

The company seems to have preyed on those that didn’t have good credit by not only offering high credit limits, but also be claiming they would report to the three major credit bureaus. In other words, it was supposedly a way for debtors to build up their credit. Unfortunately, the company never reported to any of the credit bureaus.

Applicants were asked to pay a one-time $99 fee and $19 per month in order to enjoy the “benefits” the company had to offer. However, the only benefits that customers saw was the ability to purchase off-brand items that were highly overpriced through the company’s store.

The FTC became involved when Continue reading Platinum Credit Card Company Closed by the FTC

U.S. Sues Wells Fargo Bank After $36 Billion Bailout

As the U.S. economy crumbled around us, the government made a bold (and often criticized) choice to bailout many of the largest banks in hopes to get the economy back on track. Now we’re learning that many of the banks the government lent money to are being sued by the U.S. for fraud. One bank under the most scrutiny is Wells Fargo. With over $36 billion given to the bank to help rebuild the economy, it turns out that the bank wasn’t as forthcoming with information as they should have been.

The nation’s largest mortgage lender was found to have not reported loans that defaulted. In fact, out of an astounding 6,500 defaulted loans, the company only reported 300. The real issue arises in the fact that the company approved more than 100,000 loans that should never have been approved, helping cause the mortgage crisis. These were loans that were government-centered, such as FHA and HUD loans. While it was brought to the attention of the company that their lending practices were questionable, nothing was done to fix the problem. In fact, obtaining more and more government-funded loans became a priority of the bank. When loans defaulted, the government was the one footing the bill. In many cases, home buyers didn’t even qualify for these programs, but the bank approved them anyway.

While this is just the latest case of bank fraud, it’s not the first and probably not the last. Other banks that have come under scrutiny include Bank of America, Flagstar Bancorp, Inc, and more recently Chase. Each company is said to have partaken in similar actions that led to thousands of defaulted loans. However, while Wells Fargo claims that the allegations are false, other banks have reached agreements with the federal government to “fix” the problem.

If found guilty, Wells Fargo will have to pay hundreds of millions back to the federal government. However, prosecutors must be able to prove without a shadow of a doubt that Wells Fargo intended to defraud the government and this may prove tricky. Continue reading U.S. Sues Wells Fargo Bank After $36 Billion Bailout

Managing Your Financial Security in the Era of Google Wallet

New financial services can keep you secure, or put you at risk

Tech bloggers fantasize about the days when wallets will be obsolet e— all your business cards, photos, credit cards, and ID will be stored on your smartphone.

While this can make your financial life more risky, it can actually be a more secure way to do business with the right precautions—after all, you can’t password-protect your wallet. Here are a few ways you can turn your phone into a secure financial tool.

Keep your phone password protected

If this seems like a no-brainer, you’re on the right track; increasingly, smartphones have become the main access point for our personal and financial information, and the most minimal security you can apply is password protection. It won’t interfere with your ability to accept incoming calls (although, if you really want to lock your phone up tight, you can require a PIN even to answer the phone), and it can be an effective way to keep your credit card information secure. The odds of guessing a random 4-digit PIN are 1 in 10,000, which will at least give you time to shut down your phone if it’s lost or stolen.

Of course, you should never use your bank PIN, your birthday, or digits from your Social Security number.

Change your bank password every three months

While attempts at “brute force” password guessing are rare, they happen; and they’re a lot easier to accomplish if you give identity thieves time to work on your password. By changing your password every three months, you make long-term efforts to guess your password much more difficult.

Use longer, easy-to-remember passwords

Unfortunately, much of our received wisdom on the strength of passwords is inaccurate. While including uppercase letters, numerals, and symbols can increase your password strength to some extent, the best way to strengthen your password is simply to make it longer, because each additional character in your password makes it 26 times more difficult to guess. Of course, a gibberish password of the same length will be more secure, but you’ll likely be tempted to write it down, which is the easiest way to make all that effort useless.

Keep track of all apps with which you’ve shared financial information

If you’re sharing bank information with Amazon, the App Store, Mint, etc. for mobile payments, you should be sure that you know exactly what you’ve shared with each one. Check each app’s terms of service and privacy policy, if there is one. Of course, if they don’t have a privacy policy or legal documentation, you shouldn’t share any personal information.

Have a shutdown app in case you lose your phone

There are several apps available for Android and iOS devices that allow you to remotely lock down your phone if it’s lost or stolen. You can change your password, shut down your phone, or even wipe your phone’s memory completely, with a single call. Most of these options require a security subscription, so you should weigh whether the information on your phone is sensitive enough to warrant that kind of protection; but if you’re a small-business owner with sensitive work information on your phone or tablet, it might be worth the price.

Be very careful about jailbreaking your phone

The trouble with jailbreaking phones is that it provides quite a lot of code in which malware can hide. The safest option, of course, is to leave it alone completely; but if you’re determined, here are a few tips to keep your data more secure.

  • Don’t download a jailbreak from a source you don’t trust.
  • To be safe, you should reset your phone to manufacturer settings before even attempting a jailbreak.
  • Before allowing someone else to jailbreak your phone, make sure you know where they’re getting their code.

Shawna Davies is a staff writer for Going Cellular. She has a talent for organization and helping people navigate new technology. She’s a confessed gadget freak, but when she gets out of the house, she loves spending time at the lake with her husband and teenage son. They live in Beaumont, Texas.

The views and opinions expressed in this guest post
are those of the author and may or may not reflect the views
and opinions of IdentityTheftSecrets, it’s staff, affiliates,
or partners.

How The Cloud Saves Your Data from Total Destruction

save your data in the cloud If you’ve needed to access work-related information from anywhere other than the office, you understand the inherent value of cloud computing. Cloud computing stores everything from graphs to policy briefings online, making them available to authorized users via the Internet. Not long ago, only large companies with a vast amount of expensive information networks could afford to give their employees this level of convenience and efficiency. Cloud storage gives small businesses a secure method of online backup while providing fluid access to information without the drawbacks of hard drives, flash drives and disks.

Have a Safety Net

While operating your small business on a cloud system of computing undoubtedly saves time and money, like any method of information storage, backup is essential. While a cloud system stores information on the Internet, a cloud backup system duplicates all online material before storing it with an online-storage service provider. Should your cloud system become compromised or damaged, the only method of protection is using an online backup service, which can be a life saver.

Proactive Damage Prevention

Imagine there’s a major technological catastrophe at your workplace. Someone hacks into the network and damages the cloud. That means every link, connection, contract and categorized folder inside the cloud is potentially damaged. Now think about this: How much money would your company lose if your entire bank of information was inaccessible for several days or more?

  • A major corporation with hundreds of IT specialists can perform damage control by attempting to recover as much intact information as possible.
  • As a small business, the recovery period is likely to take much longer, costing more time and money than necessary.

Total Recovery

Most small-business owners keep copies, either hard or virtual, of only their most important files, such as tax information or patent designs. Unfortunately, this information isn’t necessary for successful day-to-day operations, and the data that is critical to keep the business running smoothly is rarely backed up.

  • When it comes to preserving profitability, all documents, information and contact lists become vital.
  • Installing cloud backup is like adding a layer of carbon paper to your pad. Once installed, everything you have stored or will store in your cloud automatically transfers to an off-site virtual vault, where it remains until needed.

System & Program Storage

Accessing daily operational documents is only half the battle when it comes to running your small business. Another important feature of cloud backup is system and program storage.

  • Imagine that in addition to your documents, graphs and individual files, your business relies on three separate programs for estimating contractor fees, delivering paychecks and viewing potential worksites with detailed underground utility maps. Cloud backup not only stores these programs, it also preserves any information normally stored in each program.
  • A cloud system lets you control which employees have access to specific information. Having online backup means preserving the security settings for each individual program and file. When you implement cloud backup, the security settings are automatically installed.

Fast Access

Should your cloud system become inaccessible or damaged, the cloud backup lets you continue operating your business by immediately providing a duplicate version of your entire cloud. Exact procedures depend on the backup software, but you can be assured that implementing the cloud backup storage takes less time and costs less money than correcting a corrupted system.

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