Peek a Boo I See You: Facebook Searches Show All

Facebook has always had a questionable reputation when it comes to protecting users’ privacy. While the company prides itself in offering a variety of secure settings, you need to be aware that what you share on Facebook could be seen by anyone. And, now, so can you. Or, at least you’ll be easy to find by anyone searching for your name. This is due to the fact that Facebook is turning off the feature that allows users to remove their profile from the search. Not only can this be an invasion of your privacy, but it could lead to identity theft issues.

Why the Change?

Facebook decided to do away with the option of hiding yourself from the site’s search feature because they claim that only a small percentage of people use this option. What exactly is a small percentage to a company that sees literally billions of users each day? It could be thousands, if not millions, of users that wanted to protect their privacy.

How This Affects Identity Theft

The more a person can learn about you, the easier it is to steal your identity. It doesn’t matter if it’s something as simple as your hobbies, your mailing address, or even your cell phone number. All the pieces add up. Once a person finds you on Facebook, the damage could be done quickly. Without the proper privacy settings in place, someone could find out a lot of information that would prove useful in identity theft. Continue reading Peek a Boo I See You: Facebook Searches Show All

‘Tis the Season for Phishing for Families

Hackers might not take a break from trying to find ways to steal your information and money, but it turns out they do follow seasonal trends. According to a report by Kaspersky Lab, in October, phishing attempts on social networks were down 10%, and they saw an increase in attacks on financial institutions or banks and on online shops. They say that’s an expected trend through the holiday season, based on data from last year.

Summer time bring attacks on kids

During the summer months and holidays, hackers target kids who are out of school and likely don’t know better than to click bad links on social networks. Kids are also more likely to over share private information online, making them a prime target for scammers. Most of the younger generation hasn’t yet learned to be skeptical of deals that are too good, and that can get them into serious trouble. Once school starts again, the phishing attempts via email slow down, while the hackers move toward more promising targets.

Holiday shopping online makes a tempting target for hackers

When the holiday season rolls around, Continue reading ‘Tis the Season for Phishing for Families

How legitimate are your likes on Facebook?

Are you safe when you log into Facebook? The premise behind the social networking site was to bring real people together, but are the pages you click on legit? Are you really interacting with your favorite local business or is there someone else behind the screen? While it may not seem like a big deal, fake Facebook accounts and fan pages can actually lead to identity theft. Let’s take a closer look at how people are using fake accounts, what this could mean for you, and how to protect yourself while on the world’s largest social networking website.

What Are Scammers Doing on Facebook?

There are a number of reasons people may not use their real name on Facebook, even though the website suggests that people use their real identity. First of all, there are those that want to interact without their employers being able to find their account. There are also those that have pen names. With today’s growing business of independent publishing, this is becoming more and more common. However, it doesn’t stop there. There are those that are opening Facebook accounts and starting Facebook pages for fraudulent reasons. These people may be hoping to gain the trust of a company’s customers or portray a business as something it’s not. Because Facebook accounts are so easy to set up, it makes it much easier for scammers to fool people.

What Could This Mean to Facebook Users?

If you think a company page is legit, you may be more forthcoming with your information. For example, you might provide your address in order to obtain free samples. By gathering enough information, scammers will be able to easily steal your identity. If the page is claiming to be that of a local business, you may even be tricked into giving away your home address, which could the scammer access to your mail. With your address information and latest credit card statement in the scammer’s hands, you may find yourself the victim of identity theft.

How to Protect Yourself

How can you tell if a Facebook page is fake? One thing to lookout for are pages that ask you to allow the page access to your personal information. Another way to protect yourself is to only like company pages by accessing them through the company’s website. This makes it much easier to find the real Facebook fan page. Lastly, use common sense. Don’t give out your personal information unless you’re absolutely sure the source you’re giving it to is legit.

Facebook may have been founded on the idea of people interacting without hiding behind fake names. However, that doesn’t mean people abide by the rules. This means you need to be just as careful when using Facebook as you are in any other situation.

Secrets to Keeping Track of Family Records

Managing a family’s affairs requires keeping track of important records and paperwork. The problem with so many papers is that households can end up struggling to find ways to organize the paperwork and find storage solutions for necessary items that are not needed at the particular time. In addition, securing these documents can be a challenge, as most people don’t realize how important it is to protect their personal information. Even the smallest ATM receipt can give identity thieves access to someone’s account, and the typical person might not realize that leaving it on the coffee table could be a big mistake. Managing paperwork takes a little work, but ultimately it is worth the effort of getting organized.

Separate Documents Into Categories

According to Carolyn McKinney from the University of Ohio, households have documents that range from financial paperwork to medical documentation. With a wide array of different papers, a household should always begin the process of organizing by placing paperwork into different categories based on the purpose of the paper. Categories a family might consider filing paperwork under include financial, medical, religious and insurance. Organizing also makes it easier to differentiate between important documents and shredder material.

Break the Categories into 3 Groups

Get a good pad lock to secure important documents in a storage unit

Each category will have certain paperwork currently in action, papers that are necessary to keep for a certain time period and documents that are permanent to the family. Cynthia Ewer on OraganizedHome.com suggests breaking down the paperwork into three separate files under the ABCs of organization. Her suggestion is to divide paperwork into sub-categories for paperwork that is currently in action, basic household files that include routine expenses, and classic files that are a permanent part of family life.

Throw Out Receipts

The traditional advice to maintain receipts for a certain time period relates to Continue reading Secrets to Keeping Track of Family Records

5 Holiday Scams to Avoid

People make more online purchases than usual during the holiday season, giving scammers increased opportunities to steal their money and information. Here are some of the sneakiest holiday scams that we’ve heard about and how to avoid them:

1.) Phony Gift Cards

If you want to buy gift cards for friends or family, the safest way to do it is to purchase them in-store. Scammers will sell them online from legitimate-looking websites or third-party sites at “discounts” or with special promotions. After you buy them, they’ll cancel the card and keep your money.

2.) Fake Public WiFi

While doing your holiday traveling, you may use free public WiFi connections to browse the web. But scammers can set up a fake WiFi connection that closely resembles a free public connection. To avoid having important information stolen, never make sensitive transactions when you’re using public WiFi.

3.) Name-a-Star Offer Continue reading 5 Holiday Scams to Avoid

The Basics on Stopping Cyberbullying and Protecting our Kids

Before social media and widespread access to the internet came along, it used to be that parents only had to worry about bullying in the school yard. Now, however, our kids are facing a new threat: cyberbullying. Unlike traditional bullying, it’s a pervasive problem because kids can’t get away from it, and it spreads far faster.

Cyberbullying includes text messages, e-mails, as well as posts on social media such as Facebook. In some cases, the harassment is directed at the child, and in other cases it may be rumors or embarrassing photos are spread throughout the school and beyond using the mass reach of social media. Unfortunately, all kinds of bullying can cause the victims to want to lash out, hurting themselves or others, and that’s why it’s so important for parents to be aware of what cyberbullying is and how to fight back.

Protecting kids from cyberbullying

Parents can help keep their kids safe from cyberbullying Continue reading The Basics on Stopping Cyberbullying and Protecting our Kids

Too Good to be True: Federal Grant Scams

This federal agend was a Sly Fox flickr-edenpicturesI received a very strange phone call today. My caller ID said that the number was “unavailable.” I usually ignore calls from numbers that I don’t recognize but today I was feeling froggy and decided to answer it.

An unfamiliar man’s voice with a very thick accent asked if he was indeed speaking with Ally Levise. Frowning and feeling irritated that someone was about to try and sell me something, I told him that yes, he was.

I absolutely hate telemarketing calls – I feel bad being mean to telemarketers or hanging up on them because, well, telemarketers are just trying to make a dime like the rest of us.

There’s no need to yell at them or try and ruin their day.

It’s politeness to the point of inconveniencing myself.

It’s irritating.

With my identity confirmed, the man proceeded to tell me that he was from the Federal Reserve and that I had been awarded a grant of $7,000 from the federal government.

I waited a beat, expecting him to tell me that first I had to subscribe to three different magazines.

“Okay… what do I have to do?” I humored him. Continue reading Too Good to be True: Federal Grant Scams

Consumer and Companies Working Together to Stay Safe from Cyber Fraud

Banks and other financial institutions are struggling to keep up with ever advancing technology while still protecting our money, in part because we want instant access wherever we are. But mobile banking comes with risks, especially that our information and account numbers are vulnerable without strong safeguards in place. And while the banks are continually increasing and assessing security measures, thieves are also working to learn ways around online security.

Today, millions of transactions are happening online or over mobile apps, and that brings an increase in the risk of cyber fraud, where skilled hackers can steal your information, your money and your identity.

One of the challenges banks face in protecting our accounts is that they have to keep us happy. That mean making sure we can access our own accounts with a minimum of fuss, yet we still expect the banks and other financial institutions to protect us from cyber fraud. Of course, it’s in the banks best interest to protect our money, or we might just take our business elsewhere, and they know that. It’s a fine balancing act they have, and it’s important that we play a bigger role in preventing cyber fraud.

Banks are realizing that Continue reading Consumer and Companies Working Together to Stay Safe from Cyber Fraud

DaVita HealthCare Accused of Medicare Fraud: How to Protect Yourself from Healthcare Fraud

One of the biggest dialysis clinics in the US, DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc, is facing a lawsuit for allegedly over billing Medicare for as much as $800 million dollars. The lawsuit was filed by two men, Dr. Alon Vainer and Daniel Barbir, a nurse, who worked for the company. They claim that expensive medicine was being thrown out so the company could charge Medicare for more than was actually necessary.

Once a vial of medicine has been used to withdraw a dose, the bottle must be thrown away for health and safety reasons. What the doctor and nurse are claiming is that DaVita should be using smaller vials of the medicine so less is being wasted. The company is accused to over billing Medicare for as much as $800 million.

DaVita earns over two-thirds of its income from Medicare from its 2,000 dialysis clinics nationwide. Nonetheless, after investigating the allegations against the company, the federal government declined to pursue charges, although they stated that didn’t mean the company was innocent. If the two men win the case, they could receive millions of dollars, although the government would get the bulk of any judgment against the company.

How you can protect yourself from Medicare fraud

Medicare fraud is surprisingly common, and the government doesn’t have the resources to pursue every allegation, so they depend on whistleblower lawsuits like this one to catch companies defrauding the government. You can help protect your Medicare benefits from being abused to, although on a more personal level.

Steps you can take to prevent Medicare fraud Continue reading DaVita HealthCare Accused of Medicare Fraud: How to Protect Yourself from Healthcare Fraud

Tips for Safer Shopping on Your Mobile Device

‘Tis the season for holiday shopping, and more people are turning to shopping online than ever before. With great deals and often inexpensive or free shipping, it’s cost effective and saves you the headache of facing the holiday shopping crowds in stores. But shopping online from your smart phone or other device with mobile apps can put your credit card information at risk unless you take precautions to protect yourself.

Use password protection on the device

You can set your devices to require a password every time they’re used, preventing anyone from getting into your information. Sure, it’s an annoying extra step you have to take every time you use your phone, but it’s a lot easier than canceling all of your credit cards and repairing damage to your credit report!

Don’t store credit card info on your device

Using your smart phone to shop might be convenient, but it would be safer to just save items you want to your cart and then log in from your home computer to finish checking out. This way, none of your important account numbers are stored on your mobile device where thieves can find it.

Download apps to protect your device

Did you know Continue reading Tips for Safer Shopping on Your Mobile Device