What You Should Know About Chip-and-PIN Credit Cards

chip and pin technology credit cardsIn a world where keeping your information safe has become the number one priority, it is amazing that the United States has not moved wholesale to chip-and-PIN technology where credit cards are concerned. This chip system eliminates the old fashioned magnetic strip technology and is considered much more secure. Here are some things to consider about this wonderful way of doing business safely:

The primary thing to know about chip-and-PIN technology is that it uses a chip rather than a strip. The difference is that the chip is impossible to get to with readers. You have to stick the card into the reader to actually glean the information. Today’s magnetic strips are being read through our pockets, at gas stations and even at ATMs throughout the United States. This means that our technology is far outdated. Banks now are realizing this stateside and changing over slowly to chip technology. You should ask for one now if you haven’t already.

Another disadvantage of magnetic readers is that most of the world is on the chip now. Europe uses the chip almost Continue reading What You Should Know About Chip-and-PIN Credit Cards

Gambling With Your Identity

I see it all the time.

Some person will be just crazy about how they handle their personal information.

I see this because I have been aware of computer crime and mail fraud since I became a victim of it myself in 1999.

Unfortunately, I had gotten a friend involved in what I thought was a really great deal.

It turned out to be a complete scam, and not only did it cost each of us $600, just as we were entering our sophomore year of college, but it also cost me the trust of a friend, and was the start of the loss of that friendship.

That was one of the most expensive lessons I have ever learned in my life.

I still will pay back this friend, with interest, though this event is more than 14 years ago now.

Gambling with your identity is much different than playing in a casino.

In a casino, you’re intentionally walking into a Gaming Club of some kind.

When you know you’re walking into a fantasy world, either through online gaming and gambling or in a real casino, you still know that you’re there to lose some money.

In real life, you may never know you’re walking into a trap.

When you buy that fake computer from a fake guy who is offering you a deal that’s just too good to be true, chances are very good that the deal really is too good to be true.

But unless you improve your skills and knowledge, and approach transactions with a healthy dose of skepticism, you will never see the trap, until it’s too late.

 

Like we’ve been recommending for years on this site, you should probably walk away from a situation where you know something just doesn’t feel right.

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

If you get involved with someone who’s trying to scam you, it can end up being like you’re gambling with your identity.

If you lose your identity due to carelessness, it’s a tough and expensive lesson.

There’s really not much more to say today than this simple reminder to be alert, be aware, and get educated.

Make sure to protect your information and your identity, and have a plan in place before identity theft takes place.

 

Five Reasons Instagram Might Be A Bad Idea for Your Teen

teens and instagramInstagram is one of the hottest social media apps on the market and they are growing quickly. In the past year alone they have doubled their subscription base and that does not appear to be slowing down. Because the app is used primarily on phones and tablets, it has been particularly popular with the younger crowd for sharing pictures with friends. The problem with Instagram is that it is not meant for kids younger than 13 per their terms of service. Despite this, kids sign up all the time with little to stand in their way. Here are five good reasons why you might want to stop your kid from using Instagram at such a young age:

Instagram is public

Like any other social media site, anyone can see your kid’s pictures if they don’t set the account to private. If the kid posts a picture at the park with friends and the account is set to public, anyone can know where your kid is, what they look like and who they are with. The danger is obvious.

Instagram can be brutal

We have all heard the stories of how social media can hurt a kid. Instagram allows Continue reading Five Reasons Instagram Might Be A Bad Idea for Your Teen

Why We Need To Pay Attention To Medicare Fraud

It is hard to imagine, but our seniors are being unwittingly used in a Medicare scam that is costing taxpayers billions. In fact, the numbers are staggering. Medicare fraud has numbered 27 billion over the last four years. The latest method, however, stoops to lows that most people never think about. Home medical supplies, scooters, wheel chairs, diabetic supplies and countless other materials are being billed under senior citizen’s names but they are never ordered or asked for.

These medical supply houses will hound a Medicare recipient sometimes up to three times a day to try to get their information or help. There are a ton of warning signals that jump out where these fraudulent companies are operating. Keep an eye out for:

  • Companies offering low or no deductible even though you know you generally owe one.
  • Companies offering a free scooter or wheelchair
  • Equipment being billed for you that you never receive
  • Companies that will not leave you alone even after you have asked them to do so
  • Something sounding too good to be true.

These are some good general guidelines but the key is to go with your gut. If you think something feels fishy, then check it out with your doctor or call the Medicare office at 1-800-MEDICARE and find out.

Many of these companies are being investigated and will soon be answering for some of these crimes. The fact is that there are some good companies that offer good services to our seniors. The key is that they need to be transparent. If a product is billed to Medicare and to the American people, then they need to make absolutely certain that it is legitimate. The government and the taxpayers deserve to know that is being followed.

If we continue to let these types of thing go, we will not even have Medicare when our kids are older. That is a risk we are already undertaking, but allowing things such as this to slide without stiff punishments are what forced us into this position in the first place.

Medicare fraud is a very serious issue and it needs to be addressed not only by Congress, but by the American people through information and our votes. If our representatives are not going to take this seriously, then perhaps we should change who we are voting for.

How to avoid cyber impersonation of your kids

Recently a huge story broke about a young girl named Katie that had her picture stolen to get Facebook “likes” and make money. What made this story even more notable was the fact that young Katie suffers from Down syndrome. These horrible crooks stole the picture, changed the girl’s name to Mallory and then used a sob story to gain nearly 3.5 million likes from unsuspecting folks looking to make the girl feel good.

Needless to say Katie’s family was infuriated as this latest cyber stealing crime has stooped to new lows. What is particularly scary is that it is remarkably easy for crooks to do this. All it really takes is a picture online to create a similar scam and dupe people based on their heart strings. The crooks put up a story about how “Mallory” was thinking she was not beautiful and that the likes would help her to feel otherwise.

What makes this particularly ridiculous is that Katie is indeed, beautiful. I feel rather certain that she knows this and that she needs no “likes” to discover this about herself.

Cyber impersonation is hardly something new. Continue reading How to avoid cyber impersonation of your kids

Distracted Driving: Is the Canary Project App Really A Good Idea?

We all have heard about the horror stories and a growing number of us have been touched by this growing nightmare personally…distracted driving. How many times per day do you see someone next to you talking on the cell phone or sending a text? After so many people have died, it is unbelievable that so many people still find it to be okay to do so. This is especially rampant among our teenagers. In response to this, a new app called “The Canary Project” has been released. Simply call it Big Brother for parents of teen drivers as it pretty much keeps tabs on what they do and where they go. Is this the way to go to truly make a difference? Let’s look at the good and bad:

What does Canary do?

Essentially it can tell the parents when the child is using the phone while driving. It might be that the child is texting or talking on the phone. If the child’s phone is unlocked and in use while a vehicle is going more than 12 mph, the parents will get a notification. It also can tell the parents where a teen might be in a given time period or if they go outside of certain parameters that are set by the parents geographically.

Why Canary might be a bad idea

The only people who would really be against this idea would be the teens themselves. On the surface it feels like a device that invades privacy. It tells parents when and where, but very little of the what. This means that kids will struggle to break curfew or go outside of certain boundaries without having to answer for it. Teens will no doubt be against such parental vision, but what rules and regulations are welcomed by teens?

Why Canary could be a great idea Continue reading Distracted Driving: Is the Canary Project App Really A Good Idea?

The Truth of Twitter: Is Twitter the Latest Way to Scare America?

After the bombings in Boston, all of America is on high alert to say the least. We always have been on alert, but it seems that danger lurks all around us at times. On April 23rd, the group known as the Syria Electronic Army hacked into the AP’s twitter account. The reason? So that they could fool us into thinking that the White House had been bombed and President Obama had been injured. This is not the first time the SEA has allegedly used Twitter to cause panic. They also allegedly hacked into Twitter accounts of the BBC, Sepp Blatter and CBS. This is, of course, in addition to the various accounts that they use of their own until they are suspended. Once gone, they simply open up a new one.

 

While on the surface it might seem like only words, those words can have devastating effects. Imagine a relative of a White House employee seeing such a tweet from a respected agency like the AP. Anyone that saw that tweet before it was refuted would have been alarmed and looking over their shoulder. The stock markets were actually affected as they dropped by one hundred and thirty six billion dollars.

The bottom line is that terrorists operate in fear and they really don’t seem to care how they generate it. Using Twitter seems like a joke on the surface, but it is no joke at all. Social media is not immune to evil at all Continue reading The Truth of Twitter: Is Twitter the Latest Way to Scare America?

Data Breach Report Shows That Password Attacks Are Not Being Forced To Adapt

Everyone that spends time on the Internet is familiar with the ideas of usernames and passwords. A recent investigation by the Verizon Data Breach Investigations team revealed that our passwords are not doing the job. In 2012, authentication-based attacks were the number one method used by a mile in breaches online. In fact, four of five breaches were accomplished in this manner. What does this mean to us as surfers? Actually, it means quite a bit.

It means we are giving our permission without being aware of it

Most people realize that they should not give out their personal information, but they keep on doing it anyway. In fact, the criminals are counting on it. If we give our authorization to breach our information, what could be easier for an online, anonymous criminal? Phishing emails, asking for your information directly, false websites and countless other methods are out there. Once the password or username is secured, you would be shocked at the damage they can do.

Why change what is not broken?

That is almost certainly what the criminals are thinking. For the last several years the data has not changed hardly at all. By far, the easiest way for criminals to get your information is to ask for it…..and they do. Because we are not forcing a change, they simply keep on doing the same thing.

How do we force change?

The best way is to educate ourselves. You have to understand that any company that asks for password or username in an unsolicited email is fake. No company is going to do this in our modern online world without them having an ulterior motive. Never click a link you are uncertain about. Never visit a website with a bad reputation. You can see this by checking it with your anti-virus and other online tools. Most of all, we need to change how we pick our passwords.

How can we get a great password?

The easiest way to do this is to use a system like Roboform to store your passwords after you create them.  A website like strongpassword generator can help you create a great one if you have problems making something that will be hard to crack. This is a very easy way to come up with one that won’t be discovered. Of course, many will want to do it themselves and that is fine. Just don’t use anything that is obvious like a pet name or variation of your name. The criminals are very good at discovering your information. Use a letter, number and capitalization mixture for the best results.

Crime Network Shows Sophistication According to Study

It appears that our online criminal element has become a bit more sophisticated than one might expect. Certainly there have always been smart criminals out there, but this latest finding really boggles the mind. Thomas Holt, a criminologist from Michigan State University, has discovered that some criminals are using an online marketplace to market stolen credit card information.  This group would use an online forum to ask for criminal help such as money laundering or even data. They would then send and receive money electronically.

These criminals were clearly advanced according to Holt, as it showed the capabilities of advanced criminal thinking. This was not a bunch of kids trying to hack sites.

Have you ever gotten emails from someone asking about email, username or password information? This is called phishing and it is what criminals like this depend on. These criminals will steal information from major retailers, banks or other sources. Once they have this information, they will then send out these emails posing as your bank or website retailer.

These criminals are very good at looking realistic Continue reading Crime Network Shows Sophistication According to Study