Category Archives: Resources

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.

Wyndham Not Winning in the Game to Protect Customer Data?

It’s no secret that there are many credit card scams, especially when you are travelling and that you have to keep your credit card close by and watch who and when you provide it to anything from restaurants to resorts.  It’s also important to carefully review your charges, both on your room and when you return from travel, to make sure that you haven’t been “charged” with credit card fraud.  But most people would hope that our credit card information would be safe, especially from some of the biggest and so called best hotels and resort companies in the world.  But recently the FTC has filed suit against Wyndham Worldwide, owner of hotels such as Ramada Days Inn, Travelodge, Super 8 and Howard Johnson and resorts around the world as well as time share/vacation ownership participating providers.

This week ,the FTC filed a lawsuit against Wyndham Worldwide as a result of breaches in their security systems that led to hundreds of thousands of customers credit card information being released or stolen by an Internet domain located in Russia. However, that is not the only problem that the FTC has allegedly discovered.  The complaint also alleges that Wyndham has not taken appropriate security measures, making theft and fraud that much easier. (See the entire complaint)  Last, but not least, Wyndham is accused of further creating problems for their customers by not being truthful about their security measures and misrepresented the company security policy.

It is alleged that security measures were lax including the lack of complex user names and passwords, firewalls, network segmentation and that credit card numbers were stored in plain text.

This is not a new charge against Wyndham.  Continue reading Wyndham Not Winning in the Game to Protect Customer Data?

Credit Card Complaint Database Available to Public

Did you ever wish you could find out what people really had to say about their credit cards, both the good and the bad?   Have you ever wished you could check out official complaints about credit cards before actually applying for them?   If you have then you will be interested in a new official government database which is now available to the public which offers you the opportunity to “read all about it” when it comes to complaints about credit cards.

The credit card complaint database is offered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Information is updated daily, so you don’t have to worry about searching through online reviews for the most recent information about a credit card you currently use or or are considering using.  The complaints are not confirmed for accuracy, but the relationship between the consumer and the credit card is confirmed for accuracy.

To make your search easier you can search according to issues or even zip code.  Easy to read graphs are available as search results.

The is some “fine print” to the database information including:

  • limited to first credit card complaints received since June 1 for banks with more than $10 billion in assets.
  • it is currently in its beta version and it plans to expand to bigger banks by the end of 2012.
  • checks not only to determine a relationship between the credit and credit card holder but also to see if duplicate grievances are being filed.
  • hopes to expand to include mortgages and other financial product complaints,  not just credit cards.
  • The credit card companies are required to respond within 15 days and to close the complaint with an action in 60 days.
  • The database includes the type of complaint, the complainant’s ZIP code, the name of the company, and a description of what action, if any, the company took in response.

The banking industry of course is against the complaint database being made public citing privacy issues as well as the ability of “just anyone” to “tarnish” the name of banks or credit cards. In an recent Fox News article Richard Hunt, president of the Consumer Bankers Association, said “Why publish the amount of complaints against a specific company when there are many complaints that at the end of the day are not justified? “There is a significant chance of a reputational hit.”

Kenneth Clayton, the American Bankers Association’s executive vice president of legislative affairs and chief counsel, “called the release of the database disappointing and potentially misleading to consumers,” stating, “publicizing allegations that may or may not have any basis in fact raises serious questions about the balanced review we expect from our government agencies.”

There are also complaints by the banking industry that the information doesn’t include smaller banks.

However, the CFPC says, “Consumers can look at this data and can fairly draw the conclusion that if they engage in a financial relationship with the company this is what they can expect,” said Scott Pluta, acting assistant director of the Office of Consumer Response of the CFPB.  Pamela Banks, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, said in a Reuters statement “Making credit card complaints public will put added pressure on banks to avoid unfair practices and help consumers make more informed financial decisions,” .

Wonder what you will find when you visit the database?   Currently Capital One is in the lead for the most complaints since June 1.  Next is CitiGroup, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America.  The most common complaint is disputed charges.

The CFPB has been accepting complaints since it began in 2008.  These complaints have included those related to student loans, mortgages, loan modifications,  foreclosures, and other bank products.

Do you have a complaint that you will be filing in the database?

Did your DNS change for the worse? Make sure you aren’t getting the wrong Internet address

Don’t want to lose your Internet services?  Then check your DNS for malware.  Sound “Greek” to you?  Then this statement from the FBI should get your attnetion.

“To assist victims affected by the DNSChanger malicious software, the FBI obtained a court order authorizing the Internet Systems Consortium (ISC) to deploy and maintain temporary clean DNS servers. This solution is temporary, providing additional time for victims to clean affected computers and restore their normal DNS settings. The clean DNS servers will be turned off on July 9, 2012, and computers still impacted by DNSChanger may lose Internet connectivity at that time.”

As part of a two year long investigation, the FBI arrested and charged six Estonian nationals with running a sophisticated, and fraudulent Internet ring.

The indictment, said Janice Fedarcyk, assistant director in charge of our New York office, “describes an intricate international conspiracy conceived and carried out by sophisticated criminals.” She added, “The harm inflicted by the defendants was not merely a matter of reaping illegitimate income.”

This cyber band of thieves used malware called DNSChanger to:

  • infect approximately 4 million computers in more than 100 countries.
  • 500,000 infections in the U.S. (individuals, companies and even NASA)
  • using and manipulating Internet advertising they generated at least $14 million in stolen fees
  • some instances kept the users’ anti-virus software and operating systems from updating, pulling those machines infected by DNSChanger at risk for more malicious software.

DNS  (Domain Name System) is an Internet service that converts domain names into IP addresses.  It’s what causes the computers to “talk” to each other so that you may use your computer to visit a site.  Without them you would not have any Internet service including email, social networking or access to websites.  Criminals have learned that if they can control a DNS, then they can control where you visit, even sending you to sites that you had no intention of visiting or phony sites set up to shadow a real one and collect information and private data from you.

Sometimes those computers that have been subject to DNS malware (software that is malicious) find that that is not the only malware on their computer or hacking its way into their systems.

Checking your DNS to make sure that it is safe from malware is important because without it you could lose your Internet services.  While it is best and most effectively tested through a computer professional,  it is possible to check you DNS yourself for malware.    The other forms of malware may be stealing your username and passwords and sending them off for others to use for fraudulent reasons like identity theft, credit cards and even medical treatment.

You can visit the FI website to check your DNS and make sure that you continue to have the “all clear” to use the Internet.    There are testing sites available in a variety of languages.  For those that want to test their systems on their own there is a helpful PDF instruction booklet available that will walk you through the various steps needed to test your DNS no matter what time of system you may be operating.

So I did just that.  I thought better safe than sorry and while I didn’t consult a professional I did use the site http://www.dcwg.org/detect/ to check my DNS.   It was easy, there is no software to download and no looking around to find information that I would need to complete the more intricate steps needed to test my laptop.  Actually I didn’t have to do anything but “click” the link provided.  Here’s the image you should see and the message =GREEN. Your computer appears to be looking up IP addresses correctly.

If your DNS does show malware or suspicious activity the FBI would like to hear from you. Visit their website and file your complaint using this form. 

Age does matter: Largest Medicare fraud case goes ‘easy’ on elderly

Approximately 18 months ago one of the biggest Medicare instances of medicare fraud was uncovered and over 94 people were arrested in Miami, Houston, Baton Rouge, Brooklyn and Detroit.  A grand total of $251 million was stolen from the medicare system in a series of incidents that included not completing medical testing or diagnostics that were billed,  home health care,  making false claims for treatment, medical equipment, physical therapy,  and other “goods and services” there were either never provided or were unnecessary.

(Talk about above and beyond reasonable and necessary charges).

Those arrested included senior citizens, doctors, and other medical care professionals.   Senior patiencts were offered a “kick back” of  $50-$100 for their assistance in this scheme where “suspects in Miami alone are accused of submitting $103 million in false claims, the Miami Herald reports. “This is like a game of whack a mole,” Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer told the paper. “The numbers are off the charts.”

How did the other cities and suspects “add” up?

According to ABC News:

  • In Baton Rouge, 31 defendants were charged for various schemes allegedly involving fraudulent claims for durable medical goods (such as wheelchairs) totaling approximately $32 million.
  • In Brooklyn, 22 defendants were charged for their alleged participation in schemes to submit fraudulent claims totaling approximately $78 million.
  • In Detroit, 11 defendants were charged for their alleged roles in schemes to submit $35 million.
  • In Houston, four defendants were also charged for their alleged roles in a $3 million

According to the US Dept. of Health and Human Services these

“arrests are a powerful warning to those who would try to defraud taxpayers and Medicare beneficiaries,” said HHS Secretary Sebelius.  “These arrests illustrate close cooperation between the Medicare program that identified these fraudsters and the law enforcement officials who acted swiftly to cut them off.  And our efforts to stop criminals don’t end here because the Affordable Care Act gives us new tools to prevent Medicare fraud before it is committed – better protecting seniors and the integrity of the Medicare program for generations to come.”

However, it seems that some defendant’s may be getting off “easy” as a deal is reached in the Brooklyn cases.  The New York Daily News reports, that 6 of the accused have reached a “deal.”  According the the Daily News “the indictment will be dismissed in 18 months if the defendants agree not to accept any more Medicare kickbacks and pay unspecified restitution. They do not have to admit wrongdoing before a judge.”

One defendant, at 76 years old passes away last summer due to natural causes.

This agreement is reached after one defendant appeared in the courtroom pushing a walked, and another at 84 years old didn’t appear because she couldn’t get a ride to the court.

Defense attorney John Kaley says. “We appreciate what we think is the government’s fair assessment of the case and it’s a just resolution.”

What do you think?  Should age and health issues be taken into consideration in a criminal trial?  Or should each of the defendants have to either plead guilty as three clinic operators (in the Brooklyn cases) or gone to trial, as two doctors in the Brooklyn case did?

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to:www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

Sources:

US Department of Health and Human Services 

CBS News 

PBS 

ABC News 

 

 

 

 

New Study Shows Six Million U.S. Parents & Children Affected by Identity Theft

ID Analytics’ ID: A Labs is sharing some scary stats regarding children, parents and elderly parents including these key findings:

“All in the Family–About six million parents and children improperly share identity information, specifically Social Security numbers (SSNs).

Betraying Children’s Trust–Nearly 500,000 children under the age of 18 have had their identities stolen by a parent.

Thanks Mom and Dad–A growing number of adult children have used their parents’ identity information for fraudulent reasons, with more than two million elderly victims in the past few years.”

“The realities of familial identity theft are far worse than anything you see in a soap opera. It is the ultimate in family betrayal,” said Dr. Coggeshall. “Most consumers think of this type of manipulation as something inflicted by a stranger or a criminal scamming the system, when in reality a lot of identity manipulation may be a betrayal by a trusted parent, child or another family member.”

Dr. Stephen Coggeshall, chief technology officer of ID Analytics, will discuss these and other findings at ID Analytics’ consumer risk conference, Advance 2011: Rediscovering the Consumer, in San Diego, Calif.  Read the entire article here.

Unfortunately, this type of abuse and fraud has been going on a long time, and that fact that it happens isn’t a real surprise or shock.  The shear numbers of instances alone are what are so shocking.  Even more shocking is that it is those that are placed in a position of trust that are the ones taking the most advantage of the young and elderly alike.

Read more by Identity Theft Secrets.com on this topic:

Sad but True Crime Stories of Elder Abuse and Identity Theft

Proposed Law to Protect Foster Children From the High Risk of Identity Theft

Why Children are a Prime Target for Identity Theft

Is APMEX secure to buy Silver Coins?

Anibal sent us an email with a question about Apmex:

Hi:
This is my first time to buy silver coins from APMEX.
I would like to know if APMEX is a true, secure, reliable company to buy those silver coins.
I did buy some silver coins from goldsilver.com and they send me coins. But their prices are a little more expensive than APMEX.
Please, help me.
Thank you so much.
Anibal

http://www.howtobuygoldx.com/apmex

——————–

Hi Anibal,

My experience with APMEX has been very good. I’ve talked with people from their company, and they even invited me to come to Oklahoma and see their vaults. I haven’t gone yet, but plan to sometime in 2011 or possibly early 2012.

The link below will take you through HowToBuyGoldX.com to Apmex. HowToBuyGoldX.com recommends buying silver and gold through Apmex as well.

http://www.howtobuygoldx.com/apmex

Hope that’s helpful for you! Please let me know how your experience goes with ordering from Apmex. Would be good to know your experience.

http://www.identitytheftsecrets.com/silver-bars-and-coins

10 Tech Secrets Kids Hide From Parents

After I write an article on my blog I try to find sites that might be interested in hearing about the article to see if they would be willing to share it with their followers. Accordingly, I recently wrote an article called ” 10 Technology Secrets Kids Keep from their Parents” located here:http://www.internetproviders.net/blog/2011/10-technology-secrets-kids-keep-from-their-parents/

It would be great if you could share this with others if you feel that it would be of interest to them especially those that follow your site.

iVPN code: Coupon code for iVPN

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Looking for a coupon code link for a great VPN?
Check out iVPN below.
http://www.identitytheftsecrets.com/ivpn
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Depending on what you like to do online, a VPN is very often an excellent way to keep your computer connections safe through secure communication.

You can see the coupon code link for iVPN above.

We’ve also come across some great coupon codes and links that we know will work for iVPN.

We will be giving them out on a first-come, first-served basis. If you want a coupon code that we know will work for iVPN, contact us to see if any are still available. Again… first come, first-served.

How a VPN works:

The idea behind a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is to give a direct connection from your computer to a server. Then, from that server, you connect with others and surf the internet.

You can think of a VPN as a kind of secret underground tunnel from your home to a trusted friend’s home in another neighborhood. If you go out for a walk, no one in your neighborhood will even know, because as far as they know, you never left your house. Continue reading iVPN code: Coupon code for iVPN