Identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number or other personal information to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund. A record high 15.4 million Americans were hit with some kind of ID Theft in 2016, according to the 2017 Identity Theft Study by Javelin Strategy & Research. That’s about 1 in every 16 U.S. Adults in 2016 (6.15%), up almost 16% from the previous year.
There are many ways that you might discover that someone is using your information. You might get a notice from the IRS or find unfamiliar accounts on your credit report. You might notice strange purchases on your monthly credit card statement, get bills that aren’t yours, or get calls about debts that you don’t owe.
What To Do Right Away
If you see one of these warning signs of identity theft, you must act quickly. If you have Kasasa Protect™
, simply call toll free 888-483-3301 to speak directly to an Identity Care Specialist or visit Kasasa Protect™
online at secure.kasasaprotect.com. If you don’t have Kasasa Protect™
, you’ll have to take these steps yourself to help limit the damage. IdentityTheft.gov will guide you through each step.
- Call the companies where you know fraud occurred.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and get copies of your report.
- Report identity theft to the FTC.
- File a report with your local police department.
Then, take a deep breath and begin to repair the damage. Without Kasasa Protect™
your next step might be closing accounts opened in your name, or reporting fraudulent charges to your credit card company.
The internet offers access to a world of products and services, entertainment and information. At the same time, it creates opportunities for scammers, hackers, and identity thieves. Learn how to protect your computer, your information, and your online files.
Scammers, hackers and identity thieves are looking to steal your personal information – and your money. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself, like keeping your computer software up-to-date and giving out your personal information only when you have good reason.
Update Your Software. Keep your software – including your operating system, the web browsers you use to connect to the Internet, and your apps – up to date to protect against the latest threats. Most software can update automatically, so make sure to set yours to do so.
Outdated software is easier for criminals to break into. If you think you have a virus or bad software on your computer, check out how to detect and get rid of malware at www.consumer.ftc.gov.
Protect Your Personal Information. Don’t hand it out to just anyone. Your Social Security number, credit card numbers, and bank and utility account numbers can be used to steal your money or open new accounts in your name. So every time you are asked for your personal information – whether in a web form, an email, a text, or a phone message – think about why someone needs it and whether you can really trust the request.
In an effort to steal your information, scammers will do everything they can to appear trustworthy. Learn more about scammers who phish for your personal information at www.consumer.ftc.gov.
Protect Your Passwords. Here are a few ideas for creating strong passwords and keeping them safe:
- Use at least 10 characters; 12 is ideal for most home users.
- Try to be unpredictable – don’t use names, dates, or common words. Mix numbers, symbols, and capital letters into the middle of your password, not at the beginning or end.
- Don’t use the same password for many accounts. If it’s stolen from you – or from one of the companies where you do business – thieves can use it to take over all your accounts.
- Don’t share passwords on the phone, in texts or by email. Legitimate companies will not ask you for your password.
- If you write down a password, keep it locked up, out of plain sight.
Common Online Scams
"Free" Security Scans
Messages telling you to install and update security software for your computer seem to be everywhere. So you might be tempted by an offer of a “free security scan,” especially when faced with a pop-up, an email, or an ad that claims “malicious software” has already been found on your machine. Unfortunately, it’s likely that the scary message is a come-on for a rip-off.
The free scan claims to find a host of problems, and within seconds, you’re getting urgent pop-ups to buy security software. After you agree to spend $40 or more on the software, the program tells you that your problems are fixed. The reality: there was nothing to fix. And what’s worse, the program now installed on your computer could be harmful.
Scammers have found ways to create realistic but phony “security alerts.” Though the “alerts” look like they’re being generated by your computer, they actually are created by a con artist and sent through your Internet browser.
These programs are called “scareware” because they exploit a person’s fear of online viruses and security threats. The scam has many variations, but there are some telltale signs. For example:
- You may get ads that promise to “delete viruses or spyware,” “protect privacy,” “improve computer function,” “remove harmful files,” or “clean your registry;”
- You may get “alerts” about “malicious software” or “illegal pornography on your computer;”
- You may be invited to download free software for a security scan or to improve your system;
- You could get pop-ups that claim your security software is out-of-date and your computer is in immediate danger;
- You may suddenly encounter an unfamiliar website that claims to have performed a security scan and prompts you to download new software.
Scareware purveyors also go to great lengths to make their product and service look legitimate. For example, if you buy the software, you may get an email receipt with a customer service phone number. If you call, you’re likely to be connected to someone, but that alone does not mean the company is legitimate. Regardless, remember that these are well-organized and profitable schemes designed to rip people off.
What to Do
If you’re faced with any of the warning signs of a scareware scam or suspect a problem, shut down your browser. Don’t click “No” or “Cancel,” or even the “x” at the top right corner of the screen. Some scareware is designed so that any of those buttons can activate the program. If you use Windows, press Ctrl + Alt + Delete to open your Task Manager, and click “End Task.” If you use a Mac, press Command + Option + Q + Esc to “Force Quit.”
If you get an offer, check out the program by entering the name in a search engine. The results can help you determine if the program is legitimate.