Identity Theft – I Was a Victim

When I first co-founded a business many years ago, we did not spend much time thinking about security. We were too busy trying to get everything else done. This changed when we raised money from venture capitalists who insisted that our security be increased to protect their investment.

In general, a few tips for reducing threats:

Like most preventative measures, it is less expensive than dealing with the consequences, but it does take time.

If your server room is locked, but the person in charge of the backups keeps the key in his desk in his cubicle - your server is not secure! If your HR person has access to all the digital employee files, but keeps his or her password taped to the side of the computer, that data is not secure.

This will cause much grousing, but it's your business and their jobs, so they will have to live with it.

You should back up your data daily. Every week you should have a week end backup that is taken off site and stored. Annually backup your data and keep it in a safe deposit box or with your attorney.

If you outsource your IT, the company providing these services should be able to provide this for you.

This is why Home Depot sells those wireless door bells. They are cheap. I am always amazed when I can walk into a business with no receptionist and wander the halls freely.

This is both security for your business and for your employees.

This person is in charge of understanding possible threats and determining the best prevention. He or she should also receive training in what to do in case of an intrusion, digital or otherwise.

Another area of security is internal fraud, specifically employees stealing from you. As the security officer of one previous company, I was required to take a class on internal fraud. The characteristics of the offender tended to be (1) male, (2) in his 20s, (3) college educated, and (4) had never committed a crime before. Not to say that a 50 year old female, high school drop-out criminal will not commit the crime, but statistically those were the characteristics that came up most often.

Usually what happens is the perpetrator is in a bind, can't make a car payment, rent, doctor's bill, and he starts with just "borrowing" money or items to pawn from the company. He has full intentions of "paying it back." But the reason he got stuck in the first place still exists, so he have to steal more to cover up the first crime, and on and on it goes.

To prevent this type of fraud, have strong accounting policies and procedures. Have revenue checks come to a PO Box. Have a different person sign the checks than the one who creates them. Allow only one person to do the ordering for the company and keep an inventory of what each employee has. For instance, memory sticks disappear really easily. Yes, an occasional one gets lost, but some one who loses them constantly may have a problem.

Ask your accountant for assistance is creating these policies and procedures and have your books audited or reviewed at least annually.

Although it is possible to go overboard on security, I know very few companies that actually do and most don't even come close to basic security. Make sure your company is not one that gets caught saying "but she seemed so trustworthy, I can't believe that she stole from us."

In 2002 I decided I wanted to have a pool built at my home so I could escape the Florida heat during the summer. I was also having a child and I wanted to make sure I could teach my daughter to swim at an early age. I found a pool builder and I contacted a mortgage company to obtain a home equity line of credit. I used a local lender who was a friend of the family and I gave him my information over the phone and we scheduled a date for him to come to my home to complete the paper work.
A week later the lender came my house and we sat down at my kitchen table to go over the paper work for the line of credit. The first thing out of the lender’s mouth was “what’s going on with your credit report?” I told him that my credit report should be fine and he said “look at this” as he unfolded my long credit report. It’s a good thing that I was sitting down because if not I would have fallen down.
My credit report showed nearly 2 dozen insufficient funds (bad check) entries. I was stunned because I use a check card and rarely write checks. I was also embarrassed because the lender who was a friend of the family obviously thought I was responsible for the horrible credit report. Being a seasoned Police Officer, I examined the credit report and I noticed something suspicious. All of the bad checks were written in December of 2000. The 1st bad check was written at a ladies clothing store in the city where I live and the rest were written in stores across the state of Florida and Mississppi. It appeared that someone was writing bad checks as they traveled from the city where I live to Mississippi.
My credit report listed many collection agencies that were trying to collect money from me. What was strange was that I had never been contacted by any of these collection agencies. Why had these collection agencies not called me or written me letters demanding money? I called all of the collection agencies and I learned that the the person who opened the bank account in my name had changed my last name by changing 1 letter and they used a home address of a home in Mississippi. The suspect(s) used my correct date of birth and social security number.
I called the bank where the account was opened with my information and because 2 years had passed, there were no hard copies of the checks. All of the checks were now on microfilm which meant we could not get any finger-prints. I was hoping we could get a hard copy of a check because we could possible get a finger-print of the suspect. I called all of the collection agencies and I quickly learned that being a victim of identity theft is a nightmare. I had to fax or mail copies of the Police report to all of the collection agencies and I made hundreds of phone calls. Many of the people at the collection agencies were rude and did not want to deal with me because they are only interested in collecting money. It took 2 years of hard work to finally get my credit report cleared up. A Fraud Detective where I work began investigating the identity theft but nothing was ever uncovered because all of this happened 2 years prior.
Approximately 6 months after I discovered the identity theft there was a break in the case. I came home one day in the early afternoon and one of my neighbors said she wanted to speak with me. What my neighbor told me was almost unbelievable. She told me that the previous day she had come home for lunch and she was sitting in her parked car in her driveway. She watched as another neighbor on our street drove up to my house and he parked in front of my mailbox. We have mailboxes on the curb in front of our homes where I live. This neighbor reached out of his car window and opened my mailbox and he began going through my mail. The neighbor telling me the story said she could not tell if any mail was stolen. She watched as he closed me mailbox and drove to his home.
I live on a quiet cul-de-sac where everyone is very friendly and it’s common knowledge that I am a Police Officer. There is also another Police Officer who lives on the same cul-de-sac. My neighborhood is called “Copville” because so many Police Officers reside there.
The thing that floored me the most was the neighbor who was seen going through my mail was what I considered a friend. This man was married with 2 kids who frequently played at my house. I had even allowed this man to play on my Police Dept softball team where he was the only person on the team who was not a Police Officer. This man was a handy-man and he had been inside my house installing toilets and other odd-jobs. I had loaned and given this man so many things over the years because he and his family were often struggling financially. I was so mad that I feared I might grab this man by the neck when I saw him.
I thought about confronting him but I decided on another route. I called the United States Post Office and asked to speak with the Postal Inspector’s office. My neighbor had witnesses this man going through my mail so I felt the best route was to report this to the Postal Inspector. I was told that the United States Post Office would send me a packet to fill out to report the mail theft. A week later I received the packet in the mail and I completed all of the forms. I sent the packet to the United States Postal Inspector’s Office and nothing was ever done.
I did a background check on my neighbor and I found that he had been in prison for dealing in stolen property. He had several arrests which included drug charges. I then ran a check on my neighbor’s wife and found that she had been arrested previously for writing bad checks. I could not believe that these people living on my cul-de-sac were criminals. It was then that I understood that we don’t know our friends and neighbors as well as we think. This man and his family moved out of state 1 year later and I have not see or heard from them since. I have a feeling they moved because they may have felt that I suspected them of the identity theft. I never confronted them but I did let them know that I had been the victim of identity theft.
I now check my credit report 3 times a year and you should do the same. I use Equifax to check my credit report and it’s rather inexpensive. Investigate your report and take action if you see anything suspicious. I hope to never go through that nightmare again and I hope you don’t either. I use a shredder to shred my important papers and I also use a post office box for my mail.

9 Steps to Protect Yourself From Identity Fraud

Identity Theft is now considered the fastest growing crime in North America. Approximately nine million people fell prey to ID thieves last year. This year the numbers are much more grim, according to the predictions from various law enforcement agencies and Homeland Security. The estimated numbers shockingly reflect one in three Americans will have their identities stolen this year (2008).

To add to the problem, when asked about Identity Theft most people think only about credit card theft or having money stolen from their bank accounts. These two crimes are indeed enormous in number but unfortunately, there are at least five different types of Identity Theft.

In addition to credit card theft and ATM/Debit card theft, criminals are stealing citizen's names and personal information and committing crimes, even felonies posing as the citizen who's identity was stolen. Heinous crimes including murder, kidnapping, rape, child molestation, pornography, street drug manufacturing and distribution, to name a few, have been committed using law-abiding citizens' identities.

Other lesser crimes (but still very costly in terms of undoing the damage to one's good name and credit) include having expensive medical procedures done and charged to the victim; using a victim's Social Security number to obtain a false passport for the criminal to get into and out of the USA; using a stolen Social Security number to obtain the victim's Social Security benefits; and applying for and purchasing expensive items such as cars, mansions, and jewelery, all of which the victim will be held liable.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself from ID thieves. Here are some suggestions:

1) Buy a good cross-cut shredder and shred every piece of mail with your name and/or any identifying information on it. I even remove my address labels from catalogs and order forms and shred them. If you don't want to take the time to do that, toss all of that information, including any pieces of junk mail and credit card offers, into a box and take it to your local recycling center and have them shred it for a small fee - usually $10 per "banker's" box.

2) When standing in line at a store and you're going to hand over your credit card to the sales person, keep your card either in your wallet or well-hidden in your hand so no one around you can see it. It has become common practice of savvy thieves to stand behind the unsuspecting shopper and take a photo of your credit card's information to use to duplicate in later criminal transactions.

3) Women and men who carry bags containing their wallets should always keep the zippers zipped and the bag held securely in front of them as they walk about in public. Carry a bag that has a wide strong strap and carry the bag diagonally across the body, not over one's shoulder and carried on the same side.

4) Never leave your belongings unattended. Be hypervigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times.

5) Don't leave your bag under a table in a public place, out of your sight. Thieves often work in teams and while one may be politely asking you for street directions, his/her teammate could be inconspicuously sliding your bag with his/her foot to the other side of the table and stealing your wallet. They will thank you politely and leave quickly and you will never notice until your bill for your coffee is presented by the waiter.

6) Keep careful records of your banking and credit card transactions. If you see any suspicious activity, notify your bank or credit card company immediately.

7) For about $2.50, you can buy a pen that infuses the paper of your checks with ink that cannot be bleached out by crooks. Buy one to use to write out all of your checks.

8) When paying for a meal with a credit card, accompany the waiter/waitress to the cash register to pay the bill. Don't just hand over your credit card and watch the serviceperson disappear. They may be jotting down your credit information to use to purchase items which you'll be held responsible for by your credit card company.

9) Never give out personal information to anyone who calls you, telling you they represent your bank, credit card company, medical office, insurance salesperson, etc. Instead, hang up and call the number you have on file for these businesses. That way you are in control and know you truly are speaking to that business.

10) Immediately report any missing checks or lost credit cards, bank cards, medical ID cards, Social Security and Medicare cards to their respective main offices.

These are just a few of the steps you can take to protect yourself from Identity Thieves. Stay informed, alert to your surroundings at all times, and if your intuition tells you something doesn't feel "right" or safe, trust yourself and take the necessary measures to protect yourself and your good name. For more information, please contact your local law enforcement agencies, your financial institutions, and your community resources. For any questions or for further information about getting the Identity Theft Protection experts on your side, please email me at the address in the Resource box below.

This is truly the information age and the need to pass information is constantly growing. Internet shopping is expanding rapidly, as is the concept of online banking, credit cards and financial sites such as PayPal. With this increase in financial information being sent over the World Wide Web, it’s really no wonder that we’ve also seen an increase in identity fraud and identity theft. Information about people, including their personal, work and credit information is easily accessed by anyone who has access to just some of your personal information. Most of that information comes from bank and credit card statements and other mail, both email and postal mail, that you dump without worrying about.
It’s time to go on the offensive and lessen the chances of your falling victim to identity theft. The more difficult it is for a thief to steal your identity, the less likely it is to happen to you – most times if it is too difficult, the thief will move on to someone less suspecting who has done little to protect their identity.
There are a few steps that you can take to help lessen your chances of having your identity stolen. While these few things will not guarantee your safety from criminals it will help to deter them – hopefully enough that they will move on to the next person.

Guard your information with your life – it is vital that you protect your own identity at all times. Be vigilant!

Identity Theft Issues and Social Networking Sites

In the world today, there are a number of daily transactions that take place and a lot of paperwork going back and forth. You should not keep important papers available for all to view, especially sensitive documents. For this reason, people choose to keep their transactions online or go digital.

However, there are certain business issues that involve a lot of paperwork. Many companies and organizations choose to destroy all the documents after use. Initially, this used to be done manually, but with new technology and equipment available, there are a number of options that help to make things easier. One such invention is the 'document shredder'.

What Is A Document Shredder?

Document shredders destroy important documents by shredding them into pieces. They are used in many offices as they help to prevent the leaking of business secrets and important sensitive information. The document shredder can be used to shred checks, bank statements, medical records and receipts. You can select the type of shredding you want, depending on the security level of the document.

How Does A Document Shredder Work?

A shredder has a pair of rotating blades, a motor and a paper comber. When the documents are fed in between the blades, they split it into small pieces. This is due to the speed and pressure of the blades. The shredded pieces are then collected in containers. The containers are a part of the more expensive shredders. The cheaper shredders do not offer this feature.

Shredding Methods

A document shredder applies different shredding methods such as the ultra security cut, crosscut and strip cut. Ultra security shredding is applied for destroying very sensitive documents. The shredded documents are cut into unreadable pieces. Crosscut document shredding involves the crisscross shredding technique. Strip cutting is applied to bulk shredding and the paper is cut into long thin vertical strips.

Important Features Of A Document Shredder

Most companies base their document destruction standards set by the Department of Defense and their state government. Due to the high volume of paperwork our country uses, there are a number of options for shredding papers. Keep these aspects in mind when considering a paper shredder.

o Durability - One of the major factors of a document shredder that needs to be considered is its durability. The life of a shredder depends on the plastic or metal it is made from. If a plastic shredder is over used, it may not last for long.

o Security- Some document shredders cut the papers in strips of different widths. Shrewd thieves can put together the shredded pieces uniformly to get the information they want. Therefore, if you really want to safeguard your information, you need to buy a document shredder that shreds documents into unreadable bits.

o Different Uses Of Document Shredders- Document shredders can not only be used for shredding paperwork, but also other important material like plastic film, CDs, ID cards, floppy disks, microfiche, key tapes and other highly classified media.

o Dust - The more the quantity of documents to be shredded, the greater the possibility of dust and rust accumulating on the equipment. For this reason, most shredders have internal vacuums.

o Noise- Some shredders tend to be very noisy when loaded with more than the recommended quantity of paper. You should request a free demonstration before you buy a document shredder. This will help you to get familiar with the shredder's operation and give you an idea about the noise.

The only way to avoid identity theft is to stay one step ahead of the thieves. Shredding your documents is no longer an option, for many documents, it is the law! A personal paper shredder is the first step in protecting yourself from the thieves.

Social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us and Digg.com where share lists of user-created Internet bookmarks are grouped together (and other applications) are growing in popularity. And so is identity theft among the social bookmarking users.
What happens is that people rush to sign up for the social bookmarking sites. They register and mindless begin filling out their profiles, sharing lots of personal information like date of birth, complete name and contact information / location (email, phone number, personal photos) and more. However, people most often don’t use the privacy settings offered by the sites, as they should.
Not only that, social networking site users also post to forums, blogs and chats about when they’re leaving town and going on vacation. Other information that should remain confidential is often shared, too, like which banks are used online, which sites with shopping carts, etc.
The results are identity theft, online and off. Offline, thieves find out when people won’t be home and break in to steal things: information, valuables, etc. Online, thieves also break in and steal using personal info to access accounts and use identities for their own personal and financial gain.
Social Networking Safety Tips
Get and stay safe with social networking sites using these helpful tips:
1) Use the site’s privacy settings and only share your profile information with family and trusted friends.
2) Watch what you do list online, regardless of privacy settings. A thief can take your digital photo and all other info and use your identity. Don’t give them all that ammunition. Upload a favorite animal or flower image, for example, instead of your face. List the nearest large city instead of the small town where you live. Use a nickname, maiden name or other identity listing.
3) Do not discuss out of town issues online. Period. No one needs to know when you’re going on vacation or even on business trips. Tell the about the trips AFTER you return. And don’t ask others about their plans, either, encouraging them to post their private info.
4) Alert your family members, friends and others to these security issues to help others be and stay safe, too.
5) If a social networking site doesn’t look safe or you can’t figure out the privacy settings, don’t use it. Go somewhere safe.
Things are always changing and growing on the web. So only interact where it’s safest for you. Practice identity theft protection 24/7!

Education is Power – Identity Theft Facts

Identity theft has been a major problem for many years and those who find themselves victim to it can find the consequences to be devastating. Unfortunately, thieves continue to get away with this because some people are so careless with confidential information that enables criminals to get hold of all the information they need to steal someone's identity.

Businesses are popular targets for identity theft because there is a lot more money to steal and they are more likely to get away with it. Chances are that it's going to take longer for someone to notice money missing out of a business than it would take an individual to notice money missing out of their account. However, there are so many things that can be done in order to try and prevent identity theft and ensure that you and your business never fall victim to it.

There are a lot of things created by a business that should not be seen by anyone else. Some of these include documents, blue prints, computer hardware or even specialist clothing or uniforms. It can be difficult to dispose of these things in a way which ensures that nobody will ever see them. However, one way of doing this is to use a company that specializes in data destruction.

If you choose to go down this route, the first most important thing to do is to ensure that the company you are using to help you prevent identity theft has the right credentials. A good tip is to find a company that has accreditation thorough the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) or are members of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA).

The reason why a data destruction company is such a good option when it comes to trying to prevent identity theft is because of the equipment they have. These companies will have the most technologically advanced mobile shredding vehicles which means that anything classed as confidential can be thoroughly destroyed.

These companies normally offer both on and off site data destruction depending on which suits your business the best. As well as this, all good companies will offer CCTV footage of the documents being destroyed so you can be assured that the job has been done thoroughly and you have done everything you can to prevent identity theft.

Data destruction is by far the best way to prevent identity theft because there is absolutely no way that anyone can get hold of any confidential documents. This means that no - one will ever be able to get access to the vital information that they need in order to be successful. This means that you and your company can have peace of mind that you have done everything to secure the future of your business.

One of the worst crimes that anyone can inflict on another person is identity theft. For one reason, identity theft does not only mean stealing personal items, money or having access to another individual’s personal finances – credit card accounts, bank accounts, etc. – but it also involves the thief posing as its victim.
With this in mind, the best way to avoid being a victim of identity theft is to be aware of the many facts involved in the crime. These facts also include knowing the significance of where the identity thieves gain access to their victim’s personal details. For your own information, the two areas where identity thieves build up your personal information are emails and the garbage bins.
Let’s face it: identity theft is becoming one of the most notorious personal and modern crimes the world has ever known. One of the most famous venues where identity thieves get their victim’s personal information is via the World Wide Web. One favorite avenue, and probably the most powerful choice, of identity thieve is through email.
Id theft is initiated by sending emails to unsuspecting victims. These emails pose as authentic communications from varied financial institutions and banks. To the naked eye, these emails look legitimate as if it actually did come from these financial institutions. It includes the logo of the financial company embedded into the email however, it asks the recipient of the email to respond to the email with their personal details.
Generally, the personal details asked for by these fraudulent emails include account numbers, passwords and usernames. One would even notice that the return email address included bears the name of the financial institution which makes it look more legitimate. Once the email recipient responds to one of these emails, then the identity theft is halfway through. The identity thief now has all the pertinent information required to take on the identity of the email recipient’s account.
As always, the best way to avoid being a victim of these email scams is to understand a couple of facts about identity theft particularly when it comes to various emails from financial institutions. Foremost is the fact legitimate and reputable credit card corporations and banking institutions will never ask for sensitive and personal information like account numbers, usernames and passwords via email. Secondly, you should never ever give out your social security numbers, unless deemed necessary. Lastly, when you receive emails of this sort, it is important that the financial institution being posed as should be informed. You need to take action in informing the bank or Credit Card Company that you received an email fraudulent nature.
Another treasure isle of information about individuals are trash cans. This is another area where identity thieves scout for credit card offers or any other documents that are ignored by many individuals. They will rummage through the trash and find as many documents as they can that contains personal information. Hence, to prevent identity theft from trash, you need to properly dispose of your mails and documents, if they contain highly sensitive information.

Fraud Alerts, Your Credit Score & Identity Theft

Looking to buy identity theft fraud protection? Get your facts straights on the different id protection services, so you don't end up buying the wrong service plan that could cost you your identity.Despite the growing number of identity thefts occurring in the United States everyday, many people still love to believe that they are safe. Its only when they or their loved one falls prey to an identity theft, that they actually realize what fatal consequences this form of crime could lead to. There is a way to fight identity theft - getting an identity theft and fraud protection plan right away.

The best way to ensure identity protection is of course to do it yourself. Take care of your credit cards, mail, financial documents, bank account statements, credit card statements, tax returns, credit reports, and your mail so that they do not fall into the hands of identity thieves. However, the problem with this approach is that despite doing all the work on your own, the insurance would cost you the same as a full-fledged identity protection plan would. It would therefore make more sense in buying a good identity protection plan offered by providers like LifeLock, TrustedID, or the LoudSiren Debix.

Apart from placing and renewing fraud alerts and removing you from the list of pre-authorized offers that are known to be a major source of identity theft, all the three companies mentioned above provide you an expert to defend you in case you were victimized. Companies like LoudSiren and LifeLock get your name off from various junk mail lists while LoudSiren can remove your name from telemarketing lists as well. On the other hand, LifeLock is perhaps the only company that gives you ID replacement immediately in case your wallet is stolen or lost. It also offers protection to children that could be extremely beneficial in case of divorce and families with unstable family members or relatives with drug addiction problem. Trusted Id offers free annual credit reports and features offered include credit card monitoring, removal from all pre-approved credit card lists, along with a host of other valuable services.

The key is to go for a proactive identity protection plan that also includes identity insurance and renews your fraud alerts regularly. The insurance may or may not come with a one million dollar guarantee but considering the range of services that these plans would offer, its worth putting your money in them. Of course, choosing one of these plans would entirely depend on individual wants. Paying a few dollars for an identity theft and fraud protection plan is far better than losing all your hard-earned money by becoming a victim of identity theft.

If you are like many men and women, you have an understandable concern in regard to identity theft. Statistics prove that you are likely to become the victim of this crime at least one time during your lifetime. In fact, when you really consider how common identity theft actually is, odds are that you will become a victim once every ten years. Understanding how common this crime is, you must realize how it can impact your life and your finances, including your credit score.
If you discover that you have become the victim of identity theft, one of the first things that you will want to do is to make contact with each of the three major credit reporting agencies. These agencies make it fairly easy for you to report the fact that you have become a victim. These agencies maintain special toll free numbers and dedicated portals on the Internet and World Wide Web through which you can report that you have become indeed a victim of identity fraud.
Once placed on your account, a fraud alert will flag any activity. In other words, even if an inquiry is made to the credit reporting agency about you, you will be notified immediately. This is very helpful to you when you are fighting identity theft and working to prevent your credit score from being damaged or harmed.
You may be wondering whether there is a charge to have a fraud alert placed on your credit report and your associated credit score. The fact is that the credit reporting agencies do not charge you anything for placing an alert on your credit report and your credit score.
There are identity protection agencies in business today that can assist you in undertaking these types of steps to protect your credit report and your credit score. These services do charge a fee for their assistance.
Finally, when it comes to the issue of identity theft, a fraud alert, your credit report and your credit score, you need to keep in mind that these alerts do not stay in place forever. Therefore, you need to make sure that you remain in contact with the credit reporting agency in order to keep the fraud alert in place for as long as is necessary. It is important that you do not release the fraud alert in a premature fashion.

Anonymous Internet Surfing – Tips To Help You Cloak Your IP Address And Protect Your Identity

Identity theft is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world and is especially potent in the United States. In 2006 there were 8 million reported identity thefts according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and again in 2007 according to the Javelin Survey. These thefts are classified in two ways: account takeover and application fraud.

In an account takeover, which is the most common, a thief will take an already-existing account such as a credit card or checking account and make purchases or cash withdrawals. In application fraud, the perpetrator uses identifying information (like Social Security numbers) to create new accounts. Of the two, the second type is the hardest to commit and the most difficult to detect.

So what are some ways to prevent identity theft? Well, most people would say that by not using your information online, you'll be safe. That's wrong, though. Online theft accounts for less than 12% of all identity thefts. Most of them occur offline. People fish credit card statements or receipts from the trash, they take photos of your card when you use it at the sales counter, they steal your wallet, etc. These are the most common ID thefts.

The three most common types of identity theft are credit card fraud (takeovers), phone or utilities fraud, and bank fraud. In all three cases, criminals get access to account information, impersonate the account owner, and then purchase items, withdraw money, or otherwise use the account. Credit card fraud makes up about 28% of all identity theft cases and is nearly 100% of the online fraud cases. The best way to prevent credit card fraud, short of closing all your credit accounts and shredding your cards, is to follow these rules when using your card:







Another of the good ways to prevent identity theft is to spend the money to buy a paper shredder. Seems like a cheap answer, but the majority of true identity thefts occur when the thief gets bills, unopened pre-approved credit card offers, check stubs, etc. from the trash. Shredded documents make it nearly impossible for the thief to steal easily.

When paying bills or accounts, do not put the outgoing mail into an unlocked curbside box, outgoing mail tray at work, or another place where it can be seen and stolen. Drop it in a blue Post Office (locked) box, at the Post Office, or in another secure mailbox. When you leave town for any reason, have the Post Office hold your mail until you return.

Another of the ways to prevent identity theft-especially full ID theft or application fraud-is to check your credit report regularly. You can request copies of your credit report once a year, for free, from all three credit bureaus. Make sure you do this and verify that all accounts and account creation attempts were authorized by you.

Finally, one of the ways ot prevent identity theft that is often overlooked is when you order new checks for your checking account. Rather than having them mailed to you, pick them up at the bank. Or have them sent to a secure box like a PO box or similar service. When they do arrive, count them to be sure they're all there. Glance through the numbers to make sure that "1001" doesn't lead to "1003." Clever thieves only need one check to copy!

I believe you are reading this article because you want to find out how best to go about anonymous internet surfing. The good news is that there are online applications specially designed for people who want to hide their tracks while they visit any site they like. These applications go by different names; with most of them referred to as anonymizers. These programs have become a part of our online security arrangements; especially when it comes to surfing anonymously. However, these programs have a slight problem; they are a bit limited in what they can be used for.
I am sure you want to find out if there are other options that can help you cloak your IP address without being exposed to any risk. These other options come in form of paid premium applications; and they can help you change your IP any time you go online. All you need is a one-time installation, and you can start visiting any website of your choice without letting anyone know where your ip is located.
Anonymizers or web-based servers are different from these applications not because they are sometimes free, but also because they are limited. They do not offer real-time online protection for you. Major financial institutions and online shops deploy HTTPS features on their websites; making difficult for free servers to access them. Using an anonymizer also restricts your chatting experience, reduce the time it takes you to access any web page, and even expose you to potentially harmful programs. Premium applications on the other hand provide round the clock protection, and give you more time to focus on other things on the internet.
Premium applications can be downloaded at highly secured websites at very affordable prices convenient for anyone. Also, available are trial versions of these programs that can be downloaded and used for a very limited period. Just visit one of the sites out there on the World Wide Web and download a free copy to have a feel of how it works before going for an unlimited version.
However, if you want to change your ip using a web-server, the choice is up to you, but make sure you limit it to casual online activities like; sending and receiving electronic mails, chatting, and searching for information on the internet.
is the best way to keep hackers at bay, and do whatever you want online without exposing yourself to unnecessary risks.

Using A LifeLock Command Center Review When Your Credit Is On The Line

Identity theft is spreading at an alarming rate. It seems like databases all over are being compromised and sensitive information is being stolen. Just about any database that stores sensitive information can be entered by unauthorized individuals. Large attacks include student loan databases and credit card companies. Anywhere that you leave your credit card information can be a potential danger.

Identity theft is not just limited to credit cards. Medical data theft is on the rise also. Utilities can be started with stolen information. Someone could have an account number and just enough information to convince a customer service rep to give them more information.

Here are some steps to discourage Identity Theft:

1) Make a copy (front and back) of all ID cards, credit cards, and passports, etc., and put them in a secure place. Just in case anything happens, you will have a copy of these important documents for quick reference.

2) Do not to put down or leave your purse or wallet unattended when out in public. It takes a second for someone to quickly grab a purse or wallet and empty it of its valuable contents.

3) Sign up for a reputable credit monitoring and restoration service. This service is valuable because it will alert you whenever there is any activity on your credit report. This lets you keep an eye on activities that you trigger as well as any unauthorized activity.

4) Check bank accounts, credit cards, bills, and utilities, etc. as soon as your bill comes in for any suspicious or unauthorized activity. If your accounts are online, check more often because activity could occur while your statement is in the mail. It might be worth your time to check your credit card and bank accounts daily if possible.

5) Be sure to check for very small dollar amounts of suspicious activity. Sometimes small amounts are siphoned from accounts so they do not draw attention and the owner does not know what is going on. Over time, this could add up to a large sum of money.

6) If you can, use credit/debit cards not linked to your main bank account. This could minimize the loss of these were ever stolen because there would be a limit as to what amount is available.

7) Never ever throw away sensitive information (anything with bank account/credit card numbers, social security number, mother's maiden name, etc.) without shredding it first. Using a cross shredder is your best bet. WHY??? Your garbage is a goldmine of information for identity theft. You would be surprised what someone can use against you.

8) If you lose your credit/bank card, report it stolen right away. Do not give the ID thief a chance to charge anything.

9) Visit annualcreditreport.com for your free yearly credit report. You are entitled to a free credit report every year. Check carefully for anything that is inaccurate or suspicious.

10) Empty your mailbox as quickly as possible. Do not give anyone the opportunity to go through your mail and your personal documents. People also steal credit card applications and offers, activate them, and charge anything imaginable.

11) Protect your PIN numbers, ATM cards and bank/credit cards carefully. Make your passwords something that only you can remember but impossible for anyone else to guess. Change passwords every 3 months to be safe.

12) Do not give your Social Security Number or any other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call and know the person on the other line. Do not give sensitive information over the Internet unless the site is secure and the company is reputable.

These are only some of the ways to protect yourself from identity theft. You must be diligent in tracking your sensitive information. Take the time to compile a list of your personal information and keep it in a safe place. Protect yourself and your credit.

A person’s credit and good name are all that they have when it comes to their credit history. If the history is damaged, the credit is also affected. The result of this will cause a person’s credit to be damaged and the purchase of items on credit will become a problem. This is why a LifeLock Command Center Review will be important for a person to read and use in protecting their good name.
The company is very confident in the fact that they are able to provide a customer the peace of mind in knowing that their credit is secure and is not in danger of being damaged in any way. This can be a welcome sight for a person that has had their credit damaged in the past.
If you are not sure that the company stands behind their service, then watch television and watch the commercial with the owner that has his Social Security number on a truck going around town. This shows just how confident the company is about their services and the things that they offer a person.
In addition to this, they offer the one million dollar guarantee. They are so sure that their service will protect your information, that in the event of a breach, they will pay up to one million dollars in damages. This is a guarantee that many other companies may not be able to make when it comes to getting effective results. This guarantee will certainly provide a person with the confidence that they are well protected.
The company is happy to announce that they have not had to pay that many claims in the past because of their fine service. This is all due in the fact that they are serious about the protection of a subscriber. While many will balk at the fees that are charged, there is the defense that this is buying security for your credit report and insuring that no thief can steal your identity or use your good credit.
With round the clock monitoring, the odds of something slipping by are very slim. The staff is constantly being trained on new methods that are being used in trying to steal a person’s information. This makes the company that much more prepared for any attempts that are made and extremely proactive when it comes to protecting you.
When it matters the most, know that a person’s security is the most important parts of a persons life. Their credit is the most important thing that they have if they want to be able to make bit purchases. One false charge can ruin them and prevent them from realizing their dreams. This can often times lead to a person having to pay the price for a stolen identity.

Photo Canvas Prints – Rules of Protection and Care

In common parlance, stop and stop limit orders are known as "stop loss" orders because speculators use them to lock in profits from profitable trades.

A stop order automatically converts into a market order when a predetermined price is reached (this is referred to as the "stop price"). At that point, the ordinary rules of market orders apply; the order is guaranteed to be executed, you simply don't know the price - it may be higher or lower than the current price reported on the ticker symbol.

Trailing Stop Orders

One way to protect gains and limit losses automatically is by placing a trailing stop order. With a trailing stop order, you set a stop price as either a spread in points or a percentage of current market value.

Imagine you purchased 500 shares of Hershey Chocolate at $50 per share; the current price is $57. You want to lock-in at least $5 of the per share profit you've made but wish to continue holding the stock, hoping to benefit from any further increases. To meet your objective, you could place a trailing stop order with a stop value of $2 per share.

In practical terms, here's what happens: Your order will sit on your broker's books and automatically adjust upwards as the price of Hershey's common stock increases. At the time your trailing stop order was placed, your broker knows to sell HSY if the price falls below $55 ($57 current market price - $2 trailing stop loss = $55 sale price). Imagine Hershey increases steadily to $62 per share; now, your trailing stop order has automatically kept pace and will guarantee at least a $60 sale price ($62 current stock price - $2 trailing stop value = $60 per share sale price). In other words, the trailing stop order will increase in your favor and lock in any gains you've made in the interim. If Hershey were to fall to $60, your trailing stop order would convert to a market order for execution, your shares would be sold, and should result in a capital gain of $10 per share.

Trailing stops, a form of stop loss orders, can also protect a profit and, if you're clever, follow a stock's rising price. Let me explain.

First, a quick review. A stop order placed with your broker is a way to protect yourself from a loss, should the stock fall. The stop loss order tells your broker to sell the stock when, and if, the stock falls to a certain price.

When the stock hits this price, the stop loss order becomes a market order. A market order instructs your broker to sell immediately at the best possible price. In a volatile market, you may not get the price you wanted, but it should be close.

Protect Your Profits

That's how you protect yourself from a bad loss. Now, here's how you use the stop loss order to protect your profit on a stock that's rising.

There are two ways to enter a stop order. You can enter a dollar amount, for example if your stock is selling at $40 per share, you might enter a stop order for $37.50 per share. When the stock price drops to $37.50, it trips the stop order and the broker sells it.

However, what if you were fortunate enough to (through careful research) to have a growth stock that was rising on a fairly steady basis? Let me set up a scenario.

You bought the stock two years ago for $25 per share and it has grown 23% each year and is now pushing $38 per share. When you can stop patting yourself on the back, you began to get a little nervous that this run of growth might be coming to an end.

Trailing Stop

Using our example, the trailing stop would kick in at $34.20 per share ($38 x 10% = $3.80; $38 - $3.80 = $34.20).

If the stock keeps moving up, so will the trailing stop. For example:

At $39 per share, the trailing stop is $35.51

At $40 per share, the trailing stop is $36.00

At $41 per share, the trailing stop is $36.90

At $42 per share, the trailing stop is $37.80

As long as the stock keeps rising or holds relatively steady, nothing happens. However, if it turns south and hits your trailing stop, your broker sells and you pocket your profit. It is important to note, the trailing stop only goes up, it never goes down with a market price.

The trick is setting the percentage at a level that will pick up a true price drop as opposed to normal daily price fluctuations.

Several trading techniques use trailing stops. This example is a simple strategy to protect your profit. More advanced traders use it in combination with other maneuvers to extend their advantage. However, this strategy works just fine for beginning to intermediate investors who want to protect a profit, but let a winner run as long as possible.

Understanding Stop Loss Orders

How Stop Loss Orders can Protect You

When the bottom falls out of your favorite stock's price a stop order on file with your broker can help ease the pain.

A stop loss order instructs your broker to sell when the price hits a certain point. The purpose of the stop is obvious - you want to get out of the stock before it falls any farther.

A stop loss order works like this: You tell your broker you want a stop loss order at a certain price on the stock. When, and if, the stock hits that price, your stop order becomes a market order, which means your broker sells the stock at the best market price available immediately.

Setting a Stop

If the stock is trading at $30 per share and normally doesn't fluctuate more than $1-$2, then a stop loss order at $26.50 might be reasonable.

A good example of how investors could use the stop order was when Merck, the pharmaceutical giant, pulled its blockbuster arthritis drug Vioxx off the market. Studies linked usage of the popular drug to an increased likelihood of heart attacks and stroke.

As soon as Merck made the announcement, its stock began dropping like a rock because investors knew how much the company was counting on profits from the drug.

Wiped Out

By the end of the day, the stock was down almost 27% or over $11 - wiping out billions in value of the company.

The stock opened around $45 the day of the announcement. If you had a stop loss order in for $40, it would have triggered very soon after the announcement.

When the market hit your $40 price, your stop loss order became a market order, meaning your broker sold the stock at the best current price. That may not have been $40.

A fast-moving market may go past your target before your broker can fill your order. The good news is you probably want out of a plunging stock at the best price you can get and will take what you can get.

You can also use stop loss orders to lock in profits keeping these things in mind:

Be careful where you set your stop points. If a stock normally fluctuates 3-5 points, you don't want to set your stop too close to that range or it will sell the stock on a normal downswing.

Stop loss orders take the emotion out of a sell decision by setting a floor on the downside.

If you plan to be out of touch from the market, on vacation for instance, put stop loss orders in so you have some protection against an unexpected disaster.

Stop orders don't guarantee against losses. When disaster strikes a stock, it may fall so fast the best you can hope for is to come out close to you price.

Stop loss orders are great insurance policies that cost you nothing and can save a fortune. Unless you plan to hold a stock forever, you should consider using them to protect yourself.

So, we are going to discuss some other interesting and significant points about canvas art and especially how to take care of canvases, keep them and clean.
You will have undoubtedly invested all your love, power, time, money and energy into the creation of this piece of canvas art, it needs to serve you for some years as a bright and vivid memory, placed in an obvious position it will bring enjoyment by often relating to you some nice and pleasant moments of our lives. So, once you have this lovely canvas, here are some simple tips on how to take care of it in order for your canvas to remain nice and beautiful.
First of all, think about colour fading, depending on what inks and fabric are used, you must place the canvas in the right place. Try and keep it in a place away from the direct sunlight. Of course, every company will ensure you that their inks are everlasting, but you must know that reality this is a reality as everything fades whether sooner or later. If the inks are really qualitative, then they will serve for longer period of time. But to be safe and sure, find a nice location in your home or workplace where there is enough light to show off the canvas, but is suitably away from direct sunlight. In this case you will have an opportunity to enjoy your canvas for longer.
Another good point to remember, as we have mentioned above is the material on which the canvas is made of, as is often crafted on a wood frame. Both fabric and wood are receptive to moisture and heat. So, mind these factors when you are looking for a suitable place for canvas in your flat. Do not place is near or directly above a heating system, oven, fire-place and the like. Also avoid placing them into bathroom, on the balcony, terrace where rain or moisture drops or any other kind of water can reach them.
If you are changing the interior of your place and have taken the decision to keep canvases in a storage area while you decorate make sure the particular conditions are good that there is enough space for it, not too hot, wet, humid or cold. So, if it is attic of basement, check all circumstances, be safe not sorry.
Regarding cleaning, may I give you a piece of advice to do it in a traditional way. Thus, dusting with a feather duster is the best way to fresh canvas photo prints. It allows you to remove all accumulated dust from the surface. By the way, the canvas can be protected by framing it into glass. Thus you can escape any dust gathering. Or, if you are careful the use of modern sprays will help to protect your canvas and keep it bright and fresh. So, here are just simple step to protect
from aging and influence of time.

Military Stationed Overseas – Protect Your Identity

Dogs That Do

If your pet's coat is short or thin or when a dog has medium length hair but spends most of his days indoors preventing him from developing his own thicker winter layer of fur a jacket is highly recommended. If you have a double coated dog but have had him shaved down during the winter months chances are a jacket will be needed eventually as shaving the double coat actually damages the wooly layer which causes it to come in patches if at all. Then of course, there is the aged dog. No matter the hair type his circulation is slowed and leaves him vulnerable to unnecessary discomfort.

Dogs That Don't

The breeds that are naturally double coated (thick wooly undercoat and a long slicker guard coat) don't necessarily need the extra protection. As a matter of fact, with the double coated dogs a jacket can serve to prevent the warm wooly protective layer from coming in properly thus leaving them more susceptible to colder temperatures. If your pup is indoors all day just slipping out for a quick potty then a coat is entirely optional. Perhaps you have the young athletic canine that runs and runs when outdoors; if so clothing may be more of a hindrance.

Style vs Weather vs Age

Ultimately, choosing a jacket for your dog should be much like the outer wear you'd choose for yourself, your child or your aged parents.

When its raining: a rain coat or something made of a water-resistant or waterproof fabric unless you own a water-loving dog like a Labrador retriever. If it's a chilly, wet day something with an insulated layer under the shell.

When it's snowing: choose a heavier insulation with a weather-resistant outer shell like a parka, a puffy down, wool or fur-lined barn coat. The older the dog the heavier the jacket should be.

When its windy: I always prefer some sort of wind-resistant shell. When it is cold and windy I like to throw on something with some insulation under that shell.

When it is simply a cold or chilly day: a weather-resistant shell is not necessary. A nice warm sweater, polar fleece or wool jacket will be adequate.

A vest is good for the active dog as it is not as likely to snag on branches or other protruding objects while allowing some ventilation to maintain a comfortable body temp without sweating.

When your pooch is going to be outdoors for and extended period of time be sure to account for the activity level, the less activity the more jacket needed. Always consider the body conditions of your pet as well. If Fido is tubby then he has a bit more of that insulating factor going on than the geriatric grandparent who is of slow circulation and movement therefore producing less natural body heat.

Conclusion

Being outdoors can be a fun positive experience as long as everyone is dressed properly for the weather conditions. Today clothing makers are extremely knowledgeable and the materials at hand are the latest in studied fabrics to battle whatever climate you and your pet live in.

We all know if you serve in the military you agree to take certain risks. But did you know if you are stationed over seas, especially over a year, you are more susceptible to Identity Theft? A lawyer, Douglas Aaron, says,” Military are often targeted more by criminals for identity theft because they are often out of the country for long periods of time.” These criminals who steal peoples personal information don’t like to be shut down. When the thief obtains your information they get access to your social security number, your full name and birthday.
They will then start opening many lines of new credit. Criminals can apply for personal loans, rack up thousands of dollars in unsecured debt. Some criminals are going as far as adding a photo ID to apply for bank or car loans. Either way, who wants to come home to piles of bills you had no idea about. It is frustrating for these victims to purchase something with their credit only to realize that it is now very messed up. To make matters worse, do you know how long it can take fix this?
In decent cases it can take several months. In more difficult instances it can take up to a year or possibly longer to repair this horrible crime. A North Carolina resident said:” I served my country for two years, overseas. This was not the type of homecoming I was expecting.” ” I had to prove in court that I did not make $7,000 in telephone phone bills to Greece.” “I have wasted so much time, just to get my own identity back!”
The sad thing is most of these issues could be avoided to begin with. If you are stationed over seas more than a year or just plan on being out of the country, monitor it in America. At the very least you should check it once a year. If you take the time to monitor your credit, dispute errors and take pride in your score, you will be paid off! Avoiding identity theft is the best, but even if you can catch it early you will save precious time and needed money.
The bottom line is if you don’t know what your score is, how will you know if errors occurred or if someone is stealing your identity? The economic stress we are feeling is one more reason you should keep a close eye on your identity and credit status.

Provide Protection to Your Business Against the Raids of Identity Thieves

We are living in the information age today but one of the drawbacks of easily accessible data is that your personal information may be just lying out there waiting to be snatched by identity thieves. Identity theft has grown to be pervasive and is now one of the dominant white collar crimes today.

The Federal Trade Commission reports that identity theft is the largest consumer complaint and the fastest growing crime in America. In 2007, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that identity theft affected 9.91 million Americans. In addition, there are probably many more cases that went unreported. Identity theft has accounted for $52,600,000,000 in losses in 2007. Most identity theft victims never know their identity has been stolen until they get phone calls and letters from collections agencies or even the IRS telling them they owe money.

ID theft victims usually experience that fixing the problem can be a nightmare. On average, victims spend up to 600 hours and thousand of dollars in expenses just to prove they are innocent. Worse, contrary to judicial practice, most creditors consider the ID theft victim guilty until they prove otherwise.

The problem is that many people do not take ID theft seriously and do not take the necessary ID theft protective measures. There are many precautionary measures you must do in order to protect yourself from ID theft. The first thing you should do is to check your credit reports at least once a year from all three credit bureaus in order to make sure you do not have accounts you do not know about. The major credit reporting agencies include Equifax, Experian Information Solutions and TransUnion.

In addition, you should shred or burn papers with credit card or bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, etc. These documents may fall to unscrupulous individuals and the personal information might be used to commit ID theft. You should also avoid putting your Social Security number on anything, unless it is legally required. Some checks have the issuers Social Security number on them and some drivers license routinely use Social Security number. This is a big mistake. You should check with the local DMV and bank to see if they offer another option.

In today's information age, physically stealing mail and papers is not the only way to get information.One of the disturbing trends that identity thieves use is phishing. This is a criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive financial and personal information by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Phishing uses spam, email or pop-up messages to deceive Internet users into disclosing credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security numbers, passwords, and other sensitive information. These e-mails appear to come from a legitimate company, usually a financial institution or credit card issuer, urging you to immediately reply with personal information so your account is not deactivated.

Vigilance is the key to ID theft protection. Always file a police report promptly after discovering ID theft as you will need it in disputing fraudulent charges.

Identity theft is growing very fast affecting every business in US.  If you are a business owner, you will collect important information about your employees and your customers.  If you are not careful in protecting such details, identity thieves may capture them.  Such theft may lead to serious consequences as the financial life of your customers and employees is at risk.
There is a new law introduced to make businesses responsible for security of personal details of employees and customers.  If a business (or business owner) fails to take reasonable precautions to protect this data, it may be prosecuted for civil as well as of criminal offenses.
Due to such hard consequences, it is critical for small businesses to protect this strategic data.  I will suggest the following security measures for any business –
1.    Make it a routine to shred all documents which are to be discarded.  You should never allow a single document to go directly in the garbage bin.  There will be thieves outside searching garbage bins.  There may also be unhappy employees searching around for such opportunity.
If you feel shading is a hassle, and then you can employ some agency which can provide these services.  They visit regularly your office and offer you scheduled shredding sessions.  Their staff is fully trained and they are all insured.
If your business is very small, you should buy one shredder for your use.  The expenditure on a shredder is not a waste.
2.    Shredding alone will not provide you complete security. You should also use advance security software using encryption.  All the sensitive information about your employees and your customers should be kept on computers which are secured by passwords, firewalls and security software.  Remember, routine information of employees like their social security numbers is a very valuable piece of information to the thieves.
3.    After employing successfully a security system, you should not feel that you have done everything to secure your data. You should make assessment of your security system frequently to find out loopholes or breaches.  Even a routine checking of the system can provide you clues from where the security may be compromised.
4.    You should always use on-line banking for your business transactions.  If all the financial transactions are done on-line leaving no paper trail, the possibility of sensitive information going into wrong hands is reduced considerably.
5.    For payroll services, it is advisable to employ outside agency.  This simple step can prevent numerous possibilities of identity theft.  The payroll agencies will take care of necessary aspects of payroll like distribution of benefits and retirement accounts.
6.    Check regularly the credit report of your business. You should do credit checks on Employer Identification Number (EIN). Just like any other individual, you should ensure that there is no misuse of your business credit by someone else.  In fact the frequency of checking credit report for your business should be more than an individual. 
One in 16 businesses in the US is affected by identity theft every year.  You work hard for the prosperity of your business.  Just a small neglect on the security aspect should not pose a serious threat to the existence of your business.