Identity Theft vs. Identity Fraud: Is There a Difference?

Identity Theft vs. Identity Fraud: Is There a Difference?

Crime is always going to exist. Some criminals suffer the consequences of their actions, but some don’t. Despite the laws that the authorities try to enforce, criminals find ways to break them without being caught red handed.

Identity theft is on the rise. Criminals waiting to steal your personal information can easily do so via the Internet as more and more users make financial transactions online and manage their bank accounts on the Internet. Identity theft and identify fraud may seem like the same concept, but there is a difference.

Identity theft occurs when thieves access your personal information, such as your driver’s license, social security number, address, and name to impersonate you. When thieves get access to all of your personal information, stealing your identity is easy.

Once a criminal has your personal information, they can open new accounts under your name. This is called true accounts identity theft. Criminals can also access money in your existing accounts—this is called account takeover.

Identity theft is very serious. Criminals have open access to your money and can destroy your credit rating and financial future. Support groups and the authorities can help individuals who are the unsuspecting victims of this crime.

When a criminal creates fake personal information it’s called identity fraud. When referring to identity fraud, the criminal does not steal personal information or assume a real person’s identity. They use the personal information of a fictitious person. This fake person serves as a mask to commit crimes.

The criminal can make various financial transactions at different banking and credit institutions using this fictional identity. Anyone can be affected especially if they unknowingly made a financial deal with the criminal.

Identity theft and identity fraud are serious crimes. The best way to ensure that you don’t become a victim of these crimes is prevention. Keep your personal information safe and conduct background checks if you suspect that the individual may not be using his or her real identity. Most of all, keep your guard up and be aware at all times.

Securing Mobile Data

Securing Mobile Data

Securing Mobile Data

Securing your mobile data is extremely important as more corporate data is being communicated via email and mobile applications on mobile devices. Traditional security models don’t perform when considering mobile devices. The IT departments in many organizations can’t simply install applications or programs without permission first. Securing your data involves more than just control and command from one place.

1. Ensure Visibility

The ability to get access to emails on mobile devices, such as iPhones and iPads usually requires turning on ActiveSync. But this means that anyone can get onto your network. Different mobile platforms offer different capabilities for security and control. Find out who is accessing your network and how they are doing so. Once you do, then you can implement control policies and block access based on hardware type, OS version, or compliance status. If you do use ActiveSync, match it with the right tools to ensure optimal network security.

2. Do the Basics

Your mobile device management and security technology should be able to handle a number of different security functions. The requirements that you need are remote lock and wipe, password policy, encryption monitoring, jailbreak and root detection, and device restrictions (e.g., password spoofers).

3. Create Clear Policies and Communicate With Staff

Regardless of whether a mobile device is owned or used by the staff or company for work purposes, there will be both corporate and personal information on each mobile device. Ensure that you communicate any and all data security policies to your employees. Consider how to decide what gets stored or archived on company servers and what gets removed if the policies are violated. Another area to keep in mind is privacy and accessibility. Everyone should be familiar with what IT tracks, monitors, and archives.

4. Ensure That You Secure Everything

Secure more than just your email. Make sure that you can see all of the applications that your staff uses and that you can remove any applications that may be a security threat.

5. Stay Flexible

Try to keep up with new devices that are being introduced to the market.  New OS releases will have new features and functionality, which means that there will be new mobile applications and data to secure. Update your security policies as new technologies emerge to secure your mobile data.

How to Evaluate Your Web Browser’s Security Settings

How to Evaluate Your Web Browser’s Security Settings


Increasing the security settings in your web browser could prevent your computer from being attacked by viruses or unwanted hackers.

Your web browser is your main connection to the rest of the Internet, multiple applications may rely on your browser, or elements within your browser to function. This makes the security settings within your browser very important.

Many web applications try to enable various types of functionality, but it may leave your computer vulnerable to attacks. Disable most of these features and enable the functionality temporarily if you think the site is trustworthy.

Remember to familiarize yourself with your browser’s security options and settings. Every browser allows you to adjust security levels, so it’s a good idea to understand how to change your settings and to be knowledgeable of certain terms.

If you use Internet Explorer as your default web browser, you can find your settings by:

  1. Clicking Tools on your menu bar
  2. Selecting Internet Options
  3. Choosing Security tab
  4. Clicking Custom Level

In Firefox, you can access your settings by:

  1. Clicking Tools on the menu bar
  2. Selecting Options
  3. Clicking the Content, Privacy, and Security tabs

To keep your computer safe, your security settings should be at the highest level possible. But this may prevent some sites from loading or functioning properly. Keep your security settings high, but only enable certain features when you need to.

Your web browser may give you the option of putting websites into different segments, or zones, and allow you to define different security restrictions for each zone. The Internet is the general zone for all public websites. The local intranet is a safe zone, but be aware of the settings on the sites that are listed.

Trusted sites are an optional zone, but may be useful if you or your business maintains multiple websites. Even if you trust these sites, apply the highest security levels to external sites. It’s in your best interest to avoid visiting sites that are restricted or that make you question if they’re safe. Visiting sites that use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) in this zone allows you to verify that the site you are visiting is what it claims to be.

Some websites use web scripts, such as JavaScript to achieve a certain appearance or functionality, but these scripts may be used in attacks. Java, ActiveX controls, and Plug-ins are used to provide some functionality, but they may put your computer at risk. Before installing them, ensure that they are necessary and that the site you download them from is trustworthy.

Disabling cookies and blocking pop-up windows in your settings are also simple, yet effective ways to protect and secure your computer.

Copy Machines Are a Serious Security Risk

Man Looking Inside Photocopier

Warehouses worldwide hold thousands of used copy machines ready to be sold to unknown buyers. Nearly every copy machine that has been built since 2002 contains a hard drive similar to the one on your computer.

Your copy machine stores images of every document that you scan, email, and copy. Personal information, such as your Social Insurance Number, birth certificate, bank records and income tax forms can be found on your copy machine. This is the kind of information that identity thieves thrive on.

Retrieving images and information from copy machines is easy with a bit of computer knowledge. Too easy. Once you purchase a used machine for about $300 and turn it on, you can find out where it’s from, how many copies and prints are stored on it, and what it was used for.

It takes about 30 minutes to remove a hard drive from a copy machine. You can access thousands of documents in less than 12 hours. All you have to do is download free forensic software programs on the Internet and run a scan.

The industry fails to inform people of the potential risks of copy machines. According to a 2008 Sharp survey, 60% of Americans are unaware about the security risks of copy machines.

Some major manufacturers offer security or encryption packages on their products. There is a Sharp copy machine that automatically erases images from the hard drive, it costs $500 to install this device but most businesses are reluctant to pay for it.

Remember that your copy machine is actually a computer. If your copy machine is ready to be sold, clean up your hard drive and destroy it. This will keep your personal information safe from identity thieves. There are many low cost and free programs available to securely delete files and folders (don’t trust the Recycle Bin) and also completely wipe a hard drive when you are done with it. E.g. WipeDrive, DBAN, Eraser, SDelete, Freeraser.

Do you always wipe your data?

What You Should Do If Your Identity is Stolen

What You Should Do If Your Identity is Stolen

You may know how to prevent identity theft from happening to you, but do you know what you should do if it does happen? There are some important steps that you should follow if your identity is stolen.

Contact your local national credit bureaus (Equifax Canada or TransUnion Canada) to place a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert is vital since it requires companies to verify your identity before issuing a line of credit and prevent thieves from opening new accounts under your name.

If your thief opened new accounts, contact your creditors and notify them of the fraudulent activity. They will close your accounts and ask you to complete a fraud affidavit. Your creditors will also tell you how long your thief has been operating under your identity and how much of your money was stolen.

Next, contact your local police department and file a report. A detective will be assigned to your case and ask where the charges occurred, how much money was spent, and how your identity was stolen (e.g. Internet, lost wallet).

It’s in your best interest to change all of your passwords that you use online because your thief may have accessed your personal details through your password-protected accounts. Try to use a different password for each of your accounts and avoid saving your passwords on your computer.

Visit your local registry agent office in person to get a new driver’s license if you have lost your wallet or if you suspect that someone is using your driver’s license. Even if you just renewed your license, you need to take a new picture and pay all of the regular fees.

Remember to record all of the important details relating to your case, such as the names of creditors, companies, employers, and detectives. Fraud affidavits may require your detective’s name and the case number. You should also write down the date, time, and a short summary of any discussions. Keep this information in a safe place until your case is closed.

What You Should Never Share on Your Social Networking Site

What You Should Never Share on Your Social Networking Site

Almost everyone is on at least one popular social networking site, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Myspace. These social networking sites provide you with an easy way to share all the details of your life on the Internet.

Posting pictures of your friends and family is questionable, depending on the nature of them. What you want to avoid is sharing the kind of personal information that may result in having your insurance canceled, or even worse yet, placing your home at risk of a break-in.

Avoid sharing your birth date and place on your social networking site. These small, simple details may seem harmless, but they could provide identity thieves with a way to access your social insurance number and apply for credit in your name.

Announcing your vacation plans on the Internet is an invitation for thieves to break into your home. Try not to let your excitement of going on holiday get in the way of common sense. Only your close friends and family should know about your travel plans.

Providing your full home address online is another way for thieves to potentially break into your home. Remember to leave out any personal information that gives away where you live and when not home. If you do need to provide your contact details, sharing your email address is your safest bet.

Negative opinions about your job or boss are best kept well away from your social networking site. Posting a malicious comment or lie that relates to your professional career could result in some serious consequences, such as losing your job and damaging your professional reputation.

Some online accounts ask you to supply answers to specific security questions before you log into your account. Avoid providing your answers to these security questions on your social networking site because cyber thieves could use this information to hack into your account.

Sharing your love of high-risk activities that may include driving motorcycles, hand gliding or car racing is something that you shouldn’t boast about on your social networking site. Life insurance companies, as well as other insurers, are searching personal websites to determine how much of a risk their clients are. They also raise their rates according to what they find about you online.