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 you.re 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.


Protecting Your Digital Life

Protecting Your Digital Life

Protecting Your Digital Life

Backing up your important documents is something you should do regularly. But you should also do the same for your digital life. Your files are never completely safe and secure on your computer because there are many unforeseeable problems that can happen, such as hard drive failure, virus attacks, theft, or damage from a flood or fire.

Photographs of your family or travelling adventures, important camcorder footage, and your music collection all make up your entire digital life. By simply backing up your files, your digital life will stay protected. It’s important to remember to backup your files regularly, regardless of how you do it. There are reliable methods you can use to store your files safely and securely.

External drives that range in capacity from 250 gigabytes to 2 terabytes are good to use if you have a lot of large files, such as high-definition camcorder footage or all those priceless family pictures on your digital camera. Connect your hard drive to the USB port on your computer or laptop, and drag and drop your files over to your hard drive. Remember to keep your hard drive separate from your computer in a safe, dry place.

Try to purchase an external drive that automatically backs up your files on a set day and time every week. That way, you know that your files are backed up frequently.

Another great way to protect your digital life is backing up your files onto recordable discs that can store up to 4.7 gigabytes of data for a single-layer DVD or 8.5 gigabytes for a dual-layer.  The latest computers already have a DVD burner built-in, making it easy to transfer files onto a disc or DVD. To prevent damage and scratches, keep your discs in a case or spindle and it is recommended to keep these offsite in a secure location.

Small USB thumb-drives can also be used to backup your digital life. If you have a lot of files, purchase one that is the maximum capacity of at least  gigabytes. You can take your USB thumb-drive everywhere with you and it fits easily into your USB port on your computer. Note that there is a reason that some USB drives cost more than others as some are faster.

Online backup services keep your files away from your computer on a password-protected website. In the event of a fire or flood, your digital life is stored securely. Plus, you can access your files anywhere; all you need is an Internet-connected device usually with just a web browser. Microsoft’s Windows Live SkyDrive is a free online backup service that offers 25 gigabytes of free storage. Other great sites such as idrive.com and mozy.com both offer 2 gigabytes for free and have great software you can install which can do automatic scheduled backups.


Things You Should Do To Protect Against Identity Theft

Things You Should Do To Protect Against Identity Theft

Identity theft is considered to be one of the fastest growing crimes. Here are some things you should do to help protect yourself.

  • Check your mail often
  • Don’t just throw it out, it could contain personal information
  • Shred, shred, shred (bills, receipts, statements…)
  • Protect your social insurance number
  • Limit what you carry in your wallet and keep a list
  • Log off / lock your computer
  • Lock your home at all times
  • Keep sensitive documents safe
  • Double check yur bills and statements
  • Check credit report regularly
  • Limit number of credit cards
  • Use a credit card with a small limit for online purchases
Identity Theft

Identity Theft

What else do you suggest?


Do You Own a Laptop? Treat it like your wallet!

Do You Own a Laptop? Treat it like your wallet!
  • Most thefts occur from cars. Many people just want to quickly go in to a store on their way from work. Hiding the laptop from sight doesn’t provide much safety, especially if you place it in the trunk upon arriving which gives the thief visual confirmation of the prize.
  • If your laptop bag is too heavy to carry with you, get a lighter one. There are many different styles available now, many are padded and comfortable to wear on your back like a backpack or shoulder strap. I have seen that Best Buy tends to carry a large selection.
  • Encrypt your files or entire laptop hard drive. Stolen laptops are typically destined for a quick resale which means that your unencrypted files could end up anywhere.
  • Regular backups will help ensure quicker recovery.
  • Treat your laptop as you would your own wallet.
Stolen laptop

Laptop Security


Permanent Digital Footprints and Private Data

Permanent Digital Footprints and Private Data

Digital Fingers
I am always surprised at how trusting people are with confidential and “private” data. They send attachments by email, they chat and post updates/pictures through their facebook/blogs/twitter accounts. And yet people are shocked when they hear about identity theft. You are shocked when someone knows your name, birthday, what you look like, what your kids look like, and how much your last raise was at work along with the particulars of the big deal you just closed.

It is very simple actually. We are all leaving a “digital footprint” in everything we do online and on our computers. Just because you delete something doesn’t mean it is gone. I was on the news a few years ago doing an “experiment”. We took 4 computers from the eco depot and I was able to recover data from every one of them including a copy of someone’s will, list of their stocks/jewellery and combination to their safe. This computer had already been “recycled” twice since the original owner gave it away.

While discussing network security with a good colleague of mine, he pointed me to yet another interesting site, pipl.com – go ahead and search your name, you may be in for a surprise on what this digs up about you. Sure enough there are even some newsgroup postings I had made back in the 90s that are showing up along with different projects I have been involved with. Quite enlightening. And there is no way for me to “delete” them, they are out there, probably many copies of the information being archived on different servers.

But I digress…

The reason for this this update was to remind and/or increase awareness of something called the US Patriot Act. Why should you care? This is a topic I think about often and bring up when conducting audits of individual and corporate networks. Any data that is routed through the US opens the possibility that it can be intercepted by US authorities. No longer do they require a warrant but now can do it quite simply with something similar to an administrative subpoena called a national security letter. Along with this goes a gag order such that the custodian of the information/data that is being examined/requested is not allowed to tell anyone that this demand has been made.

Many people use Facebook/Twitter which have data that reside on US based servers. How about where your website is located? Does your website have a private database, do you maintain information about your clients? How about something as simple as gmail/yahoo/hotmail/msn/googledocs/etc Did you know that everything could have already been examined without your knowledge?

Perhaps this is not a big deal for individuals but it is certainly very serious for organizations.

Many clients don’t even know where their data is being stored! We also find that many companies that provide website and email hosting, or even IT support services, make use of reselling other services offered online typically from these very large hosting providers (typically located in the US). Offsite backups, email accounts, databases, etc all could be stored on a US based server without your knowledge and you thought you were dealing with a local company.

The US Patriot Act was passed by US Congress following the 911 terrorist attacks. Canada also enacted a legislative response called the Anti-terroism Act.

I would caution you to educate yourselves regarding where is your data stored and transmitted, are there privacy concerns that should be investigated and addressed, and ensure you aren’t violating any laws (such as the privacy act).