Online security!

How To Keep Your Personal And Professional Information Safe Online

Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives. As such, we often get comfortable using it and forget that the more it evolves, the more cybercrimes (such as identity theft) will affect our personal security. If you don’t take steps to protect yourself now, you’ll only become a target. Here are some tips on how to keep yourself safe online.

Understand ID theft.

Identity theft is a cybercrime that involves using your personal information to create bank accounts or other legal agreements in your name. Unfortunately, as Mark Medley of ID Theft Resolutions found out the hard way back in 2001, it’s exponentially difficult to recover from this type of violation. Once you understand what it is, you will be in a better position to prevent or react to it in the future.

Know your resources.

Although many states have now enacted ID theft protections, these may not be available immediately. Keeping yourself safe is important, especially when you’re a small business owner and have many people relying on your good name for a job. Take the time to get to know the resources available to you so that you were not skipping out on valuable information or training because of cost or lack of time. Keep in mind that protecting your small business means teaching your employees how to protect themselves from phishing and other scams.

Update your software.

As hackers continue to grow better at their job, so do software developers and app makers. But to combat threats, you need to ensure that your PC and all of its installed apps update automatically.

Stop playing online games.

Determining your cute elf name or what job suits your face the best is all in good fun on your end. But as Snopes and countless law enforcement agencies across the country have warned before, these innocent quizzes are often cleverly-designed to social-engineering scams used to dig for personal information.

Create a strong password (and change it often).

Your password is supposed to be the key that opens up your online world. But like a key to your front door, they are easy to steal — particularly if you do not take the time to create a strong one. This should include at least 15 characters and incorporate numbers, letters, and different cases. You should also change your password often. Remember, it is easier than ever for criminals to hack your password using everything from custom-designed apps to free password cracking tools that are easily available online.

Take precautions when using public Wi-Fi.

Public Wi-Fi is a godsend for people who work remotely or that need to keep up with their friends and family on the go. It is an appealing amenity offered by hotels, coffee shops, and even retail stores. But public Wi-Fi is not without its risks, according to Kaspersky, a US-based adaptive security technology company. The company suggests, among other things, utilizing a VPN and SSL connections if you must browse the internet away from your home network.

The above is certainly not everything you need to know about online security and how to protect yourself from identity theft. But for those of you that are not familiar with the risks, it’s a good start. Remember, the more you know, the more proactive you can be in keeping yourself, your family, and your business safe from the dangers floating around on the World Wide Web.

ID Theft Resolutions can help you protect your sensitive information online or take back your life after ID theft. Contact ID Theft Resolutions today for more information and insight or to schedule your family check-up.

By: Carla Lopez

IRS Launches Identity Theft Central!

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Internal Revenue Service this week launched Identity Theft Central, designed to improve online access to information on identity theft and data security protection for taxpayers, tax professionals and businesses.

Located on, Identity Theft Central is available 24/7 at It is a resource on how to report identity theft, how taxpayers can protect themselves against phishing, online scams and more.

Improving awareness and outreach are hallmarks of initiatives to combat identity theft coordinated by the IRS, state tax agencies and the nation’s tax industry, all working in partnership under the Security Summit banner.

Since 2015, the Security Summit partners have made substantial progress in the fight against tax-related identity theft. But thieves are still constantly looking for ways to steal the identities of individuals, tax professionals and businesses in order to file fraudulent tax returns for refunds.READ:  Police Looking for Two Men After Carjacking at Exton Square Mall

The partnership has taken a number of steps to help educate and improve protections for taxpayers, tax professionals and businesses. As part of this effort, the IRS has redesigned the information into a new, streamlined page − Identity Theft Central − to help people get information they need on ID theft, scams and schemes.

From this special page, people can get specific information including:

  • Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft, including what to do if someone becomes a victim of identity theft
  • Identity Theft Information for Tax Professionals, including knowing responsibilities under the law
  • Identity Theft Information for Businesses, including how to recognize the signs of identity theft

The page also features videos on key topics that can be used by taxpayers or partner groups. The new page includes a video message from IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, warning signs for phishing email scams – a common tactic used for identity theft – and steps for people to protect their computer and phone.READ:  Police Look to Identify Suspect in Retail Theft at Sephora

Tax professionals and others may want to bookmark Identity Theft Central and check their specific guidance periodically for updates.

This is part of an ongoing effort by the IRS to share identity theft-related information with the public. The IRS continues to look for ways to raise awareness and improve education and products related to identity theft for taxpayers and the tax professional community.

Source: Internal Revenue Service

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ID theft protections won’t be immediate


Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

By: Ellen Marks, Albuquerque Journal

Sunday, January 12, 2020

One provision of New Mexico’s new and controversial expungement law gives victims of identity theft a new avenue when someone uses their name to commit a crime.

Victims whose identity has been stolen and whose names have been used when a criminal is arrested or booked into jail can now seek to have those false records expunged.

However, a local expert cautions that there are lots of “loose ends” and unanswered questions about the new law, and it might take some time before a petition for expungement is approved by a court order.

Mark Medley, head of ID Theft Resolutions in Albuquerque, recommends victims continue to immediately pursue a special “V endorsement” on their driver’s license under the state’s existing Identity Theft Passport program.

The endorsement shows law enforcement officers that someone they pull over is a victim of identity theft in case a background check pulls up crimes that were committed in their name. Victims’ names are entered into a state ID theft database, which is accessible only to law enforcement and the state’s Motor Vehicle Division.

And it takes only a couple of weeks, according to Medley’s website.

“That way, you’re protected until your records actually get expunged,” he says.

To seek expungement of arrest and court records, identity theft victims must file a petition with district court and provide information, such as details of the arrest and the case number in which they were falsely named.

Petition forms and other information can be found at expungement-forms.aspx.

Unlike other types of expungement requests that require a waiting period, ID theft victims can seek a court order at any time.

“It (the new law) is important because it finally gives the victims of identity theft an avenue where they can get their record cleared, especially in criminal identity theft when someone steals a person’s wallet and uses their identity when arrested,” Medley says.

Medley knows all about it. His wallet was stolen at a Summerfest event nearly 20 years ago and his identity was used by someone picked up on unrelated felony charges the next day. He spent years trying to clear his name.

A few years ago, he thought his troubles were over until he went to his usual polling place to vote. After numerous times of trouble-free voting, he was told his name had been deleted from the voter rolls — yet another mess he had to clear up.

Identity theft is a crime with a very long lifespan.

Identity Thieves Targeting More Gas Stations With Skimmers

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) – Authorities have issued a warning for drivers in Highlands Ranch after crooks put credit card skimmers on gas station pumps.

“Well they’re at it again,” said Robyn Otero, one of a growing number of identity theft victims in Highlands Ranch. “All my friends. It’s kind of what happens nowadays. It’s just, that’s the way it goes,” she told CBS4’s Tom Mustin.

Over the past few weeks, several residents have reported having their credit cards numbers stolen through so-called skimmers set up at gas station pumps throughout the area.

The crooks hit Otero for $200.

“It was the next day and I noticed it. It was right after the transaction that I had done, so that’s how I knew it was the gas station,” she said.

The skimmers are usually placed over the credit card swiping area. The device reads every card swiped and records personal information. In Otero’s case it was well hidden.

“I paid at the pump. I didn’t notice anything artificial or anything,” she said.

highlands ranch skimmers 6map Identity Thieves Targeting More Gas Stations With Skimmers

Recent victims have been reported at the Shell stations on Broadway and Highlands Ranch Parkway, and Wildcat Reserve Parkway and McArthur Ranch Road. The sheriff’s office says because not all pumps have been converted, even credit cards with chips are not immune.

“They’re sneaky. As technology has increased, their technology has increased as well,” said Otero.

An example of a skimmer (credit: Lafayette Police Department)
An example of a skimmer (credit: Lafayette Police Department)
She says after being targeted once, she no longer pays for gas outside.

“Credit cards and debit cards are just not as secure. Definitely pay inside. Even when it’s snow and cold and you’re feeling lazy.”

And as deputies search for the elusive criminals, Otero has some words of advice for her fellow neighbors.

“Just pay in cash. They can’t get you that way.”

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office says they have no suspect information. They do have some tips to avoid becoming a victim:

– Pay cash
– Use the credit card at the register and not at the pump
– Before using the unit at the pump, give it a quick tug or shake it. The bad guys just use double sided tape of glue to attach the bad skimmer to the pumps so that they can easily remove the skimmer when they are done.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Tom Mustin is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor. He has been with CBS4 since 2002, and is always looking for great story ideas. Connect with Tom on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @TomCBS4.

What Identity Thieves Do With Stolen Credit Cards


The convenience of modern digital commerce comes with an unfortunate side effect: it makes identity theft more convenient as well. The 2016 Identity Fraud study from Javelin Strategy and Research found that 13.1 million consumers in the U.S. were victims of identity theft during 2015, to the tune of $15 billion. Over the last six years of available data, the identity theft totals have reached approximately $112 billion.

In the end, the fraud affects you and your creditors and card issuers directly, but your stolen card information can generate multiple transactions before you even see a dime of losses. Identity thieves can choose to sell your credit card information to others instead of using it for their own purposes.

If your credit card information is stolen as part of a large breach, it’s more likely that your identity and information will be sold at least once as part of a package deal. Along the path to fraudulent purchases your card will be valued based on such factors as whether it is proven to be active (typically with small purchases that may go unnoticed) and whether other information is included — such as passwords, Social Security numbers, and birthdates that make it easier to open new lines of credit in your name.

Once your card information ends up in the hands of the final “user,” the fraudulent action can take many forms. The thief may make a duplicate card, choose to open up fraudulent accounts in your name, or simply use your existing card to buy items that can be resold for cash. Common purchases include expensive items such as jewelry or high-end electronics that are lucrative to resell, gift cards that may be easily cashed in with retailers, online shopping sprees — even items that would be considered “costs of doing business” such as website and server expenses.

You probably do not care much about which thieves (or how many) take advantage of your stolen information or how they monetize it; you just want to minimize the damage and prevent further losses. That requires a mix of corrective and preventative action.

If thieves have already made fraudulent purchases on your account or opened new accounts in your name, you must take immediate action. Call your card issuer immediately to have your current account closed and a new card reissued, and file the police reports and other paperwork necessary for your fraud protection.

Use the MoneyTips credit monitoring service to check your credit report for any fraudulent accounts that have been opened in your name, and contact the credit issuer(s) to close any accounts. Apply either a fraud alert (requiring creditors to verify your identity before issuing new credit) or a credit freeze (blocking most access to your credit report) to lessen the chances of more fraudulent accounts being opened in your name.

If you have not had any problems with stolen credit cards or identity theft, count your blessings — and take preventative action to keep your good fortune intact. Use strong passwords and do not repeat passwords for each site. Make sure that online purchases are made through legitimate and secure websites, and do not give your credit card information over non-secure public computers or unsecured wireless systems. Check your credit card statement regularly for any fraudulent purchases, no matter how small.

Still unsettled about identity theft? Consider using services that monitor your account activity and alert you to unusual activity.

Take proper actions to protect your credit, and hopefully you will never have to find out firsthand what happens when your credit is compromised — and if you do end up with compromised credit, know what actions to take to limit the damage. Make sure that thieves get the lowest return possible on their efforts.

If you would like to prevent identity theft, check out our credit monitoring service.

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Can I change my Social Security number?

Can I change my Social Security number?

We can assign a different number only if:

  • Sequential numbers assigned to members of the same family are causing problems;
  • More than one person is assigned or using the same number;
  • A victim of identity theft continues to be disadvantaged by using the original number;
  • There is a situation of harassment, abuse or life endangerment; or
  • An individual has religious or cultural objections to certain numbers or digits in the original number. (We require written documentation in support of the objection from a religious group with which the number holder has an established relationship.)

When we assign a different Social Security number, we do not destroy the original number. We cross-refer the new number with the original number to make sure the person receives credit for all earnings under both numbers.

People who want to ask for a new Social Security number must:

  • Apply in person at a Social Security office;
  • Complete an application;
  • Provide a statement explaining the reasons for needing a new number;
  • Provide current, credible, third-party evidence documenting the reasons for needing a new number; and
  • Provide original documents establishing:
    • U.S. citizenship or work-authorized immigration status;
    • Age;
    • Identity; and
    • Evidence of a legal name change, if appropriate.

For more information about changing your Social Security number in domestic violence cases, see New Numbers For Domestic Violence Victims.

To request a different Social Security number, contact your local Social Security office for an in-person appointment.