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How to Minimize the Risk of Identity Theft

What are the most causes of Identity Theft?

When someone obtains your personal information – name, address, phone numbers, e-mail address, birthdate, social security numbers, driver’s license, credit cards.

While it is impossible to totally eliminate the risk of identity theft, here are some helpful tips on how to minimize the risk.

What about the Equifax Data Breach?

Call each of the three major credit companies and freeze your credit file.

Equifax  800 685-1111  Experian 888 397-3742  TransUnion 888-909-8872

Income Tax Fraud

Do not send your social security number by text message or e-mail. Respond to IRS requests received by mail only. File early. Send all tax reports and checks by certified mail.

Shopping

Use only credit cards when shopping. Credit card charges can be challenged. Do not use debit cards. On the Internet, make sure that the site begins with https.  Do not store credit card information with retailers. Remember the data breaches with well known retailers such as Target.

Traveling

Beware of free public wi-fi networks in hotels, coffee shops, airports, public parks, etc. Do not access sensitive sites such as your bank, financial institutions, and online purchasing sites requiring password information.  I use a private internet access service which provides the privacy you need in these public places. CLICK HERE to read more about VPN services.

Protect Your Computer

Update all anti-virus and malware programs. Download and install program updates as requested. Ignore phone call warnings about your computers. Hang up immediately. Delete popups warnings about viruses from unknown sources. Delete e-mails from banks and shopping sites asking to update personal info. Never respond to any requests for personal information over the Internet. To learn more about “phishing,” CLICK HERE. I would avoid requests such as “please rate my site or performance and winning a trip.”

Mobile Phones.

Password protect your phone. Do not include lists of personal information or passwords on your mobile phone. Do not download mobile apps from unknown sources or third parties.

Do Not Call Registry

The Do Not Call Registry accepts registrations from both cell phones and land lines. To register by telephone, call 1-888-382-1222. You must call from the phone number that you want to register. To register online (donotcall.gov), you will have to respond to a confirmation email.

What to do if you are a victim of Identity Theft

Call your bank and cancel your ATM/debit card

Call your credit card companies and report your card has been stolen

Report your missing driver’s license to your local DMV and get a new one

File a police report

Call the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, Transunion) and have a fraud alert placed on your account

Debt collectors – Tell them you are a victim and provide them with documentation

Tax time is almost upon us, and each year, I rebroadcast an interview I conducted on my radio show with Steve Weisman, a lawyer, college professor, author and one of the country’s leading experts in cybersecurity, identity theft and scams. His website, www.scamicide.com, is updated daily and is one of the most comprehensive sites in the field of cybersecurity,

Below is a link to my interview with Steve on the subject of income tax fraud.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have You Recently Left Corporate Life?

What You Need to Know

  • Have you recently left corporate life either by choice or the result of downsizing?
  • Do you have the right tools for your job search?
  • Do you have the most cost effective system for your home office?
  • Are you an effective “Road Warrior?” Does your technology support your mobile needs?
  • Since you no longer have a support desk, do you have someone to help you with maintenance issues?
  • What about security issues, backup, and a disaster plan?

Setting up a Home Office

  • Equipment selection
  • Software
  • Services
  • Maintenance and security

On the Road – Mobile Needs

  • Laptops
  • Internet access
  • Smartphones and tablets
  • Minimizing communication costs
  • Online services (cloud computing)
  • Maintenance and security

Need help making the right decisions regarding your tech requirements for home and on the road? Contact me either by phone 917 921-4518 or by e-mail at jblue@bluetutor.com for a free consultation.

 

 

Do You Need Help With Tech?

The Wall Street Journal reports that seniors are relying too heavily on their children to solve their technology problems.  “Older adults are wising up to how iPads, smartphones and fitness trackers can improve their lives. But a key to conquering fears and thriving with new technology is knowing where to get help that won’t run out of patience.”

Writes Geoffrey A. Fowler,  “Click what?” “Plug where?” Asking your offspring for tech support is… just asking for it. Their responses, often accompanied by an eye roll: “Why is that so hard?” or “I already showed you!”

If you need tech support , find help from people who are technically sound and most important, patient.

To read the complete article from the WSJ, CLICK HERE

Why You Need a VPN (Virtual Private Network)

Your internet connection may not be as safe as you’d like to think. If you’re connected to a public Wi-Fi network (coffee shops like Starbucks, hotels, airports, public parks, etc.), it’s possible that another person on the same network could be sneaking a look at your internet traffic.

Your iPhone or Android mobile device can’t protect your data as it travels the internet. Using a VPN keeps your information safe and private, even when you’re connected through an insecure Wi-Fi hotspot.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a network technology that creates a secure network connection over a public network such as the Internet.

To read a complete review from PCMag of all the best VPNs for your mobile phones, click HERE.

What You Need to Know About The New Unlimited Data Plans

US wireless customers (Verizon. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile) have released a range of “unlimited” plan choices. This is the latest in an outgoing price war that has been raging for years.

Before you start evaluating which plan will save you the most money, remember that you must determine which provider offers the best service in your area.  Are you frequently getting disconnected in the middle of a call?  How is the voice quality of the calls?  Quality and Coverage, not price, are the primary factors in picking a cell provider.

Click Here to read my blog on How to Select a Cell Phone Provider.

Having overcome quality and coverage concerns, which plan is the best? Although the basics for each carrier are similar, there are different trade-offs.

Click Here to read more.

 

 

How to Safely Access The Internet On The Road

VPNYou probably take for granted that no one else is able to see when you are using the Internet.  A Virtual Privste Network (VPN) allows you to create a secure connection as a shield for your browsing activity from others on public Wi-Fi, and more.  VPN is a technology that creates an encrypted connection over a less secure network. An example is an unsecured Wi-Fi network that is used by hotels, airport terminals, hotels, coffee shops, and other free Wi-Fi areas.

The protection provided by a VPN offers many advantages. It prevents anyone on the same Wi-Fi hotspot (or anywhere else) from intercepting your Web traffic. This is especially handy for travelers and for those using a public Wi-Fi network. VPNs also cloak your computer’s actual IP address, making it harder for advertisers (or spies and hackers) to track you online

Over 100 million Americans have their personal information placed at risk of identity theft every year. One of the major reasons of identity fraud is a result of entering personal information such as user names and passwords, credit cards purchases on unsecured Wi-Fi locations.

Click here to read more

 

Can You Hear Me Phone Scam

The scam involves an automated call that asks “Can you hear me” and when the person receiving the call indicates “yes,” the response is recorded and used to authorize unwanted charges on your phone bill through cramming or other accounts.

Never respond with an affirmative declaration, such as “yes” to any automated call or telemarketer.

If you want to avoid such telemarketing calls, you can do so by going to www.donotcall.gov/, and enroll in the Do-Not-Call List

Are you getting “Robocalls” on your cell phone?  Robocalls are phone calls with prerecorded messages. To can avoid robocalls by enrolling in nomorobo, which cuts off robocalls after one ring.  You can enroll at www.nomorobo.com/

To read the entire article on Steve Weisman’s Spamacide site, CLICK HERE
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It’s Tax Time Again – How to Minimize the Risk of Tax Fraud

It’s tax time again. Income tax identity theft is a major problem. According to the IRS, “Tax-refund fraud is expected to soar again this tax season, and hit a whopping $21 billion. Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams and fake IRS communication.

The most common way income tax fraud occurs is when a thief files an income tax return using a victim’s Social Security number, along with a counterfeit W-2, indicating that a large refund is due.

It is important to note that the IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by phone, email, text messages or social media channels requesting personal or financial information. The IRS also does not threaten taxpayers with lawsuits, imprisonment or other enforcement action.

The simplest way to reduce the risk of income tax fraud is by filing your income tax return as early as possible. If you file early, your tax refund will most likely be processed before the IRS receives the fraudulent return.

Below is an audio file of an interview I had last year on my BlogTalkRadio program with Steve Weisman, a lawyer, writer, college professor, and one of the country’s leading experts in scams and identity theft. In the interview, we discuss how to reduce the risk of tax fraud and the steps you can take to minimize identity theft. I encourage you to take a few minutes to listen to the broadcast.

BlogTalkRadio 1

How to Minimize Your Communication Costs When Abroad

globePlanning an overseas trip and want to be able to keep in touch with family, friends, and business associates back in the US without incurring large telephone and texting charges? Having an “international” smartphone doesn’t mean you can automatically use it to make and receive calls as if you were still at home. Just last week I received a call from a client who was appalled that he received a bill from his mobile phone carrier for $1200 after returning from a ten day trip to Europe.

I have written many times that it’s impossible to recommend a computer, program, and service that fits all. The same is true regarding a communication plan. Here’s a list of some of the things that must be considered before selecting the best strategy to manage your communication costs.

– Do you have an international phone?

– Where will you be traveling to?

– How long will you be away?

– What will be your primary means of communication (phone, text, e-mail)?

– How important will it be for you to access information (using your data plan) such as news, social networking, etc.?

– Will your hotel/residence have Internet access, and is there a cost for it?

– Will you have access to wi-fi?

I have written a number of times about the different ways of using your phone overseas at no cost.  I have suggested you look at Viber, WhatsAppMagicJack, and Skype. All have the ability to communicate for free from anywhere you can access the Internet through a wireless connection.

With many smartphones, you can purchase a simcard in many countries that will fit in the side of your phone, allowing you to use a local number; thereby, reducing the cost of each call. 

However, each of the major mobile phone providers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile) offer international plans that, for a fee, will substantially reduce, and in several cases, let you use your phone as if you were in the US. For example, for either a daily or monthly fee, Verizon Wireless lets you use your phone in many parts of the world as if you were still home.

Below is a list of the major mobile providers. Click on your provider, and you will be able to review the different plans available to you.

Verizon International Calling Plans

AT&T International Calling Plans

Sprint International Calling Plans

T-Mobile International Calling Plans

Keep in mind, the plan you select is based on where you will be travelling, the length  of your trip, and the availability of wi-fi.

Lastly, you can always rent an international phone here in the US from a company such as Cellhire.

The important think to remember is there is no need to be out of touch or pay exorbitant prices while travelling abroad.

 

 

 

Child Off to College This Fall? What You Should Know

As a parent, do you have the basic computer skills to maintain contact with your college student? Does your technology support your efforts, and do you have the most cost efficient systems in place?

The following are some points that you should be thinking about before the move-in date:

– Will you need to upgrade either your equipment or services?

– How do you determine your child’s equipment needs while in college?

– Does the cell phone provider that you use at home (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc.) have a strong network at your child’s school?

– What can you do to keep your communication costs down?

– What are the most cost efficient ways to stay in communication with your child in college?

– How do you keep in contact with your child who is studying abroad without incurring large telephone charges?

– Has your child’s school granted you online access to key school resources?

– Does your child know how to reach you 24/7?

The chances are that your child may be more up-to-date on the latest technology than you. It is important that you discuss a strategy to communicate in a cost efficient manner.  If your child is studying thousands of miles away, or perhaps in any country, you do not want to incur telephone charges that approach the cost of tuition!

Most universities no longer provide phones in their dorms.  The use of cell phones and other mobile technology tools has significantly enhanced our ability to maintain our relationships with our children in college.  Are you prepared?

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