With threat of data breaches,
5 tips to shop secure this holiday season

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Last year during the holiday season, Target suffered its notorious data breach exposing the personal information of over 70 million victims. At the time, it was the largest data breach we had seen yet.   Since the Target data breach, we’ve seen major retailers including Neiman Marcus, Kmart and Home Depot face a similar fate. Even just a few days ago, the US Postal Service announced1 a data breach that may have affected over 800,000 employees and a not-yet-disclosed number of customers.   What do all of these data breaches mean to you? So far, over 78 million identity records2 have been exposed — things like credit card numbers, email addresses and Social Security numbers of innocent victims. If you’re information was exposed, the impact could be minimal or … [Read more...]

Word on the web: Prepare to shop!

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  Holiday shopping season is here! Unfortunately, this is also the season of broken budgets, dwindled savings accounts, data breaches and identity theft. We should be enjoying the festivities instead of wallowing in anxiety over the best way to cross off every item on your shopping list. To help you shop smart this season, we’ve rounded up some of the best blogs on the web about data breaches, holiday shopping and more.   5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Credit Card Data Breaches Hackers steal and use all types of identity information including email addresses, passwords, Social Security numbers and more.  But the easiest piece of information for hackers to leverage immediately is credit card numbers. Learn how to protect your accounts with these 5 steps from Wise … [Read more...]

FICO, President Obama and the future of consumer protection

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  Friday morning was a momentous day for FICO—and for American consumers. President Obama arrived at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Friday to sign an executive order to improve consumer protection and identity theft prevention. The initiative is called the BuySecure program.   FICO was an active participant in this event, and we are honored to be able to contribute to the program.   Millions of Americans have fallen victim to data breaches in the last year as a result of weak security systems. Because of this, the President has decided to take action. Before signing the executive order, President Obama explained, “we've all experienced the benefits of new technologies that let us buy and sell things faster and more efficiently than ever before. … [Read more...]

The Home Depot Data Breach: 3 Things You Can Do Now to Protect Yourself

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As you have probably heard, Home Depot announced that their payment systems have been hacked, resulting in what might be one of the biggest data breaches yet. Between Target, Neiman Marcus, Goodwill and now this, it seems that hackers aren’t losing any speed nor audacity.   If the rise in breaches and identity theft hasn’t gotten your attention yet, it should. Every time you hear of a major data breach at a place where you shop, you should be taking steps to protect yourself. Here are three ways you can take action now.     1. Request a new credit card If you regularly use your credit card, it’s time to request another one. The service is usually free and this simple step can save you the pain of fraud resolution. Just make sure you have a backup payment method … [Read more...]

Are you the ideal target for identity theft?

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  One of the biggest misconceptions about identity theft is that identity thieves only target rich people with high FICO® Scores who do careless things like lose a credit card. This mentality results in a lot of people thinking they would never be targeted by an identity thief. But the truth is, identity thieves have a variety of motives that ultimately result in a payout. What’s worse, they have a long list of ways they can steal your information.   In short, you don’t have to be rich and careless to be valuable to an identity thief. So who exactly is an identity thief targeting? Good question. Here are 5 types of identity theft victims.   The social butterfly How did we all survive before social media? You love logging in to your social channels, making … [Read more...]

Identity theft protection vs. credit monitoring: Which one is best?

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You have one noble goal: don’t become a victim of fraud. But what’s the best way to protect yourself? The most popular forms of protection fall into two categories: credit monitoring and identity theft protection. There’s a lot of debate about which type of service can protect you best. Here’s what you need to know about both.   Credit Monitoring One of your biggest concerns is probably how fraud and identity theft could impact your credit and thus ability to get a good loan. Credit monitoring is a great protection option, as you’ll be able to stay on top of suspicious changes to your credit reports—changes that could signify fraud.   PROS:   Most credit monitoring services scan your credit reports for changes at least weekly (FICO monitoring products … [Read more...]

PII at Risk Part 2: Why Your Phone Number is Valuable to Hackers

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Last time we met, I explained why your email account is valuable to hackers—what value it has and how it could be used to gain access to more of your coveted personally identifiable information (PII) than you might think.   But it’s not just your email that hackers want; they want your phone number, too. Cell phone numbers are particularly valuable, as they have become the modern-day equivalent of your wallet. Your mobile device contains valuable information like your contacts list (a great way to get a list of your friends—future identity theft targets), affinity account and reward numbers  (frequent flyer miles have value that thieves can cash in on), web history, and other equally valuable information. Using your phone number, two tactics are then commonly deployed. Let’s see … [Read more...]

PII at Risk Part 1: Why Your Email Account is Valuable to Hackers

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Identity is a funny thing. I used to think I knew exactly what it was made of—Social Security number, date of birth, and first and last name. Period. But then came the Internet and the notion of identity began to change and evolve along with the latest technology. Now I’m also known by my Twitter handle, Facebook name, and even my Xbox gamertag. Increasingly, in an online world, people know not only my name, but also my email address.   The miscreants of the “dark web” (anonymous, virtually untraceable global networks used by criminals) are looking for email addresses to harvest. Why? Because they make money selling consumer’s online credentials—usernames and passwords to online accounts for companies like iTunes, Groupon, dell, overstock, Walmart, BestBuy, etc[i]. These login … [Read more...]

The real-life effects of data breaches and identity theft

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Due to what feels like a constant flow of data breach announcements, the threat of identity theft has become common knowledge. We hear of personal information being stolen or exposed, but how that stolen information is used remains somewhat of a mystery unless you’ve actually experienced it. So let’s take a minute to imagine what it would really be like to become a victim of identity theft. Here are three scenarios.   1. Your favorite store gets hacked Hundreds of businesses are affected by data breaches every year, and these data breaches can expose your personal information. The real victim is the consumers, not the businesses themselves. Only a few weeks ago EBay suffered a data breach affecting its millions of consumers. It appears the hackers didn’t get any financial … [Read more...]

Medical Data Breaches: Why Your Doctor Might Need a Check Up

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Think about the last time you went to the doctor’s office. Did you fill out a form with your Social Security number (SSN)? Were you prescribed any medicine? Did you disclose past allergic reactions?     Now think about what an identity thief could do with that kind of information. There’s a myriad of options, which is one of the reasons why medical identity theft impacted almost half (43%) of all identity theft victims in 2013. To get your information, an identity thief might hack your doctor’s digital filing system, find records leaked on file-sharing sites by an employee, or simply steal your doctor’s laptop. No matter how the data breach occurs, you’re left cleaning up a potentially life threatening mess. Here are just three potential … [Read more...]

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