Focus on Fraud

If it's "too good to be true," 
it probably is!

        Never give out your credit card numbers, bank account numbers, or your Social Security Number to anyone who has called or emailed you purporting to "need" this information. Typically, these scammers pose as bankers, representatives of charitable organizations, even government agents; their legitimate counterparts will never ask you to provide this information over the phone or in email.

        Beware of "sure thing" investment opportunities, or persons asking that you front "good faith" money or provide bank account information for money transfers; the only money transferred will be yours, into the crook's pocket.

        Be especially wary of door-to-door or telephone sales people who use high-pressure tactics. Demand written estimates and time to review all contracts prior to signing. Anything you don't fully understand should be reviewed by a trusted third party before you sign.

        Always request written information from purported charitable or civic organizations soliciting money; the legitimate ones will gladly send it to you. Before donating to an unfamiliar organization, check it out with your state charitable review board.

        Be alert to health-related scams; quick cures, miracle drugs, and unsolicited "drug discount cards" are all worthy of suspicion. Contact your medical professional for advice before buying.

Protect yourself from Identity Theft

        Identity theft is the illegal use of your personal financial information. This can occur in a wide variety of ways: theft of a credit card; obtaining credit card information from your mailbox or trash; or using a false pretext to obtain the information from you by telephone or over the internet. Protect yourself by only carrying the most necessary identification (not your Social Security Card!) and treating your debit and credit cards like cash. Pick up your mail promptly, and do not use an unsecured mailbox for your outgoing bills. Shred financial documents before recycling them or throwing them away. Monitor your online accounts and credit information regularly and immediately report any irregularities.

        Keep your online activities secure by installing protective software on your computer and scanning regularly. Keep this software and your operation system up to date. Choose passwords and PINs that are difficult for others to guess, and always log off from sites where you are using personal financial information. Delete any suspicious email without opening it, and open attachments only if you trust them and know the sender.

        Be alert to these "red flags" indicating possible identity theft: Credit card bills or bank statements don't arrive as expected or contain unauthorized charges or debits; you're unexpectedly denied credit; you receive credit card statements or cards for which you did not apply; or you receive correspondence regarding purchases you did not make. You should contact your financial institutions and credit card companies immediately, and check your credit report for any irregularities.

You work hard all your life to make a good living and maintain a good credit rating. Good credit ratings require a lot of due diligence on your part. Then suddenly, someone steals your credit card and ruins everything you've worked for including your hard-earned reputation. 

Many people have debit and credit cards, yet have no idea who to call if any of them turns up missing. We know we should call the credit card company immediately, but what's the phone number and of course, you guessed it, what is the account number? It's on the card and the card is lost or stolen!

The best way to avoid this situation is to:

#1 - have a secure place to store your credit and debit cards when not being used, and

#2 - have a record of the debit and credit cards including all identifying information in which to converse with the card company. Keep this valuable information in a safe and secure place.

So what kind of record should you create? 
Here are some suggestions:

Type of card: Debit or credit              

Card company: Master, Visa, American Express, etc.

Account number: 
1111 2222 3333 4444

Expiration date: 

Number to call if lost or stolen: 

Repeat this information for every card you have.

About Your Debit and Credit Cards
by Bob Naffier
More recently I received a message from a major drugstore chain about passwords. The company is always interested in their customers' security, especially if they do business online. The list of companies who have become concerned is increasing. And they all have come up with ideas and suggestions for you, their customers. Here are 5 tips for password strength. 

1) Keep it long - at least 10 characters
2) Use a combination of numbers and upper and lower case letters
3) Avoid using exact words like those found in dictionaries
4) Avoid names or other words associated with you
5) Use different passwords for different sites

I know you're thinking, "What a hassle," but I guarantee that all of these are useful suggestions and they may save you a ton of problems down the road. Remember, everything starts with you. Simply go to your accounts and memberships and change your password. Then, don't forget to write them down and store them in a safe place. And please, do not store your password information on your computer. Such information is easy to get for those with crime on their mind. Be safe!

-This just received from a major drugstore chain- Suggestions you can follow
They say, honesty is always the best policy. You've heard those words how many times and you would like to believe that everyone is as honest as you are. But don't be fooled. You've heard about those unsavory individuals who are willing to "crack the system" as they call it, by using their computer to find and steal your information for personal gain. Rather than risking a chance of getting caught robbing a bank, they sit in the comfort of their home, at their computer and work to breach your system. To them this is a contest to see how much they can get without ever stepping out the door. You hear about this all the time on the news. Innocent and trusting people fall victim to the criminal activities of others. 

Because these thefts happen so often, law enforcement authorities are working day and night to find ways to catch these thieves. The problem is that the thieves use the system to point the authorities in the wrong direction so that it is virtually impossible to find them. Being able to remain undetected provides them with more motivation to keep it up. Ultimately, the only way you can protect yourself is to thwart their every attempt. What are they looking for? The answer is, they're looking for your security weaknesses. It's your responsibility to find those weaknesses before they do and shore them up immediately. In actual home burglaries, the thief will pass up a strongly secured house to find one with the doors left wide open. The same thing happens here. So, make note. Here are some steps you can take. Please understand that these suggestions are coming from a variety of sources who know what they're talking about. 
Cybersecurity has become a very serious issue, more now than ever. Not to throw a scare into anyone, but I would like to say that many of the recent computer attacks you've heard about have put people on high alert. Certainly the problem has caught the attention of Microsoft Corporation, the U.S. Government, governments from around the world, all healthcare providers, the banking industry, insurance companies, retail stores, and you name it. These businesses, governments and organizations have gathered together to find ways to address the problem. For example, on June 9, 2017, Microsoft Corporation will be holding a webinar. A webinar allows people to call in and participate in a meeting or training program that is held at some other location. The webinar is being held because most firms assume compromise of IT (Information Technology) systems to be inevitable. Microsoft's goal is to sit down and talk about what happens in the critical moments after Microsoft IR teams engage with a customer under cyberattack. While no customer names will be revealed, the insights shared will reflect real world engagements and experiences. Likewise, the United States Government has something called US-CERT, or Unites States Computer Emergency Readiness Team. This team recently released a short overview of the WannaCry ransomware infections. This is where the criminal puts a computer lock on corporate information and will not unlock it until they receive demanded ransom money. The US_CERT has produced a fact sheet that provides information on how the WannaCry computer program spreads, what users should do if they have been infected, and how to protect against similar attacks in the future. The US-CERT strives for a safer, stronger Internet for all Americans by responding to major incidents, analyzing threats, and exchanging critical cybersecurity information with trusted partners around the world. Anyone in the business of Information Technology would certainly love to be the one to come up with the right solution. Whoever does will likely become very rich, which is why cybercriminals need to take heed. We have an incentive to move forward and believe me, we also have the right people with the right aptitude and experience to figure this out. When that happens, I think "surprise" will be the order of the day for all cyberspace criminals when they get caught.

In the meantime, I recommend to our readers that you review the articles that follow and make your own decisions about your own security. Our goal is not to frighten anyone, but to instill the need to be protective of one's self. Best of luck to you and may you always be safe!
by Bob Naffier