Detecting a phishing scam
I have developed what I believe to be a comprehensive list of information about Phishing scams and how do avoid them. Phishing, summed up and simply put, is hackers creating alerts and emails for unsuspecting victims in order to gain personal information from them such as insurance numbers, social security numbers, billing information, correct spelling of name, birthdates, etc. The information once acquired by the hacker can then be sold to third parties, used for fraud, and even worse, identity theft. With the world becoming every day more digital, consumers are spending more time online than not. There is potential danger behind every click. With this simple list of things for which to look, one will be better equipped in detecting, avoiding, and reporting any phishing scam he may encounter in his inbox.
Below are some ideas of what to look for to spot a phishing scam:
Subject line of email implies user information is outdated
* Subject line suggests user information or financial information needs to be manually updated.
* Incorrect addresses, name spelled incorrectly
* Unknown email address that mysteriously makes it to you inbox
* Email is addressed to multiple recipients
* Phishing scams rarely know the real names of consumers and often use general greetings
* Dear Customer,
* Information will imply that use information is mandatory and must be inserted
* “This procedure is obligatory for all users of eBay.”
* Hyperlinks in emails should always be distrusted
Your browser may not support display of this image.
* Notice how the hyperlink ends in .dll.
* This is a sign that the URL is temporary and automatically generated
* Containing raw IP address is a large indicator of a phishing scam
No offer of additional information
o If the email ends abruptly with no option to gather contact information or there is no FAQ link, then odds are it is a scam
Detection guide for those who suspect they may have been victims of Identity theft
1. Go to https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp to request your one-a-year free credit report.
2. In the ‘Start Here’ box enter your state and click ‘Request Report’
3. Enter your name, date of birth, social security number (there is an option to just show the last four digits on your report if you so desire), current address, previous address if you’ve moved in the last two years.
4. Choose one of the 3 companies companies (TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax). This paper will use Equifax. Click next.
5. Click continue.
6. Click ‘remove’ (It is underlined and in blue), otherwise you’ll be charged a fee (it’s a bit tricksy). It should now say Equifax credit file: Free
7. If you want to review your score for the next month click ‘yes’ to the first bullet and then fill in the information to make a new account (e-mail, password, username, and security question).
8. Click ‘I opt out’ to prevent other sources from seeing your score, and click ‘I accept’ to say that you accept the terms and conditions.
9. You will go to a new page where you can click ‘view and print your online report’
10. Here you will see your credit report.
11. If you see any accounts, debts, credit cards, mortgages, etc. on your report that you have not signed up for then you may have been a victim of identity theft. For more credible information from a governmental source see http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers/detect.html
Guide for ordering an identity theft deterring credit report for a child
1. Everyone is entitled to a free credit report every twelve months from the three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
2. If you suspect that your child’s identity has been stolen than it is a good idea to order a credit report as well as contacting law enforcement.
3. If you requiring a credit report for a child it is necessary to contact the reporting agencies directly because they do not knowingly keep credit files on minor children. To do this you must request the child’s report by mail.
4. Write a letter to any of the three credit reporting agencies and include the following:
a. Child’s complete name, address, and date of birth
b. A copy of the minor child's birth certificate and social security card.
c. A copy of your (parent or guardian) driver's license or other government-issued proof of your identity, which includes your current address, and a current utility bill containing your current home address
5. The addresses for the reporting agencies are:
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, Georgia 30374
P.O. Box 9532
Allen, Texas 75013
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
6. Send the letter Certified Return Receipt Mail.
5. Remember that the credit report from the agencies should turn up as your child having no credit report. If a report does come back for your child than they were probably a victim of identity theft.
6. Some useful website about credit reports include
a. http://www.idtheftcenter.org/artman2/publish/v_templates/Letter_Form_120.shtml :This site contains an example letter requesting a child’s credit report.
b. https://www.annualcreditreport.com : This site describes what a credit report is and what to do if you feel your identity has been used fraudulently.
Guide for repairing your identity when your identity has been stolen.
1. Take a deep breath. It’s better to act than to react.
2. Limit sharing of personal information.
Note to tell all banks, brokers, credit card and check bureaus, department stores and any other business that you contact that you want to opt out of any programs that share personal information.
3. As you go through the following steps, make sure you change all of your online passwords. Use new and different passwords for each account, and don’t save your passwords online or on your computer.
4. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports. This will prevent an identity thief from opening a new account with your information for 90 days. Contact any one of these three companies.
Equifax: 1-800-685-1111; www.equifax.com
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742); www.experian.com
TransUnion: 1-800-916-8800; www.transunion.com
5. When you file the fraud alert, also obtain copies of your credit reports.
6. Make an identity theft report and attach a fraudulent account statement. You have to prove to every company where fraudulentn accounts were opened or where accounts in your name were used that you didn’t create that debt. The information on the identity theft report and the fraudulent account statement enables companies to investigate the fraud.
7. Close unauthorized bank accounts and report any stolen checks.
8. Call companies for any information that can help you prove your identity theft. They can help give you an idea about how long the fraud has been happening and how much has been charged to your name. This information can help you find out about when and where the theft happened.
9. Close any accounts that you think or know have been fraudulently opened or tampered with.
10. Call all your other creditors and inform them of the theft.
11. Step 11. Report stolen ATM, debit, prepaid, gas station, phone, department store, or any other cards. Remember to get a new ATM card, account number, and password. Contact any companies with which you hve debit cards immediately to let them know about he theft. Calling cards, department store credit cards, and other cards used for rewards or benefits all need to be canceled or changed. Check with all companies to make sure that your card has not been used and that any personal information is safe.
12. Contact the social security administration. Even if your social security card wasn’t stolen, the theft can find your social security number by other means with the information they have. Social security administration: 1-800-772-1213 7am-7pm Monday-Friday. Order a copy of your social security statement to validate that your earnings are correct. Order a new card if yours was stolen.
13. Notify the U.S. Department of state of any lost or stolen passports.
U.S. Department of State
Consular Lost/Stolen Passport Section
1111 19th St NW Ste 500
Washington DC 20036
14. File a complaint with the FTC.
15. File a report with the local police or with the police where the theft took place.
16. Find all your bills; make sure none are missing. Check to see if they are accurate.
17. Be careful giving out information on the phone; it is safer to call the credit card company than to have them call you.
18. Start to block information on your credit report.
19. Stop businesses that may report information about you to a CRA.
20. Contest bills.
21. Be prepared to deal with false criminal and civil judgments. You could be wrongly accused of crimes of your thief.
22. Seek legal advice. Find a lawyer who specializes in consumer law, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Fair Credit Billing Act.
23. Secure all your personal information. Use a shredder for disposal of important documents.
24. Don’t miss anything! Be persistent, you may have to call companies multiple times to make sure they are doing what they say they will do. Also refer to sites such as the FTC ID theft site and the ID Theft center to make sure you didn’t miss doing anything. http://www.idtheftcenter.org/
25. Keep your head up! You can do this! The process might take years, but just be sure to keep all important documents for as long as possible to make the process easier and prevent it from happening again.
Guide for safely using ATM machines
1. Navigate to the website: http://www.scambusters.org/atmtheft.html
2. Listed at this website are the 5 most common ATM Scams
1. The Lebanese Loop- This is a technique scammers use to trap your card. Often it is a external devise attached to an ATM machine that holds onto your card and it can be as simple as some film glued to trap ATM cards. The scammer is often close enough to watch you inter your pin and once you realize your card will not eject, the victim goes into the bank to talk to someone. Meanwhile the scammer goes up to the machine removes the device, uses the pin and takes your money. Beware of the “good Samaritan” who comes up to offer you help and suggest to enter your pin a few times to “eject” the card.
2. Card Skimming- Card skimming is a scam that uses devices called “skimmers” which are attached alongside a machine and labeled ‘card cleaners’. These devices are able to capture your cards information. They are often small and inconspicuous which make them difficult to notice unless you’re looking for them. Never slide your card along a pad that is labeled “card cleaner” or “slide card here first”. They can be anywhere on the machine. A card skimmer can hold around 200 different card informations before the thief retrieves his device.
3. Shoulder Surfing, Fake PIN Pads, and Even Fake Machines- Shoulder surfing and video cameras are a great way for thief’s to get your pin number. Cameras can be mounted and hid behind different things, such as a brochure holder. With your pin number thief’s can then easily make magnetic strips and even reproduce ATM cards. Fake PIN pads can be made and placed right over the top of the original PIN pad that will remembers your pin. Your transaction will go through just fine and you walk away a victim of a scam. Another method is simply making a fake ATM machine and there usually put up around shopping malls. Once you insert your card a message simple pops up that reads “out of service” or “needs Maintenance”. Then you leave, but they have your card information and your pin saved in their system.
4. Cash Trapping- This is a pretty simple scam similar to the Lebanese Loop. The difference is that the transaction goes through just fine but your money never comes out. A device is in place to jam or stick your money. Then while your gone talking to the bank or just leave, the thief removes the device and has your money.
5. Phishing- This scam is another way in which thieves get you card information and or PIN number. They either call or send an e-mail representing your bank and need to update your account information. Often in the e-mail there will be a link to take you to the page to update your account that looks very similar to the actual bank site. You type you information in, and the thief has everything he needs.
3. Navigate to: http://www.bustathief.com/atm-fraud-or-cash-money-theft-is-as-old/
o Look At the different card scamming devices and where they are placed on the machines.
o Read the Guidelines to avoid ATM machines, beginning with, “A low monthly limit on your cards “
4. Navigate to: http://marktmarket.wordpress.com/2008/06/16/atm-scams/
+ Look at the cash trapping machine mechanism and how it worked. If the ATM you are using doesn’t give you you’re money, always check things out!
5. Navigate to: http://lifeinmycubicle.today.com/2008/10/16/how-to-avoid-atm-scam-or-atm-theft/
+ Listed here are 10 GREAT things to do and be aware of to avoid ATM scams and Identity thief!
Guide for steps to take immediately when you find out you are a victim of identity theft
When you find that you have become victim of any kind of Identity Theft it is very important that you act fast to limit the damage done to your identity. Upon researching this topic I found a great website that had a journal giving specific and easily understood information on what exactly to do. The article gives many great suggestions including the names of departments and phone numbers of who to contact in case of Identity Theft. Identity Theft can happen from many things; your driver's license, false bankruptcy, misused social security number, passport, credit cards, etc.
The possibilities of someone stealing or misusing you information is probable and very dangerous. If immediate action isn't taken a person can be held liable for the actions of someone else and after a certain period of time unauthorized transactions cannot be refuted. The website that helped me learn the best ways to take action concerning Identity Theft is
I am confident that a person who takes the time to follow the given suggestions and guidelines will be less effected by the Identity Theft that may have happened.
What to do if you are a victim of application fraud identity theft
1. Navigate to http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs17a.htm
2. You can click on the section that applies to you or scroll through all the information.
3. Read this pdf from the government http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/idtheft/idt04.pdf. This pdf is full of information on steps to take and give addresses and phone numbers you will probably need.
1. Print out page 15 to help track your progress
2. Print out page 22 for a sample letter
3. Print out page 24 if money was taken directly from an existing account
4. Notify Credit Bureaus by sending a letter or calling them.
3. Transunion 1(800)680-7289
5. Cancel all of your bank, credit or other accounts immediately
6. Complete identity theft affidavit
7. When opening new accounts be sure to include a password that would not be easy to guess like your moms maiden name
8. Put a security freeze on your credit, which does not allow any accounts to be opened on your social security number. You can do this by calling the toll free number to any of the credit agencies
9. Report the crime to the local police department
10. Contact the FTC by calling (800)IDTHEFT.
11. Notify companies of the fraudulent accounts. Send letters to all agencies so they do not ruin your credit. Sample letters can be obtained on the privacyrights.org website.
12. Write letter to collection agencies letting them know the account was fraudulent
13. Make sure to stay on top of all your calls and letters.
14. Make sure the correct action has been taken by the government and companies involved.
15. If there are problems talk to supervisors to get everything figured out.
16. Once everything is resolved take steps to minimize application fraud in the future.
1. Put good passwords on your accounts
2. Use a computer firewall
3. Delete all information off electronic devices before disposing
4. Be careful who you give out personal information to
5. Check your credit report often