Real Businesses. Real Stories. Real Fraud.

Real businesses like yours become victims of business identity theft every day. The damages and consequences are breath-taking. Check out the stories and reports below, and hope it doesn’t happen to you!

Symantec Internet Security Threats 2015
Cyberattacks on businesses are increasing and, although it’s the data breaches at corporate giants like Target and Home Depot that make the news, small and medium-size organizations are more frequent victims. In 2014, 60 percent of all targeted attacks struck small and medium-size organizations, according to Symantec. The cost of cyberattacks is high, averaging $217 per record that was subject to theft, misuse or corruption, according to a 2015 Ponemon Institute study.

Tax Fraud
Fraudsters create over 100 fake W-2 forms

The owner of Seagate Foods, which operates Captain D’s seafood restaurants in metro Atlanta, notified authorities that someone apparently had gotten hold of his company’s taxpayer identification number, Roswell police said. The fraudsters created more than 100 fake W-2 forms to report in excess of $4 million in nonexistent salaries to state and federal agencies, authorities said. It likely was a scheme to collect fraudulent tax refunds, they said. In the end, Seagate was left owing more than $800,000 in payroll taxes.

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/id-theft-stings-captain-ds-franchisee/nQRqz/

Fraudulent Business Registrations
A Business Opens Up in another State

Greg Glazner owned a business in the 1980s, which he dissolved in 2009. Then a large retailer called him asking questions… According to Greg, “Somebody had gone into the Colorado Secretary of State’s website, reinstated the business then opened it up in another state, listing me as an officer of the company and proceeded to try to open credit accounts.”
http://archive.9news.com/money/story.aspx?storyid=157648

Fraudulent Asset Sale
Office Building Secretly Sold

A small business owner received a phone call about an unpaid electricity bill for one of his office buildings. The owner discovered he never received the bill because the building had been sold without his knowledge. A fraudster had falsified the company minutes, made himself the new CEO, and sold the building to an accomplice – walking off with the proceeds of the sale.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/start/legal/identity-theft-strikes-small-businesses/article1433204/

Fraudulent Business Registrations
200+ Companies Fall Victim in Georgia

A man and his group of over 100 people are believed to have misused the identities of about 3,900 individuals and businesses to have orchestrated more than $5 million in fraudulent transactions. Another case involves an individual who is believed to have stolen and used the identities of 149 individuals and about 200 companies to make fraudulent transactions totaling more than $1.2 million. Both individuals took advantage of business registration system at the Georgia Secretary of State’s office to forge corporate identities and used them to obtain bank loans and lines of credit.
http://www.computerworld.com/article/2519493/data-privacy/corporate-id-theft-hits-georgia-businesses.html

Wire Transfer Fraud
$45,640 sent to Russia

Fraudsters struck JM Test Systems, an electronics calibration company. On Feb. 19, an unauthorized wire transfer of $45,640 was sent from JM Test’s account to a bank in Russia. The company’s bank subsequently provided the company with new credentials, but less than a week later, $51,550 of JM Test’s money was transferred to five money mules across the country. The company was able to recover only $7,200 of the stolen money.

Business Bank Account Hijacking
$1.2 Million Stolen in 30 Minutes

Cyber-crooks stole $1.2 million from Unique Industrial Product Co., a Texas plumbing equipment supply company. Attackers used malware planted on company computers to initiate 43 transfers out of the company’s account within 30 minutes.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/24/AR2009082402272.html

Business Bank Account Hijacking
Banks Stop Only 22% of Fraudulent Money Transfers

56% of businesses experienced fraud in the past 12 months. Of those, 61% were victimized more than once. 75% percent of the business victims experienced online account takeover and/or online fraud.

In 78% of the reported fraud cases, banks failed to catch the fraud before funds were transferred out of the business’ account. Banks were able to keep money from leaving the bank in 22% of the cases and fully recover fraudulently transferred funds for only 10% of businesses.

Banks were unable to recover funds in 68% of cases. Banks took the losses in 37% of cases by reimbursing businesses for unrecovered funds; while businesses took losses in 60% of cases.

Type of Crime:– Wire Transfer Fraud
Full Article: Ponemon Institute – “2011 Business Banking Trust Study”

Fraudulent Customer Order
Seafood Company Ships $500k Order to Fraudster

A seafood company received an order for $500,000 worth of goods. After completing a credit check, the company shipped the order and billed the customer. The “real” business customer responded that it had never placed nor received the order – the business’ credit information and a different address had been supplied by a fraudster.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/start/legal/identity-theft-strikes-small-businesses/article1433204/

Fraudulent Business Registrations
A 10-year-old Denver firm that buries communications lines was victimized
shortly after its annual registration was renewed in January. The owner learned of the theft when he contacted Dun & Bradstreet to ensure an address change was recorded properly. That’s when he learned of a new registered agent and address — an Aurora mail drop that was set up to forward everything to California. The thieves had changed key information about the company on Dun & Bradstreet’s database, including increasing the number of employees from 15 to 150, and increasing the company’s annual revenues by a factor of 10. “I asked Dun & Bradstreet how they checked the information, and they said the secretary of state. In just a few seconds, 10 years of hard work was going down the drain. I was terrified.”

http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_16149416

Online Impersonation
Small Biz Owner Dragged Into “Job Seeker” ID Theft Scam

In Florida, a small business owner was flooded with calls from job seekers responding to a want ad on the company’s website. Only problem was, the company wasn’t hiring and had no ads posted. According to the Orlando Sentinel, What the firm eventually found was the Internet trail of a global identity-theft scheme that uses stolen corporate information to try to scam hundreds of thousands of job seekers. The complex con uses bogus websites, bulk e-mails, fake job applications, and bank fraud to steal people’s money and personal data.
http://www.itbusinessedge.com/cm/blogs/poremba/corporate-identity-theft-on-the-rise/?cs=43451

FBI Fraud Alert: Fraudulent Wire Transfers to China
Victims tend to be small-to-medium sized businesses and public institutions that have accounts at local community banks and credit unions, some of which use third-party service providers for online banking services. Unauthorized wire transfers range from $50,000 to $985,000, but the malicious actors have been more successful in receiving the funds when the unauthorized wire transfers were under $500,000. Domestic ACH and wire transfers ranging from $200 to $200,000 were also sent to money mules in the United States within minutes of conducting overseas transfers. In just 20 separate incidents, the actual losses to victimized companies totaled $11 million. http://www.ic3.gov/media/2011/ChinaWireTransferFraudAlert.pdf

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Business Have Less Fraud Protection. What Does That Mean?

Business entities do not benefit from the same levels of protection against fraud and identity theft as individuals. If a thief steals money from your business bank account, uses your business credit cards or other lines of credit fraudulently, or otherwise hijacks your identity information to commit fraud – you have limited rights and protection for your business.

Because of this, a crime committed against your business can have devastating financial consequences for you personally.

Businesses have less fraud protections and shorter reporting times
Business / commercial bank accounts are covered by the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). Under the UCC, businesses have shorter reporting timelines, less protections, and higher liability for fraud than consumer banking accounts. Individual banks can also shorten the reporting timelines even further through variations of their commercial banking agreements. Your bank’s own policies can have a significant impact on your business’ liability for fraudulent withdrawals, transfers, and transactions.

A business is not a “person” (or “victim”)
Only a few states have expanded their current identity theft protection laws to include a business entity as a potential identity theft victim. This can impair a victimized business’ rights under state law and makes it significantly more difficult for a business to dispute and resolve many forms of identity fraud.

Business transactions on personal cards – excluded from “zero Liability”
Typically, banks and credit card companies provide customers with “zero fraud liability” protection – meaning they’ll pretty much cover the costs of fraudulent charges to your credit card should a thief steal and use your card. Unfortunately, this protection generally does not apply to business purchases.

Most financial institutions and major card issuers specifically exclude business related transactions done with personal cards from their zero fraud liability programs. Unfortunately, most small business owners routinely use their personal credit and debit cards for business transactions.

Identity theft services and liability insurance – exclude businesses
Even if you currently have a personal identity theft protection service, or an “insurance” policy, your business is still at risk. Check the fine print of your policy or your current service provider’s terms of service and you are likely to see that your business is specifically excluded.

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How is a Business Identity Stolen?

Business identity theft is a fast growing crime and thieves are continually searching for new ways to take advantage of unsuspecting businesses. Here are a few of the most common ways identity thieves can hijack your business’ identity.

Fraudulent State Business Registrations
Most states are “Good Faith Filing” states, which means the information filed about a business with the Secretary of State is simply accepted and recorded at face value. For $10 – $15 in most states, thieves can easily file a change of business address, change officers, directors or registered agent, or even reinstate a previously dissolved company. They may also register a company as a foreign company operating in a different state as their target company. By manipulating state business records in this manner, thieves can obtain the standing and verifiable business records needed to deceive creditors and financial institutions, or conduct any number of fraudulent transactions in the business’ name.

Business Owner Identity
Thieves can obtain a business owner’s SSN and other personal information and use that information to identify the business owner as a co-signer or guarantor for fraudulent loans and lines of credit. See Owner Risk

Business Credit Profile
Dun & Bradstreet is the dominant source of business verification and information regarding a business’ credit worthiness. A D&B D-U-N-S® Number and DUNS File functions for business credit in much the same way as a consumer’s SSN and credit report. Companies can report credit and payment experiences with a company under the paying company’s DUNS Number. However, unlike consumer credit reports, much of the additional information about a company in a DUNS File is simply self-reported and can be updated any time. DUNS File reports can also be requested for other companies. Thieves can obtain, manipulate, and establish bogus business D&B information in order to impersonate or defraud businesses.

Shelf Corporation
A shelf corporation is a shell corporation that is formed and then “put on a shelf” for several years, during which time while some efforts are undertaken to establish a credit history for it. Though technically legal, the purpose of a shelf corporation is for it to eventually be sold to someone who either wants to start and operate a company without going through the hassle to form a new one, or to someone who can’t qualify for a bank loan, line of credit, or government contract because their own company doesn’t have the required credit scores or business history. Thieves can use shelf corporations with names similar to a targeted legitimate company in order to specifically impersonate that company and deceive creditors or suppliers, or use shelf corporations to appear legitimate in order to defraud a business or financial institution.

For example, along with other factors, Dun & Bradstreet’s PAYDEX scoring system typically requires several reported timely payment transactions per month from multiple creditors over the course of a year or more before a company might be deemed “creditworthy”. Because of this, thieves use multiple shelf corporations to bill and report between them, thereby creating seemingly well-established, creditworthy companies.

Intentionally Similar Name or DBA
In addition to shelf corporations, thieves can use DBA (Doing Business As) names, or form new companies, with intentionally similar names as a targeted company in order to impersonate the business and deceive creditors, suppliers, and financial institutions.

Falsified Financial Statements
Thieves use publically available information about a business and obtain or falsify financial statements, annual reports, or D&B reports in order to support fraudulent applications for business loans, lines of credit, and other accounts.

Virtual Telephone Service
VoIP (Voice over IP) telephone service is a telephone communications service that utilizes the Internet, rather than traditional telephone networks. With a VoIP service, thieves can easily establish a verifiable telephone number that appears to be a landline or a local number, regardless of their actual geographic location.

Virtual Office
Many companies lease virtual office space that allow persons or companies to utilize a verifiable physical office location and mailing address, often complete with a receptionist, without actually physically occupying the location. These services are frequently used by thieves and scam artists to promote the appearance of legitimacy due to little, if any, verification.

Address Mirroring
Thieves rent office space in the same building, but in a different suite or floor, as their target company. Because the thieves’ address closely mirrors that of the legitimate company that is being targeted, it will typically deceive creditors and by-pass most address verification measures.

Bogus Website
Thieves can quickly and easily establish a website in the name of the business to promote the appearance of legitimacy, and can easily incorporate third party logos such as Verisign, BBB, D&B, and others to add credibility.

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What is Business Identity Theft?

The risk of business identity theft is real.
Here’s why you should be concerned.

Small businesses and other organizations have become a prime target for identity thieves – and are extremely vulnerable to this type of fraud. Business identity theft can be devastating to both the business and the owner(s).

What is Business Identity Theft?
Business identity theft is essentially the crime of hijacking a business’ identity and then using that identity information to establish lines of credit with banks or retailers, purchase products and services and get other benefits in the business’ name, and leaving the real business responsible for the bill. See real stories of how business ID theft has wreaked havoc on businesses like yours.

Consequences for Owners
In most cases, small business loans, lines of credit, and other credit accounts are linked to or guaranteed by the owner’s own personal credit. If the business is not able to obtain credit on its own, small business owners often use their own personal credit accounts to finance the business. For most small businesses, identity theft or fraud involving the accounts of either the business or the business owner(s) can have a severe impact on both. See Owner Risk

Business Accounts have Limited Protection
Unlike consumer accounts that fall under major consumer banking and consumer protection laws, business and commercial accounts are covered by the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). Under the UCC, businesses have shorter reporting timeframes, less protections, and higher liability limits for fraud than consumers. Many major card issuers also exclude fraud liability protection for business related transactions. See Limited Protections

Business Information is Easy to Obtain, Change, and Misuse
State business registration records, (including owners, officers, and directors, business address, state entity number, registered agent, etc.) are public information and displayed on the internet. Employer Identification Numbers (EIN) are often used as a business version of the Social Security number, and are also readily available from any number of sources, both online and offline. State and local business license, reseller, tax-exemption, contractor, and other important business numbers and identifiers are typically publicly displayed on the wall at the place of business. Even business credit reports, such as those offered by Experian and Dun & Bradstreet, can be easily obtained by virtually anyone. Armed with this information, thieves can easily modify or file fraudulent business registrations, create fictitious business credentials, obtain business loans and lines of credit in your business’ name, sell your business assets, and much more. See How it Happens

Business Accounts are Prime Targets for Thieves
Thieves like to target business accounts because they usually have higher credit limits, are often easy to establish, and are often less scrutinized than consumer accounts. And, unlike consumer credit, business credit reporting lacks standardization and is not easy to review and monitor for potential signs of fraud.

Recovery is Difficult – While Trying to Run a Business
Immediate and decisive action is necessary to minimize or reverse the damage and expedite recovery. As a business owner, how much time can you afford to take away from running your business?

The Damages can be Devastating
The damage can be devastating to the victim’s business. The damage to the victim’s credit history can lead to denial of credit, which can lead to operational problems. The cost to clean up and correct the damage can be thousands of dollars and hours of lost time.

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What is Identity Theft?

What is Identity Theft? Identity theft happens when a thief, or even someone close to you, obtains and uses your personal or business information (such as your Social Security number, EIN number, date of birth, address, driver’s license, credit card numbers, etc.) to commit fraud or crime in your name.

Finding out that someone has access to all of your personal information is overwhelming. Having to personally deal with all of the damage they have done and could possibly do is enough to send someone over the edge. Without iDefend my ordeal would have been a lot more stressful and time consuming. I would like to personally thank iDefend for taking care of my every concern and made my entire situation a lot easier to deal with
Lisa K , Atlanta, GA

Business identity theft is essentially the crime of hijacking a business’ identity and then using that identity information to establish lines of credit with banks or retailers, purchase products and services and get other benefits in the business’ name, and leaving the real business responsible for the bill.

If you own a business – even a part-time home-based business, you should also know about the business identity theft threat – and what it means to you as a business owner.

Reality Check: It’s not “IF”… but “WHEN”

It’s not if… but WHEN you or someone in your family will have their personal information stolen by an identity thief or exposed in a data breach at a business, school or government organization. Look at some of these shocking numbers:

  • More than 13 million people had their identities stolen in 2015. (1)
  • Americans lost almost $30 billion due to identity fraud in 2012. (1)
  • More than 200 million records were compromised by computer hackers in 2015. (2)
  • 36 million people were notified of a data breach in 2011 involving their personal information. (1)
  • Children are 52 times more likely to have their identity stolen than adults. (3)
  • 10.2% of children’s Social Security numbers are already being used by someone else. (3)
  • Over 600 million customer or employee records have been lost or stolen from businesses, schools, and government organizations since 2005. (4)

The Identity Defenders provides services to give you real peace of mind with the industry’s only identity theft protection programs for individuals that cover the 7 essentials of protection – including cyber-crime prevention, protection and membership in the Cyberhood Watch program.

I’ve known I needed some kind of identity protection. Until I came across iDefend I wasn’t sure I’d ever be fully protected. Now I can sleep well at nights knowing I have “Whole Identity Protection” with iDefend and not Partial Protection from all the other guys.
Chris , Seattle, WA

We also provide the only comprehensive, proactive identity theft protection to businesses. Unlike personal identity theft protection and credit monitoring programs that exclude business coverage, iDefend Business was developed specifically to provide much needed protection for businesses and their owners against the potentially crippling damages from business identity fraud.

1 – Javelin Strategy & Research 2015
2 – Verizon 2015 Data Breach Report
3 – Carnegie Mellon / Cylab Report 2010
4 – Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

Types of Identity Fraud and Theft

What thieves will do with a stolen identity:
Credit and Bank Fraud
Fraudulent loans, credit cards and subsequent purchases made in your name.  Account takeover and wire transfer fraud – draining your accounts before you know it.

Employment and Tax Fraud
Getting a job, paying taxes and filing for income tax refunds in your name

Social Security and Benefits Fraud
Filing for social security or other government benefits, leaving you nothing when you retire, become disabled, need welfare or become unemployed.

Phone/Utilities Fraud
Open new cell phone, cable or utility accounts in your name

Bankruptcy Fraud
Filing for bankruptcy protection after running up huge debt and not paying the bills – all using your name.

Medical Fraud
Medical benefits fraud can occur when your health insurance or Medicare/Medicaid benefits are stolen to get medical attention.  But it can also be significantly more serious than that.  Because of Electronic Medical Records, a change to a person’s record could jeopardize medical treatments and diagnosis resulting in significant harm or even death.

According to a 2015 Ponemon study, Medical identity theft is costly to consumers. Unlike credit card fraud, victims of medical identity theft can suffer significant financial consequences. Sixty-five percent of medical identity theft victims in our study had to pay an average of $13,500 to resolve the crime.

In some cases, they paid the healthcare provider, repaid the insurer for services obtained by the thief, or they engaged an identity service provider or legal counsel to help resolve the incident and prevent future fraud.

Medical identity theft is a complicated crime to resolve. In the case of medical identity theft, the healthcare provider or insurer seldom informs the victim about the theft. Rather, on average, victims learn about the theft of their credentials more than three months following the crime and 30 percent do not know when they became a victim. Of those respondents (54 percent) who found an error in their Explanation of Benefits (EOB), about half did not know whom to report the claim to.

Resolution of medical identity theft is time consuming to resolve. Due to HIPAA privacy regulations, victims of medical identity theft must be involved in the resolution of the crime. In many cases, victims struggle to reach resolution following a medical identity theft incident with only 10 percent of respondents’ achieving a completely satisfactory conclusion.

Thank you for checking my PC again and keeping it safe. You folks have kept me safe for a year now with no issues whatsoever. There is no doubt in my mind you are the best protection available. You all are awesome
Pennie M , Grove City, OH

Child ID Theft
A child’s identity can be stolen as early as birth making it unlikely that anyone would find out the child was a victim of identity theft for many years – not until they attempt their first financial transactions – like opening a bank account, applying for a credit card, applying for a job, or applying for student loans. The longer the thief uses a child’s identity, the harder it is to unwind the damage.

Student ID Theft
College students are targeted because school registration and credit card offers provide many opportunities to capture Social Security numbers and other personal information. Young adults are also known to be careless with their information. Combine that with frequent address changes and un-forwarded mail and it is a group ripe for picking by criminals.

Senior ID Theft
Seniors are particularly vulnerable to identity theft, because most have significant retirement wealth, and are often unable to monitor their accounts carefully. Many seniors are also less knowledgeable about technology, more trusting of strangers and marketers, and more easily fall victim to scams and schemes designed specifically to target them.

Types of Business Identity Fraud

Did you know businesses are excluded from many of the protection laws and most identity theft protection plans afforded to individuals?

Business identity theft is a fast growing crime and thieves are continually searching for new ways to take advantage of unsuspecting businesses. Why wouldn’t they when the amount of time it takes to steal a business identity takes the same time but with far greater results?

Here are a few of the most common ways identity thieves can hijack your business’ identity:

  • Fraudulent state business registrations
  • Fraudulent change of owner/officers
  • Bank/wire transfer fraud
  • New loans/lines of credit fraud
  • Existing account takeover

  • Fraudulent sale of business assets
  • Fraudulent business credit records
  • Tax fraud
  • Fraudulent customer orders
  • Contract fraud

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How Does Identity Theft Happen So Easy?

In today’s digital age there are seemingly countless ways identity thieves and cyber-criminals can get personal information about you, steal your money, and use your identity and your credit record to commit fraud in your name. The risks are real, affecting millions of people every year.

This quick overview of how identity theft and cyber-crime happens today will help you understand how easily it could happen to you, and why you need to protect yourself and your family.

  • Data Breach
  • Friendly Fraud
  • Computer Hacking
  • Spyware / Keyloggers
  • Email Phishing
  • Phone Vishing
  • Text/Cell phone Phishing

  • Card Skimming
  • Change of Address
  • Stolen Wallet
  • Dumpster Diving
  • Mail Theft
  • Black Market Sales

Data Breaches

Businesses, government agencies and organizations of all types and sizes gather, store and share all kinds of personal information about their customers and employees. This is a virtual gold mine for thieves!

A “data breach” is any incident where customer or employee information is accidentally lost or exposed by a careless employee, or stolen by a hacker or thief. Stolen laptops, lost USB flash drives, un-shredded paperwork, improperly discarded computers, and hacker break-ins are among the most common ways files are lost or stolen. Another growing problem is “insiders” – employees or contractors gaining access to data and selling it to criminals.

With so many businesses and organizations doing a poor job of protecting personal information, and with criminals targeting businesses and organizations, there is a good chance your information will be exposed or stolen in a data breach – if it hasn’t already happened to you!

  • 47% of adults had their personal info exposed in data breaches in last 12 months (Javelin Strategy & Research)
  • In 2013, 1 in 4 Americans who received a data breach notice involving their personal information became victims of ID theft (Javelin Strategy & Research)

See lists of recently reported data breaches at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

Friendly Fraud

Identity theft cases often involve friends, family or other acquaintances. Common among these crimes is child ID theft, senior ID theft and ID theft through messy divorces. Young adults, college students are easy targets because of their age and inexperience and carefree trust of people they’ve just met. Thieves will use social networking, music downloads and sharing sites, and other shared interests to gain access to a victim’s personal information, passwords or account numbers.

Computer Hacking

Cyber-criminals are experts at breaking into or hi-jacking servers, computers and laptops. Hacker intrusion, including international organized crime rings and terrorist cells have become commonplace – and they now not only target home computers, but also small business computers, looking for financial information about vendors, employees or customers.

If a hacker gains access to a computer, they have access to everything, and probably no one would know they were there. How big of a threat is computer hacking and cyber-crime? Look at these stats:

  • Cyber-criminals capture and sell over $114 billion worth of stolen data each year – compared to only $43 million stolen in bank robberies in 2010! (MSN Money / FBI)
  • At last count, almost 4 million computers are now infected with the Zeus Trojan spyware program that steals online banking login information.

Spyware/Keyloggers

Spyware, viruses, worms, Trojan horses, rootkits and keyloggers are all common tools of the trade for cyber-criminals and ID thieves used to infect computers and capture specific information such as credit card numbers, online banking logins, passwords, Social Security numbers, and more. Captured information automatically transmits to the hacker and is later sold to identity thieves and underground brokers of stolen information.

Viruses are often carriers of these information-capturing tools. Unfortunately, you will likely never know your computer is infected with some of the newer more dangerous hacker tools. Anti-virus/anti-malware software generally does a good job detecting the more common viruses and spyware, but they do not catch everything, and cannot remove certain malware designed to imbed itself right into your computer’s operating system.

It’s best to frequently have trained security professionals do a full system diagnosis and manually find and remove specific hacker tools and infections that can result in identity theft or cyber-crime. Only The Identity Defenders provides services to do just that!

Email Phishing

Phishing attacks can be very sophisticated setups designed to do one thing – extract information from you. Derived from “fishing,” phishing emails are like bait set up by the criminal. In phishing, an legitimate-looking email appears to come from your bank, credit card company, utility, cell phone company, etc., but it actually is coming from a cyber-criminal intending to dupe you into giving them sensitive personal information. Links in a phishing email may immediately install spyware or keyloggers into your computer, and the websites look official, but actually belong to the thief. Phone numbers go to bogus phone centers. NOTICE: Legitimate emails from businesses where you have accounts do not ask for sensitive information via email.

Phone Vishing

Vishing, or “voice phishing” is when you get a call on your phone from someone who says they are from a trusted source, like your bank, credit card company, phone company, utility, etc. They’ll tell you there is a problem with your account, your card, or service – or that your account needs to be updated. They’ll ask you to verify your identity – but they’re not verifying anything, they are simply stealing your account information so they can steal your money. They may even leave a message if you don’t answer and direct you to call a bogus number where the fraudsters are waiting to get you to give them your information.

Text/Cell phone Phishing

Cell phones are increasingly being used in vishing scams – through SMS text messages. You may receive a random text message that appears to be from your bank, etc. – but again, it’s the thief looking for you to respond and give up your information. Vishing victims typically have large amounts of money or all their money withdrawn or wired out of their accounts within just 10 minutes of receiving a vishing phone call.

Your bank, credit card company or any other legitimate business will NEVER ask you to update your account or give up personal information via a text message to your cell phone.

Card Skimming

Skimmers are small electronic devices that thieves place over card slots at gas station pumps, ATM machines or even handheld credit card devices. With card skimmers, everything appears normal to you, but the thief collects your card number and other information from the magnetic stripe when your card is swiped. Now with the new RFID chips embedded in cards, a thief can obtain your information without ever touching a card. The captured information is used to create counterfeit cards or is added to Apple or Android wallet apps to purchase things in your name. This is a fast growing problem, costing consumers and businesses billions each year. You can get RFID protective envelopes and cards from The Identity Defenders.

Change of Address

One of the most used schemes by thieves today is an old school tactic to change the address where you receive mail. A thief simply completes a Change of Address form with the U.S. Postal Service to divert your bills and other personal information into their hands.

Stolen Wallet

Of course, thieves will take the cash and credit cards you have in your wallet. But today’s criminal is also looking for everything they can use to also steal your identity – like your driver’s license, membership cards, bank account numbers, insurance information, and more. Stolen wallets can not go high tech with RFID scanners that can obtain the information off the new chips embedded in credit cards from as far as 6-ft away.

When we learned that our children’s identity could be stolen, we couldn’t keep putting off getting the right protection for our ENTIRE family. iDefend has the most complete protection for us at the best price. We are grateful for iDefend!
Tony L , Pittsburgh, PA

Dumpster Diving

Long before the Internet age, thieves would go through dumpsters at office buildings, mortgage companies, medical clinics, schools, etc. looking for any form of identity information they can get their hands on. They’ll also dig through your personal trash to find old bills and mail like pre-approved credit offers to re-create your identity. Make sure you shred all important documents or mail that you have prior to throwing it away.

Mail Theft

While stealing mail is a federal crime, it’s also an easy way for criminals to steal your identity right from your mailbox, drop box, or mailbox panels. Though many mail thieves are typically looking for cash and valuables, identity thieves know your mail contains much more. Along with pre-approved credit offers, your bank statements, tax information, credit card, mortgage and loan statements are among the common things thieves can use to steal your identity.

Black Market Sales

When hackers and cyber-criminals get their hands large batches of stolen identities from a business or other organization through a data breach, they generally cash out on their crime by selling the stolen IDs on the underground online black market. These black markets for stolen IDs and credit cards are international, typically hosted on websites in countries outside the U.S., but frequented by hackers and thieves around the world who want to buy the stolen data and use it themselves, or to sell to other criminals locally.

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So, How Does Identity Theft Affect Me?

What happens when an identity is stolen? What are thieves after?

…You see a huge drop in your bank account balance. The money is gone. You get a lien or judgment filed against you for something you’ve never heard of. You get a call from a debt collector for a delinquent loan you never took out. You get a notice for late payments from a cell phone company or credit card you never signed up for.

These are typical signs of identity theft. Unfortunately, these early warning signs are just the beginning of the devastating effects of identity theft.

Here’s what identity thieves and cyber-criminals want from you:

Your Money.

It’s the digital age. Today’s thieves can drain bank accounts, seize investments, sell property out from under you, scam you out of your money, and a host of other cyber-crimes – before anyone ever finds out. They’ll take every chance to rip you off, and because millions of people get hit every year, they know there’s little chance of getting caught. Interestingly, only 20% of identity theft has anything to do with credit cards anymore.

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Your Identity.

In addition to stealing money, identity theft can lead to ruined credit records, piles of fraudulent debt, false arrest and imprisonment, false medical records, and much more. With just your name, Social Security number and birth date, a thief can use you over and over to commit a long list of crimes in your name.

What are the effects, consequences of identity theft?
Why should you be concerned?

Catching the early warning signs of identity theft is critical. The longer the thief uses your identity, the harder it is to recover, and the more damage they will do to you. Victims of identity theft on average spend more than 500 hours and spend $6,000 or more to repair the damage. That’s more than 62 days of full-time effort to restore one’s name and credit over a period of a year or more!

Mental and emotional stress can be significant as well. Your good name and credit can take a big hit that takes years to fix. And debt collectors are only concerned with getting their money back – they don’t really care that your identity was stolen. Fighting identity theft is never easy, no matter how simple the crime.

The effect on family members or employees when their identity is stolen can be devastating.

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Protecting Yourself from Identity Fraud

Protecting yourself, your family or your business starts with understanding the new threats you face in today’s digital age.

Between the exploding numbers of business data breaches, home computer hacking, phishing, pharming and vishing scams, card skimming and a host of other threats, thieves have numerous ways to get their hands on your personal or business information to take advantage of you.

You, any of your family members including children or even your business may already have been compromised – and you probably wouldn’t know it.

Of course, there are those that suggest that you can simply do the work yourself.  You are entitled, by law, to get your credit report for free one time a year.  All you need to do is remember to pull your reports on Experian, TransUnion and Equifax at 4-month intervals.  And most credit card companies allow you to get alerts whenever a charge is made so you’d know when someone other than yourself is trying to use your credit cards.

The problem is, only a little more than 20 percent of identity theft has anything to do with opening accounts that would even be reported to the credit bureaus.   What if someone stole your identity and obtained a fraudulent drivers license?  What if that person went to the hospital and got medical services under your name?  What if a thief that has your identity commits a crime?  What happens when a fraudster steals the identity of your child days after birth and opens credit card accounts? All this could be accomplished and you would never be the wiser.

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Tammi A , Fresno, CA

Are you really confident that your identity is safe?  Is it yours, and yours alone?

Let’s not forget your business.  It’s your passion.  You’ve risked your life savings to open a business to support you and your family.   Unlike your personal identity, your business’ identity does not have the same protections and services available to it.  Additionally, as a business owner, you have numerous state and federal laws to abide to when it comes to protecting the personal identifiable information that you collect on employees, vendors and customers.

I had no idea what to do about the “ScareWare” that had infected my computer and put my family at risk. I’d heard about this virus (or whatever it was), but without your security technical support, I would have had no one to call. Within a short period of time, my tech with you guys was able to solve and remedy the issue. What a relief!! His explanation of what had happened was clear and helpful and I couldn’t have been more pleased. I tell everyone to get this amazing service!
Sybil B , Scarsdale, NY

Like everyone else, criminals want more money with less work. Businesses routinely carry much larger bank account balances than average consumers, making them desirable and tempting targets for identity thieves and cyber criminals. From a criminal’s perspective, if you had a choice of stealing $500 to $1000 from an individual, or $10,000 to $100,000 (or more) from a business with roughly the same amount of effort, which would you choose? The answer is obvious, and the resulting shift from targeting consumers to targeting businesses presents dangerous new threats to businesses of every size.

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