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  • Will Someone Else Be Cashing Your Tax Refund This Year?Column, Data Security, Blog

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    Here is the IRS’s phone number: 800-829-1040. With an anticipated $21 billion in tax refund fraud this year, you might need it. And that figure doesn’t include losses from dodges like the IRS phone scam, which has been enjoying a renaissance of late. IRS phone frauds aren’t terribly difficult to detect. You get a call from the IRS saying you owe money and that you must pay immediately. The threat of police intervention may or […]

  • Why You Aren’t the Only One Who Knows the Answers to Your Security QuestionsPersonal Finance

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    If you’re protecting important personal accounts with nothing more than a few security questions, it may be time for an upgrade. A study from Google recently compared the use of security questions to other account recovery methods like SMS (short text messages) and an alternative email address. It found that true or made-up responses to questions like, “What was your mother’s maiden name?” or specific answers to prompts such as “Favorite Superhero,” “First Car” or […]

  • 12 Resolutions That Could Save Your Identity in 2016Column, Blog, Personal Finance

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    Another New Year is upon us. Bring on another raft of resolutions I say! I mean, what would a New Year be in the absence of resolutions? As Aldous Huxley wrote in Time Must Have a Stop, “Hell isn’t merely paved with good intentions; it’s walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too.” This year, I am advocating something simple: It’s high time we (as in all of us – business, government and consumers) […]

  • Beware This Year’s Scams of ChristmasColumn, Blog, Identity Theft

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    While the concept “forewarned is forearmed” is true for every day of the year, it’s particularly true during the holidays. December is the time when most of us focus less on our day jobs and more on family, friends, gift giving and celebration. The holidays are a cause for celebration by scammers, phishers and identity thieves for a very different reason. Because we are their day jobs, our joyful distraction provides them bountiful opportunities to […]

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    The IRS Request That Could Help Identity ThievesColumn, Blog

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    More than a year ago, Federal Trade Commission Chair Edith Ramirez asked Congress to strengthen her agency’s data security powers. “Never has the need for such legislation been greater,” she said during a hearing in early 2014. Nearly two years later, never has a statement like “never has the need been greater” remained an accurate description of a systemic failure when it comes to real advances — at both the government and enterprise level — […]

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    Your Holiday Identity Theft ChecklistColumn, Blog, Identity Theft

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    The holiday season is a busy time of the year for identity theft and other kinds of identity-related fraud. Scams abound, but if you follow a few simple rules, you can sidestep some avoidable holiday blues. There is so much personally identifiable information floating around — readily available on the dark web where information black markets thrive — that it truly is a wonder more people are not becoming victims. That said, Javelin Strategy and […]

  • The Simple Way to Keep Your Tax Refund SafeColumn, Blog

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    The holiday season is just getting underway, a time dedicated to finding the perfect gift for loved ones and a steady procession of festive events that ends when we ring in the New Year. Unfortunately, it’s also a busy time for people dedicated to the commission of identity-related tax fraud. I’ve written more extensively about this issue in my book Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves, […]

  • Facebook “Most Used Words” App as Privacy LessonColumn, Data Security, Blog

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    If you have an account on Facebook, you may have noticed posts featuring a nicely designed cloud comprised of the words that your Facebook friends use most often. It’s powered by an app from a company called Vonvon, and it’s been getting a lot of attention this week from consumer privacy experts. The reason this app has privacy hawks screeching is simple. It grabs an enormous amount of personally identifiable information and private details about […]

  • How to Keep Your Smart Devices From Exposing Your DataColumn, Data Security, Blog

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    In 2015, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices will be purchased, an increase of 60% over the previous year. There will be 10 billion IoT devices connected to the Internet this year. A couple of years ago, a survey found that three out of four Americans had no clue that there was such an animal as the Internet of Things, and many likely still don’t know (until you tell […]

  • The Invisible Victims of Identity Theft: Our KidsPersonal Finance, Identity Theft

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    Somewhere between 10 million and 16 million Americans get “got” by fraudsters working the seams of identity-related crime every year. The methods are many and various. There are, of course, the familiar scams and frauds, but one harder to detect area of exploitation is child identity theft. So why are children a target for identity thieves? It’s called “runway.” A child’s Social Security number is pristine. There is no reason for a minor to use […]

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