FRESH from The Identity Theft Resource Center


dentity Theft Resource Center

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ITRaC News – Q2 2012
A Message from the ITRC

Parenting & Social Media

The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) recently conducted the Parenting and Social Media Survey to measure the actions of parents in regard to their children’s usage of social media. Mobile device usage by children was also minimally covered in the study. The ITRC conducted this survey in order to better understand how parents try to keep their children safe while using social media. There were 207 responses.

“Children are spending more and more time online, and social media is becoming a larger part of their social lives. It is therefore important to understand how parents are monitoring their children’s usage of social networking sites,” said Nikki Junker, Social Media Coordinator for the ITRC. “The survey results will help the ITRC in developing informative materials and documents for parents and children to help them navigate their social media experiences safely.”

With Facebook considering allowing children under 13 join its user population, how parents interact with their children regarding social media is going to become more important. It is the ITRC’s hope that the findings of this survey will provide insight on how to improve this important communication.

Executive Summary:
The following are the results from a survey recently conducted by the ITRC on the beliefs and behaviors of parents who have children using social media. The purpose of this survey was to determine the parental actions of those with children under the age of 18, in regard to social media and to a lesser extent, mobile device usage.

The ITRC study shows that the majority of parents are very concerned about their children’s online activities. Generally, parents are also very involved in their children’s online identity. This involvement takes the form of communicating with their children about protecting their information online and monitoring their social networking accounts, among other actions.
Click here for full report

Consumer Beware
Phantom Loan Scams

Scam artists pretending to be debt collectors or law enforcement officials are terrorizing consumers and conning them out of millions of dollars. For this scam, callers contact consumers at all times of day and night, claiming they are from the FBI, fictitious government agencies such as the Federal Investigation Bureau, law firms, or other legitimate-sounding banks or companies.  The callers then state the consumers owe money towards a loan and need to pay immediately.

While these victims may have applied for payday loans or may have received loans in the past, they owe no money to the callers. Somehow, the fraudsters have gotten hold of consumers’ information. The callers know information such as SSN, address, names of relatives or references, or the name of a lender that the consumer knows.  The fact that the scammers have this information makes consumers believe the callers are with a legitimate company who received a loan application. Also, these fraudsters intimidate people in a number of ways: using abusive language, threatening lawsuits or jail time, and threatening to call relatives or coworkers.

Unfortunately, many consumers, even those who do not owe on a loan, have given money to these fraudsters so that the calling and harassing will stop. (the Internet Crime Complaint Center) states these scammers made a reported amount of more than $8 million last year. Since not all victims report their losses, it is likely that the amount is much higher.

Because of the large amount of reported intimidation scams, the FTC has
been making cases such as these a priority. According to recent FTC press releases, the FTC has halted the operations of two California-based debt collection agencies that were operating call centers out of India as well as running debit intimidation scams. The FTC charged the agencies with violating the FTC Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Currently, the FTC does not know how the scammers obtained the consumers’ information.

At this time, consumers can protect themselves from scams and harassing
debt collectors by knowing their rights. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) details consumers’ rights and states what debt collectors are not allowed to do.  Below are some pointers if you ever deal with a suspicious or harassing debt collector:

  • Remember, it is not a crime to be in debt.  Don’t let someone harass you into giving money. If you pay any amount, they may continue to harass you for more.
  • If you suspect the call could be a scam or fraud, ask for the caller’s and the company’s information, including phone number and address. Then request a written “validation notice” be sent to you. If the call is legitimate, you will receive a notice in the mail that contains the debt details and a copy of your rights under that FDCPA.  If the caller refuses to send you this information, hang up, and do not give any information about yourself.
  • If you are being harassed by a debt collection agency, write to the company to demand that they stop calling you.  It will then be against the law for the company to contact you about this debt, except to notify you that they won’t contact you or that they will be pursuing legal options.
  • If you believe you were the victim of or the intended victim of a scam, report the call. Contact the FTC and your state Attorney General about the calls. Also, if a scammer has your personal information, you are at risk of being a victim of identity theft. Contact the ITRC toll-free at (888) 400-5530 if you have any questions about identity theft. The ITRC provides no cost victim and consumer assistance.
For the Consumer
FBI Warns Travelers Abroad: Watch Out for
Wifi Crime at 
Hotel Hotspots

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center recently issued a stark warning to travelers: If you use hotel Wifi hotspots abroad, you could get burned. The alert says cybercriminals are targeting travelers abroad using pop-up windows that appear while they are trying to connect to the Internet through hotel Wifi. The pop-ups tell hotel guests that they need to update a widely used software product. But when they click to install it, what they get instead is malware on their laptops.
Hotel Hotspots Are Trouble Spots for Wifi Users
The government’s unusual warning highlights the need for travelers to be on guard whenever they use hotel hotspots. But all too often, what happens is that, in their rush to get connected, caution goes out the hotel window. According to InformationWeek, that’s what Steve Lord, a director of Mandalorian, an information security consulting firm, discovered when he conducted a Wifi hotspot experiment of his own. At this year’s Black Hat Europe conference in Amsterdam – a city with many known hackers – Lord set up a free Wifi hotspot called “LEGITFREEWIFI.” Incredibly, some of the people attending the security conference focusing on Internet crime took the bait and used the fake hotspot!
Hackers Are Targeting Franchises With Wireless Networks
The Trustwave 2012 Global Security Report found that hotel Wifi networks were easy targets for hackers because hotel wireless security was often lax. Because hotels are often franchises with the same wireless network system in all their locations, when cybercriminals hack one hotel Wifi network, they can apply what they’ve learned to other sites. Trustwave’s report points to another reason online security is so lax: The most common password used by global businesses is Password1. Might as well put up a sign that says “Hackers Enter Here.”
Make Sure You’re Not the Next Hotel Hotspot Hacking Victim
The Trustwave report and the federal government’s warning about hotel Wifi crime are wakeup calls for travelers using Wifi hotspots. To avoid becoming a cybercrime victim, the Internet Crime Complaint Center recommends doing software updates before you travel and downloading all updates directly from the vendor’s website. It’s also a good idea to configure your laptop to block all pop-ups.

Since hotel hotspots and all hotspots are inherently insecure, your best protection against hackers is using a Private VPN. Private VPNs protect you from Wifi crime by encrypting the information traveling to and from your computer. That makes it useless to hackers because they can’t see it.

If you’ve believe you’ve been hacked at a hotel hotspot, contact your your local FBI office and immediately report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at
Jan Legnitto is an investigative journalist and documentary producer who writes about criminal justice and intelligence issues. Jan is also a frequent contributor to the Private-i blogs.
Securing Our eCity
Tips for SMBs
Have a cyber security and social media policy in place to help protect your organization.  See SANS Information Security Policy Templates.

Ensure your computer systems’ and security software are up to date – this includes operating systems “patches” as well as ensuring your anti-malware and firewall’s have the most current versions in place.SOeC-Logotm 125px

Implement a cybersecurity/IT plan – include prevention, resolution and restitution, as well as off-site back up plans and social media access utilizing business equipment

Raise your staff and customers’ awareness on cybersecurity best practices – conduct a workshop for your staff and customers on the best cybersecurity practices and help them learn about pitfalls to avoid

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In This Issue
Consumer Beware
For the Consumer
The Sandbox
Dear Wilma
Securing Our eCity
The Sandbox
Arizona Identity Theft Coalition (AITC)

Identity theft is problematic across the nation. Being ranked fourth in the country for reports of identity theft means that Arizona is no stranger to this crime. The Office of the Arizona Attorney General has been instrumental in combating this crime through the creation and collaboration of various organizations and state agencies.

In 2011 the Arizona Attorney General’s Office (AZ AGO) was awarded a grant as a part of the National Identity Theft Victims Assistance Networks Project that allowed the office to establish the Arizona Identity Theft Coalition (AITC). To create this coalition, AZ AGO teamed up with various public and non-profit agencies including: the U.S Attorney’s Office, ICE, US Postal Inspector, the IRS, State Bar of Arizona, Police Office Standards and Training Board, just to name a few.

AITC’s mission is to:

*  Raise public awareness through community outreach programs and campaigns
*  Improve inter-agency infrastructure, coordination, and referrals
*  Educate and train service professionals

William Bessette, Program Administrator for the coalition, states that, “the goals of this coalition are a proactive approach for removing citizens from becoming a victim of identity theft, and equipping law enforcement with better tools and practices to service those who have been victimized.”

Since its beginning, AITC has rolled out two major initiatives as part of their long term goals, the Law Enforcement Best Practices Task Force and the Strategic Education Task Force. Both of these task forces play a role in achieving the goals of the coalition by constructing efficient solutions for resolving identity theft incidences, educating the public on tips for preventing victimization, and raising the public’s awareness regarding identity theft.

by Kathleen Winn, Director
Community Outreach & Education
Arizona Attorney General’s Office

Dear Wilma
Dear Wilma,

I got an email from my bank asking me to update my informatiodear Wilman, which I did.  When I called the bank, I was told they did not me send me any email. What now?

Dear Scared,
You fell for a phishing scam.  Banks usually contact their customer by mail not email.  Your information is now compromised.

You will need to close that account.  Open a new one and place a verbal password on the account to prevent someone from accessing your account.  (see ITRC Solution 32 – Strong Passwords)

Then you will need to place a 90-day fraud alert with each of the three credit reporting agencies. You might also consider placing a freeze on your credit reports. Please refer to ITRC Fact Sheet 123 for more information on scam assistance.


For the Business
It is estimated that more than 4% of the U.S. population are victims of identity theft.  A sponsorship from your company could help the growing number of victims of identity theft regain their life.

ITRC is supported only by sponsorships and company directed contributions.

Shouldn’t your company be a known partner in helping your affected customers or clients?

Please contact ITRC for more information on sponshorship or partnership opportunities (888) 400-5530, ext. 111.

Archive Issues

ITRaC News Q1 2009
ITRaC News Q2 2009
ITRaC News Q3 2009
ITRaC News Q4 2009

ITRaC News Q1 2010
ITRaC News Q2 2010

ITRaC News Q3 2010
ITRaC News Q4 2010
ITRaC News Q1 2011
(not available)
ITRAC News Q2 2011
ITRAC News Q3 2011
ITRAC News Q4 2011
TRAC News Q1 2012

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