Today, we do things vastly different than twenty years ago, or even ten years ago. After all, who even knew what GPS was 10 years ago. With new technology, there are always going to be problem issues that may not immediately be apparent. Some clever thieves are putting two and two together and using technology to make their jobs easier. We need to re-think the way we do things and adapt accordingly. Below are a few things that need to be re-considered...
1) GPS devices
Today, everybody uses GPS without giving it much after thought. If you use a stand-alone GPS device, or the GPS in your SmartPhone, never leave these devices unattended in your car. Smart thieves are now targeting events like football games and concerts. If they break into your car and there is a GPS device, they now have detailed directions to your home. They probably also have your garage door opener for easy access into your home. To make matters worse, they know you are gone for hours and have time to pull a truck into your garage and clean you out. Dr's Solution - Never put your exact home address in your GPS. Always choose a gas station or service station nearby. You can still easily find your way home if needed, but nobody needs to know where you live if your GPS device were to be stolen.
2) Documents and Garage Door Openers
It is not just the new technologies that can get us in trouble. Even if you don't have a GPS device, did you leave a copy of your registration and/or your insurance information in your glove box? While this used to be a great idea, it no longer is for obvious reasons. Thieves are now targeting long term parking lots at airports as well as concerts and sporting events. They can break into your car, knowing you won't even notice for 2-3 hours. If you left your garage door opener in the car, they have enough time to clean out your house of valuables.
Dr's Solution - Leave your car insurance, and registration in your wallet with your drivers license. If you are going to any kind of sporting event or long term parking, where you will be away from your car for hours, do not leave your garage door opener in plane sight. It's best to throw it in the trunk or hide it.
3) The Shopping Mall/Grocery Store Scam
When you go to the mall or grocery store, never leave your handbag in the grocery cart. There is a new scam where the thief steals your wallet while you're shopping. Thieves realize that the normal victim would immediately report a theft to the store's management. Shortly after the victim gets home, they get a call from what appears the be the store manager, explaining that the wallet was found with all the credit cards, and Driver's License, but no cash. The victim immediately drives back to the store to retrieve it. Upon arrival, she is then told that nobody turned in her wallet and nobody in the store called her saying they had . Meanwhile, while this is happening, guess who is cleaning out her house?
Dr's Solution - Wear your purse at all times, or put it in your trunk and just bring your wallet and Smartphone in the store. Never leave your purse in a shopping cart, even for a moment. Leaving it on the front seat is as bright as leaving a MacBook or Smartphone in plane view. Don't do it!
4) CellPhone Name Memory Storage
Never mention the relationships of your friends or family when saving numbers in your phone's memory. That means "Hubby", "Mom", "Dad", "Wife", "Sweetheart", and "Honey" etc., should never be used in your phone memory. I read a really sad story about a woman who called her husband to tell him her purse was stolen with her cellphone in it. He said he had just received her earlier text message asking for their debit card PIN # and sent it to her. When they both realized what had happened and immediately drove to the bank, it was too late. Their account was cleaned out by the thief.
Dr's Solution - Use people's names, not affectionate terms for them. Also, never respond to an important text without picking up the phone and calling. It's a lot easier to fake a text than a phone call.
5) Good Practices to Help Avoid Identity Theft
a) PHISHING Never click on any links e-mailed to you from banks, PayPal, e-Bay, or any other credit establishment. It's always smarter to launch a web browser than respond to an e-mail which may be fraudulent. Since thieves usually use alias names that you already know, or do business with, it's a good idea to move your mouse over the return e-mail address and looking at it carefully. Many times, there is one letter misspelled in the hopes it will not be noticed. The grammar is often wrong too. This practice can also save you from virus and malware threats too. Often times what appears to be an e-mail from a friend in your contact list is an attempt to infiltrate your computer. Beware of opening links in e-mails from friends with messages like, "I thought you would enjoy this". More often than not, the e-mail is not coming from the friend's name it is associated with. Usually, when waiving your mouse over the return address, you will see the real e-mail address and not the bogus one with your real address.
b) MALWARE SCAM
If you do get pop-up windows suddenly opening and weird stuff starting to happen, and then "coincidently" get a pop-up message explaining your computer's symptoms and offering a fix, avoid responding. Putting malware on a computer and then selling "virus repair" solutions is big business these days. You do need virus and spyware protection. Ironically, many of the expensive Virus protection services these days are no better then the free ones.
Dr's Solution - I personally like and use AVG and AVAST protection which work great and are FREE. Malware Bytes is a great FREE CyberSecurity solution that works terrific and is used by Enterprise business too.
c) IRS PHONE SCAM
One of my clients had told me that he had received several calls from the IRS demanding payment for money owed. Coincidently, we were having lunch together last week when one of those calls came through. He put it on speakerphone and we had a good laugh as I explained to him that the IRS will never call you or e-mail you. Remember, they are still old school as far as communications. If you owe them money, they will usually wait months, if not years before notifying you so they can also collect the extra penalty charges. This was a recording that claimed the IRS will put a lien on him or garnish his paycheck if ignored.
Dr's Solution - If you have an issue with the IRS, pick up the telephone and call them!
d) Sign-up Trick to Monitor How You Get Hacked
A friend of mine shared a great idea that I also implemented. These days, even if you are diligent, you can still be a victim of identity theft. After all, I'm diligent, and am a Cybersecurity expert. Yahoo, Google, T-Mobile, and PayPal all had Cybersecurity protection measures in place. In T-Mobile's case, it was Experian, their credit bureau that was responsible for leaking their client information. I cannot prevent you from being hacked but may be able to tell you which company was responsible for it.
Dr's Solution - Whenever you sign up for anything through a big company, instead of putting your Middle Name or initial where it asks for name, put theirs. For example. If you are signing up for a new Google Account, under name, I would put "Joel Google Saltzman". For a New Yahoo account, "Joel Yahoo Saltzman". This way, if one of these companies is hacked, I immediately know which one it was and don't need to change passwords for twenty others.
There is not much you can really do to protect yourself, beyond using good sense. I was personally a victim of identity theft. There are not many experiences worse than getting notified from the three credit bureaus that thieves have your social security number and are attempting to open up new credit cards under your name. Notifying the credit bureaus is not enough as their "hold" only lasts one year. Always contact the police department and file an identify theft claim, regardless if they try to talk you out of it. If this is done, you can then contact the credit bureaus who will extend the one year "hold" to seven full years. It will not effect any of your current creditors but if someone tries to establish a new account, it cannot be done without your tacit approval.
To schedule a consultation with Dr Wireless, contact Joel.
Joel Saltzman has over twenty years of wireless industry experience. He is currently CEO and Chief Wireless Analyst for Dr Wireless.