Blog Posts by John Sileo

  • Spring Break Travel Scams

    Here comes Spring Break! And the scams that go along with travel and vacations, whether you are a student or just taking some time off.

    Picture this: you find a great deal online for a vacation package and are counting the days till you take off for some fun in the sun. The day finally arrives and you show up at the airport, bags packed and ready to take flight. But when you reach the ticket counter, you learn that you have no flights booked… you've been scammed!

    It happens ALL THE TIME, and scammers are getting more and more convincing. Scams rise during any busy travel season, but there are ways to avoid becoming a victim. Here are some tips on how to prevent travel scams and make sure that you get to enjoy a great Spring break trip.

    · Verify the business you are booking your trip through. If you are going to use a travel agency or online booking company, make sure they are legitimate first. Go online and do your research - if people have been scammed before by the

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  • Cyber Monday: Protect Yourself

    Although most shoppers gear up and focus on Black Friday, Cyber Monday offers tons of hot deals to online shoppers. It began in 2005 and quickly became one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. On average, online shopping increases by 16% (worth more than $760 million dollars) on this one day alone!

    Shoppers find the appeal in avoiding parking lots at malls, bustling stores and frantic holiday crowds. While it is very convenient, you can also be putting yourself at greater risk for identity theft and credit card fraud if you are not careful. In any situation there are steps you can take to protect yourself and make it easier to detect fraud if you become a victim. If you protect yourself, I feel that you are safer shopping online than in person (where about 15% of identity theft takes place).

    Here are a few steps to take to protect yourself on Cyber Monday:

    • Never Shop on a Public Wi-Fi Connection - Although you may trust the baristas at your local coffee
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  • Holiday Identity Theft Protection

    AAA Hawaii's Annual Holiday Season Travel and Shopping Poll of 250 local residents reveals that 76% plan to primarily shop this holiday with credit or debit cards. However, almost four in ten of surveyed shoppers have little or no concern about identity fraud happening to them this holiday shopping season! Identity theft is rampant throughout the holiday season. Over the past 3 years stolen data being used in less than one week jumped from 33% to 71%, meaning that they steal today and shop today. Identity thieves count on our lackadaisical attitude toward monitoring our wealth.

    Not only does legitimate business pick up during the holiday season, but Identity theft and fraudulent Business seems to be on the rise as well. Especially during these hard economic times Identity thieves are on the prowl more than ever looking for a quick fix to their financial problems. It is just not possible to observe and ward off every threat to our identity. There will be documents that you forget

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  • 5 Steps to Good Privacy Habits

    People don't change bad habits until they have a compelling reason. Too often that compelling reason is the result of a habit's negative outcome; but the promise of positive rewards resulting from the establishment of good habits can be a strong motivator. In the workplace, aligning responsible information stewardship with personal and professional gain can set the stage for good privacy habits.

    Here are 5 steps you can take towards perfecting your own Privacy Habits:

    1. Tighten up online passwords. Create strong, alphanumeric passwords. Instead of your password being Sunflower make it $uNf(0w3R. Don't use common password reminders such as your dog's name, street address, or mother's maiden name. All of those would be easily uncovered by an identity thief.
    2. Buy a Shredder - and use it. By shredding anything that has your name, address, birthday, social security number, or account numbers on it, you will be less likely to have your identity stolen
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  • Abuses of Facebook Places and FourSquare

    Facebook recently added a check-in or location-sharing feature, much like the one provided by The feature is designed to accomplish three main tasks:

    Help people share where they are in a social context

    See which friends are near by

    Discover nearby places and new places through friends' profiles

    But, by default, it also allows your friends to tag and publicize your location for you. It's like being tagged in a photo, except the other person gets to share your location instead of your picture (even if you don't want others to know where you are, and even if you are not there).

    Here are some of the rarely discussed ways that Facebook Places will be used (now or in the future) that you might want to think about before checking in:

    -- Facebook will sell (share) your current location and profile to stores in your vicinity so that they can server you hyper-targeted advertising (e.g., here's a coupon for the store you are about to enter).


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  • Reading Your Credit Report

    A credit report is a history of how you or your company borrow and then pay off your credit, including delinquency and bankruptcy. There are currently three main credit bureaus in the United States-Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. If you own a home, have a credit card, lease a car, or apply for or use credit of any sort, this information is reported to one, two or all three of these credit bureaus. In addition, they collect information on how timely you pay your bills, how often you are tardy, how frequently your credit is checked by companies and any changes of address, employment, or personal information.

    By monitoring these reports closely, you will know when someone else is using your credit rating to their benefit. If an identity thief opens a new credit card or takes out a loan using your Social Security number, you will see it on your report. The quicker you spot the problem, the less trouble it will cause. Monitoring your credit report is the single most effective

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  • Big Brother Lives in Your Browser

    The world is spying on you, and you don't really even know it. A recent investigation by the Wall Street Journal concludes that spying on consumers in order to sell their data is one of the fastest-growing internet businesses. Here is a summary of the most striking findings:

    "The Study found that the nation's 50 top websites on average installed 64 pieces of tracking technology onto the computers of visitors, usually with no warning… the Journal found new tools that scan in real time what people are doing on a Web page, then instantly assess location, income, shopping interests and even medical conditions. These profiles of individuals, constantly refreshed, are bought and sold on stock-market like exchanges."

    The tracking software records and analyzes your browsing patterns. It knows if you're surfing porn sites, researching bipolar disorder or watching teen movie trailers. With startling accuracy, it interpret's these patterns and sells the information to websites,

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  • 6 Ways to Protect Elderly Relatives from Identity Theft

    Senior Citizens are more vulnerable to Identity Theft because they are more trusting and less aware of the increasing variety of scams. Although most of our older relatives have no interests in the complexities of smart phones, computers, the Internet, and online banking; many that give it a try leave themselves defenseless against thieves.

    The Elderly can be easily targeted online or through the mail in old fashioned schemes to steal their identity and ultimately their money. They are more likely to tell a stranger stories of their past that include simple password reminders (birth date, city, childhood pet, etc). They are less likely to suspect that an interested individual is a con-artist and not just a new friend. They can also be conned through the phone or in person by thieves impersonating a representative from a charity or a well-known company.

    Although it is impossible to be fully protected from Identity Theft here are a few ways that you can keep them protected.

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  • Internet Scam Stole Pennies at a Time

    The FTC just busted a long-running internet scam where offshore thieves set up virtual companies and stole millions of dollars from US consumers one small charge at a time.

    "It was a very patient scam," said Steve Wernikoff, a staff attorney with the FTC who is prosecuting the case. According to him, the scammers found loopholes in the credit card processing system that allowed them to set up fake U.S. companies that then ran more than a million phony credit card transactions through legitimate credit card processing companies.

    The fraudsters were able to fly under the radar for so long because they only charged consumers between $ .25 and $9 and set up over 100 fake companies to pull off these transactions. In this specific case they charged over 1.35 million credit cards a total of $9.5 million dollars - those nickles and dimes really add up! Shockingly, 94% of these charges went undetected by the credit card holder because they didn't notice an unusual charge on their credit

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  • Your iPhone 4: Is it Safe?

    While the new features keep the iPhone at the forefront of technology, they also cause some privacy concerns.

    One concern that carries over from previous iPhone models is the Always-on iPhone Apps that track your every move through the GPS navigation system. Back in April, Apple began allowing location-tracking applications to run in the background. So, for example, companies like FourSquare, Yelp, and Facebook can continuously track your location, providing automatic notifications to your friends when you are less than 1/2 mile away from them, if you allow them.

    For example, I just had a highly confidential client meeting at the client's corporate headquarters. To the uninitiated, that means that the company I was visiting is probably having data theft issues (and has brought me in to help). If the media finds out that they are having these issues before the company has had a chance to start the damage control process, their stock will drop far faster than if they have

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