IDSeal . . . . Identity Theft protection

 

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03/26/20

Your Home Can Be Your Work’s Biggest Threat

Your Home Can Be Your Work’s Biggest Threat – IDSeal

Working from home has a lot of perks. You don’t have to wear a tie, no worries about anyone stealing your lunch out of the fridge, and the whole house is your office. But just because you can work from the comfort of your bed doesn’t mean it’s all it’s cracked up to be. Working from home opens not only your personal information up to hackers but your company’s as well. Here are some aspects of working at home that could endanger your work data.

Problem: Your Home Network

These days most people either have their internet provider set up their home Wi-Fi, or they choose a service provider, buy a router, set a password, and start Netflixing. However, company networks are a little more robust than your average off the shelf router. Most home networks have low-security settings, easy to guess passwords (or no password at all), and no one monitoring who is on the network at any given time.

The other thing that your work network does that most home networks don’t is keeping employees from going on sites that aren’t secure. While some might say their employer is just trying to keep them off of Facebook, the truth is companies have security settings to keep people from opening their network up to sites that have security issues.

Solution: VPN (Virtual Private Network)

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet. For example, a secure connection between your home network and your work network. A VPN can block outside sources from watching your browsing activity, keeping what you send back and forth for work kept between you and your business. A VPN can also come in handy when you travel for work or if you like to work at the local Starbucks during lunch.

Problem: Your Work Computer vs Your Home Computer

Let’s face it, the computer you use at home and the computer you use at work are two completely different machines (at least they should be). When you’re at home your spouse, roommate, children, or maybe even your parents have access to your computer. At work 99.99% of the time, you are the only one using your computer, which is how it should be. In grade school, they tell you to share your things, but when it comes to devices that hold all of your information you should be selfish, especially when it comes to devices that not only have access to your information but your company’s.

Solution: Secure Password, Separate Computers, and Anti-Virus

It’s important to keep your home and work computer as separate as possible. If you have the opportunity to take your work computer home or have a second computer at home for work – take it! If you can’t have separate computers, then first make sure you have a secure password and multiple user logins. This will help keep others from logging on to your account and deleting precious work files. Second, make sure you have good anti-virus protection and keep your system updated. Just because you don’t download dangerous files doesn’t mean someone else won’t. Keeping your machine as up to date as possible helps to keep those threats down as well. Finally, keep your files secured to the best of your ability. Using encrypted files, external hard drives, and cloud backups will help secure sensitive files on your devices.

Working from home has many advantages, and you can spend money and create a home cybersecurity system that would make even Google jealous. But chances are you won’t always work from home, and that type of setup will cost you more than it will save you. Follow this advice and be smart while online at home or at work. You should also talk to your IT specialist at work, chances are they already have safe practices for working from home in place.

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02/12/21

What Is Your Social Security Number?

Let me paint you a picture: you are sitting in your doctor’s office. The nurse hands you a form to fill out with your information. You get to the bottom, and it asks for your social security number. Why does a doctor’s office need your social security number? For billing purposes? That’s what they tell you or the answer you give yourself as you put it on the form. But what if I told you that you do not have to tell your physician your social security number? The truth is you should never give it to them. There are multiple businesses, institutions, and organizations that may ask for your social security number, but that does not mean they need it or should have it.

First, let’s talk about what your social security number is. The Social Security Act in 1935 devised a method for uniquely identifying someone’s earning records. Since entitlement to Social Security and the benefit amount are determined from a person’s earnings, a method was needed for maintaining permanent and accurate records for each person working in employment covered by the Social Security program. The Social Security (SSN) number was developed for this purpose.1 It boils down to your SSN being the main identifier for your financial earning history.

A dishonest person who has your Social Security number can use it to get other personal information. Identity thieves can use your number and your credit to apply for other credit in your name. They then use the new credit cards, don’t pay the bills, and it damages your credit. This is why the fewer places that have your SSN the better.

Here are a few places that might ask for your SSN, why they might ask for it, and why you should refuse.

Doctor’s Offices and Hospitals

As stated before, your doctor’s office and some hospitals tend to ask for your SSN. Typically for billing purposes in the event, you do not pay your bill. However, if you provide your health insurance, who already have your SSN, then why do you still need to provide them with your SSN? IDSeal recommends refusing to give your SSN to your doctor’s office or hospitals.

School Systems

Recently schools across the country have become targets for data breaches and ransomware attacks. As discussed in our “Build An Identity” blog, your child’s SSN is incredibly valuable to cybercriminals compared to an adult’s SSN. This is because your child’s SSN is considered new. There is no credit associated with it, and whatever a cybercriminal does with their SSN can go unnoticed for years. According to the Justice Department, some school districts request your child’s SSN during enrollment to use as a student identification number. If a school district requests a student’s SSN there are two things it must do.2 First, inform you and your child that providing it is voluntary and that refusing to provide it will not bar your child from enrolling in or attending school. Secondly, explain for what purpose the SSN will be used. But, what you need to know is this; a school district may not prevent your child from enrolling in or attending school if you choose not to provide your child’s SSN. Also, a school district may not require you to provide your SSN for your child to enroll in or attend school. So when enrolling your child in a school system it is in your best interest to decline to give them your or your child’s SSN.

Anyone Over The Phone

This one is simple, no one under any circumstances should get your SSN over the phone. If the head of the FBI (highly unlikely) calls you and tells you they need your SSN to verify you tell them no and hang up. Even if they say they are on the way to arrest you, tell them “Okay, see you soon”, and hang up. No one who ever calls you on the phone needs your SSN right then and there. Here is why: First, you can not verify who is on the other end of the call. Second, you never know who is listening around you or who you are talking to on the phone. Finally, anyone who needs your SSN can wait for you to bring it to them in person if they need it.

Here is a list of who needs your SSN:

  • DMV
  • Companies from which you are applying for credit: credit cards, loans of any type, cell phone service
  • Employers
  • The three main credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion
  • Federal and state agencies when applying for benefits: Social Security, Medicare, disability, Medicaid, and other aid programs
  • Investment advisors and brokerage houses
  • Banks
  • Companies with which you have a cash transaction of $10,000 or more: car dealerships, RV and boat dealerships, etc.
  • Companies facilitating real estate transactions

Keep in mind when it comes to identity theft and giving out your SSN, the more places you have it, the more places it can be stolen. With that being said, here is what you can do to help keep your SSN safe and secure.

  1. Never carry your SSN card with you, unless you are going somewhere that needs it.
  2. Always question why someone or somewhere needs it.

Remember, the fewer places that have your SSN, the fewer opportunities cybercriminals have to steal it.

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It is not possible to prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, or to effectively monitor all activity on the internet. IDSeal cannot and does not guarantee complete protection against cybercrime or identity theft. IDSeal does not monitor the activities of all financial institutions.

 

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