Thursday, October 18, 2012

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo To Host


 OCTOBER 20, 2012

Identity theft affects approximately 10 million United States residents each year, with financial losses totaling upwards of $50 billion. CCCS of Buffalo will do its’ part to help people in the Buffalo community protect their identities by hosting SECURE YOUR IDENTITY DAY 2012 on October 20th and offering expert tips on how to protect your identity.

Join us on October 20th, from 10:00 am—2:00 pm. Staff of Consumer Credit Counseling Services and CINTAS will be available to accept any and all documents for shredding on the spot, and will also accept used cell phones. Certified Financial Counselors will be on hand to pull credit reports and provide one-on-one financial counseling.

SECURE YOUR IDENTITY DAY is part of National Protect Your Identity Week, held this year October 20-27th.

This year's theme is "ID Theft Protection on the Go”…Smartphone Alert!

We all love our cell phones, but with the convenience of smart phones came the opportunity for thieves to help themselves to our personal information.

A Smartphone is a mobile phone with enhanced capabilities.   Many of these new functions are similar to those found on a PC.  With the increased abilities of the Smartphone, come built-in risks for exposure of personal information. This information, carried on and transmitted through the device, is highly desired for use by identity thieves. There are steps Smartphone users can take in order to reduce the risks associated with using these handy devices.

Risks which occur when using a Smartphone:

There are many risks when you use a smartphone.

Phones are easily lost or stolen.  Think about how many times you have lost your cell phone. Enough said.

These mobile devices are associated with and linked to a particular user for billing and account purposes.  This association is taken a step further when GPS is enabled on a device.

Increased mobility means increased exposure.  

Moving in and out of Wi-Fi service areas means moving in and out of firewalls and secure hotspots. Some applications used on smartphones are unsafe.   Some can actually enable “phishing” or other malicious attacks.

Best practices to protect yourself and your personal information with Smartphones:

Password-protect your phone.  This is the simplest step you can take to prevent your information from being accessed.  Make sure it is a strong password that is not similar to or associated with any other personal information.

Install Security Software.  There are a number of companies which offer anti-virus, malware and security software designed especially for Smartphones.   Contact your carrier for details.

Be aware of what you are doing on your phone.  The same precautions you would take while on your home computer apply to your Smartphone.  Double check URLs for accuracy, don’t open suspicious links, and make sure a site is secure (https) before giving any billing or personal information.

When installing an app on any Smartphone, take the time to read the “fine print”.  Evaluate the information the app requires access to, and consider if this information is necessary for the app to run successfully. If you cannot see a reason for the app to have access to the information, you should reconsider installing the app.

Install a “phone finder” app.   These apps are designed to help you find your phone if it becomes lost or stolen.

Enroll in a backup / wiping program. You can enroll in a program that will back up the information on your Smartphone to your home computer.  Many of these services are also able to “wipe” your phone if it is lost or stolen so that no data remains on the device itself.   These services are available through your Smartphone’s manufacturer or through your wireless provider.  iPhones have a built-in “wipe” feature that can be turned on that will wipe the phone after 10 failed log-on attempts.

Limit your activities while using public Wi-Fi.   Try not to purchase things or access email while using a public Wi-Fi zone.   Public Wi-Fi hotspots are targeted by hackers since they can give the hacker direct access to your mobile device.  Using your 3G network provider connection is much more secure than using a public Wi-Fi connection.

Check URLs before making a purchase using your Smartphone.  Any page that requires credit card information should start with https://. This means it is a secured site.

If your Smartphone is lost or stolen:

If you have enrolled in a backup / wiping program:

Contact the administrator of your program and have them “wipe” your phone.

Call your service provider and have them cancel your service and report your phone missing.

If you have not enrolled in a backup / wiping program:

Treat the loss of your Smartphone as you would the loss of a wallet or purse.   You can find more information on handling these situations from the Identity Theft Resource Center Fact Sheet 104: My Wallet Purse or PDA was Lost or Stolen.

For other tips, or for information about SECURE YOUR IDENTITY DAY 2012, call 712-2060.

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