Category

Fraud Protection

Signing your Credit Cards a Bad Idea?

By | Fraud Protection

There is a myth out there that by not signing your cards you are protecting yourself from identity theft. Actually, the signature is not the part of the card most identity thieves are interested. They prefer the working card number and date, so stealing your card would be better for them.

In answer to the question, the fraud departments for Mastercard, Visa and American Express were contacted for their opinion.

All three cleared indicated that you SHOULD sign your card.

MasterCard had indicated that not signing your card is a “urban legend that sounds sensible but is not a good idea”. They indicated that security of the card begins with your signature. This confirms with the retailer that you are the legitimate card holder and any additional help such as a picture id can be used to confirm that identification.

American Express indicated that merchants are not supposed to accept your credit card if they are not signed. Retailers are supposed to ask you to sign your card and then verify with a photo id that you are the card holder.

Visa said the merchant is instructed to not finish the transaction until you have signed your card.

So please sign your cards the moment you receive them. If you want to have the retailer verify the card, then put “CHECK ID” on the back of the card.

Are you getting Scammed?

By | Fraud Protection

Have you ever received a phone call from someone and wondered if this was a scam to gather your personal information? You are not alone, many Americans have received these types of calls and was not sure what to do.

If you get a call, especially from one of your credit card companies, ask them what should you do if you feel that this is a scam. The correct answer would be that you should hang up, call the number on the back of your card and ask for the Fraud Department. More often then not you will find that they are legitimate and you can continue gathering information. But if you do find that you have been a victim of someone trying to scam you, you have just saved yourself from Identity Theft.

If you feel that you have been scammed or are being scammed, then stop. Tell the caller that you feel that way and ask them what you should do. If they respond that they are there to help you and to just give them the information, then you should hang up and call the number on the back of the card or the financial institution right away. Then speak with the Fraud Department and tell them of what just happened with you.

Don’t ever just give out information without being concerned about who you are giving your information. This will be the easiest way to become a victim of Identity Theft.

What is Phishing and how can it affect you

By | Fraud Protection

Phishing is a scam that people on the internet can use against you. They use this method to gather your personal information and use it. This personal and financial information will be used and you will become a victim of Identity Theft. There are some basic things that you can do to help protect yourself from this scam.

First, don’t reply to any email or pop-up messages that ask for your personal or financial information. Additionally, don’t click on any links in those type of messages. Don’t even cut and paste the link information into a new browser window. These links can be redirected to a different website. Then you are providing your information to someone who can use that information in a negative way.

Next you might receive some information that asks you to call a number to update your information or to receive a refund. Please don’t call those numbers because you may not be calling your legitimate business dealings but someone who wants to steal your identity. Please call the numbers on the back of your cards or financial statement.

Properly install anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Keep this software updated regularly and if possible, have a firewall installed.

Never email any personal or financial information ever. Your emails are not private and can be read by just about anyone.

When you receive your bank and credit card statements take the time to review them carefully. Make sure that no unauthorized charges are on those accounts. This is often the way that Identity Theft is first discovered.

Don’t just open every attachment or download any files that you receive from emails. Regardless of who has sent them since phishers have found a way to take information from a person’s contact list and send those emails. It may appear that your “friend” or “family” has sent you an email but it actually came from someone who wants your personal information.

Finally, If you get a phishing email, forward the email to [email protected] – and also to the company who has been impersonated by the phishing email. It is important for them to get the information as soon as possible and use that to protect you from any harm. If you have been a victim or have been scammed, you can go to the Federal Trade Commission’s website (www.ftc.gov) and review what steps you should take if you have been a victim of Identity Theft.

Watching your identity and avoiding theft

By | Fraud Protection

Each day Americans go through their daily routine, but many of the unsuspecting Americans find out that they have become a victim. A victim of Identity Theft and don’t know how it happened. Were they truly a victim or were they careless and made a careless mistake. Who truly knows but it could happen to you.

Can you avoid identity theft? It is possible if you are dedicated to protecting the information that thieves are wanting that would give them your identity. Remember that the smallest piece of information could be a part in a larger puzzle. Don’t give the potential thief the tiniest piece of information that they could use against you. 

1. Destroy any piece of information that has any personal information about you. How many times have you got “junk” mail that had your complete name, your address and maybe one other additional piece of information such as the name of your bank?

2. Did you receive a bill or statement on something that you have already paid and you just threw the bill or statement away? That document has personal information including account information that a potential thief could use in identity theft.

3. Have you cleaned out your filing cabinet and thrown away personal information that was old?

Each of these things could hurt you in the long run. Some of the simplest things that were thrown away or used unwittingly on the internet have come back to hurt people. Here are some simple suggestions that could help protect you against identity theft.

First, don’t simply throw anything away that has some personal information, especially things like credit card offers. They can be picked up and used against you, and then they can change the address and now have a credit card in your name. If you receive a credit card offer in the mail, destroy the mail completely. Using a cross-cut shredder is a good tool and comes in very handy in protecting yourself. Most identity thieves will not take the time to try and piece together information, there are too many easy targets out there.

Additionally, don’t simply throw any records or items (floppy discs, compact discs, old documents) away without destroying them. Again, a good shredder makes wonderful work of that information.

Finally, be very attentive to your mail. Look at it from the standpoint of what information does it contain. This will help you in determining what information you are simply giving to a potential thief and what harm they could cause against you.

Identity Theft – What is it?

By | Fraud Protection

Webster’s Dictionary defines Identity Theft as follows: “the deliberate assumption of another person’s identity, usually to gain access to their credit or frame them for some crime. Less commonly, it is to enable illegal immigration, terrorism, espionage or changing identity permanently. It may also be a means of blackmail, especially if medical privacy or political privacy has been breached, and revealing the activities undertaken by the thief under the name of the victim would have serious consequences like loss of job or marriage.”

Simply put, it is a crime that happens when a criminal gets a piece of personal information of another person, such as a driver’s license or social security number and then uses it to take on someone else’s identity. The criminal will do things like obtain new credit, open new accounts and buy goods or services using the stolen information. Criminals can also use the stolen information to commit other non-credit related crimes.

You should monitor your accounts (Credit Card and such) and your bank statements each month. Additionally check your credit report often to confirm that nothing appears without your knowledge. This won’t stop any theft but it might help minimize the damage if you do become a victim.

Protecting yourself from Identity Theft

By | Fraud Protection

Identity theft is a common problem today and reviewing your credit report will help you see if you have become one of the victims. You must do some things to protect yourself. Here are a few tips to protect your self.

1. Never throw personal information away in the trash. A cross-cut shredder does a good job of destroying paper, old credit cards and compact disc’s stored with personal information. Anything that has your full name, address and other personal information can help a thief gather enough information to steal your identity.
2. Any place that is gathering information on you should be able to tell you how they protect that information and what they do when they are supposed to destroy it. If the business can’t tell you how your information is protected you should be concerned.
3. If you shop online make sure that the company has protection on your credit card information. If they have worked on making their site secure it is a good sign they are concerned about your information.
4. Some small shops that take your credit card information are also sites where your information could be stolen. They have older software that may show your complete card number and expiration date. This would allow them to use your card without your knowledge. Check your receipts and don’t be afraid to ask questions about your card information.
5. Never keep your personal information all in one place. Store your Driver’s License and your Social Security Card in separate locations. Don’t store either of them with your Credit Cards as this gives a potential thief everything they need to use your identity.

If you do happen to become the victim of Identity Theft there are a few things that you must do to minimize the potential damage.

1. Immediately notify the Police, Credit Card Companies and any one else that uses your personal information.
2. Make sure you get a copy of the police report so that you can prove that a crime was committed.
3. Cancel all bank accounts, credit cards, online ids and/or passwords and replace them with new ones.
4. Have the credit bureaus put a Fraud Alert and victim’s statement on your credit report.
5. Request a FREE copy of your credit report.
6. Check with the post office to see if a “Change of Address” has been filed in your name. This may be how they redirect the mail to another address.
7. Contact all parties you think that your identity may have been used without your knowledge. If you find out that it was used, contact the police.
8. Keep a journal of all your contacts regarding your identity theft. Dates and times will help prove that you have been working hard on minimizing the potential loss. Make copies of all documents.

Financial loss is the immediate problem but your credit history can affect you for a good long time. Protecting your self is the best defense but aggressive response can minimize the damage if you do become a victim.

Illegal Credit Repair Tactics and Scams

By | Fraud Protection

Credit is a way of life for most Americans, which is why having an accurate credit report is so vital for today’s consumer. And since nearly 80 percent of all credit reports contain inaccuracies, many people seeking help are turning to businesses that offer credit report repair services.

Discovering that your credit report contains errors is frustrating, but being ‘scammed’ by an unethical credit repair agency adds insult to injury. Initially, the appealing services offered and promises made by unethical credit repair agencies are very enticing to those struggling to find a way out of their financial difficulties. When one is sinking in the sand, it’s natural not to be real selective when grasping for a nearby branch. But in this case, it pays to survey the situation carefully before deciding on the best solution. First and foremost, take time to investigate and compare credit repair services.

In their quest for your hard-earned money, many credit repair agencies push the ‘marketing’ envelope, making bold claims and elaborate-sounding, yet meaningless guarantees in an attempt to stand out from the competition and win your business.

Some credit repair agencies have even posed as credible law firms to falsely persuade you that a retained, licensed, legal professional is working on your credit case. Be wary of any credit repair agency that won’t fully disclose their company information and/or verifiable identity, provide a complete address (beyond a Post Office Box), or demand large fees in advance of services rendered. Credit repair agencies have been heavily regulated because of the effects of unethical and illegal credit repair practices.

Beware of any credit repair business that says “we promise to do anything” or “we guarantee to remove your negative items” from your credit report. The credit repair businesses claiming to be able to do so are making false and misleading statements to you.

Advance Fee Loan and Creditor Scams

By | Fraud Protection

The Not-so-Credible Creditors
For consumers, repairing inaccurate credit report information can be stressful and time consuming. When inaccuracies on your credit report make it difficult to qualify for a loan or lower interest rates, it is easy to understand why the lure of ‘guaranteed loans’ from some creditors is so enticing.

Knowing that nearly 80 percent of Americans have errors on their credit reports, opportunistic con artists, posing as legitimate lenders, make loan offers that sound too good to be true and are hard to resist. Unfortunately, the offers are usually too good to be true, which is why you should be aware of the tactics employed by these unethical businesses and individuals who present themselves as the ultimate solution for those suffering from poor credit scores.

Beware of Advance Fee Loan Scams
You may see a variety of advertisements promising loans in the classified section of local and national newspapers, magazines, and on the Internet. The ads also surface on local cable stations, radio, and fliers. Often, these ads feature ‘900’ numbers (which result in charges on your phone bill), or toll-free ‘800’ numbers.

The point to remember is that anyone can advertise in recognized media outlets or on the Internet. A marketing blitz with slick ads does not guarantee the legitimacy of the product or company behind the ad. In addition, con artists and unethical companies often use delivery systems other than the U.S. Postal Service, such as overnight or courier services, to avoid detection and federal prosecution by postal authorities.

Guaranteed Loans
Some companies claim they can guarantee you a loan for a fee paid in advance. The fee may range from $100 to several hundred dollars. (Small businesses and individuals have paid – and lost – several thousand dollars as an advance fee for a loan.) Whether you are an individual consumer or an owner of a small business, the result is the same: the only one receiving money is the con artist. And once the con artists get your money, they disappear.

Don’t confuse a legitimate pre-approved credit offer with a legitimate pre-qualified offer from mortgage brokers, banks, savings and loans, and credit unions. A pre-approved offer requires only your verbal or written acceptance. A pre-qualified offer means you’ve been selected to apply. However, you still must go through the normal application process, and you still can be turned down.

Equal Credit Opportunity
Credit is used by millions of consumers for a variety of reasons. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) ensures that all consumers are given an equal chance to obtain credit. This means that all consumers who apply for credit will get equal consideration. The applicants’ creditworthiness will be determined according to factors such as income, expenses, debt, and credit history.

The law protects you when you deal with any creditor who regularly extends credit, including banks, small loan and finance companies, credit unions, department and retail stores, and credit card companies. Anyone involved in granting credit, such as real estate brokers who arrange financing, is covered by the law. Businesses applying for credit also are protected by the law.

For More Information
Ovation Law and the FTC are excellent resources and provide a wealth of helpful information for consumers to avoid unscrupulous lenders and credit repair scams. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace.

To file a complaint or to get additional information, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-freecall toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters identity theft, telemarketing, Internet, and other fraud-related complaints into a secure, online database that is available to hundreds of criminal law enforcement agencies worldwide.

Identity Theft – Protection & Recovery

By | Fraud Protection

What is Identity theft?
Identity theft is a serious crime and occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, social security number, credit card number or other identifying information, without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years – and money – cleaning up the mess thievers have made of their good name and credit record. In the meantime, victims may lose job opportunities, be refused loans, education, housing, cars or even get arrested for crimes they didn’t commit.

Identity Fraud – A Rising Tide
Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America! According to a Federal Trade Commission survey, 9.9 million Americans were victimized in the last 12 months – a level ten times higher than the agency previously estimated. The victims collectively reported $5 billion in out-of-pocket losses, due in large part because most victims don’t discover the fraud until it’s too late – perhaps even a year or more after the fact. Additional identity theft statistics include:

  • Identity theft is up about 80 percent from last year.
  • As many as 33.4 million Americans were victims of identity theft since 1990.
  • Nearly 85 percent of all victims discover their identity theft case in a negative manner (as opposed to proactive action taken by a creditor or business).
  • In the past 12 months, 3.23 million consumers discovered that new accounts had been opened, and other frauds had been committed in their name.

For additional information, visit our online Learning Center and download our FREE, comprehensive Identity Theft Prevention Manual today.

Important Contact Information

If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, call the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline toll-free at 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338).

Social Security Administration (Fraud line): 1-800-269-0271

Identity Theft Credit Repair Program
Ovation Credit Services Inc.
Call: 1 (866) 639 – 3426
www.ovationcredit.com

Rights under the Telemarketing Sales Rule

To learn about your rights under the Telemarketing Sales Rule and how to protect yourself from fraudulent telephone sales practices, request a free copy of Straight Talk About Telemarketing.
Contact the Consumer Response Center at:

Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
Toll free, at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357)
TDD 1-866-653-4261

Contact Us
Repairing your credit report is one of the most important financial decisions you can make. Ovation Credit Services is a trusted law firm that makes the process convenient, personal, and effective. If you have any other questions or need for credit report repair services, please contact us anytime.

Safe Email Practices

By | Fraud Protection

Most email users are becoming more knowledgeable about ‘email etiquette’ and the basic email ‘do’s and don’ts’, but there are some helpful tips to heed that can enhance our Internet experience and protect us from many of harmful viruses, Internet scams, and unsolicited commercial email, known as spam.

No doubt your place of employment has established some general rules of email use in the work environment, but when it comes to using your personal email account, whether from your home or from remote locations, there are some simple rules to follow that will make your online experience more enjoyable and more productive.

Maintain More Than One Email Account
Establish two or three email accounts, and designate each account for specific purposes. (This will not only save you a great deal of time and stress, but it will help to protect your personal information.)

Designate one email account specifically for your online payments. This makes it easier for you to maintain the security of your electronic purchases by exposing only one card online and allows you to monitor all your Internet purchases by viewing one credit card statement. If you are exposed to an identity theft scam, you’ll be able to discover it quicker and minimize the damages.

Designate another account for your online subscriptions, downloads, newsgroups, and general use. You will most likely receive an abundance of unsolicited commercial email (spam) in this account but there are ways to keep spam under control – as outlined in the following section, and these two previous accounts will help you to avoid unwanted email from being delivered to your personal account.

Finally, designate one account as your personal email account, and be stingy with whom you share this address with. That way, when you want to quickly check your email, you won’t have to wade through piles of spam just to read an email from a family member. Do not publish this email anywhere on the web or use it with chat rooms and news groups.

The Scoop on Spam
Two of your three email accounts will undoubtedly be targeted for spam. (The technical term for spam is “unsolicited commercial email” (UCE) that is sent in bulk without prior request or consent.) These mass emails often carry messages involving pyramid schemes, adult products, frauds, and computer viruses.

While it was first termed “junk mail”, today’s popular term of “spam” caught on with the public as a result of a TV skit on Monty Python where Vikings invaded a ‘dive restaurant’ and the word “spam” was used more and more frequently as the waitress spouted off each successive dish on the menu, similar to the way spam email seems to endlessly accumulate in your mailbox.

The first known spam email was sent on May 1st, 1978, by a DEC marketing representative to every Arpanet address on the west coast of the United States. The general public reaction was one of outrage, and it hasn’t subsided since. The majority of email sent on the net is spam, and the sheer volume threatens to bury the legitimate, everyday email being sent.

It’s important to note however; that even though spam is frequently used by scam artists, not all spam is fraudulent.

Legitimate marketers as well as con-artists have found the ability to quickly and affordably reach huge numbers of consumers through email too tempting to pass up. For criminals who don’t need to worry about actually providing a physical product or service, only a tiny fraction of the thousands or millions of email recipients need respond in order for the spammers to make a lot of money. It’s a shot in the dark for these swindlers, but there are more than enough con-artists and fraudsters who are willing to pull the trigger.

Spammers obtain email addresses by purchasing lists from marketing brokers who have “harvested” the addresses from various sources including: websites, Internet chat rooms, newsgroup postings, and online membership directories. The address list is then dropped into special software and the message is sent to thousands, and even millions of consumers. Depending on the software used, the spammers can even see who opened the email and then place those addresses on a new marketing list, subjecting them to more spam.

FTC Enforcement Action
The FTC has taken several steps to control deceptive spam. In 1998, the Commission set up a special email account to monitor spam and track spammers. Today, that account receives about 40,000 pieces a day. Three years ago, the same mailbox received about 4,000 a day.

No More Spam!
You can enhance your security and greatly reduce, or even eliminate the amount of spam you receive by diligently implementing and following the procedures and guidelines provided here:

1. Never respond to an email that asks for personal information (i.e., phone number, address, account information etc.)

2. Don’t display your private email address in public spaces, including chat rooms and newsgroup postings, on websites, or in membership directories of online services. (The most effective way to prevent spam is to never divulge your email address to third parties.)
If you enter a chat room or a newsgroup, disguise your email with nonsense words or use a temporary address.

3. Never send money to anyone who contacts you by email for any reason whatsoever.

4. Avoid opening or previewing any unsolicited email. (If you preview a spam email and it has an image link you are validating your email address, inviting even more spam.)
As tempting or enticing as those subject lines may be, don’t take the bait. Many times the subject may even sound like the email is from a friend or other trusted source. Some of the nastiest computer viruses have been propagated by consumers who innocently opened an email – along with its’ attachment – that had the subject: “Here’s the file you wanted,” or “Here’s my picture,” etc.

5. Always check the source of the email before you open it, and NEVER open an email attachment unless you know what it is and where it came from.

6. Finally, don’t click on the ‘unsubscribe’ or ‘remove me’ link. A spam filtering firm (MessageLabs) recently discovered that some spammers are sneaking special code into the ‘opt-out’ link that, upon activation, uses the victim’s computer to route more spam through. So, in addition to validating your email by clicking on a spam ‘opt-out’ link, you may also be downloading a Trojan that turns your computer into an open proxy for sending more spam.

Other variations of the attack place keystroke loggers on victims’ computers that enable the spammer to collect passwords and other personal information.

Stay informed of the latest Internet scams and hoaxes, and keep current on your virus protection software and security patches. The technology of the Internet is a tremendous achievement, but with every great technological accomplishment there comes a downside, and we need to be mindful of our vulnerabilities and take preventive action to fully enjoy the advantages that technology has to offer.

Call Now for a FREE Credit Consultation

CALL US NOW