Suzanne uses Hotmail and all of a sudden, she's getting hundreds of spam from subscribed newsletters. She also got an email about an order for a GoPro camera bought at Walmart. Leo suspects that someone doesn't like Suzanne or has stolen her identity. It's a new scam where hackers overwhelm your email address with bulk emails to distract you from the actual identity theft going on. It's called "Chaff." The idea is to be so overwhelmed with spam and bulk emails, you miss the stolen credit card activity. Shame on companies that allow signups without a double opt-in via email.
Mara was a victim of identity theft, and just narrowly avoided having her brokerage account drained. Leo says that Mara should change her password and turn on 2 factor authentication right away. Leo suspects the bad guys got her information from a database breach like the Collection #1 or the Marriott hack. Leo also suggests going to haveIbeenpwned.com/passwords and see if her passwords have been compromised and are known.
Jay's mother is having issues with her bank, that here ATM card is getting accessed over and over again, even though the bank has reissued the card with a separate number. How can that be and what can he do? Leo says that a smaller bank may have lackluster security. Protections are much better on credit cards, than debit cards. You can only be on the hook for $50 with a credit card. With a debit card, the limits are higher. Always keep possession of your debit card and use a credit card for other options, like online purchases, or eating out.
Adam bought an iMac from a private seller. It still had Apple Care and he had it transferred to his name. He's worried that there was a keylogger on it and his credit card was compromised. Leo says that unless he wiped the computer himself, he won't know if it's compromised or not. Leo says that it's probably not the Mac, but just in case, Adam should wipe the drive himself. It's really easy to wipe an iMac drive and reinstall the OS. It could be that Adam's iCloud account has been compromised.
Val is interested in LifeLock and wants to know if it's safe. Is it? Leo says yes. They were a bit over confident in the early days, but they are dedicated to getting in between you and identity thieves by putting fraud alerts on your credit history. But now they can't do that because of lawsuits. So now they own companies that are built to target fraudulent credit activity so that if anything unauthorized occurs, you get wind of it and they can shut it down. They will also help you fix your credit record should you be a victim of credit card fraud.
Louis keeps getting emails from LifeLock, and he wants to know if the service is worth the price. Leo says that he's been a subscriber for ten years, and he got it to protect his kids. Leo's opinion is that they do a great job monitoring your credit to be sure nefarious activity doens't crop up, and when it does, they can help you fix it. It's not cheap, but Leo has never had any problem and has no plans to stop using it. But you can put a fraud alert on your own account which will warn you when someone tries to open up credit.
Walt got a notification from the US Office of Personnel Management about his personal data being compromised. Leo says it's true. They were hacked and the personal data files of anyone who has worked for or applied for a job with the US Government may have had their personal information compromised. They should have also offered users a year of free credit and information monitoring to make up for it.
Steve was robbed recently and they got ahold of his laptop. Even though it's password protected, can they get his personal data? Leo says absolutely. A password is only to keep someone out who walks by. But if they have time, they can use password crackers to brute force the password free. That's really the most serious issue -- if he has any banking information and passwords on it. But considering that the theives may have been homeless, Leo hopes that they likely won't have the tools to take advantage of it.
Mike needs to buy a new hard drive. Leo says they've gotten really large and really cheap. He could get a 5 TB hard drive for under $150. And SSDs have dropped below $1 a GB.
Back in 2013, Mike noticed he's had several negative dings on his credit. Leo says to check out his credit report to see if there's fraud or other inaccuracies it. If so, he can challenge them. But if he's a victim of identity theft, it's a hard thing to convince not only the credit agencies, but also the credit card companies and the IRS that he's had his identity stolen.
Peter had his credit cards stolen. Leo says it's a very common thing. The good news is that in the US, the banks take all the liability, and this Fall, a new credit card will come out with chips and PIN numbers to guard against theft. Another option is to sign up for one time use credit card numbers, or numbers that can be used with just one merchant.