Tag Archives: driver’s license number

Breach Brief – SunTrust Bank

SunTrust Bank has reported a data breach that may have compromised the personal information of up to 1.5 million customers. According to reports the bank believes a former employee may have stolen customer information to give to a criminal third party.

SunTrust first became aware of improper access to customer records in February. An internal investigation implicated the ex-employee for the alleged theft. According to the Wall Street Journal the employee tried to print the records and share them with a “criminal third party.”

According to SunTrust the names, addresses, phone numbers and account balances of 1.5 million customers were breached. However the bank does not believe that Social Security numbers, account numbers, passwords, and driver’s license information were accessed. SunTrust also stated that there’s no indication that fraudulent activity has occurred with the affected accounts.

The bank has begun  the process of contacting customers whose info may have been compromised. SunTrust is also planing to provide free identity protection to all its customers whether they have been impacted by the breach or not. 

SunTrust customers can go to this website to see if they are affected by the breach.

The incident is under investigation and the bank continues to work closely with law enforcement and outside experts.

Back to School – Student Identity Theft

Identity theft is rampant. It it the fastest growing Internet crime and black college students should be aware of the vulnerability of their personal information.

According to the Better Business Bureau college students are prime targets because their credit records are usually clean.  College students are also more willing to share information in person and online. Visit any college campus, especially during the first week, and you will find numerous credit card companies offering their services to new and returning students. There are also other companies and marketers working to gather student information for their sales efforts. Students would be wise to avoid these information collectors. Be extremely careful what forms or surveys you fill out and what information you release to someone you really don’t know.

Combine that with the powerful urge to be social and you will find students sharing far too much information on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram and other campus forums.

Teach your student that not everyone on campus, student or not, is a friend. Half of all identity theft cases reported are executed by someone the victim knows. This is why it so important that all students, African-American especially, jealously guard their personal information.

The college dorm room is a vulnerability for careless students. BBB CEO Kelvin Collins said, “Protect your information. Don’t leave bank statements, credit card statements or your wallet just laying out for other people to find.”

Campus mailboxes are another vulnerability. Students should send sensitive mail to their permanent addresses. Students should also  check their financial statements often to look for suspicious activity or purchases.

Make sure you or your student are aware of the campus privacy policies. Ask questions about who the campus shares information with. You might be surprised. Some universities sell student SAT and ACT scores, their financial information such a student loan data and even what books they check out and classes they take.

There are steps that a student can take to protect their identity.

  1. Be aware of dumpster diving – Students receive a lot of offers through the mail. Don’t just throw these things away. Identity thieves are checking campus trash cans and will often find student’s personal information. They may find enough to apply for a credit card in the students name. This is really very common.  Make sure you use a shredder on all your unwanted mail. A good paper shredder can be as cheap as $10.00.  Make use of email delivered credit card bills or bank statements.
  2. Check you mailbox frequently – Breaking into student mailboxes is not uncommon.  Be alert, has your mail suddenly stopped?  An identity thief  may have filled out a change of address form against your address. Check with postal officials if something does not seem right.
  3. Monitor your identity…closely Make use of credit monitoring services. Check all your accounts at least once a month . This includes bank accounts, credit cards, and utility bills. Look for suspicious charges you didn’t authorize, no matter  how small.  Identity thieves will often test a charge account with a small purchase to see if they can use your identity. If they succeed they go on a spending spree.  Are you getting notifications in the mail or your e-mail about accounts you know nothing about?  Don’t just delete the notice, investigate. Calls from creditors or collection agencies may indicate you have already been victimized. Report this immediately to the police, your bank, your legitimate credit accounts and all the credit reporting agencies.  Get a yearly copy of your credit report. You can visit www.annualcreditreport.com, or call toll-free 877-322-8228 to receive your report.
  4. Know whats in your wallet or purseMost people, actually 95 percent, carry a wallet or purse with them at all times. But very few can tell you exactly what’s in it. The contents of your wallet or purse probably include your driver’s license, or social security card, extremely valuable forms of identification. These documents are the target of identity thieves. Guard your wallet or purse at all times. Don’t relax around you dorm roommates. Make a list of all identity documents and credit cards you carry with you. Write down your driver’s license number and other important numbers. And be prepared to take action if your wallet or purse is stolen. In the event your wallet or purse is stolen notify every agency responsible for the items on your list immediately. Don’t wait to see if it re-appears or if someone turns in to lost and found.  Being proactive will save you the headache of trying to remember what you have in your wallet and the agony of having your identity stolen. And never, ever, keep your social security number on you. A favorite move of an experienced identity thief is to steal your purse or wallet, copy the information and then turn it in to lost and found or return it to you. This has the affect of causing you to relax and not alert the proper officials. Keep that in mind.  Memorize your social security number and lock it away in a safe location.
  5. Phishing attacks/Social engineeringA professional scammer is an expert at convincing you that they are someone else. On the phone its sometimes called social engineering. Using email its called a phishing attacks. They do this to manipulate you into revealing information. This activity is frequently associated with online scams, often using email messages that look official or seem to be from someone you know. But not always.  Students need to be especially alert to this. Be on the lookout for these types of scams, especially in your e-mail. You may get an email that looks like its from a school official. For example, it may look like its from the school financial aid office. Do not click on any link or attachment in the e-mail. Don’t reply if you have any suspicion at all. Make sure you know the school policy for contacting students via email or what they can discussed on the phone.  Identity thieves that use phishing attacks and social engineering are very skilled at making any e-mail look very legitimate or sound official on the phone. Don’t just assume because it has the school logo on it it is safe. Emails can be easily duplicated and email addresses can be spoofed. Be cautious, this is your personal information we are talking about.

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime online because it is profitable. Students can be careless and relaxed around their friends and classmates. But, again, most identity theft is done by people you know. Be aware and be alert to how identity thieves works and save yourself some headaches this school year.

Now you know.

What Vital Numbers Are Cyber Criminals Looking For?

What is the one thing that every cyber crime and identity theft requires? Information. And if you are wondering what information that answer is easy; numbers. Vital numbers. See, believe it or not, numbers dominate our life. Numbers tell everybody everything about us. Black people need to focus in these numbers to steer clear of cyber crime.

Cyber criminals are looking for eight numbers. Now keep in mind that they don’t need all eight to rob you. Just the right combination to convince someone that they are you. What numbers?

Let’s start with your phone number.  What is it cell or home number or work number? We want people to call us if necessary. But we struggle with that issue because we get annoying calls from telemarketers. or politicians during and election cycle. A lot of people prefer unlisted numbers. But you’d be surprised how many people still have numbers listed in phone books. Yes people, phone books are still being used even with the Internet. Keep in mind that many companies use your phone number to identify you. They simply use your phone number as your account number when doing business.  Its not hard for a cyber criminal to use software to make your number show up when calling these businesses. Its called caller ID spoofing. This is how information is stolen. 

Important Dates and Zip Codes

Any date can be a vital number for a cyber criminal. Including birth dates, dates you attended college, the date you started working at a certain job, when you lived at a particular address, even ZIP codes associated with your  open accounts. All these numbers help a scam artist break into your life a little at a time. This is why social media is so dangerous. Most people post this information on their Facebook account without thinking. Read, Social Media, Good, Bad & Ugly to see what criminals can learn just by reading your Facebook page. You need  to learn how to use security and privacy setting on Facebook and other social media sites. We live in the age where privacy is hard to come by.  So focus on providing as little information as possible. Or practice using incorrect or misleading information on your social media site. If the social media site you use doesn’t like it so what. Close your account. You’ll be better off. 

PIN Numbers

Card skimmers are  devices used to capture your debit or credit card information. They can be mounted on any card reading device using a magnet or some form of adhesive. The device reads the data on your card while a small camera records you as you type in your PIN number. This is a common scam. A skimmer can be anywhere. Whenever you use a ATM or other card reader give the card slot a good tug The skimmer might come off in your hand. Same for the key pad. Try to pull it off or move it. Good advice is cover your hands and be paranoid about people around you.

Social Security Numbers

This is the Holy Grail of them all. Once you lose this its pretty much over. My best advice; give it only when it is absolutely necessary. I mean ABSOLUTELY! A lot places will ask for your social security number but they don’t need it. Its up to you to decide who gets it. Make sure you know how they will use it and how they will protect it.

Bank Account  Numbers

You can find these numbers paper checks. By the way paper checks are probably the least secure way to pay for things. Use a debit card. Its quicker and easier and not likely to bounce. You may also consider using your credit card. Credit cards offer rewards for using them and buyer protections and reveal a lot less of your information.

IP Addresses

In case you didn’t know IP addresses  are the location of your computer on the Internet. This allows scam artists, malware, or other remote control software to lock the files on your computer and then demand a ransom in exchange for access. Its called ransome ware. It is often accompanied by a warning message that your IP address is associated with online criminal activity or has visited unauthorized websites like child porn. Its a common scam. It’s not difficult to track an IP address. But there are also a number of browsers that hide your IP address and associated searches. Google Chrome has a an “Incognito” function that hides your IP address. And there are fixes for ransomware, sometimes. Sometimes the scammer will encrypt your files and you may never get them back. That’s why you should have a good back up disk or location in the cloud.

Drivers License and Passport Numbers

These are critical pieces of your identity. Much like the social security number these numbers can wreck your life if they are lost.  Once a criminal has these numbers the documents can be counterfeited. Counterfeited documents are a multi-million dollar criminal industry. Personal documents undergo major makeovers featuring new names, new faces and addresses and your numbers.

Health Insurance Account Numbers

Health insurance fraud is a growing crime in this country. This fraud can jeopardize not only your credit and finances but your life as well.  Phony medical information can get mixed in with the legitimate records such as blood type and allergies and medications with deadly results. As for your credit, you could find yourself in an all out war with bill collectors and credit companies over bills that went unpaid because someone used your insurance fraudulently.

These numbers are your life. Its as simple as that. Black people need to focus on securing these numbers for themselves and their family. Know what information you release with every transaction and try to limit it as much as possible. The rules for privacy in today’s information age are made and enforced by you.

Now you know