Geotag, You're It! What Your Smartphone Might Be Saying Behind Your Back


Snap a photo of a sunset with your iPhone and you can upload it to Twitter with a few clicks. But your smartphone might be transmitting more than a pretty photograph. It could be collecting and storing data about your real-time location – and then broadcasting that information when you upload photos onto the Internet. What is Geotagging? Geotagging refers to the practice of adding location information – like GPS coordinates – to different types of media, such as photos. The location information is embedded in a way that may not be visible to the naked eye. There are several ways to make geotags visible, including browser plug-ins and software programs that can reveal the location information embedded in photos, videos and other types of media.

New Federal Law Protects Gift Card Users


Is the gift card that you received for your birthday last month burning a hole in your pocket? Do you still have an unused gift card from the holidays? Consumers often have had to worry about using gift cards before they lost their value. That will now begin to change for the better.

Until recently, many gift cards users had few legal rights to protect them from fees and expiration dates. Although some states had laws protecting gift card users, there was no federal law offering nationwide consumer protections. That has now changed with a new federal law (the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act) that provides important protections for gift cards sold on or after August 22, 2010.

Is Your Computer a Zombie?


Has your computer or smart phone become a resource to commit malicious acts against other persons and companies? By taking advantage of a wide variety of computer vulnerabilities, your device may become a zombie that is under the control of a criminal that conducts crime using electronic devices (e-criminal). Once an e-criminal has control, not only is your device being used to attack other systems, anything stored on, or typed into, that device is also compromised.

In the past the malware focused on causing harm to the device such as making it crash or capturing keystrokes for the purpose of gaining access to bank accounts or credit card information.  As e-criminals continue to evolve their destructive goals and increase damage to their targets, they realized the need for substantial computing resources and a way to avoid being detected.  To achieve both of these goals, malware was developed enabling e-criminals to take over network-attached devices; a very cost effective solution!

500 Million Sensitive Records Breached Since 2005


The most recent total from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse’s Chronology of Data Breaches shows more than a half billion sensitive records breached since 2005, leaving Americans vulnerable to identity theft. Employees losing laptop computers, hackers downloading credit card numbers and sensitive personal data accidentally exposed online -- the Chronology of Data Breaches shows hundreds of ways that the personal information of consumers is lost, stolen or exposed. The Chronology of Data Breaches, a project of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse since 2005, lists incidents involving breached consumer information, such as personal medical records, credit card numbers and Social Security numbers.

The most recent total, published August 24, 2010, is a wake-up call to consumers who think identity theft can’t happen to them. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse estimates that the Chronology shows only a fraction of the total number of data breaches.

Disasters and Your Privacy


Nobody likes to think about the possibility of a natural disaster or a terrorist act.   But as victims of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina can attest, it’s important to prepare for a disaster before it happens.  Certainly, your first concerns in an emergency should be your safety and basic needs such as shelter, food and water.  While there are many resources that can assist you with those concerns, this alert will focus on protecting your privacy and personal information during and after a disaster.

It’s important to realize that different types of disasters are likely to result in different consequences.  You may be asked to shelter in place, to evacuate to a facility in your own community, or possibly to relocate to a far-off location in another state.  Or you may choose to stay with a relative or friend.  Likewise, you may be able to return to your home after a short while, or there may be an extended period of absence.  In the worst case, your home and its contents may be completely destroyed.

Online Reputation Management - What Every Jobseeker Should Know


In today’s digital world, false or unflattering information attached to your name could haunt you for years.  For jobseekers competing in a tough economy, an unprofessional online presence could be a hindrance to landing a good job.  More employers are using the Internet to learn about job candidates, with a recent Microsoft survey showing that 70% of hiring managers have rejected a job applicant because of information posted online. 

Some jobseekers are turning to Online Reputation Management (ORM) firms to help them improve their digital personas.  Before you pay for an ORM service, be aware that ORM firms do not have the ability to remove unflattering information from the Internet any more than you do. If you are willing to invest the time, you can manage your own online reputation at little or no cost.

Top 8 Things You Shouldn't Give Social Networking Sites


While websites like Facebook and MySpace make it easy to share vacation photos with old classmates, the personal information on social networks is also attracting people besides friends and family members.  Scam artists, identity thieves, debt collectors, stalkers, hiring managers, and companies looking for a marketing advantage are turning to social networking sites to gather valuable information. Before you publish your next status update, take care that you aren’t risking your identity, security or reputation.

Below are eight things you shouldn’t give to a social network – when signing up for an account, posting content or interacting with your contacts through the network.

Summer Vacation - A Privacy and Identity Theft Primer


When you travel, your risk of exposure to fraud and identity theft may increase. It’s a fact that people tend to let their guard down while on vacation.  Identity theft is often a crime of opportunity.  Don’t be a vacationer who presents a thief with that opportunity.  Your personal information, credit and debit cards, driver’s license, passport, and other personal information are the criminal’s target. By spending a few minutes planning before you travel, you can help reduce the risk that a thief will ruin your vacation.  You can also help avoid unnecessary problems with your financial institution. Here are some tips for an enjoyable vacation.

What You Should Know About Credit Repair Companies


If you’re losing sleep over bad credit, ads promising a quick fix can seem like a dream come true. But, hook up with the wrong company and your dreams of clean credit can quickly turn into a living nightmare.

While the economy has faltered in recent years, credit repair companies have flourished. As is often the case, hard times for consumers create opportunities for scammers. An unscrupulous credit repair company may collect upfront fees, may make you pay for things you can get for free or may even persuade you to break the law.

If you are knee-deep in debt and thinking about a credit repair service, read out guide to find out how to recognize a dishonest credit repair service.

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