The ABCs of ID theft. Seguridad :: Control de Acceso

The ABCs of ID theft

Fecha Sábado, agosto 12 @ 12:37:54
Tema Seguridad :: Control de Acceso

The ABCs of ID theft
How it happens; How to stop it

By Milena Head

  • Dumpster Diving: fishing out personal information from your trash – anything from bank statements, credit card statements and pre-approved credit card applications to simple documentation of your name, address etc.
  • Mailbox Diving: getting to your mail (with your personal information) before you do
  • Shoulder Surfing: peeking over your shoulder while entering PIN numbers; jotting down your credit card number when you’re not looking; taking pictures of your credit card with camera phones
  • Switching: replacing your credit cards with faked or expired cards that are similar in appearance
  • Bribing: offering service employees (clerks, waiters/waitresses, bartenders, etc.) bribes to jot down credit card numbers used during the day’s transactions
  • Online searching of publicly available data: there’s an incredible amount of information that can be found through Google searches alone and it’s often enough to build a complete profile of an individual

Some of the higher tech methods are:

  • Spyware: hidden programs that collect sensitive information from your hard-drive or online transactions
  • Hacking: into customer or employee databases (the FTC states that about 90% of business record thefts involve payroll or employment records, while only about 10% are customer lists)
  • Phishing/Spoofing: fraudulent emails that purport to come from a trusted source (financial institution, major retailer etc.) urging customers to verify/enter personal information
  • Skimming (or double swiping): your credit or bank card is swiped once for payment then again through a device that copies the information from your card’s magnetic strip and used to create a counterfeit card with your data

How to protect yourself from ID theft

  • Carry only the ID and credit cards you need (Not your Social Insurance Number!)
  • Shred personal papers, receipts and junk mail
  • Remove mail from your mailbox promptly
  • Check credit card and bank statements immediately
  • Watch what you say on the phone (you never know who is within earshot)
  • Secure personal info at home and work
  • Passwords (don’t pick something that could be guessed easily; change them frequently; use different passwords for different applications; never reveal your passwords)
  • Be alert during transactions (pay attention to those around you and never leave a credit or debit card unattended)
  • Talk to your employer about identity theft (what type of policies and measures do they have in place to protect your personal information)
  • Check your credit report every year (You can obtain your credit report online from Equifax or TransUnion for under $15 or get it for free directly from their offices)

What to do if you are a victim:

  • Step 1: Contact your bank or credit card company
  • Step 2: Report to the local police
  • Step 3: Contact the fraud departments of each of two major credit bureaus (Equifax and Trans Union)
  • Step 4: Report to appropriate government organization (PhoneBusters)

Helpful Links:

PhoneBusters The Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre: www.phonebusters.comReporting Economic Fraud On-Line (RECOL): www.recol.caVisa Cut the Line on Phishing Scams: Online Canadian Credit Report and Credit History Information: Canada Credit Profile Solutions -- Obtain your credit profile: Working Group Commited to Wiping Out Internet Scams & Fraud:

Password primer

Passwords are the most common form of protecting personal information for transactions and communications. Whether it’s over the Internet, on the phone (voice mail and telephone banking) or using a debit card for retail purchases or to withdraw money from an ATM (Automated Teller Machine), passwords safeguard our personal data, our money and our credit. While passwords give us access from anywhere in the world, they can also be hacked and stolen from anywhere in the world.

McMaster University recently instituted tougher rules for students when they first create the password they use to access the many online services on campus. MAC ID passwords must be a minimum of 8 characters in length and include at least two sets of characters that are upper case, lower case, numbers or symbols — a combination that makes the password ‘strong’ and difficult to crack.

Jim Bryce, a security officer in Mac’s University Technology Services department wanted to test the strength of some passwords he chose randomly, using a password-cracking program downloaded from the Internet.


Time to Crack

2 seconds


3 seconds



  • Use different paswords for different accounts; if one password is broken, your other passwords will be safe
  • Change your passwords every month or so
  • Make sure yoru password is at least eight characters in length and includes upper case, lower case, numbers and special symbols
  • Choose passwords that can be easily remembered and typed quickly without having to look at the keyboard. This makes it harder for the "shoulder surfing" ID thief to steal your password


  • Use passwords that can be associated with you personally or are easy to guess (words associated with yoru family, such as your mother's maiden name or your pet's name; numbers such as your birthday date or the last 4 digits of your social security number)
  • Use words found in the dicitonary, or person's names such as celebrities, sports stars or fantasy characters
  • Use any of the above spelled backwards or preceeded or followed by a digit (i.e. 1password or password1)
  • Ever write down your password(s) to keep in your wallet or worse, stick it on a Post-it note to your computer

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