Our investigators and researchers at Sunset Blvd. Investigations (SBI) want to remind everyone to be vigilant with their personal data. Just as we safeguard our home environment from burglars seeking to forcibly break-in and steal our most treasured possessions, we must be equally attentive in the 21st Century at protecting the valuable data warehoused on our computers from cybercriminals who persistently attempt to gain entry via the Internet. Be mindful that Internet fraud occurs in chat rooms, emails, message boards and on websites.
Online scams have developed using increasingly sophisticated means of deceiving users. According to the FBI, online scams have increased over the last 10 years and the total losses have doubled in the recent years, affecting both private individuals and large scale businesses. For this very reason, the cyber-criminal activities are now subject to federal investigations and are treated as a very serious problem which affects us all.
For the victim, the speed and effectiveness of stopping the active misuse of their identity is probably the single most important factor in determining how catastrophic the damage is going to be in the long run.
Identity theft occurs when somebody assumes your identity to execute a fraud or other criminal acts. Criminals can obtain the information they need to assume your identity from a variety of sources:
- Stealing your wallet or purse.
- Rummaging through your trash.
- Compromising your credit or bank information.
- Approaching you in person, via telephone, or on the Internet.
Sources of information about you are so numerous that you can’t always prevent the theft of your identity from Internet fraud, but you can minimize your risk of loss by following these simple tips:
Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft & Credit Card Fraud:
- Never throw away ATM receipts, credit statements, credit cards, or bank statements in a usable form.
- Never give your credit card number over the telephone unless you make the call.
- Reconcile your bank account monthly, and notify your bank of discrepancies immediately.
- Report unauthorized financial transactions to your bank, credit card company, and the police as soon as you detect them.
- Review a copy of your credit report at least once each year. Notify the credit bureau in writing of any questionable entries and follow through until they are explained or removed.
- If your identity has been assumed, ask the credit bureau to print a statement to that effect in your credit report.
- Don’t give out your credit card number online unless the site is secure and reputable. Sometimes a tiny icon of a padlock appears to symbolize a higher level of security to transmit data. This icon is not a guarantee of a secure site, but provides some assurance.
- Don’t trust a site just because it claims to be secure.
- Before using the site, check out the security/encryption software it uses.
- Do your homework on the individual or company to ensure that they are legitimate.
- Obtain a physical address rather than simply a post office box and a telephone number, and call the seller to see if the telephone number is correct and working.
- Send an e-mail to the seller to make sure the e-mail address is active, and be wary of those that utilize free e-mail services where a credit card wasn’t required to open the account.
- Consider not purchasing from sellers who won’t provide you with this type of information.
- Check out other websites regarding this person/company.
- Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own country.
- If possible, purchase items online using your credit card. You can often dispute the charges if something goes wrong.
- Make sure the transaction is secure when you electronically send your credit card number.
- Keep a list of all your credit cards and account information along with the card issuer’s contact information. If anything looks suspicious or you lose your credit card(s), contact the card issuer immediately.
For additional information on cyber identity theft please visit the FBI’s identity theft website at: https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/cyber/identity_theft
If you believe you’ve been a victim of Internet fraud or cybercrime, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at: https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx
Finally, all victims of identity theft should make a complaint with the Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) at: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/index.html
At Sunset Blvd. Investigations, Inc. we understand that your circumstance calls for the most efficient, confidential and experienced investigative team that will fight for you. For your investigation concerns, turn to Sunset Blvd. Investigations, Inc. for over 80 years of experience. SBI is always there for you! We’re just one click, text, email or phone call away!
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