Identity Theft and Website Security
by Amber Arnold, Benefit Counselor
[Posted on 02/20/2015 at 10:18 AM]
Identity theft has been on the rise in recent years. CNN Money reports that a new case occurs every two seconds. So, what is identity theft and what can be done to mitigate your risk?
The terms “identity theft” and “identity fraud” are used to describe the activity of illegally obtaining other individuals’ personal data. This includes unauthorized use of existing credit cards, unauthorized use of existing accounts, and unauthorized attempts to obtain new accounts or loans. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 16.6 million Americans experienced identity theft in 2012.
Reports are rampant across the news media of individuals gaining unauthorized access to retail outlets’ consumer credit card information. Unfortunately, MOSERS is no different. On December 5, 2014, MOSERS confirmed four successful attempts to fraudulently complete a MOSERS online form. MOSERS takes matters like this very seriously, and is working with state and federal law enforcement officials to identify and bring to justice the guilty parties. This fraud was detected and no funds were erroneously disbursed. As a result of this incident, MOSERS contracted with a a third-party data security firm to conduct a review of our systems. This review did not uncover any evidence that our system was breached indicating that the credentials used to log on were obtained using other methods. This could happen in a variety of ways from anything as simple as passwords written down and discovered to a computer that has been compromised by malware.
How can you work with MOSERS to mitigate risk associated with identity theft?
1. Create strong passwords and change them frequently– If you have not set up a new password and security question for your MOSERS secure Member Homepage since December 16, 2014, you will need to do so the next time you wish to access your personal information online.
2. Keep your computer up-to-date – It is imperative that you keep your antivirus software up-to-date. New malware is discovered every day. Using the latest virus signatures gives your antivirus software the best chance for success. It is equally important to install operating system and other software updates as they are released. The majority of software patches fix some type of security issue. Operating systems that are no longer supported, such as Windows XP, are more vulnerable to malware.
3. Protect your social security number - Avoid writing down your social security number or giving it to just anyone. Be certain you know who you are giving it to. When speaking with MOSERS, use your Member ID. Your Member ID is issued by MOSERS and cannot be changed. You can find it on most individual correspondence sent to you by MOSERS or, on your secure Member Homepage by initially logging on using your social security number. Your Member ID and social security number have been cross-referenced so that we can identify you using either number. MOSERS will use your Member ID number on correspondence (except tax documents) instead of your social security number.
4. Destroy documents if you do not need them - A cross-cut paper shredder is a great investment for your home. Shred outdated records including bank statements, credit applications, health insurance forms, prescription labels and paperwork, along with any receipts that show your credit card number. At MOSERS, you have the option to enroll in electronic delivery for general correspondence from us. If you are signed up for electronic delivery, you will get an email alert telling you when a document has been posted to your Document Express folder. This helps keep personal documents off your kitchen counter and in your secure site.
5. Avoid public Wi-Fi connections – An open or public Wi-Fi connection exposes your computer or mobile device to significant risk. You essentially share a connection with anyone else that is within range of that Wi-Fi service allowing hackers a remote connection to your device and the data that you send and receive.
6. Monitor your finances - Have a close relationship with your bank. Online banking is a great way to easily access your account information and ensure there are no fraudulent charges on your account. Use direct deposit for payroll, social security, or (when retired), your MOSERS benefit. Direct deposit is the easiest, safest, and most secure way to ensure that your money is there when it is supposed to be. Retirees enrolled in direct deposit receive an email notification from MOSERS when a benefit payment is deposited.
7. Watch over your credit reports - You are entitled to one free credit report each year from each nationwide credit bureau. To get your free report, go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
Rest assured we will continue to monitor security practices to keep your information safe. Our new password registration process provides additional levels of security. Remember, you can help protect yourself by creating strong passwords and monitoring your personal financial information. If you ever believe that there has been unauthorized access to your personal information, please contact us at (800) 827-1063.
“Identity Fraud Hits New Victim Every Two Seconds,” CNN Money
Bureau of Justice Statistics, 12-12-13 Press Release
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