Increasingly, identity theft is a fact of life. We might once have hoped to protect ourselves from hackers with airtight passwords and aggressive spam folders, and those are good ideas as far as they go. But the truth is, there are people out there -- a lot of them -- who treat stealing your identity as a full-time job.
One such company is a nameless firm located in Russia, which has a trove of over a billion internet passwords. Another set up a website full of live streams of hacked web cameras, showing everything from people's offices and lobbies to the feeds from baby monitors. Even purchases made in person are still logged by retailers like Target, who are famously vulnerable to hackers.
Adam Levin, a longtime consumer advocate and identity fraud expert, is your guide to this brave new world. By telling memorable stories and extracting the relevant lessons, he offers a strategy for dealing with these risks. You may not be able to prevent identity theft, but you certainly shouldn't wait until it happens to take action. Levin's approach is defined by the three M's: minimizing risk, monitoring your identity, and managing the damage. The book is also organized around the different problems caused by identity theft: financial, criminal, medical, familial, etc., enabling readers to dip into the sections most relevant to them.
Swiped is a practical, lively book that is essential to surviving the ever-changing world of online security. It is invaluable not only for preventing problems but helping cope when they arrive.
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About the Author
Adam Levin is a consumer advocate with more than 30 years’ experience in personal finance, privacy, real estate and government service. A former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, Levin is Chairman and founder of Identity Theft 911, Chairman and co-founder of Credit.com and serves as a spokesperson for both companies. An expert on personal finance, credit, identity management, fraud and privacy, he writes a weekly column which appears on Huffington Post and ABCNews.com. He is a frequent guest on television, and has appeared on Fox News, Fox Business News, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, CBS Nightly News, ABC World News Tonight and scores of radio stations throughout the country. He lives in New York City with his wife and son.
Table of Contents
Part 1 An Overview of the Problem
1 What's in a Name (and a Number)? 3
2 A Short History of Identity (and Fraud): (And You Thought It Was Just About Credit Cards) 19
3 Swiping Happens 32
Part 2 The Basics of What You Can Do
4 Understanding the Problem Is the Solution 47
5 The Three Ms 59
Part 3 The Many Types of Identity Theft
6 Spies in Your Home: How the Internet of Things May Violate Your Privacy, Threaten Your Security, and Ruin Your Credit 71
7 A Taxing Situation 85
8 It's a Hard-Knock Life: Child Identity Theft 96
9 May the Farce Be with You: Social Media Dos and Don'ts 108
10 From Dangerous to Deadly: On Healthcare Scams and Medical Identity Theft 122
11 Wanted Dead or Alive: (But It's Easier If You're Dead) 140
12 Culture Eats Strategy: Business Considerations 149
13 The Three Ms for Companies: You Must Build It Because They Will Come 164
14 The Highest Law 176
Part 4 Resources and Terms
Appendix 1 Fraud Stories 193
Appendix 2 A Glossary of Scams 211
Appendix 3 Identity Theft and the Deceased: Prevention and Victim Tips 241
Appendix 4 Request a Credit Report for the Deceased 249
Appendix 5 Deceased Affidavit of Fact 251