Protecting Yourself & Your Family

The safety and security of ourselves and our families is of paramount importance to each one of us.  The rapid fire advances of technology today, coupled with our inbred need to communicate with others and extend our spears of influence, creates an environment which out paces our ability to manage personal information about ourselves and which criminals could then take advantage of.  In other words, sometimes identifying information about us is inadvertently published for all to see without our knowledge.

Resources

From time to time information is published that can help us protect ourselves, and we will pass that information along to you here. Please come back and visit this page from time to time, and review any new information.  I’ll put anything new on top.

One Ring Calls To Your Cell Phones

10 Feb 2014.  This scam has resurfaced and is making its way across the nation and has reached Arizona.  The way it works is that your cell phone rings just once, then shows you’ve missed a call.  DO NOT CALL BACK unless you recognize the number.  If you do, within three seconds your entire contact list could be stolen.  In addition, you may also be charged a fee on your monthly bill, most frequently $19.95, but could be more or less.

VA Calls Regarding Wal-Mart Gift Cards

2013.  A marketing company has acquired and is using two toll free numbers which are VERY SIMILAR to Veterans Benefits Administration toll free numbers.  The marketer is trying to get callers to sign up to receive a Wal-Mart gift card, and is asking for personal information, to include credit card information.  When asked if they are the VA, they reply vaguely, and explain that the VA is very busy and the call was directed to them.  They don’t say they are the VA, but if asked if they can help with VA benefits, they say yes.  In addition, they even offer to transfer the call to the VA, after the caller provides the credit card information to get the free Wal-Mart gift card.  The two numbers identified in this alert are:

  • 1-800-872-1000 which is very close to VA’s main number of 1-800-827-1000
  • 1-888-442-4511 which is very close to VA’s GI-Bill number of 1-888-442-4551

Vehicle Theft

Don’t leave valuables in the car!  Take a look at how easy it is for criminals to break in to your car and either steal it, or the valuables within.

Tips for keeping your personal information secure:

  • Never respond to urgent emails or text messages claiming to be from any bank or financial institution that requests your account information or personal details.
  • Use an Online ID and password for your financial account that is different than what you use for accessing other online services such as merchants, utilities, and email.
  • Keep your computer operating system and browser up to date with the latest versions and patches.
  • Do not open attachments or install free software from unknown sources. This may expose your computer and the information on it to unauthorized sources.
  • Review your banking and credit card activity at least once a month (I do it every day) to ensure there is no fraudulent activity on your accounts.  Notify your bank, credit union of other financial institution if you see suspicious activity.

Beware of DFAS Scam Letter

A letter is making the circuit purporting to be from the Defense Finance Accounting Service (DFAS) asking military member’s fiancées to register in the system entitling them to benefits in the event of the member’s death.  All for only a $350 fee.  This is not a genuine DFAS letter – it is a scam.  The letter is a typical scam phishers use to try and obtain your personal information and, in this case, money.  DFAS will never send unsolicited e-mail messages with attachments.

Web Phishing Scams – FTC Recomendations

The Federal Trade Commission recommends that if you receive an e-mail or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click 0n the link in the message.  Do not e-mail personal or financial information.

  • Forward spam that is phishing for information to spam@uce.gov, to your internet provider such as spam@cox.net, and to the company, bank or organization impersonated in the phishing e-mail.

Veterans Affairs Services (VAS) Emails & Website

An organization called the Veterans Affairs Services or VAS is providing benefit and general information on VA and gathering personal information on veterans.  This organization is not affiliated with VA in any way.  Websites with the name “vaservices” immediately after the “www” ARE NOT part of the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The real VA website ends in “.gov”.  VA never conducts official business nor asks for personal information by email or by telephone.

Social Security Scams

People who receive Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are often victimized by misleading advertisers.  Often, these companies offer Social Security services for a fee, even though these same services are available free directly from Social Security.

Cell Phone & Digital Camera Pictures

Those pictures you take with your cell phone and some digital cameras may have your location embedded in them.   Applications such as Facebook Places, Foursquare, and other similar applications could be putting your location right on a map for a criminal to see.  Read the following PDF file that the Army has put out on this problem.

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