Scam of the day – January 1, 2013 – Smart phone identity theft risks

One new year’s resolution that everyone should make is to to take the steps necessary to provide greater security on their smart phones and other mobile devices.  As anyone familiar with my recent book “50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age” knows, identity theft is rampant on smart phones and other mobile devices as people who are careful to maintain the security of their computers fail to provide similar security protections on their smart phones and mobile devices despite the fact that many of us do many of our financial transactions on our smart phones and mobile devices and store much sensitive information on our smart phones and mobile devices such that if they are hacked into by an identity thief we are likely to become a victim of identity theft in short order.


Although there are many considerations in purchasing a smart phone, it is important to recognize that the popular Android has probably the least secure operating system and is most popular with identity thieves.  You should also make sure that your smart phone or other mobile device provides for encryption of your data and use this feature to protect your information.  All smart phones and mobile devices come with a host of features, many of which you don’t use.  For security’s sake disable those features that you don’t use to eliminate those features as an avenue for identity thieves.  Use a password to lock your smart phone or mobile device and make sure that the password you use is a good combination of letters, digits and signs.  The word “password” is a lousy password.  Pick one that is easy to remember, but difficult for a hacker to guess, such as “Safety1st!!!.”  The added digit and multiple exclamation points make this a safe password.  Look into remote storage of your smart phone’s information in the Cloud and make sure that you backup your information.  Check with your particular smart phone or mobile device manufacturer to see what security software programs they advise.  There are many free ones that work well.  These may seem like excessive steps to take, but they are not.  These steps will help prevent you from becoming one of the many people who will become a victim of identity theft this year.

Scam of the day – October 15, 2012 – Justin Bieber lost laptop

A few days ago,  it was reported that Justin Bieber’s laptop was stolen from backstage during a show in Tacoma, Washington.  What we don’t know is if Bieber’s laptop was properly secured with a complex password.  Many people are, unfortunately, quite lax when it comes to protecting their laptops, smartphones and other mobile devices with up to date security software, encryption programs and, the most basic of all protections, a good password.  If Bieber falls into this group, he could lose more than just a computer.  Like many people, Bieber may keep important records on his laptop and use it also for financial transactions which could put Bieber in serious jeopardy if he either did not have a password to protect his computer or used an easy to predict password.


Scammers and identity thieves can easily predict the most commonly used passwords among which are 123456, password, iloveyou, and abc123.  They can also easily predict passwords from adjacent keys on your keyboard, such as asdfgh.  If that doesn’t make sense to you, look down at your keyboard.  Additionally it is easy to predict names and words found in the dictionary.  Scammers also have computer programs that can rapidly try many passwords to crack even the more complex passwords.   In order to protect yourself with a password that is unlikely to be able to be predicted or discerned by a scammer or identity thief, you should consider having a password of at least twelve characters, have at least one letter be a capital letter and at least one letter be in lower case.  Also use at least one digit in your password and one symbol.  Remember a key to protection is length, so, for instance a good password would be  Ytefas1st!!!.  This odd arrangement is made up of the word “safety” spelled backwards and starting with a capital letter and then having the rest of the letters in lower case.  Then the password has “1st” as in “first,” but with a digit and ends with three explanation points which makes this easy to remember and hard to break.