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By Doug & Bud Zeller | Agent in Placerville, CA
  • 'Six more U.S. Retailers Hit' by Target-like Hacks

    Posted Under: Crime & Safety in California, Agent2Agent in California, Credit Score in California  |  January 21, 2014 9:23 AM  |  589 views  |  3 comments

    IDG News Service - Cybercriminals have stolen payment card data from six more U.S. retailers using similar point-of-sale malware that compromised Target, a computer crime intelligence company said Friday.

    The conclusion comes from a study of members-only forums where cybercriminals buy and sell data and malicious software tools, said Dan Clements, president of IntelCrawler, which conducted the analysis.

    The retailers have not been publicly named, but IntelCrawler is providing technical information related to the breaches to law enforcement, Clements said in a telephone interview Friday.

    IntelCrawler has also identified a 17-year-old Russian who it says created the BlackPOS malware, which intercepts unencrypted payment card data after a card is swiped. Security experts believe malware based on BlackPOS was used against Target.

    The teenager, who goes by the online nickname "ree4," sold more than 40 copies of BlackPOS to cybercriminals in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, according to forum postings IntelCrawler analyzed.

    Clements said IntelCrawler is "90 percent" sure of its finding, based on the forum postings and sources it communicated with.

    Full article at: http://www.trulia.com/blog/jasonzloans/2014/01/six_more_u_s_retailers_hit_by_target_like_hacks …                          

  • Smartphone Database Aims to 'Prevent Thefts'

    Posted Under: Crime & Safety in Sacramento County, Tech Tips in Sacramento County, How To... in Sacramento County  |  December 4, 2013 10:59 AM  |  488 views  |  No comments

    One of the fastest-growing crimes in the U.S. is cell phone theft, and the nation’s four largest U.S. carriers, along with the Federal Communications Commission, have banded together to curtail it with a national registry of lost and stolen phones. They’re hoping it can be used to deny activation of reported stolen phones as well as reduce the value of stolen smartphones that thieves try to sell. 

    The database lists stolen 4G/LTE smartphones, and the plan is to integrate it with international databases. The database will be maintained by each carrier and will track all phones reported stolen via the phone’s serial number.

    “The matter of stolen devices is extremely important to wireless providers,” says Steve Largent, president and CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association. “As more countries and more carriers around the world participate in the 3G and 4G/LTE databases, criminals will have fewer outlets since these stolen phones would be blacklisted and could not be reactivated.”

    CTIA still encourages consumers to use apps or programs to protect their phones from theft as well. Several services exist to help find lost phones or remotely wipe them clean to secure data, such as Android Device Manager or Find my iPhone. Apple recently debuted the Activation Lock feature on the iOS 7, which makes it impossible to reactivate a lost or stolen device without an Apple ID and password. 

    Source: CTIA-The Wireless Association and “CTIA hopes to deter smartphone theft with global, multi-carrier common database for lost and stolen devices,” TechSpot (Nov. 28, 2013)

  • 3 Real Estate Scams Home Owners Fall For

    Posted Under: Crime & Safety, How To..., Home Ownership  |  July 18, 2013 4:24 PM  |  700 views  |  2 comments

    Though the housing recovery is trucking along, that doesn't mean real estate scams have gone away. Home owners have been duped out of an average of $4,000 to $5,000 from scams, but even five-figure losses aren’t uncommon for those who have fallen prey to fake loan modifications and other housing fraud. Forbes recently highlighted three of the most common real estate scams today:

    1. Rental scams: Scammers illegally pull online listing information from a home for sale and re-post it as a rental on another site, such as Craigslist. They’ll often ask for money upfront, in the form of a security deposit or broker fee, from prospective tenants. Scammers often advertise the home at a low price and collect application fees from several prospective tenants in order to hold the property for them. 

    Warning signs: Be cautious of wiring money or paying any upfront fee before you’ve met the agent or signed the contract. Also, be skeptical if they can’t show you the property when you ask. 

    2. Loan modification scams: Scammers may offer “fake foreclosure counseling, phony forensic loan auditing, nonexistent mass rejoinder lawsuits, bait-and-switch ploys, leaseback programs, and fraudulent ‘government’ modification programs,” Forbes reports. 

    Warning signs: Be skeptical if anyone asks for money for foreclosure counseling. Foreclosure counseling is free from agencies like the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Also, always contact your lender directly to work through a modification process. Don’t allow someone to do that on your behalf. 

    3. Workshop scams: An investment guru will host a get-rich-quick real estate investing seminar and have you sign up for a course that is free or low-cost. The investor may then give you actual properties to invest in if you offer up thousands of dollars in advance. They make bold promises that you’ll become a millionaire, but then nothing ever happens. Also, a form you may have signed initially to take the class may prevent you from taking legal action against the instructor to recoup your money. 

    Warning signs: While not every workshop instructor is a scammer, be sure to check out the program thoroughly before signing up. Check the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau. Also, check if it’s linked to a reputable industry association.

    Source: “3 Real Estate Scams and How to Avoid Them,” Forbes.com (July 16, 2013)

  • States Crack Down on Squatters?

    Posted Under: Crime & Safety in El Dorado County, Property Q&A in El Dorado County, Home Ownership in El Dorado County  |  July 17, 2013 3:53 PM  |  612 views  |  No comments

    States are tightening up their adverse possession laws and making it tougher for squatters to make claims to properties they don’t own. Adverse possession laws allow squatters to obtain title to a home after they’ve lived in the property for several years. 

    Several squatters have made headlines in recent years, taking up residence even in million-dollar homes and then citing squatters rights to try to make claim to the property. 

    Nearly every state has some form of adverse possession law in its books, but states such as New York and Washington also have been updating those laws. You can check the adverse possession laws in your state at Findlaw.com. 

    In many cases, the squatters are eventually evicted from the homes they try to occupy, but AOL Real Estate reports that squatting has made home owners into some. For example, Steve DeCaprio spent more than a decade squatting in a home that had been vacated after a death of a home owner. He invested thousands of dollars in repairing the home. Over the years, police had evicted him six times, once with guns drawn. DeCaprio continued to return, even after the city glued the locks and welded the doors shut. He was arrested and on trial for squatting. But eventually, he was able to become a home owner due to adverse possession law. 

    More information at source: “Squatters Beware: States Are Revising Adverse Possession Laws,” AOL Real Estate (July 16, 2013)

  • Selling old Cellphone, Laptop? “Smash it Instead”

    Posted Under: Crime & Safety in Auburn, Tech Tips in Auburn  |  May 2, 2012 8:41 PM  |  998 views  |  No comments

    Update information for everyone to share! Data security experts suggests that you may be better off smashing your aging laptop or cellphone instead of donating it or selling it if you want to keep sensitive information you had on it safe.

    Windows XP laptops and Android smartphones — even when reset to their original factory settings — were found to be the most vulnerable and still contained sensitive personal information that could be uncovered on the devices, Robert Sicilliano, a McAfee identity theft expert, told USA Today.

    Sicilliano purchased 30 used devices off Craigslist. He found that half the devices were clean, but 15 of the devices still contained a lot of personal information. He was able to find bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, work documents, and court records on some of the devices.

    Apple’s iPhone and iPad as well as Research in Motion’s BlackBerry were found to not pose the same risks as Android smartphones, Sicilliano notes (although he still recommends users reset the devices before giving them away).

    Mary Ann Miller, financial fraud expert at Nice Actimize, told USA Today that device makers need to provide more guidance on how to responsibly get rid of old electronic devices to prevent security breeches.

    Until then, Sicilliano says: “I would beat the thing to death.” What are your thoughts?

    Source: “Discarded Digital Devices can Retain Sensitive Data,” USA Today (May 2, 2012)

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