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The holiday season is now upon us, and many of you will be shopping more than normal, both online and in stores. Unfortunately, this is also a prime time for identity thieves to target shoppers. The recent Barnes & Noble data breach also reminds us that even large retailers can be vulnerable. This month's newsletter brings you lots of tips and tricks for keeping your wallet, credit and identity safe during this busy shopping season.

Finally, our thoughts and hearts go out to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. As a special information service, we have included some important guidelines on how you can prepare and protect yourself from identity theft during a natural disaster.

Daniel J. Benish,
President
CORE ID Services, LLC




Store Card Readers - Are they Safe?

Barnes & Noble book stores recently announced that the payment card readers at their cash registers in 63 stores had been tampered with, allowing hackers to access customers' credit and debit card accounts. This incident is similar to ones that targeted Michael's craft stores, Subway sandwich shops, and a number of smaller retailers. Most of us "swipe" our cards multiple times each day, but is it safe?

In almost every case, the problem lies in how retailers are setting up their card reader systems (also called POS devices, for "point of sale"). Many of them, especially smaller businesses, do not bother to change the factory setting passwords on their equipment. Payment networks also need to be protected with firewalls, just as other computer networks should be, to keep out hackers.

There are regulations that apply to all retailers accepting payment cards, but a recent study by Verizon found that in cases where these businesses were breached, 96% were not compliant with these rules, and that 97% of the incidents could have been avoided with simple or intermediate measures. Ask the store owners if they are doing what they need to do to keep card readers safe!

Here are three basic steps you can take on your own to help limit this type of fraud:

  • Check your credit card statement for charges you didn't make.
  • Use a credit card instead of a debit card at the register.
  • Give card readers in public places (like the gas station) a tug before you use them - fraudulent "skimming" devices are often loose. Report any that seem suspicious.




Natural Disasters Can Lead to Identity Theft

In the aftermath of a natural disaster, people can find themselves unable to access their homes, their possessions strewn about or destroyed, or in need of assistance programs. Unfortunately, all these situations can also lead to identity theft or fraud. While your disaster preparedness plan should focus on personal safety first, make sure you also plan for how to protect your personal information so that you have access to your credentials and can secure yourselves against looters and fraudsters.

Your plan should include your identity documents like your driver's license, Social Security card, birth certificate and passport; your financial information such as bank account and routing numbers, credit card account numbers, and safety deposit box location and key; and your medical information, including insurance and prescription numbers for all family members. Should your identification be lost in the disaster, your ARX-ID protection also includes document replacement services.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse stresses the need for redundancy - you cannot predict what type of damage you will experience or where, so they recommend backing up copies of this information in your safety deposit box, on a password-protected storage device such as a USB drive that you can carry with you during an evacuation, and possibly also with a trusted family member in a different location.

As you look for aid to rebuild, also be wary of scams and frauds that target people at their most vulnerable. Never give out your Social Security number to callers offering help; work through your own insurance agency; and use a reputable organization such as FEMA or the American Red Cross to request help.


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© 2012 CORE ID Services, LLC


In this issue:
  • Letter from the President
  • Store Card Readers - Are they Safe?
  • Natural Disasters Can Lead to Identity Theft
  • Top 5 Tips for Safe Shopping
  • Did you know?
  • Data Breach Roundup

Top 5 Tips for Safe Shopping
  1. Check your credit card statement monthly for fraudulent charges.
  2. Cover the PIN pad when getting cash from the ATM.
  3. Make sure your store credit applications stay secure.
  4. Consider upgrading to ARX-ID Complete to get real-time alerts if someone tries to get credit in your name.
  5. Shopping online? Make sure the URL starts with https:// - that last "s" stands for "secure."

Did You Know:

You do not have to wait for your company's open enrollment period to upgrade to ARX-ID Complete. Just log onto myCoreID.com and click on "plan details" any time you want to start receiving real-time identity theft alerts.

Did you lose your wallet during a hectic holiday shopping spree? ARX-ID provides document replacement services - just call 855-262-7612 and we will take care of getting you replacement payment cards, ID, and any other lost documentation.

Your Monthly ID Score:

To help you catch identity theft, CORE ID now emails your ID Score every month. Learn what your score means at www.myCoreID.com or call
855-262-7612 with questions.

Data Breach Roundup:

A snapshot of recent data breaches. For more information and updates on the latest exposures that might affect you, visit the member-only www.mycoreid.com portal.

Here are some recent data breaches:
  • South Carolina Revenue Department - A breach by outside hackers exposed 3.6 million Social Security numbers.
  • University of Georgia - A "planned intrusion" exposed 8500 employees' full names and Social Security numbers, along with other sensitive information.
  • TD Bank - Notified customers six months after losing backup tapes containing names, Social Security numbers and bank account information.
For details and updates on these data breaches and more, login to www.mycoreid.com.

About CORE ID Services

CORE ID Services, LLC provides identity theft protection to employees and other groups through their ARX-ID suite of services. We emphasize monitoring to detect identity theft in the early stages, and fully-managed recoveries to mitigate the effects of identity theft with the least possible stress and involvement on behalf of our plan members.