identity theft

Is LifeLock safe?

Episode 1385

Val from Los Angeles, CA
LifeLock

Val is interested in LifeLock and wants to know if it's safe. Is it? Leo says yes. They were a bit over confident in the early days, but they are dedicated to getting in between you and identity thieves by putting fraud alerts on your credit history. But now they can't do that because of lawsuits. So now they own companies that are built to target fraudulent credit activity so that if anything unauthorized occurs, you get wind of it and they can shut it down. They will also help you fix your credit record should you be a victim of credit card fraud.

Are credit monitoring services worth the money?

Louis from Hollywood, CA

Episode 1277

Louis keeps getting emails from LifeLock, and he wants to know if the service is worth the price. Leo says that he's been a subscriber for ten years, and he got it to protect his kids. Leo's opinion is that they do a great job monitoring your credit to be sure nefarious activity doens't crop up, and when it does, they can help you fix it. It's not cheap, but Leo has never had any problem and has no plans to stop using it. But you can put a fraud alert on your own account which will warn you when someone tries to open up credit.

Has my personal information been stolen?

Walt from California

Episode 1246

Walt got a notification from the US Office of Personnel Management about his personal data being compromised. Leo says it's true. They were hacked and the personal data files of anyone who has worked for or applied for a job with the US Government may have had their personal information compromised. They should have also offered users a year of free credit and information monitoring to make up for it.

Can someone crack my Windows password?

Steve from North Hollywood, CA

Episode 1238

Steve was robbed recently and they got ahold of his laptop. Even though it's password protected, can they get his personal data? Leo says absolutely. A password is only to keep someone out who walks by. But if they have time, they can use password crackers to brute force the password free. That's really the most serious issue -- if he has any banking information and passwords on it. But considering that the theives may have been homeless, Leo hopes that they likely won't have the tools to take advantage of it.

How can I see if my identity has been stolen?

Mike from Hawthorne, CA

Episode 1199

Mike needs to buy a new hard drive. Leo says they've gotten really large and really cheap. He could get a 5 TB hard drive for under $150. And SSDs have dropped below $1 a GB.

Back in 2013, Mike noticed he's had several negative dings on his credit. Leo says to check out his credit report to see if there's fraud or other inaccuracies it. If so, he can challenge them. But if he's a victim of identity theft, it's a hard thing to convince not only the credit agencies, but also the credit card companies and the IRS that he's had his identity stolen.

How can I protect myself from identity theft?

Peter from Dana Point.CA

Episode 1188

Peter had his credit cards stolen. Leo says it's a very common thing. The good news is that in the US, the banks take all the liability, and this Fall, a new credit card will come out with chips and PIN numbers to guard against theft. Another option is to sign up for one time use credit card numbers, or numbers that can be used with just one merchant.

New Vulnerabilities Discovered on Operating Systems

Episode 1133

Root Pipe and Wire Lurker are two new vulnerabilities hitting computers. Root Pipe is hitting OS X but Leo says it can only be activated by someone sitting at your computer, so it shouldn't really be a huge cause of concern. Meanwhile, the Nigerian scam has been reported to have caused over $12 Billion in loses last year.

Meanwhile, a new report says that consumers are reaching "breach fatigue" over all the security breaches that have happened of late.

What can I do if my identity gets stolen?

Steve from Los Angeles, CA

Episode 1041

Steve was a victim of identity theft after applying for a home loan online. Leo says that all it really takes to steal your identity is your date of birth and social security number. What can he do? Lifelock is one solution. Leo says it's very frustrating and the credit reporting agencies aren't sympathetic at all. He could pay them a monthly fee, sure. Leo also says there's so much ID theft that police are drastically undermanned and just can't keep up.