Self Directed IRA Services, Inc. is dedicated to keeping your financial information safe and to educate our valued customers against the serious threat of identity theft, pharming/phishing, spyware and investment fraud.
Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about the safety of your financial data.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when a person's identity is stolen for the purpose of opening credit accounts, stealing money from existing accounts, applying for loans, even renting apartments or committing crimes. Victims of identity theft often aren't aware that they've been targeted until they find unknown charges on their bank or credit card statements are called by a collections agency or are denied credit. There are up to 700,000 identity theft victims per year.
What to do if I have become a victim of Identity Theft?
What to do if you've become a victim of identity theft:
- Report the theft to the three major credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion Corporation and do the following:
- Request that they place a fraud alert and a victim's statement in your file.
- Request a free copy of your credit report to check whether any accounts were opened without your permission.
- Request that the agencies remove inquiries and/or fraudulent accounts stemming from the theft.
- Notify your bank(s) and ask them to flag your account, contact you regarding any unusual activity and take the following actions in the event of such activity:
- If checks were stolen, place stop payments on them.
- If bank accounts were set up without your consent, close them.
- If your ATM card was stolen, issue a new card, account number, and PIN.
- Notify the issuers of the credit cards you carry. If unauthorized charges appear on your legitimate credit cards or if unauthorized cards have been issued in your name;
- Request replacement cards with new account numbers.
- Monitor credit card bills for new fraudulent activity. If found, report it immediately to the credit card issuers and credit reporting agencies.
- Check with any online accounts, merchants or payment services that you use for any fraudulent activity against your account.
- Contact your local police department to file a criminal report.
- Contact the Social Security Administration's Fraud Hotline to report the unauthorized use of your personal identification information.
- Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of your identify theft. Check to see whether an unauthorized license number has been issued in your name.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Ask for a free copy of ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen In Your Good Name, a guide that will help you recover from your theft and guard against future thefts.
- Document the names and phone numbers of everyone you speak to regarding the incident. Follow up your phone calls with letters. Keep copies of all conversations.
Important Numbers You'll Need If You've Been a Victim of Identity Theft:
U.S. Government Agencies
Credit Reporting Agencies
Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Social Security Administration
What can I do to deter Identity Theft?
Additional Ways to Protect Your Identity
- Check your credit report regularly.
- Shred your confidential mail.
- Keep account numbers, Personal Identification Numbers (PINs), credit and bank cards and checks in a secure location.
- Don't select a PIN that has personal significance, such as a birthday or address.
- Memorize your PIN and do not share your account numbers or PINs with friends or family.
- Always take your receipts with you from the ATM or store.
- Never give your confidential information to callers claiming they are from your financial institution or to people unknown to you.
What other information is available about Identity Theft?
For more tips on preventing email fraud and identity theft, see these updated reports:
What is Pharming?
"Pharming" is the practice of redirecting Internet domain name requests to false web sites in order to capture personal information, which may later be used to commit fraud and identity theft.
What is Phishing?
"Phishing", as in fishing for confidential information, is a scam that encompasses fraudulently obtaining and using an individual's personal or financial information.
What are the differences between Pharming and Phishing?
While pharming is similar to phishing in that both practices try to entice individuals to enter personal information on a fraudulent website, they differ in how they direct individuals to that site:
Phishing - In a typical case, the individual receives an email appearing to originate from a financial institution, government agency or other entity that requests personal or financial information. The e-mail often indicates that the individual should provide immediate attention to the situation described by clicking on a link. The provided link appears to be the website of the financial institution, government agency or other entity. However, in phishing scams, the link is not to an official website, but rather to a phony website. Once inside that website, the individual may be asked to provide a social security number, account numbers, passwords or other information used to identify the individual such as the maiden name of the individual's mother or the individual's place of birth. When the individual provides the information, those perpetrating the fraud can begin to access individual’s accounts or assume their identity.
Pharming – Pharming refers to the redirection of an individual to an illegitimate website through technical means. For example, an internet banking customer, who routinely logs in to his online banking website, may be redirected to an illegitimate website instead of accessing his or her bank's website. Pharming can occur in ways which include domain name spoofing, malicious software (malware), domain hijacking, and domain name server (DNS) poisoning.
How can I detect and prevent Pharming?
Individuals and businesses can take several steps to prevent pharming attacks:
- Digital certificates: Legitimate web servers can differentiate themselves from illegitimate sites by using digital certificates; websites using certificate authentication are more difficult to spoof. Consumers can use the certificate as a tool to determine whether a site is trustworthy.
- Domain name management: Businesses should diligently manage domain names by ensuring that the domain names are renewed in a timely manner. Institutions also should investigate the possibility of registering similar domain names. In addition, many registrars offer domain locks to prevent unauthorized domain slamming.
- DNS poisoning: Businesses should investigate anomalies about their website to ensure that DNS poisoning attacks are addressed promptly. For example, if a business's domain was hijacked, it would immediately stop receiving normal internet-related requests. The drop in internet traffic should alert the business's technology staff to the problem, which should then be investigated.
- Consumer education: Individual consumers are encouraged to learn about the problem of fraud and identity theft and to install current versions of virus detection software, firewalls and spyware scanning tools to reduce computer infections and to understand the importance of regularly updating these tools to combat new threats.
What is Spyware?
Spyware refers to technologies that collect information about a user without his or her knowledge and reports that information to a third party. Certain forms of spyware can intercept sensitive and confidential information about an organization or user, including passwords, credit card numbers and other identifying data. As a result, spyware has significant confidentiality, integrity and availability implications for our banking customers.
What can I do to protect myself from Spyware?
- Research and purchase reputable anti-spyware programs. There are numerous consumer versions of anti-spyware available on the market today. Careful research of these products is recommended to find the one most appropriate for your use.
- Be aware of and stay away from questionable websites that can download and install spyware without your knowledge.
- Be cautious when using public computers such as those in hotels, libraries or internet cafes. You simply can't be certain that these computers have not been compromised with spyware.
As a member of the Retirement Industry Trust Association (RITA), Self Directed IRA Services, Inc. supports initiatives to reduce fraud against all Americans, particularly senior citizens. To that end, we urge you to review the following websites for information that can protect you and your accounts from fraudulent investments. You can keep from becoming a victim of investment frauds and scams by knowing what to look for. The following resources offer good advice, information and tips on how to protect yourself.
Watch this FINRA/AARP Video:
- "Tricks of the Trade: Outsmarting Investment Fraud" (courtesy of Maryland Public Television)
- You may also order this free video here.
Where to Report Suspected Investment Fraud:
- The SEC has recently launched a web portal where consumers can submit tips or complaints on possible investment fraud to the SEC. Access the link here: Tips, Complaints, and Referrals System.
Links to Other Educational Resources:
Retirement Industry Trust Association
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
- Investor Information and Alerts: Visit www.sec.gov/investor.shtml
- Investor Alert: Self-Directed IRAs and the Risk of Fraud
- SEC Warns Investors and Financial Firms of Government Impersonators: Visit www.sec.gov/news/press/2009/2009-39.htm
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
Investor Protection Trust (IPT)
North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA)
- Investor Information: Visit http://www.nasaa.org/investor-education/
- NASAA brochure, "Cutting Through The Confusion": Visit http://www.nasaa.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/CuttingThroughTheConfusion-1.pdf
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
- FDIC Consumer News: Visit www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnwin0607
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts: Visit www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=98269,00.html
- 12 Warning Signs An Investment Is A Scam: http://www.forbes.com/pictures/fi45edjeih/pay-attention-4/