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  • Written by Neal OFarrell
  • Hits: 2013

Press Release March 05 2014

Top Identity Thief Talks Openly About Identity Theft And Tax Time
New Documentary Series Features Candid Conversations With The Nation's Most Dangerous Fraudsters

Walnut Creek California - March 05, 2014: In a first-of-a-kind documentary, the Identity Theft Council today released an excerpt from a series of in-depth video interviews with the nation's most dangerous identity thief, in an effort to remind consumers about the heightened risk of identity theft during tax season and beyond.

In the Company of Thieves is an upcoming documentary series based around candid on-camera interviews with some of the nation's most dangerous identity thieves and cyber crooks, in the hope that their words and experience will help consumers and law enforcement better understand how to address the threats of identity theft.

The first part of the series focuses on Ray, described by law enforcement as the most dangerous identity thief in America. Over his thirty-year career Ray is believed to have defrauded banks, credit card companies, retailers, insurance companies, and consumers out of millions of dollars.

"Ray is the most compelling identity thief I've ever come across, and probably the most skilled and dangerous," said Neal O'Farrell, founder of the Identity Theft Council. "Ray's frightening mixture of deep skills, a brilliant and inquisitive mind, sociopathic personality, and addiction to identity theft, combines with more than 30 years as a professional crook to earn him a daunting reputation. His willingness to talk honestly and openly about his crimes gave us a priceless opportunity to understand identity theft from a unique perspective."

Ray was so good at this job he was never arrested once in his first twenty years as an identity thief, until he came to the attention of an agricultural cop working his last day as a patrol officer in California's wine country.

In the trailer to the documentary series, Ray talks openly about identity theft at tax time, and how easy it is for thieves like him to make tens of thousands of dollars a day from this crime. Ray points out that while tax season is very lucrative for identity thieves, professionals like him work 365 days a year busily stealing information, cloning identities, and committing every conceivable type of fraud.

"Identity thieves tell us that tax time is like Disneyland, and of how easy it is to make small fortunes in just a few months," according to Mr. O'Farrell. "But tax time should be a reminder that identity thieves are busy all year round, are becoming increasingly skilled, and are not deterred by the risk of stiff sentences."

In the Company of Thieves will be released in the Spring of 2014, and the excerpt and background story can be viewed at http://www.identitytheftcouncil.org. The production of the documentary was funded by a generous donation from Experian's ProtectMyID®.

ABOUT THE COUNCIL

The non-profit Identity Theft Council was founded in 2010 as a partnership between law enforcement, security experts, and consumer groups to find more effective ways to support victims, train law enforcement, and educate the community about identity theft and how to avoid it. In 2011 the council was honored as the first non-profit to win the coveted SC Magazine Editor's Choice Award. Previous winners include the SANS Institute and the NSA. Partners in the Council include the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the Elder Financial Protection Network, the Online Trust Alliance, and the Identity Theft Resource Center. The Council is based in the San Francisco east bay city of Walnut Creek, hailed as the nation's first Cyber Secure City and the first city in the nation to train its entire police department in identity theft awareness. For more information visit http://www.identitytheftcouncil.org.

  • Written by Neal OFarrell
  • Hits: 2726

Press Release December 11th 2013

Consumers Are Warned to Be Wary of Keyloggers to Prevent Identity Theft Over the Holidays and Beyond

Recent Studies Suggest Most Consumers Are Not Protected From This Malware

Walnut Creek, CA December 11, 2013 - The Identity Theft Council is warning consumers and businesses to be aware of the menace of keyloggers, over the Christmas holidays and beyond. In the aftermath of the recent discovery of more than 2 million stolen passwords on a hacker server, the prime suspect in the incident was initially a keylogger.

A keylogger is a piece of malware designed to capture things like bank and email passwords as you type them. In the same week that global media were discussing the discovery of the 2 million hacked passwords, a San Francisco-based security firm announced that when they tested 44 of the most popular antivirus programs on the market, for two full weeks, only one was able to detect the existence of a keylogger.

"I think what most in the media missed in the hacked passwords story is how little consumers and small businesses actually know about the danger of keyloggers", said Neal O'Farrell, founder of the Identity Theft Council and one of the world's most experienced personal security experts. "If the research is right, consumers who simply rely on antivirus software to protect against keyloggers could be extremely vulnerable."

Keyloggers are most often used to steal logins and passwords, but they can also capture screenshots of what's on a user's computer, screenshots of the websites visited and folders opened, and even searches. There are also hardware keyloggers, designed to look like a plug or connector you'd expect to find at the back of a computer or even a cash register. One such keylogger was recently found plugged into a cash register at a Nordstrom store.

Using a touch-screen may not help you avoid keyloggers. It's still a keyboard sending signals that can be intercepted, and good keyloggers will record your screen activity anyway. And if you use public computers, like at a library, you could be especially vulnerable. Library computers are a very popular watering hole for keyloggers because they generally have many different users, public access, poor security, and little supervision.

"Keyloggers can easily be used to commit identity theft, steal personal information, and break into bank accounts," said Mr. O'Farrell "And they don't usually have to worry about being caught - until it's too late."

So what's the key to avoiding keyloggers? It's all about good security habits:

Use anti-keylogger software, like Key Scrambler (free). These products won't protect you against every type of keylogger but are a good defense against the more common software based. Some work by instantly encrypting or scrambling all your keystrokes so that they're unusable to hackers.

Use a safe surfing tool or plugin, like McAfee Site Advisor or Web of Trust (WoT). As users become more wary of malware hidden in email attachments, hackers are turning to websites instead. Known as watering holes, hackers will find vulnerable websites, load them with keylogging malware, and simply lie in wait for visitors to those sites. Security firm SiteLock says it's finding as many as 5,000 small business web sites every single day already compromised with malware. Safe surfing tools will help alert you of suspicious or dangerous websites before you click on them.

Always have good antivirus software on every computer and device you use. Some of the best products are free, including for your smartphone and tablet. And scan often – at least once a week is recommended.

Change your passwords often and think about passphrases instead. Passphrases are explained in our blog at http://www.identitytheftcouncil.org and are a much safer and simpler alternative to passwords.

Be careful what you download and install. Poor security habits and hygiene are a leading contributor to malware infections. Slow down, guard up, verify first, and only download if you're really sure and you really need to.

Be careful what you type and where. Avoiding accessing your bank account from a public area, like a coffee shop, is a simple way to avoid the threat of a nearby sniffer.

About the Identity Theft Council

The Identity Theft Council is an award-winning non-profit that provides free support to victims of identity theft, free training for law enforcement, and community outreach and education. The Council was the first non-profit to win the prestigious SC Magazine Editor's Choice Award, joining previous recipients like the NSA and SANS Institute. Partners in the Council include the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Independent Community Bankers of America, the Online Trust Alliance, and the Identity Theft Resource Center. The Council is based in Walnut Creek, California, America's first Cyber Secure City. For more information, please visit http://www.identitytheftcouncil.org.

  • Written by Neal OFarrell
  • Hits: 15484

Don’t tell me I’m not a victim!

Mary and Wayne are from Northern California and are the first victims helped by the Identity Theft Council. This very sweet retired couple are the last people you'd expect to fall victim to identity theft. They don't own a computer or access the internet so they don't deliberately share their personal information online. They don't use email so are not vulnerable to phishing and other scams. And they don't bank or pay any bills online so they're not vulnerable to banking Trojans and other malware.

Read more: Don’t tell me I’m not a victim!

  • Written by Neal OFarrell
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The Identity Theft Council wins the prestigious SC Magazine Editor's Choice Award for 2011

winner_140900_140902The Identity Theft Council (ITC) has been chosen as Editor’s Choice within the Professional Awards of the 2011 SC Awards U.S. The award, recognizing the Identity Theft Council’s outstanding achievement in helping victims of identity theft, was announced on February 15, 2011 at the SC Awards Gala, held in conjunction with the annual RSA Conference in San Francisco.

With 31 subcategories and three major award themes – Reader Trust, Excellence and Professional – the 2011 SC Awards U.S. serves as both a benchmark and a validation for those security professionals and companies dedicated to combating today’s evolving threat landscape.

The Identity Theft Council was founded by Neal O’Farrell in 2010 as a community-based initiative that takes a grassroots approach to bring awareness and resolution to identity fraud crimes.  The ITC’s identity theft resolution counselors are local volunteers that are specifically trained to assist identity theft victims in their community. Through the ITC’s peer-to-peer education programs, it is helping tackle the problem of identity theft at every level – in the schools with its Junior Counselors program, with seniors through its partnership with the Elder Financial Protection Network (EFPN), and in the community as a whole.

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The program brings together consumers of all ages, members of the community and ITC partners by connecting the dots of four core areas of education. The ITC strives to help consumers make the connection between identity theft and online privacy, financial literacy, community service, and ultimately the career and internship opportunities it could provide for younger age groups. A key component of the ITC’s mission is its Junior ITC program. The program strives to educate younger generations about the importance of identity theft awareness and protection. It helps younger consumers connect identity theft prevention with other aspects of their lives with the hope that they will become future messengers and educators about the growing threats and risks.

The winners in the Professional Awards category of the 2011 SC Awards U.S. were chosen by a panel of esteemed security professionals from the private and public sector. These individuals were hand-picked by SC Magazine’s editorial team for their information security leadership and knowledge. Through this analysis, the Identity Theft Council was determined as the winner in the Editor’s Choice Award.

“The Identity Theft Council represents one of the industry’s leading lights,” said SC Magazine Editor-in-Chief Illena Armstrong. “Moving into 2011, our judges recognize that the Identity Theft Council is helping them identify and address the emerging security issues of tomorrow.”

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Now in its 14th year as the information security industry’s most prominent accolade, the annual SC Awards showcase the best solutions, services and professionals while recognizing achievement and technical excellence. SC Magazine distinguishes the achievements of the security professionals in the trenches, the innovations happening in the vendor and service provider communities, and the passionate work of government, commercial and nonprofits – all working to help improve global security. For more information and a detailed list of categories and winners, please visit www.scmagazineus.com/awards.


Are you a victim?

If you're a victim of identity theft, you can get help now, at no cost, by calling the ITRC Victim Support Hotline at 1-888-400-5530 to speak to a live counselor.

About The Council

The Identity Theft Council is a great example of how a community can come together, to work together, to help each other. Learn more about how we got started.

Introducing Foster Warriors

Foster Warriors is a nationwide effort by the Council to help foster youth pursue studies and careers in cybersecurity. Learn More

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A Victim's Story

There are millions of victims of identity theft in the U.S., with another million being added every 30 days. Hear how one couple's bad luck turned into a three year identity theft nightmare.

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Check out the first episodes of our upcoming documentary In The Company of Thieves and learn about identity theft from some of the most experienced identity thieves in the business.

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