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Terrifying video on identity theft: dramatic or accurate?

After watching a pretty terrifying video on how easy it is to be the victim of identity theft, we wondered if it was accurate. Turns out it is even easier than this video portrays. Yikes!

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Identity theft video from lobbyists

Febelfin is a banking lobby in Belgium, representing the interests of small to large banks in the nation, and recently has set out to tackle the problem of identity theft. “Would you panic while internet crooks took over your life?” the company asks. “We put one real victim through the test. We scared the hell out of him by gradually taking over his life. His freaked out reactions, should urge people to be very vigilant and never to share personal and banking information by mail or by telephone.”

The video ends with directions to go learn more tips for safe internet banking at SafeInternetBanking.be.

So is it overly dramatic or accurate?

We all know that identity theft is serious, particularly as the world shifts to internet banking and alternative banking options like PayPal, but we wondered if this video which is said to be real is just entertaining and overly dramatic, or is this an accurate dramatization of identity theft.

For the answers, we asked PwnedList Co-Founder, Steve Thomas to asses the video. He explains that in the video the hacker first engaged in “catfishing” on Facebook and sending a successful phishing email for banking credentials to pull off the identity theft.

Thomas said, “The only questionable piece of information was the bank he used, which I guess someone might post that on Facebook, something like “I hate Bank of America!”, but people rarely talk about banks on facebook. The hacker could have guessed and tried a few different banks, though.”

It makes sense given that they are in Belgium, so perhaps their banking options are more limited than here in North America.

But how did they get someone to give bank credentials?

Thomas explains, “the phishing e-mail basically read (pardon my complete lack of knowledge of the German language) ‘Click here,’ which I’m guessing redirected to a website that looked identical to his bank, where he logged in, allowing his credentials to be stolen. Phishing e-mails do work, but they have been around for a long time, and some e-mail providers (Gmail) identify phishing e-mails to varying degrees of success. Banks also are well aware of what phishing campaigns are going on and can shut down campaigns to varying degrees.”

That sounds hopeful, right? Thomas told AGBeat that “It’s actually easier to get information about a person than the video makes it appear (at least in the US).” Additionally, Thomas notes, “The hacker stole someone’s identity and made a fraudulent purchase. This happens every day, with even less effort. Some banks try to prevent this with smart authentication (geolocation, identifying a new device and requiring two factor authentication, etc) but those are easy enough to get around.”

Uh oh.

“I routinely find out where someone lives, who they are friends with, where they have worked, where they work now, and what job they have without ever needing to friend them on Facebook,” Thomas stated. “The catfishing added some comedy, but was unnecessary.”

Privacy controls are not enough

What can someone do to protect themselves from catfishing damaging them? Thomas recommends the following steps be taken:

  1. Remove information about you that you don’t want to be public from Facebook. Assume anything you have ever put into Facebook is public. Privacy controls are not enough.
  2. Probably a bad idea to announce what bank you use on any social website. Same goes for when you leave for vacation or ‘check-in’ away from home (see pleaserobme.com for examples on how ‘check-ins’ make you vulnerable).
  3. Google yourself. Identify the websites that have information on you. Contact them to remove the information (they might if you ask nicely).

And what can someone do to protect themselves from phishing? Thomas suggests:

  1. Use an e-mail provider that identifies phishing attempts. Most major providers do, I know Gmail does.
  2. Don’t click links in e-mails that are not trusted. If someone is directing you to a website, type it in manually, so you know where you are going.
  3. Make sure you use HTTPS and check the SSL certifications (though this can be broken too, so don’t just rely on this).
  4. If you ever attempt to login to your bank account, but the website won’t let you in (and you know you are using the right password), then congratulations! You are most likely a victim of phishing. You need to know how to contact your bank properly to change your password and lock down your account.
  5. In general, make a plan right now for when a hacker steals your credentials. It is no longer an ‘if’, it’s a ‘when’.

How common is this?

Just in the AG offices alone, 75 percent of us have had our identities stolen in one way or another and had money drained from accounts. That’s a pretty substantial number, especially in light of our team being comprised of mostly tech savvy people that are fully aware of catfishing and phishing – it happens to the best of us.

Take Thomas’ advice seriously, because according to him, the video isn’t a dramatization and it is actually easier to get your information than they lay out in the video.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and sister news outlet, The Real Daily, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Tech News

Jenzy helps perfectly measure your kids’ feet

(TECH NEWS) Jenzy is a mobile app currently in beta that helps you perfectly measure your kids feet and buy shoes without having to leave your home.

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Parents rejoice, there’s now a mobile app that sizes your child’s feet to determine their correct shoe size. No more carpet charts that every kid has put their dirty little socked foot on, or those weird metal sizing instruments.

With Jenzy, you just take a picture of your child’s foot, and the app calculates the measurements. It then generates personalized size and style recommendations, which you can order directly from the app.

Jenzy partners with podiatrist recommended brands designed for active kids, including pediped, Robeez, and Morgan & Milo. However, you don’t have to purchase their suggestions to receive the sizing info.

Incorrectly sized shoes are a literal pain for everyone, but this especially affects children, who don’t have purchasing power.

Additionally, shoes that don’t fit can have long-term effects on children’s growth and development, and lead to foot problems in the future. Properly fitted shoes are necessary for healthy foot development.

Wearing incorrectly sized shoes is just part of the problem. If shoes aren’t suited for every day use, children’s feet and overall growth can also suffer.

Flip flops, ballet pumps, and shoes with raised heels are not recommended by podiatrists for frequent use, as they can cause discomfort, or even musculoskeletal issues.

According to Dr. Stewart Morrison, a University of Brighton podiatrist, “children’s feet are still growing and are more susceptible to damage than adult feet, so it’s really vital to ensure they are wearing shoes which fit them well – in width as well as length – and that are suitable for age, as well as the task they are wearing them for.”

As online shopping has taken over, fewer parents are getting their children’s feet sized by in-store experts. Of course, there’s also a cost-barrier, as many stores that offer shoe-sizing are often more expensive.

Jenzy hopes to bridge that gap, providing parents both proper shoe sizes and affordable products designed to last.

Right now the app is set to launch in December, but if you don’t want to wait, apply to take part in the beta test on Jenzy’s site.

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Tech News

Time is money and Clockify helps you make the most

(TECH NEWS) Tracking your time worked as a freelancer can easily be lost in the shuffle. A new tool has been designed to make this important aspect easier.

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After years of searching for a method that works for me in terms of organization and productivity, the answer seemed to be simple: a calendar I can write on and Post-It notes. This method is a little old school, but seems to get the job done for my organizational needs.

However, there are some things that slip through the cracks with this method, but it’s more user error than it is the actual practice. One thing I struggle with is keeping track of my freelance hours this way.

I have a tendency to guesstimate how much time I worked throughout the day and know that I wind up underdocumenting my hours. I would hate to know how much money I’ve missed out on keeping (sometimes inaccurate) handwritten notes.

But, like many other small scale issues, there is a simple solution. And that is found in the form of time trackers.

One of the newest members to join the online time tracker team is Clockify, who operates under the idea of “your time, your rules.” It is a free time tracking tool designed for agencies and freelancers.

Clockify allows users to manage as many team members, projects, and workspaces that you need in an effort to help your business run smoothly. This allows for a complete overview of team productivity.

The tool offers a way to enter time manually as well as clock time automatically. This way you can keep tabs on what you’re working on and assign and label time logs to the appropriate clients.

With this time tracking, you are able to generate weekly, monthly, and annual reports at any given time. These reports can be saved, exported, and shared with clients to give them more information about your work process.

The real-time tracking helps to improve business efficiency and gives more insight into what each team member is spending their time on. Having this information available can give visual representation of how to improve in the future.

Clockify currently exists in desktop format with iOS and Android apps coming soon.

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Tech News

Russia vetoed cryptocurrency and came back with CryptoRuble

(TECH NEWS) Russia put a hard pass on other cryptocurrencies in their country so that they could hop in the crypto-game with their own CryptoRuble.

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Just days after The American Genius reported that the Russian Central Bank would attempt to block access to cryptocurrency trading cites, the Coin Telegraph has reported that the Russian government will issue its very own cryptocurrency, the CryptoRuble.

The report cited local Russian papers, who quoted the minister of communications, Nikolay Nikiforov.

Earlier this week, head of the Central Bank, Sergei Shvetsov, said that he would work with the Prosecutor General’s Office to ban Russian citizens from accessing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, calling such currencies a “negative phenomena for our markets” and a “pyramid scheme.”

Now it appears that the Kremlin will create its own cryptocurrency – one it can keep an eye on — which, some might argue, defeats the entire purpose of cryptocurrency.

However, like other cryptocurrencies the CryptoRuble will be based on blockchain and will presumably help prevent online fraud.

CryptoRubles will be exchangeable with regular Rubles, although the systems of exchange have not yet been set up. Experts think that Russia is hoping to stimulate e-commerce without the need for foreign money markets, which will allow them to have more independence from the United States.

According to Nikiforov, the Russian government is setting up its own cryptocurrency under the assumption that if they don’t, other European governments will.

Said NIkiforov, “I confidently declare that we run CryptoRuble for one simple reason: if we do not, then after two months our neighbors in the EurAsEC will.”

Traders using CryptoRubles will be asked to provide documentation of retail transactions and services rendered – or pay a 13 percent tax for undocumented transactions, leaving a wide loophole for money laundering.

Critics say that Russia is trying to facilitate, while also profiting from money laundering; that the Kremlin is stealing the market from other cryptocurrencies; and that the CryptoRuble fundamentally defies the spirit of decentralization that inspired other cryptocurrencies.

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