Identity Fraud

April 2011
    419 – See Nigerian Scam

    Adware – Software that serves you ads based on your previous searches. You may experience adware in the form of a pop-up advertisement. Software developers sometimes use adware as a way to make money from free software. Generally, adware differs from spyware in that it notifies the user of its intent.

    Antispyware – Software that scans for, removes, and blocks installation of harmful software known as spyware.

    Antivirus – Software that protects your computer against harmful downloads and viruses. Antivirus software scans your hard drive and removes any viruses that it finds. Some software also looks for abnormal behavior in programs that might signal an infection, called heuristic detection.

    Bot – Short for robot, bots are computer programs that perform automated tasks such as scanning for passwords, searching browser history, capturing keystrokes, sending spam, or collecting information about a user’s computer. Bots send this information to a third party across the Internet.

    Botnet – A network of computers that have been compromised with malicious software, allowing a hacker to use every computer at his disposal to commit a variety of illegal actions such as online advertising click fraud, distributed denial of service attacks, send spam email, or log keystrokes. Several large, global botnets are known to exist.

    Cashier’s Check Fraud – The creation of fake cashier’s checks, often used as payment for online auctions. The fake cashier’s checks initially clear the victim’s bank but the payment is debited after the bank is unable to collect the value of the check.

    Charity Fraud – An individual or group that deliberately misrepresents its fundraising intentions or solicits charitable funds for phony causes. This is especially prevalent during holiday season.

    Credit Card Fraud – The theft of a victim’s credit card in order to charge purchases. Credit card fraud does not always involve identity theft.

    Criminal Identity Theft – A specific type of ID theft that occurs when a criminal gives another person’s name or personal identification to a law enforcement officer while being arrested.

    Dual-Factor Identification Rules – Requirement that banks implement an another type of password in addition to the standard username and password combination. Many banks present a picture that the consumer chooses in addition to their password in order to recognize the bank.

    Escrow Scam – A scam that occurs when a thief/scammer convinces the victim to use a phony third-party escrow service to exchange money and merchandise. This is seen often on online auctions or classified listings.

    Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 – An update to the Fair Credit Reporting Act that aimed to help fight the growing crime of identity theft.

    Firewall – A security system that protects individual computers or networks from intruders. A firewall can be hardware or software based or a combination of the two.

    Forgery – False or fake documents such as checks or bonds. Also can refer to copying another’s signature for fraudulent purposes.

    Fraud – A scam intended to cheat victims out of the fair settlement of an agreement by misleading and misrepresenting the facts, method, or outcome, with no intent to fulfill the agreement.

    Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – The consumer protection agency tasked with preventing and prosecuting identity theft, bank fraud, or credit card scams.

    Fiduciary Officer – A financial representative of a company. Scammers often pretend to be Fiduciary Officers but misspell “Fiduciary” in their scams. No legitimate company would make this mistake.

    Identity Cloning – A holistic identity theft where the fraudster lives as the victim, gets married, works, pays taxes, or commits crimes under someone else’s name.

    Identity Fraud – Any transaction made using someone else’s name or personal information without their knowledge.

    Identity Theft – An umbrella term used for any type of identity fraud. Although, technically refers only to situations when identifying information is taken and used for fraudulent purposes, to distinguish it from credit card or bank fraud.

    Image Spam – A spam email containing text embedded inside an image.

    Malware – Malicious software, including viruses, Trojan horses, spyware, and worms designed to steal your personal information from your computer such as logins and passwords.

    Medical Identity Theft – Theft involving a victim’s insurance or used to make false claims for medical services. Medical ID theft can result in false entries into a victim’s medical records, sometimes resulting in fatal consequences during hospitalization.

    London Scam – A social network scam in which someone posing as a friend solicits a wire transfer because they are ”stuck in London” after being robbed.

    Nigerian Scam – An advance-fee scam in which unsolicited emails claim to offer large sums of money in return for helping someone in trouble.

    Phishing – Any scam perpetrated over the Internet where a scammer fakes a well-known brand or entity like a bank or internet service provider in order to get users to reveal username and passwords. Often accompanied by a Web page which is designed to look like the organization’s legitimate site.

    Plug-in – Software or hardware used to modify or add to an existing program. Flash and QuickTime are both plug-ins for Web browsers.

    Red Flag Rules – Regulations included in the Fair Credit Reporting Act requiring financial institutions to red flag attempts at possible identity theft or fraud.

    Social Security Number Tumbling – Taking a valid Social Security number and changing it slightly in order to create what is known as synthetic identity theft.

    Spam – Unsolicited bulk electronic messages, also known as junk email.

    Spim – Unsolicited bulk instant messages.

    Spit – Unsolicited bulk VoIP or Internet telephony messages.

    Spoofing – Mimicking a legitimate email address or Web site for the intent of fraud. Scammers can spoof email addresses, logos, and Web design of legitimate businesses in email scams in order to steal account numbers or identifying information from the business’s customers. Links in official-looking emails send victims to the spoofed Web site.

    Spyware – Software installed without the permission of the user to collect data and share it with the parent company. Some spyware programs take control of the user’s computer, reroute the Web browser, change the preferred search engine, or install more spyware programs.

    Synthetic Identity Fraud – A type of identity fraud in which thieves literally create new identities by combining real and fake identifying information to establish new accounts with fictional identities. In a typical synthetic identity fraud, a fraudster uses a real Social Security number combined with a name different than the one associated with that number. The combination often doesn’t hit the consumer’s credit report.

    Tax Fraud – The use of a victim’s identity to file false taxes or claim false tax returns.

    Trojan Horse – A software program which pretends to do one thing but actually acts as a virus. Trojan horses can arrive as attachments in emails, instant messages, or as a download.

    Virus – A program which hides inside another program that often copies itself to hide inside other programs as well.

    Vishing – Voice phishing; often involving a phone call from major company or banking institution attempting to receive sensitive information. Like phishing scams, the message usually sounds urgent and stresses the existence of a problem with the recipient’s account.

    Worm – A computer virus capable of copying itself to other computers in a network without needing a host program to be executed.

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