How Identity Theives Steal Your Information

by Stacy Tharp 12. March 2014

Types of Identity Theft Experienced in 2012 There has been a lot of discussion recently around criminals getting ahold of private information via large-scale corporate data breaches. However, it still remains much easier for identity thieves to steal personal information through social engineering methods. Also known as “people hacking,” social engineering refers to tactics used to manipulate people into giving up their information, often by exploiting their natural tendency to be trustworthy and helpful.

It's unfortunate, but in today’s world we have to be careful who we trust and what information we share. Here are some common forms of social engineering that identity thieves like to use:

Impersonation

Impersonation is exactly what it sounds like – a criminal will pretend they are someone else in order to gain a person’s trust. For example, someone may call you and say that he/she is a representative of your financial institution and needs to verify your account information for some reason or another. Your first instinct may be to give the polite individual the information, because it is human nature to want to be helpful. But it is important to remember that your financial institution should never be contacting you requesting account or other private information. If you are unsure about a phone call you receive from someone claiming to be from your financial institution, kindly tell the representative that you will call back, then call the customer service line found on the financial institution’s website.

Shoulder Surfing

Beware of lurkers. Shoulder surfers will put themselves in a physical position that enables them to observe when a victim is typing confidential information. At an ATM, criminals may try to peer over your shoulder to watch you type in your PIN. Or they may try to snap a photo of your credit card number in the grocery store checkout line with their cell phone. Always be aware of your surroundings when you are completing a financial transaction in a public place.

Dumpster Diving

Do people actually go through your dirty trash in the off chance they may find personal information that they could use to steal your identity? You bet. To avoid someone getting your information this way, make sure you shred or securely destroy all hard copies of documents containing your private information. Enroll in electronic bank statements and electronic bills whenever possible to limit the number of hard copies you need to worry about.

Phishing

Phishing scams make use of the internet to try to capture people’s information, such as their passwords, credit card numbers, and bank account details. A criminal may send a fraudulent email claiming to be from a person’s financial institution – much like impersonation. The email will try to encourage its recipients to click on a link and enter or update their personal information, maybe stating that the financial institution lost some of its data. These phishing emails often include a threat that your account will be blocked if you do not enter your information. The information that a person enters then goes straight to the criminal who will do what they please with your personal information.

To avoid being a victim of a phishing scam, do not respond to any email requesting your personal information, and report any suspicious emails to your financial institution. It’s also a good idea to bookmark login screens, and use the bookmarked page every time you log in to your accounts.

For more tips on protecting your information, visit our Security and Fraud Prevention Center, and check out these five key tips from the FDIC for National Consumer Protection Week. When it comes to protecting your identity, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

Top 3 Myths about Online Banking Revealed

It's 11:00 p.m. Do You Know Where Your Money Is?

5 Mobile Banking Security Tips

Importance of a Home Inspection

by Sara Seeger 4. March 2014

Home Inspection

Caveat emptor! You may have heard these two Latin words before, meaning “let the buyer beware.” In today’s real estate market, many homes are being sold “as-is.” This clause frees the seller from being responsible for fixing any repairs to the home, no matter how large or detrimental. Whether or not the property is being sold “as-is,” it is important for a potential buyer to schedule a home inspection before going through with the sale for many reasons.

1. Safety

The most important reason for getting a home inspection is safety. Not only does a home inspector check to ensure floors, walls, stairs, and surroundings are all deemed “livable” and safe, a home inspection can uncover health safety issues like radon, carbon monoxide, and mold. Many home inspectors will walk around with the potential buyers and explain to them how to work the instruments in their new home, such as the furnace, and how to operate the gas valve and the main water value.

2. Negotiating Tool

After receiving a home inspection, the potential buyer will receive a home inspection report. This report offers an opportunity for the buyer to request repairs to be done to the house, request a price reduction, or request a credit from the seller. It is important to ask your realtor what requests can and should be made to negotiate a better deal.

3. It Provides an "Out"

A home inspection can disclose important information about the condition of a home and its appliances; thereby allowing the buyer to be aware of potential repairs needed and estimated costs for these repairs, as well as required home maintenance. The buyer can then make a decision to assume the expense or to back out of the offer to purchase the house.

4. Forecast Future Repair Costs

A home inspector can estimate the installation age of major systems in a home like plumbing, heating, and cooling. He can also analyze the existing condition of the home structure. All systems in a house have a “shelf-life.” By understanding when these systems require replacement, a buyer can make important budgeting decisions.

At a minimum, the items below are an important area for an examiner to check during a home inspection.

  • Foundation
  • Plumbing and electrical systems
  • Doors, ceilings, walls and floors
  • Roof, heating and air conditioning
  • Hazardous material concerns, such as asbestos
  • Proper insulation and ventilation

Purchasing a house could be one of the largest investments a person will make in his/her life. For a reasonable fee, a home inspection will provide the buyer peace of mind, as well as information to make an intelligent buying decision.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

Baltimore Housing Market is Heating Up

The Imaginary Mortgage: Fake It 'Til You Make It

5 Inexpensive Ways to Improve the Look of Your Home

Baltimore Housing Market is Heating Up

by Matthew Grayson 24. February 2014

Baltimore Housing Market Heating Up

Even though it is still February and Mother Nature seems to continuously be dumping snow on us, winter will not last forever. As we look forward to emerging from our homes this spring, there are exciting signs that Baltimore’s housing market will be heating up this spring and through 2014!

Baltimore Metro Area - 10 Hottest Housing Markets for 2014

A forecasted median home price gain of 8% through September 2014 (following a 5% increase in the past 12 months) should be exciting news for homeowners who have weathered the storm over the past couple years. This may also help those who have been on the fence about buying to finally have the confidence that the time is right for them. This ranking from CNN Money was compiled by CoreLogic Case-Shiller using forecasting data for the major metro areas.

Economic Factors - 2014 Time to Buy

Along with an expected increase in local home values for 2014, economic factors are continually being reported that support the thinking that the economy is returning to normal and point towards a solid 2014. Industrial production is up and homebuilder confidence is at an eight-year high. Forbes Investment also notes that while mortgage rates are still at historic lows, a slight uptick last summer has created a pent up demand in buyers that will add to the buyer pool this spring and result in positive market activity.

What all this means is that as spring approaches, 2014 is showing signs that residents will be able to move away from any previous fears they had regarding being trapped by their homes. Increased home values and a solid housing market will enable residents to have more flexibility again. Many homeowners will find that they are beginning to have equity in their homes again as values increase.

Homeowner equity will enable those who have outgrown their homes to sell and use the proceeds towards their next home. It will also provide options for those who would like to put their home equity to work for them, to upgrade their home, lower their monthly payment by getting mortgage insurance removed, or invest it elsewhere. And for those residents that are sick and tired of renting and want their own place, increased stability in the housing market and upward value trends will finally allow them to take the necessary steps to purchase their own homes with confidence.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

The Imaginary Mortgage: Fake It 'Til You Make It

Let There Be Light...at the End of the Tunnel

5 Inexpensive Ways to Improve the Look of Your Home

 



© 2008- 1st Mariner Bank