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Secret Service Agent Urges Residents to Protect Their Identity

Alexis Ahern

Friday, June 13, 2014 • 10:39pm

LIVINGSTON, NJ – The Livingston Technology Committee recently hosted an “Information Security” meeting with a United States Secret Service agent working out of the Newark field office.

The Secret Service agent (who requested anonymity) encouraged residents to be proactive in protecting their identity. “Bottom-line, someone can profit from anyone’s identity here. That’s the future. Physical attacks as well as cyber attacks are crucial ways for hackers to obtain personal information. Physical attacks include accessing mail or garbage for information, while cyber attacks include network intrusion, malware, email hacking and data breech."

According to the SS Agent, cyber attackers are on the rise with many people using online banking and sharing information over non-secure networks such as facebook, which can give a hacker all the information needed to destroy a person's financial stability. 
 
Once a hacker obtains this personal information "the sky is the limit," said SS Agent.  Hackers can open a credit line, buy a house, buy a car and more.

According to the speaker, it is important to remember to never access any private websites while on a public network; this includes any free Wi-Fi networks. Any hacker sitting outside a coffee shop can access personal information through the network. Yet any Wi-Fi service provided by an Internet Service Provider (such as Optimum Wi-Fi) is a secure network.

“All of the information is in the magnetic strip in the back of the card. They can copy it,” a patron told the audience. “Handing over a debit card or credit card is always risky.”

The agent recommended that a debit card should not be used for a variety of different purchases (such as gas) as an attendant is able to easily obtain a cardholder's information.

Approximatley $250,200 in counterfeit money was found in the past month in Newark. This is low in comparison to many places such as New York or Los Angeles, yet as counterfeit numbers decrease, computer crime increases.

“Be mindful, check your credit report, (and]) be on top of your finances. Its really that important,” the Secret Service agent told the audience. An annual credit report is available for free from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.

If a person suspects theft, they should contact local police (from where identity theft took place) or go to www.FTC.gov/idtheft

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