Cybersecurity has gained more publicity in light of recent hacks. Here is what you can do.
At Koester & Bradley we have focused our practice on helping the injured since 1895, but we also devote a great deal of time to consumer protection issues as well. While physical personal injuries often have traumatic and lasting impact on the lives of entire families, financial and fraud-related claims can also have a severe impact.
With cyber threats coming from a variety of sources, Koester & Bradley is dedicated to making sure our clients and community are continually kept up-to-date.
The Internet is full of threats, and if you're a long-time user of it, then you probably know not to click on suspicious links, to stay away from potentially dangerous sites such as porn and pirated movie websites. You may also understand that even websites that have no intent to do harm may fail to vet the safety of their advertisements. That is, clicking on their ads may send you to a dangerous website. However, even these precautions aren't enough for safe Internet use. The reason? Your browser itself may have security weaknesses that leave you vulnerable.
Cyber criminals are untiring in their search for ways to find and exploit loopholes in the software makeup of popular browsers. An example of this occurred earlier in 2017 when attackers used domain names with Unicode characters to set up phony versions of popular and trusted websites. When viewed in the Chrome and Firefox browsers, the phony website and its URL appeared identical to the real site. Criminals can also obtain SSL certificates (with a green padlock) to make their websites appear legit.
All popular browsers respond to these types of threats by issuing updates that correct the problem. Therefore, the main takeaway from this is to keep your browser up to date. If it has an auto-update feature, make sure it's activated. Another precaution is to review the privacy and security settings for your browser. One setting you should deactivate is the password saving feature that many browsers offer.
Another security threat comes from using browser plugins or extensions. These give your browser extra functionality but are created by third parties who might be untrustworthy. Your best defense is never installing them. Otherwise, you should install as few as possible. Look for online reviews of the plugins you're considering. These reviews should also provide a rating. A rating based on thousands of votes is more reliable than one based on a few. Check the reviews for mentions of malware and other security problems.
Finally, create a Google alert for news about your browser's security. This will keep you informed of the latest threats to watch for.
Use the above tips to make your Internet browsing as safe as possible. For more information or to speak to one of our lawyers, contact us.
With the recent hacking of Equifax, personal information of over 143 million Americans were compromised. Identity thieves gaining access to an individual’s credit report allows them to open new accounts in the victims’ names. A credit freeze is a security method that restricts access to an individual’s credit report. New creditors would not be able to see your file and therefore would not be able to approve a new account and extend credit. Under a credit freeze, existing creditors and debt collectors would still be allowed access to your credit report. Government agencies may also have access to your frozen credit report with the use of a court or administrative order, a subpoena or a search warrant.
A credit freeze will not prevent an identity thief from making charges to your existing accounts. You should continue the process of monitoring all credit card, bank transactions and insurance statements to screen for fraudulent transactions. A credit freeze does not affect your credit score and will not prevent you from acquiring your free annual credit report. A credit freeze will also not stop you from opening a new account, applying for a job, buying insurance or renting a home but you will be required to lift the freeze temporarily for a specific time or to specific parties in order for these actions to be approved. A credit freeze will not stop an individual from getting pre-screened offers of credit. To opt out of pre-screened offers of credit for 5 years or permanently, you can call 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688) or access the following website, www.optoutprescreen.com.
You can place a free on your credit reports by contacting nationwide credit reporting companies such as Experian (1-888-397-3742) and TransUnion (1-888-909-8872). You will be required to provide your name, date of birth, Social Security Number, current address and other personal information. The fee associated with placing a credit freeze is between $5 to $10. Each credit reporting company will send you a confirmation letter for your freeze request containing a personal identification number (PIN) or password. You will need the PIN or password if you choose to lift the freeze at a later date.
A credit freeze will remain in place until you request the credit reporting company to temporarily lift or completely remove it. The cost of lifting a credit freeze varies by state. The freeze must be lifted no later than 3 business days after the credit company receives your request.
CREDIT FREEZE VS FRAUD ALERT: There is a major difference and trade off between protection and convenience.
We have compiled the most relevant differences to keep in mind when taking action
As with any issue relating to credit and cyber security, being proactive and moving quickly is vital. Attorneys are investigating the matter and are always here to answer questions.
Despite the problems caused the lack of a state budget and the resulting disarray, Illinois has proven unwilling to wait for reform at the federal level, and has joined several other states considering laws that would protect student loan borrowers and heighten penalties against scammers targeting these individuals. With over $1.4 trillion in debt owed by approximately 44 million Americans and the Illinois Attorney General reporting that student borrower complaints have increased dramatically in the last several years, the new law would provide much needed protections.
Illinois is considering passing a Student Loan Bill of Rights law. This law would require loan servicers to obtain a license in the state, which would allow for greater oversight in the state. Additionally, a special ombudsman would be created to act on complaints that residents made. The law is aimed at preventing fraud and abuse from loan servicers.
The state Attorney General has noted that Illinois borrowers often have problems making their loan payments. Her office has received complaints from residents that loan servicers failed to inform them of affordable repayment options, to answer their questions in a consistent manner to follow borrower payment instructions. Due to the lack of information that many borrowers have from their loan servicers, scam artists may set up exploitative mechanisms that make false promises in exchange for large fees. The student loan crisis is being readily compared to the housing crisis.
If passed, the law would require loan servicers to properly process payments, to explain all of the repayment options available to borrowers and when borrowers may be able to get their loans forgiven. A number of more affordable options may be available to borrowers, such as deferment, forbearance, loan forgiveness or a repayment plan. Loan servicers would be prohibited from misleading borrowers.
Consumer fraud and protection lawyers may be able to assist individuals who are being defrauded by their creditors. They may pursue action on behalf of clients who receive harassing communications or who need debt relief. For more information on how consumer fraud and protection lawyers, contact us.
Ryan Bradley works with many Illinois and National Consumers to protect their rights from the grasp of big business.
Illinois Plaintiffs Lawyer by Koester & Bradley
Breaking Legal News with Central Illinois Impact from Koester & Bradley, LLP
Ryan R Bradley is a civil litigator based in Champaign County in Central Illinois focused on representing plaintiffs in a variety of cases.