Every day it seems there is a new scam warning, data breach notification, or privacy
and security concern. It’s almost impossible to keep up with them all.
This month, we’re taking a closer look at smart devices. If you feel like someone
is watching you, they probably are; and there’s a good chance you gave them
permission, even if it was unwittingly.
Who’s Watching What You Watch?
Is your smart TV a little too smart? You may think you’re opting in only to receive personalized
viewing recommendations, but you may also be giving permission to receive targeted advertising
on other connected devices. According to one of the largest tracking companies, 90% of people
people know what they’re opting into?
That’s the question two U.S. senators have asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The
senators don’t believe consumers should have to give up their privacy and personal information to
watch TV. They’ve requested the FTC to conduct an industry-wide investigation into data collection
practices. This could lead to privacy regulation for smart TVs.
Alexa, What Is My Checking Account Balance?
U.S. Bank is the first bank to make some online banking activities compatible with all three virtual
assistants (Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri). Transferring money to other account holders may be
next. Customers of other banks can make certain transactions, including paying bills, with some of
the devices. PINs and voice recognition can help with privacy and security concerns, but as we’ve
seen with person-to-person payment apps, nothing is foolproof. Hackers, a guest, even a nosy
neighbor may pick up too much information and gain access to your account.
Would you be willing to trade your driving data for a discounted oil change? Mitsubishi owners who
download the car company’s smartphone app can earn rewards points (badges), but at what cost?
Turns out an insurance company is one of the first customers to have access to that data, so if you
have a lead foot that leads to a higher insurance premium, you may find that sharing your data isn’t
so rewarding after all.
! Investigator Tip: The FBI recently released a public service announcement regarding
Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Among the protection tips offered:
• Reboot devices regularly to remove malware.
• Change default usernames and passwords on all IoT devices.
• Use anti-virus protection and ensure it is up to date.
• Ensure all IoT devices are up to date, including security patches.
• Isolate IoT devices from other network connections.
Claim Your Online Accounts or Someone Else Will
If you think staying offline is the best way to protect your identity, think again. Identity thieves
can use your personal information to tie online accounts to their email address or mobile phone
number, then use them to make fraudulent purchases, set up a fake social media account in your
name – even drain your bank accounts.
! Investigator Tip: Even if you never intend to use online banking, access your mobile phone
account online, or make any social media posts, it’s a good idea to set up an account to
prevent someone else from doing so. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever
possible; that way you will be alerted if someone attempts to access your account.
Back to School Shopping Lessons
According to a new report, more than half of U.S. retailers experienced a data breach last year. As
a result, U.S. retail is now the second most breached segment analyzed by Thales, trailing the U.S.
federal government only slightly and ranking ahead of healthcare and financial services.
! Investigator Tip: Set up activity alerts with your bank and credit card companies. Monitor
your accounts frequently to make sure transactions are valid. Choose a credit card over a
debit card when you shop, particularly when you shop online. Consider getting a low-limit
credit card to use exclusively for shopping online and offline.