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In 2003, the US Federal Trade Commission noted that 1 out of every 25 adults in the United States was a victim of identity theft. That figure is two years old. Since then, we have seen stories about electronic break-ins and the theft of hundreds of thousands of pieces of personal information leak out from data storage and mining firms such as ChoicePoint and Lexis-Nexus. In comparison, the FTC estimated the number of Americans who were victims of credit-card fraud at about 1 out of every 20 in 2001.

ID theft is, according to FTC figures, the most popular and fastest growing form of consumer fraud. Over 2004, the FTC reported ID thieves took over $100 million from financial institutions, or an average of $6,767 per incident. For individual consumers, the numbers are even more staggering. As reported by Janet Wu of by Boston television station WCVB-TV, money stolen through identity theft amounted to over $50 billion in the United States last year. In other words, nearly $200 per US citizen was somehow stolen due to identity theft.

That was last year. This year the numbers are expected to rise dramatically. On June 20, CNN reported that a breach of security at a third-party processing firm exposed nearly 40 million credit card accounts to potential fraud. 22 million Visa card holders and a further 14 million MasterCard were accessed over time when hackers busted into Tucson based CardSystems Solutions and installed a script that searched out specific types of card transaction data. The intrusion was discovered and stopped on June 20 but not before the hackers managed to export information on over 130,000 unique card holders. Information gained included names, credit card numbers and personal security codes.

Americans are not the only people in the world who are affected. On June 23, an undercover reporter from UK newspaper The Sun, Oliver Harvey, wrote about how he purchased information on over one thousand British citizens, from a company in India. For less than five dollars per person, Harvey was able to obtain bank and credit card digits and pass-codes, addresses, driver’s license info, and even passport registration numbers. Harvey’s contact in India, a Kkaran Bahree claimed to be able to access and pass details from over 2000 accounts per month through a network of call center workers in Delhi.

It is astonishingly easy to steal personal information. What is even more astonishing is the apparent caviler attitude shown until now by the major data storage and credit corporations who have all moved to close the barn door long after the horses have escaped. Recent laws passed in California and Illinois now put the onus on data storage firms to immediately inform consumers when a breach of personal data occurs. Before such laws, denial was often the first line of defense for many large data storage corporations.

Unfortunately, there is simply no way to secure electronic data from prying eyes. As any junior hacker will tell you, breaches in security are found as quickly as that security is established. The onus therefore remains on the consumer to take action to protect themselves and their personal information. A few years ago, consumers were told to shred all mail from financial institutions before disposing of it or recycling it. Shredding worked for paper documents but is somewhat more difficult for electronic ones. Today there are small steps consumers can take to protect themselves and knowledge is by far the best defense for individuals.

The first and most important thing for consumers to learn is their legal rights. For instance, many Americans don’t realize that section 609(e) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act gives them the right to examine the signature on a contract to prove it is not their own. As long as you can provide legal proof of identity and a police report or affidavit, creditors have an obligation to provide copies of transaction records for your inspection.

A second thing consumers should do is monitor their credit reports. Credit reporting firms such as Equifax, TransUnion and Experian allow consumers to view their personal credit reports for accuracy and report inconsistencies. For US residents, the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the major nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide consumers with a free copy of their credit reports, at their request, once every 12 months. This is as important as reviewing your monthly bank statement as criminals often wait months or even years to make use of personal identifying information.

Thirdly, it is important to compile as much documentation as possible to prove your case. Collection letters, previous credit reports, a legally notarized affidavit, and whatever other evidence you can gather will help when you make complaints to authorities. Since electronic identity theft is a relatively new twist on an old game, you might have to provide local police or other authorities with information about ID theft. You might need to remind them that a police report is necessary for the credit reporting agencies to take action. In some jurisdictions, state or provincial law does not yet cover identity theft. If that is the case, ask to file a miscellaneous incident report. If local authorities are unable or unwilling to help, you might need to take your case to state or provincial police forces or even federal policing agencies such as the RCMP or FBI.

Consumers should understand that creditors are becoming more knowledgeable about identity theft. While they might resist an easy settlement, it is in their best interest to communicate with and cooperate with the consumer. It is up to the consumer to provide as much information and proof of their innocence as possible. It is also up to the consumer to take measures to actively protect their personal data. Banks recommend changing your personal ID number (PIN) every three months. They also recommend that consumers become a bit more creative when choosing their PINs. When doing so, avoid using information that is easy to figure out, such as phone numbers, birthdates, or a series of consecutive numbers.

Most importantly, never stop learning about identity theft, how it can affect you and what you can do to protect yourself. If you don’t already know the managers of your bank branch, this might be a good time to meet them, if only to put a face to your name in their minds. When your credit history is under attack, you have only your personal credibility to fall back on. Even in an increasingly electronically driven society, personal credibility relies on the strength of your relationships. This might be a good time to start building them or shoring them up.

Identity theft is a problem that is not going to go away soon. Even with the development of “smart-id†cards such as biometric identity cards, the most vulnerable financial transactions take place electronically where even the most stringent biometric information is absolutely useless. Consumers need to be aware that personal information is being collected by lots of entities; a lot more personally identifying information is being collected than we are aware of. As too many stories remind us, security is not always foolproof. It is up to you to protect yourself.

Here are some useful links designed to help victims of identity theft. They might help you avoid becoming one as well.

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3 Tips For Avoiding Ad Fraud

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A perfect storm of fraud

The problem of ad fraud is a fusion of two primary forces:

Buyers often fail to leverage third-party vendors that specialize in tracking and blocking fraudulent activity. This is especially true in open exchanges, where the volume is immense, and the action is fast, allowing for errors to simply slip through in the process. Spending the time, money, and effort to proactively mitigate those opportunities for fraud will cut into a brand’s profitability, and it is much easier (and more efficient) to just play the odds, hoping that most of the inventory will be legitimate at the cost of a small number of fakes.

The pace of fraud is overwhelming. Much like the cybersecurity industry, for each step forward the good guys take, it seems like the bad guys take two more. Staying ahead of the schemes and tactics is a colossal task, especially as new platforms like virtual reality, voice-activation, and chatbot experiences grow in popularity. When brands lack the bandwidth and internal resources to combat these issues, it is impossible for them to be expected to keep up.

Don’t get trapped in the undertow Use curated private marketplaces Insist on chúng tôi compliance

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has created the chúng tôi standard as a way to prevent unauthorized inventory sales. Publishers include this text file on their web servers, listing all of the companies that are authorized to sell their inventory, while on the other side, programmatic platforms will list the publishers whose inventory they are authorized to sell.

This allows buyers to check the validity of the inventory they purchase in order to ensure that it is legitimate. While the requirement of chúng tôi has yet to be enforced, choosing publishers and demand-side platforms (DSPs) that comply with chúng tôi can significantly reduce the likelihood of fraud.

Use pre-bid segmentation and post-bid reporting

Pre-bid targeting or segmentation allows buyers to purchase inventory on exchanges based on specific segments, including viewability, brand safety, suspicious activity, content categories, anti-fraud, as well as many other parameters. These filter out any known or potential fraud, essentially allowing buyers to bid on “clean” inventory.

The industry is making progress

The big vendors like IAS, DoubleVerify, and MOAT have made some great strides in the fight against fraud each year, and even the major DSPs have played a pivotal role in combating digital ad fraud by cutting fraudulent sources, even at the expense of their bottom line. But the reality is, there will always be individuals whose mission it is to stay one step ahead of emerging technology in order to find loopholes and then use those gaps in the system to exploit it.

The value of partnerships

By leveraging premium partners and inventory sources who specialize in combatting fraud, some platforms have seen their involuntary traffic (IVT) drop by 60% and maintain an average of less than 2% IVT. Working with vendors who are willing to show you the fruits of their efforts can give you the confidence to expand your digital ad plan and strategically increase your spend, knowing that those dollars will go towards attracting a real, human audience to your business.

Unique Identification Authority And Identity (Uidai)

As the most trusted ID, Aadhaar has provided India with a reliable perspective of identification in order to empower the entire populace individually in such a way that no one is left behind on the path of development. It is the best technology for the transparent and targeted delivery of services, benefits, and subsidies with limited resources and no middlemen.

Aadhaar inspires more trust and confidence between people and systems, and vice versa, than any other identity document in India. In just over a decade, almost every sixth person in the world has obtained an Aadhaar card. Aadhaar promotes distributive justice, which strengthens democracy and equality.

What exactly is UIDAI?

The UIDAI was established by the Indian government in 2024 through the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits, and Services) Act. The UIDAI is in charge of compiling and maintaining data on the biometrics and demographics of Indian residents in order to issue Aadhaar cards. The UIDAI is an independent authority that falls under the purview of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

Objectives of UIDAI

UIDAI was established with the objective of issuing Unique Identification (UID) numbers known as “Aadhaar” to all Indian residents that −

Are robust enough to eliminate duplicate and fake identities and,

Can be verified and authenticated anytime, anywhere in an easy and cost-effective manner.

Mission

To ensure good governance, and efficient, transparent, and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits, and services from the Consolidated Fund of India to individuals residing in India by assigning unique identity numbers.

To create a policy, process, and system for issuing Aadhaar numbers to Indian citizens who request them by providing their biometric data and demographic data during the enrollment process.

To create policies, procedures, and systems for Aadhaar cardholders to update and authenticate their digital identities.

Ensure the technology infrastructure’s availability, scalability, and resilience.

Develop a long-term, sustainable organization to carry forward UIDAI’s vision and values.

To ensure the security and confidentiality of individuals’ identity information and authentication records.

To ensure that all individuals and organizations follow the Aadhaar Act in letter and spirit.

To make regulations and rules in accordance with the Aadhaar Act in order to carry out the provisions of the Aadhaar Act.

What is Aadhaar?

Aadhaar is a unique identification number issued to Indian citizens. It is a 12-digit number that is associated with an individual’s biometric and demographic information, such as their name, age, gender, address, and photograph. Aadhaar is used to identify citizens for a variety of government programs, including subsidies and welfare programs.

Features and Benefits of Aadhaar

One Aadhaar − One beneficiary: Aadhaar is a unique number, and no resident can have two because it is linked to their individual biometrics, identifying fake and ghost identities that cause leakages today. Governments will be able to increase benefits for eligible citizens by using savings from removing duplicates and fakes from identification based on the Aadhaar system.

Portability − Aadhaar is a universal number, and agencies and services can use it to contact the central Unique Identification database from anywhere in the country to confirm a beneficiary’s identity.

Inclusion of those without any existing identity documents − Benefits can be difficult to obtain for many poor and marginalized residents because they lack the identification documents required to receive state benefits. The ‘Introducer’ system, which has been approved for UIDAI data verification, will assist these residents in proving their identity.

Electronic benefit transfers − In addition to providing a secure and affordable platform to directly remit benefits to residents without the high costs currently associated with benefit distribution, the UID-enabled-Bank-Account network will also help to stop leaks in the current system.

Aadhaar-based authentication to confirm entitlement delivered to the beneficiary − The UIDAI will provide online authentication services for organizations that want to confirm a resident’s identity; this service will allow verification that the entitlement actually reaches the intended beneficiary.

Improved services through increased transparency − Access and quality of entitlements for beneficiaries and the agency would both be significantly improved by clear accountability and transparent monitoring.

Self-service puts residents in control − Residents should be able to access current information about their entitlements, request services, and address their complaints directly from their mobile phones, kiosks, or other means using Aadhaar as an authentication mechanism. Security is ensured when a resident uses self-service on their mobile device by using two-factor authentication (i.e., by demonstrating that they have both their registered mobile number and knowledge of their Aadhaar PIN). These requirements are in line with the Mobile Banking and Payments Standards approved by the Reserve Bank of India.

Conclusion Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is an Aadhaar number?

Ans. An Aadhaar number is a 12-digit unique identification number that is issued by the UIDAI to residents of India.

Q2. Who is eligible to apply for an Aadhaar number?

Ans. Any resident of India, including children and infants, can apply for an Aadhaar number.

Q3. Can Aadhaar be used as proof of citizenship?

Ans. No, Aadhaar is not proof of citizenship. It is simply a unique identification number that is issued to residents of India.

Q4. Can Aadhaar be used outside India?

Ans. No, Aadhaar is only intended for use within India and is not recognized as a valid form of identification outside of India.

How To Disable Chrome Extensions With One Click

To start using this convenient extension manager, visit the Chrome Web Store and download Extensity.

Not grouping Apps and Extensions together will show the extension/app list in alphabetical order.

The last two icons allow you to share Extensity in Twitter or rate it in the Web Store.

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Applecare+ Theft And Loss Insurance Launches In France, Italy And Spain

Folks in France, Italy and Spain can now sign up for an upgraded AppleCare+ plan to ensure they get a replacement iPhone for a small fee in case of device theft or loss.

What’s happening? The upgraded AppleCare+ insurance with theft and loss coverage has launched in France, Italy and Spain. Counting this expansion, this optional warranty coverage is now available in eight countries around the world.

Why care? If you’ve already signed up for AppleCare+ (which doesn’t cover device theft or loss) and you’re increasingly concerned that you might lose your iPhone or have it stolen from you, then you should consider this upgraded insurance offering from Apple for your next device.

What to do? If you live in countries where the upgrade AppleCare+ theft and loss insurance is available, visit Apple’s website and read the fine print to determine whether this is something that you might need down the road.

Where is AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss available

The AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss, as it is officially called, was available in the following eight countries around the world as of August 3, 2023.

Australia

France

Germany

Italy

Japan

Spain

United Kingdom

United States

The regular AppleCare+ insurance is available in a greater number of countries than AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss, which debuted in the United States in 2024.

How AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss works

AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss has all the perks of regular AppleCare+ (which also covers device damage), plus the additional benefit of theft and loss insurance. It’s available separately from and costs a bit more than regular AppleCare+.

In return, you get peace of mind knowing you can get one replacement phone every twelve months for a much smaller fee than paying for a new phone upfront. You must purchase your coverage up to 60 days following the purchase of your device. You can pay for it upfront or opt for rolling monthly coverage, whichever suits you.

The claims process will have you mark the device as lost and erase it before transferring ownership. Claims in all countries are handled by financial firm AIG and you’ll need to finalize your claim on its website. Claims are limited to a maximum of two per year. If you have AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss and would like to make a claim, be sure to read Apple’s support document explaining the process.

For further information and details on how AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss works, read the program’s summary and disclosures [PDF document].

How much is AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss in the US?

Prices of these plans depend on your iPhone model and country. In the United States, for example, AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss for the iPhone 13 Pro is priced at $13.49/month. By comparison, the same insurance for the third-generation iPhone SE is $7.49/month. Upgrading from regular AppleCare+ to theft and loss protection will set you back an additional $60 upfront or up to an extra $3/month.

In case of theft, a replacement iPhone of the same model will cost you up to $149. Like with regular AppleCare+, you also get coverage for screen or back glass damage ($29 service fee) and other accidental damage ($99 service fee).

How much is AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss in the EU?

In the European Union, AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss is priced at up to €229 upfront or up to €11.49/month if opted for rolling monthly coverage, depending on your iPhone model. In other words, it’s an extra €60 upfront or up to an extra €3/month compared to Apple’s standard AppleCare+ offering. A replacement device incurs up top a €129 service fee. Screen or back glass damage is subject to a €29 incident fee and other accidental damage is €99.

For the flagship iPhone 13 Pro Max, paying €129 for a replacement phone saves you a lot of money versus buying a new device for north of €1,200. To reiterate, this device/country-specific service fee is in addition to the cost of the insurance itself.

Is AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss worth it?

No insurance is worth the money until something happens to your insured item. So maybe you think you could be in danger of having your iPhone stolen from you because you live in a neighborhood where theft is commonplace. Or maybe you’re afraid you might lose your phone because you misplace your house keys all the time. Read: Windows to Mac: Getting used to new keys, names and more

You’re wholeheartedly recommended to at least consider the upgraded AppleCare+ theft and loss insurance. It does cost extra upfront or month-to-month compared to the standard AppleCare+ plan but it does privilege you with additional coverage against theft or loss every twelve months. Read: Should you get AppleCare+ for your MacBook Pro

As Election Season Mounts, Reno Mayor Spearheads City’s Crypto Identity

via Unsplashed

Last week the City of Reno, NV announced the launch of Biggest Little Blockchain, “the first city-run and resident-focused blockchain platform in the United States.” Reno’s spitfire mayor Hillary Schieve spearheaded the project, engineered using BlockApps platform STRATO. Biggest Little Blockchain should go live later this summer, applying standardized, permanent ledger technology to the City of Reno’s Historic Registry.

Since the pandemic and concurrent developments like the arrival of Tesla’s Gigafactory, Reno has attracted swaths of hip young remote workers to the “Biggest Little City in the World.” Still, Reno is just one of many cities hoping that crypto can bring fresh energy to their community. 

In an article on Schieve’s recent efforts, Wired noted that “Cleveland declared itself Blockland” in 2023, and last January Miami’s Mayor, Francis Suarez, “tweeted about turning his city into a ‘hub for crypto innovation’ centered around Bitcoin.” Wyoming and the Native American Catawba nation have both sought to position themselves as regulatory havens for new companies dealing in crypto too.

Unlike all those initiatives, this groundbreaking work in Reno foregoes courting outside influences. Instead, they’re applying the new tech for public works projects first. There’s no financial angle to the application of Biggest Little Blockchain–just yet. Certainly no speculation. Biggest Little Blockchain will enable landowners and developers interested in altering Reno’s protected historic buildings to “request ‘Certificates of Appropriateness’ (CoA) for proposed maintenance or additions,” according to the release, simplifying data collaboration and sharing across “once siloed systems.” 

“With its success, the City hopes to expand the scope of the Biggest Little Blockchain and bring more processes onto the network, such as regular maintenance work, permitting, and licensing,” their release said. Schieve added that “this new pilot project empowers every Reno resident with easy access to information, and how fitting that we are starting with the historic buildings that are the heart and soul of our community.”

The day after their announcement went live, Schieve spoke about Biggest Little Blockchain at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ annual meeting, held this year at the Peppermill in Reno according to Government Computer News. 

Schieve in 2024. Photo by Darron Birgenheier via Wikimedia Commons.

Schieve’s championed blockchain technology since she started investing in projects like Chainlink herself six years ago. She’s up for reelection this June and already facing ten challengers, but the sitting mayor has her sights on incorporating NFTs into Reno’s ecosystem–most famously as a solution to the dilapidated 50-foot stained glass and steel “Space Whale” sculpture at the city’s center. 

Artist Matt Schultz oversaw the creation of “Space Whale” for Burning Man 2024. The City of Reno then leased the work for $64,000. Since that lease expired in August 2023, the sculpture has been assaulted by human beings and the natural elements. Scultz tried to sell “Space Whale” to the city for $500,000. They refused, on the grounds it needed so many expensive repairs. Schultz tried selling the work on Facebook Marketplace for $1 million– not the venue to attract such a buyer. The sculpture’s since become a community eyesore.

Schieve thought about selling an NFT of “Space Whale” last year. The buyer would receive the artist’s CAD file, a video, and extensive bragging rights. Meanwhile, the sale could finance necessary repairs so the physical sculpture could stay in Reno. However, as GCN repored, “Schieve’s NFT idea never materialized, and in November the city bought the sculpture from artist Matthew Schultz for $137,000 – $75,000 of which was for repairs.”

She’d selected Tezos for the would-be endeavor on the grounds that their platform uses less energy than Ethereum. Schieve even started working with Tezos developers “to build a platform for raising funds for municipal art.” Though the project fell through, Schieve did capture the attention of a 21 year old undergraduate student at University of Nevada-Reno named Theodore Clapp who was stoked to see that his elected official shared his interest in the altcoin. 

Clapp got in touch, and Schieve set him up as head of Reno’s Blockchain Board on Innovation–”a board of one,” Wired noted, though he is recruiting cohorts. Right now Clapp’s apparently focused on drafting a white paper for a future Reno DAO where “city residents will receive cryptocurrency that corresponds to the value of certain city-owned parcels,” as Wired said. “People could buy and sell their stakes, and if the land were leased or sold, they would all share in the proceeds.” 

This could even prove the precursor for unemployment systems run by smart contracts and death certificates issues via blockchain–real world problem-solving empowered by the same tech as Bitcoin, in the same region that’s already attracted investment from Tesla, Google, and Apple. Not only will the early outcomes of Biggest Little Blockchain’s launch potentially pave the way for greater governmental growth, it also proves there’s more utility to blockchain technology than moving money.

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