Federal authorities seized 14 franchised 7-Elevens in Long Island and Virginia and arrested nine owners and managers in connection with an identity theft case. The nine are charged with making millions of dollars by exploiting more than 50 illegal immigrants. The owners and managers paid these employees using stolen Social Security Numbers from 20 victims, including an eight-year-old child and three deceased people.
The federal agents did not release information on how these owners and managers got these identity theft victim's Social Security numbers, however this is just one example of how identity thieves use other's Social Security numbers. So how do you protect your Social Security number and other private information from identity thieves?
One effective and hands-on way is to sign up for an identity theft protection service. These services monitor the use of your Social Security number and other personal information on the Internet black market to make sure your personal information isn't being sold to identity thieves. If these services find your information is being sold, they will alert you immediately and provide you with information on how to protect your identity, such as place a security freeze on your credit — the information varies depending on the information that has been sold on the black market.
Identity theft protection services offer many different ways to help protect your identity. Check out our identity theft protection compare chart to see what each identity theft protection has to offer.
Q: Which of the credit report monitoring services allow credit reporting which is viewed from outside the United States? After 7 years, Free Credit Report terminated my monthly service because I work outside the United States.
A: That's a great question — you should continue to stay on top of your credit and continue protecting your identity even if you're overseas. We contacted the top credit report monitoring services and got the scoop on their international policies.
Identity Guard: You can sign in and use your Identity Guard account while you are out of the country; however, you must still be a citizen of the United States. It's also important to note that they only monitor US bureaus, so international credit accounts that are opened abroad will not be covered.
Trusted ID: The same rules apply for Trusted ID; you will still be able to use the service and get alerts. They also added that you would need to get an international number to contact them since most of their troubleshooting and disputing needs to be called in to assist you. They have an international number but it will still cost a little extra to call internationally.
PrivacyGuard: Their answer was quick and simple — as long as you have an Internet connection, you can keep up with your credit online by signing on to your online account.
Q: My spouse and I share all the same bank accounts and credit cards, so I don't feel those need additional monitoring. Would I be able to sign my spouse up for Identity Guard's kIDSure?
A: No, you will not be able to sign your spouse up with Identity Guard's kIDSure program because your spouse does not meet the requirements for the kIDSure program. These requirements are that the children you sign up must be under the age of 18 and you must be their legal guardian.
Even though you and your spouse share the same bank accounts and credit cards, it's still important that you both have your own protection or a family plan — which Identity Guard doesn't offer — because you both won't get the protection under one membership. For example, if only you decide to sign up for the protection then, even though both of your financial accounts will be protected, only your Social Security number be protected. If your spouse has their identity stolen then your identity theft protection service won't be able to assist your spouse through the restoration because the membership is under your Social Security number. This blog explains why couples with joint accounts can't share one identity theft protection membership.
As our top-rated identity theft protection service, Identity Guard offers solid identity theft protection. It actively monitors your 3-bureau credit report, credit cards, public records, Social Security number, applications and even offers Zone Alarm Internet security software for only $14.99/month per adult with a 30-day free trial. Identity Guard also offers its kIDSure program, which monitors your child's information on criminal records, DMV records, utilities records, as well as scans for Social Security number exposure on the Internet black market for only $5/month per child.
If you're looking for an identity theft protection service that offers a family plan, we'd recommend that you check out our other top-rated identity theft protection, TrustedID, which offers a family plan that protects an unlimited number of people living at the same address for $18/month paid annually or $25.19/month paid monthly. TrustedID also offers a 14-day free trial, which allows you to test the service before making a financial commitment.
Check out our identity theft compare page to see which service will be the best for you and your spouse.
Want to find quality wedding stationery for cheap? Well you're in luck because Wedding Paper Divas is offering up to 20 percent off any order from now through July 2nd. Just enter the code TP20JUNE at checkout to take advantage of this discount. This code will allow you to get 10 percent off orders of $75 or more, 15 percent off orders of $149 or more or 20 percent off orders of $249 or more.
Wedding Paper Divas is the sister site of our best-overall rated photo card service, Tiny Prints, which means you can expect the best from the service. Wedding Paper Divas specializes in only wedding stationery, favors and other wedding supplies, which makes it no surprise that it offers numerous options for designs and colors. It even offer matching stationery, so you can make your save the dates, invitations, wedding programs, menus, thank you cards and any other stationery matches. Wedding Paper Divas also allow you to customize your stationery's text and photo boxes.
Here's an example of Wedding Paper Divas' matching wedding stationery.
Wedding Paper Divas offers a variety of save the dates from magnets to postcards to traditional and premium cards. The prices depend on the save the date you choose. The 4.10"-by-5.25" flat postcard above starts at $2.49 per card — with a minimum order of 10 cards — and gets cheaper with larger orders.
Besides offering a variety of save the dates, Wedding Paper Divas also offers more than 679 options for invitations. The prices vary depending on the invitation and paper you choose, however all invitations require a minimum order of 10. The 5"-by-7" flat card above starts at $4.69 each — with a minimum order of 10 cards — and gets cheaper with larger orders.
It's always a nice gesture to send out thank you cards to thank them for spending your special day with you, and the best part is that they can match your other wedding stationery. Wedding Paper Divas allows you to order customizable thank you notes, such as the one above. This 5"-by-3.50" folded card starts at $2.49 each — with a minimum order of 10 cards — and gets cheaper with larger orders.
Visit Wedding Paper Divas' website to take advantage of the discount and start shopping for your wedding stationery and supplies.
Summer is here, which means many people will be taking their long awaited summer vacations. For some, taking photos while on vacation can be a hassle. Keeping track of memory cards and uploading photos to your laptop while trying to kick back and relax isn't typically how most people want to spend their downtime on vacation. Not only that but you still run the risk of losing your camera or photos without the possibility of ever getting them back. However, there is a convenient and practical solution to this problem: the cloud.
Cloud storage allows you to upload many pictures straight to a safe and secure location, in many cases without even having to upload them to your computer first. With some cloud services, you can take photos straight from your smart phone and upload them to your cloud through your smart phone-enabled app. Companies like SugarSync and Mozy have smartphone apps that allow you to take pictures which are automatically backed to your cloud from wherever you are. Now even if your phone gets lost or damaged during the trip, you can still have all your photos backed up. Also, for those using the traditional style camera, just upload your photos to your computer and have them automatically saved to a specific folder of your choice in the cloud.
There are many great cloud services out there that offer the ability to save photos, but only a few of them offer the ability to save those files straight to the cloud from your mobile device. SugarSync and Mozy offer the best cloud storage apps, which allow for saving directly to the cloud on the go. If you want to know more about backing up to the cloud, check out our full comprehensive reviews on all the top services. While you're there, check out our deals or promo codes to help you get a discount on your cloud storage service.
Netflix announced this week that they will be adding multiple user profiles to accounts this summer. The new feature will allow you to share your Netflix account with multiple users without the annoyance of seeing their tailored movie suggestions. Now when you lend someone your Netflix password, you wont be bombarded with kids show suggestions and other content that you're not interested in.
The feature was added to the family plan which was announced not long ago. The new family plan allows for up to four users on a single account. It's estimated that nearly 10 million users of Netflix are mooching off of friends or family members accounts. The family plan will start at $11.99 per month. Standard plans will also still apply but only allow you 2 users.
Netflix still has one of the highest subscription rates for streaming services and is still regarded as one of the top services out there. With others like Hulu and Amazon following closely behind, we may begin to see more features being added by Netflix in an attempt to keep their spot on top of the streaming world. If you are interested in learning more about Netflix and their streaming service go to Nextadvisor.com.
Q: I am looking to get my bachelor's degree and I exploring my different options. I can choose to go to a local college or online college. I will be working full time while I earn my degree, so I need a college with flexible hours. Would online college be a good option for me to explore?
A: Great question! We know that choosing a college can be nerve-racking since it is a big decision to make. You want to make sure you make the best choice for you and your future. Since you'll be going to school and working full time, online college might be a great option for you. It offers you complete flexibility of doing the work on your own time and whenever is most convenient for you.
Online colleges offer a variety of degrees including associates degree, certificates, bachelor's degree, master's degree, MBA and PhD. These degrees are offered in various majors ranging from criminal justice to nursing.
Booksfree.com has added 4,800 new titles to their already immense library of books and audio books. Books free is already known for having one of the biggest rental libraries available and now, with the addition of these extra titles, it has become even easier to find books that you love.
For those unfamiliar with how Booksfree works, it is a subscription-based service where you can rent both audio books and paperback books shipped directly to you. Working much like a Netflix DVD rental, the book or audio book CD is shipped directly to your house. Upon finishing the book, simply mail it back and receive the next one in your queue.
Subscriptions offer the the ability to check out a specified amount of books in a given month; for each upgraded subscription, the amount of books or audiobook CD's are increased. For those who enjoy reading physical copies of books as well as listen to them, Booksfree.com is by far the best option out there. To find out more about Booksfree, check out our full review at Nextadvisor.com where you can also get 60% off of your first month by using our special promocode.
Planning a summer or fall wedding and looking for deal on invitations or save the dates? Our top-rated for high end prints photo card service wants help you out. From now through June 17th, Minted is having their Summer Wedding Event, which allows you to get 15 percent off any wedding order. Just enter the code SUMMERWED at checkout to receive 15 percent off wedding invitations, save the dates cards and magnets, bridal shower invitations, wedding programs, wedding announcements and more. This code will even get you 15 percent off the pricier letterpress invitations.
Minted's wedding stationery is the perfect option for a couple that doesn't quite know what they're looking for — in terms of design — because their stationery is created by independent designers throughout the world so it offers a lot of variety. The designs are chosen in a monthly contest where the winners' designs are selected to go into production. Minted offers everything from classy, simple invitations to non-traditional, fun invitations.
Here are some samples of Minted's design variety.
The Charming Go Lightly invitation is an example of one of Minted's formal and classic wedding invitations. It is perfect for any couple throwing a formal event. This 5"-by-7" flat card with letterpress starts at 9.70 each — not including the discount — with a minimum order of 20, and gets cheaper with larger orders.
This photo wedding invitation from Minted is the perfect invitation for the couple that is looking to have unique invitations for a non-traditional or somewhat-traditional wedding. It offers a simple, yet playful look to guests, and the photos are sure to bring a smile to your guests faces. The Metro Green Line invitation starts at 3.84 each — not including the discount — with a minimum order of 25, and gets cheaper with larger orders.
The Infinity & Beyond wedding invitation is the perfect example of Minted designer's creativity. It is a fun, unique invitation for the quirky couple looking to show their personalities for their maybe less-than-formal wedding. This invitation costs 3.84 each — not including the discount — with a minimum order of 25, and gets cheaper with larger orders.
A Northern California-based health system, Sutter Health, announced a security breach that put patient's personal information in jeopardy of possible identity theft. Sutter released a public notice that stated police found the protected health information while conducting an unrelated investigation. The Sacramento Business Journal reported that Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies found the information during a drug bust in Oakland, CA.
It is unknown how the information was leaked and which information was included on the protected health information found, however it could have included personal information such as patients' full name, gender, Social Security number, date of birth, home phone number, marital status, address, name of employer and work phone number.
To protect the identity of their patients, Sutter has contacted all the possibly exposed patients as well as provided those patients with one-year free membership to ProtectMyID.com by Experian.
What can you do if this or something like it happens to you?
We found Sutter's response to this situation to be a generous act, unfortunately not all health systems or companies will offer such a proactive solution so it's important to know what to do. The most active way to protect your identity after your information has been exposed is to sign up for an identity theft protection service. These services monitor the use of your private information as well as your credit reports, and alert you as soon as they notice something suspicious or unusual use of your information. Besides the active monitoring of your personal information, these services also provide you with assistance throughout the restoration process in the event that you become a victim of identity theft.
Our two top-rated identity theft protection services — Identity Guard and TrustedID — even offer free trials that allow you to test the service before you make a financial commitment. Check out this blog to find out why identity theft protection services are useful to have or visit our identity theft compare chart to see a breakdown of what each service offers.
Disclosure: NextAdvisor.com is a consumer information site that offers free, independent reviews and ratings of online services. We receive advertising revenue from most of the services we review. Our editors thoroughly research and whenever possible test each service we review and offer their honest opinions about each one. We are independently owned and operated and all opinions expressed on this site are our own.