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The Michael Shermer Show

A series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

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EPISODE # 264

Adam Levin on Identity Theft and How to Protect Yourself from Scammers, Phishers, and Fraudsters of All Types

Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves (book cover) What the Hack (podcast logo)

Increasingly, identity theft is a fact of life. We might once have hoped to protect ourselves from hackers with airtight passwords and aggressive spam filters, and those are good ideas as far as they go. But with the breaches of huge organizations like Target, AshleyMadison.com, JPMorgan Chase, Sony, Anthem, and even the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, more than a billion personal records have already been stolen, and chances are good that you’re already in harm’s way.

This doesn’t mean there’s no hope. Your identity may get stolen, but it doesn’t have to be a life-changing event. Adam Levin, a longtime consumer advocate and identity fraud expert, provides a method to help you keep hackers, phishers, and spammers from becoming your problem. Levin has seen every scam under the sun: fake companies selling “credit card insurance”; criminal, medical, and child identity theft; emails that promise untold riches for some personal information; catphishers, tax fraud, fake debt collectors who threaten you with legal action to confirm your account numbers; and much more. As Levin shows, these folks get a lot less scary if you see them coming.

Adam Levin is a consumer advocate with more than 30 years’ experience in personal finance, privacy, real estate and government service. A former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, Levin is Chairman and founder of Identity Theft 911, Chairman and co-founder of Credit.com and serves as a spokesperson for both companies. An expert on personal finance, credit, identity management, fraud and privacy, he writes a weekly column which appears on Huffington Post and ABCNews.com. He is a frequent guest on television, and has appeared on Fox News, Fox Business News, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, CBS Nightly News, ABC World News Tonight and scores of radio stations throughout the country. He lives in New York City with his wife and son.

Shermer and Levin discuss:

  • who are hackers, phishers and spammers?
  • how many are there, how much money do they make, and how do you know?
  • personally identifiable information (PII) and how to protect it
  • what your social security number is used for
  • a Signal Detection Problem: how do you know you’re being scammed?
  • criminal, medical, and child identity theft
  • catphishers
  • wedding scams
  • shopping scams
  • car warranty scams
  • disaster scams
  • holiday scams
  • tax scams
  • credit scams
  • child identity scams
  • healthcare scams and medical identity theft
  • Black Friday scams
  • grandparents scams
  • kidnapped child scams
  • airbnb scams
  • vacation scams
  • IRS phone scams
  • fake bank account scams
  • real estate scams
  • gift card scams
  • affair scams (AshleyMadison)
  • fake debt collectors who threaten you with legal action to confirm your account numbers
  • the three M’s of identity protection
  • how the Internet of Things became the fraudster’s opportunity
  • spies in your home
  • social media Dos and Don’ts
  • what happens when you post vacation photos
  • default to truth theory: how hard do thieves have to work to fool us?
  • Are humans naturally skeptical, naturally gullible, or is it context dependent?

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This episode is sponsored by Wondrium:

Wondrium (sponsor)

This episode was released on April 18, 2022.

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