Safe Holiday Travels & Shopping

Safe Holiday Travels & Shopping

The time has come, once again, for the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. While we all look forward to this time of year, criminals especially do as well. Holiday TravelsThey rely on us being excited, relaxed and distracted. In an effort to keep our information safe, we must be overly aware during this time of year.


During the holidays, traveling increases by 54%. That’s a lot of empty homes waiting for criminals to do their work. Here are just a few tips to keep your home safe while traveling:

  1. Only tell one close family member or friend that you are traveling out of town. This one person should be the one to check on your home while you are away. Having them enter your home one or two times daily would be ideal. Although they are busy as well, this will make it look like someone is there frequently.
  2. Do not post on social media your travel schedule. Although you think only friends and family can see this information, you are incorrect. You can take pictures and still update on the fun your having, just do it responsibly. No one needs to know you are half way across the country.
  3. Put your lights on timers, inside and out. If your lights are popping on and off throughout the day, anyone watching your house will tend to believe someone is home. You can get the timers from any home improvement store and they do not take long to install.
  4. A small final tip from my parents! Turn off your main water line before leaving. You do not want to come back to a flooded, moldy home due to a small hole in a water line. Trust me, it was not fun! Once you return from traveling, you just want to be in your own bed. If this water line break occurs, you will be back in a hotel for weeks.

Wallet and Identity

Identity PicI group the wallet and identity together as the items utilized to steal your identity are generally located in your wallet. Here are just a few suggestions for keeping your information safe while you are enjoying the shopping frenzy:

  1. Pay with cash as often as you can. We’ve all seen the security issues with credit card machines. This can happen at any retail store. Avoid giving your card information out and pay with cash. If you do not want to carry cash, get gift cards with cash and use the gift cards instead of using your debit/credit card.
  2. If paying with cash, ensure you place your cash close to your person when out shopping. Put the cash in the pockets of your jeans or in a place where you would notice or feel someone trying to take the cash from you. Do not place it in your purse on a cart where you would turn your attention away, for even a second. All it takes is a second to turn your head away and your purse is gone.
  3. Along with the cash, put all identification (driver’s license, social security card, credit cards) information in your pockets as well. Always make sure your information is close enough so you will know if someone is trying to get to these items.
  4. When pulling out your cash to pay, do not pull out the large stack of bills and count it out in an obvious manner. You may not realize how closely people are watching you, but criminals are watching every move as this is their job.
  5. As you are buying your items, try to condense the amounts of packages you are carrying. Any bags that can be combined, do so. The more you are carrying, the more vulnerable you appear.
  6. When you take your items to your car to drop them off and start off again, we all do it, make sure you cover the items with either a blanket or a screen. Do not leave anything out in the open in your vehicle.

The holidays are fun and happy time of the year. Do not let criminals make this time stressful for you. Small adjustments can keep your home, wallet and identity safe. Always be aware of your surroundings, trust your gut, and keep your personal information personal.

Lauth Investigations International is a private investigation firm. We consistently work with people whose identity has been compromised. The one minute it took a criminal to steal their information created months of stress for these individuals to recover. Do not let this happen to you.


Cyber Hackers, Private Information, and the Private Investigators Who Catch Them

Cyber Hackers, Private Information, and the Private Investigators Who Catch Them


Today’s digital age has allowed people to be more interconnected, share more information, and stretched our capabilities for innovation in ways dystopian literature couldn’t even have imagined. You think Aldous Huxley could have predicted the advent of Yelping the best tasting empanadas within a ten mile radius? (Okay fine he probably did).  Well, as increasingly dependent we’ve been when it comes to our relationship with various technologies, devices, clouds, and screens, a couple cyber hacker stories this week have caused many to second guess the information that’s exchanged over the once thought even playing field of internet and data storage.

This past Sunday, Hollywood and celebrity culture was rocked with a photo scandal that is now considered the biggest celebrity hacking incident of all-time.  Over 100 actresses, including Jennifer Lawrence and Kirsten Dunst have been reported having personal photos and information made public on sites such as 4Chan, known to some as the “the darkest corner of the web“.  One such actress, Mary Elizabeth Winstead was quoted as saying the private pictures she took with her husband were “deleted from her account years ago”.  She also brought up the question of whether anything can truly be scrubbed from the cloud or internet.


Even if your the biggest star on the planet, it doesn’t mean you are any less venerable when it comes to cyber crimes. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

For those of us who aren’t featured on the covers of glossy magazines or have people dressing like them for Halloween,  it doesn’t seem to impact us.  We may just chalk this up to celebrity culture and the continued lack of privacy this digital age and news cycle has allowed them to have. However, another recent cyber crime can be much more concerning for “normal” folks.

Home Depot may be the latest large-cap company to “pull a Target” or become victim of credit card breach.  In the last week, thousands of credit cards have cropped up on “carding sites”. This is thought to be the work of eastern European hackers, the same group that infiltrated Target’s security system last year.

Home Depot Credit Card Fraud

Cyber hackers may have had credit card access for months. Source: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Both stories directly impact different target markets, but offer a glimpse into how easy it is in this age to bring down any person or corporation with just a few clicks.

These hackers could be called anti-investigators for their deductive approach in getting the information they desire, though for obvious nefarious and highly illegal purposes. 


(Source: Experience Project)

Getting access to such information is much more simplistic then one may presume.  In the case of card breaches, it usually consists of a basic malware programs that store and forward information, according to private investigation experts.

In terms of how such programs were attached to the systems in the first place, the celebrity scandal can provide one such example of how this occurs.  Investigators believe hackers access to information was based on methodically deducing the actresses passcode information, and not a complete infiltration of ICloud.

Private investigators offer solutions in both scenarios, including two-step passwords, making unique, “back-up” answers, and using chip cards without the magnetic strip.

Fraud investigators are attempting to catch individuals by gathering facts and working backwards. Though not easy to find these virtual criminals, whether your a corporation, an A-list celebrity or someone with a stolen identity, private investigators will use continuously evolving and innovative methods in catching these criminals.

Cyber Attacks on Corporations Growing

Cyber Attacks on Corporations Growing

Hacking and security breaches are an ever-growing crime. If you are a consumer, never presume your information is safe even while grocery shopping. If you are a corporate business, there are many things you can do to improve your security. Contact us – We can help.

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