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PROPERTY CLINIC: How long do I need to own a property as my home before letting it to avoid extra stamp duty? By Rachel Rickard Straus for Thisismoney. Cases of insurance identity fraud have shot up this year, from just 20 between January and June 2016 to 2,070 over the same period this year. The rise means it’s the fastest-growing type of identity theft in the UK, at a time when it is reaching ‘epidemic’ levels.
Identity theft is when fraudsters get hold of the data of their victims, such as their names, dates of birth and addresses, through a variety of routes including stolen mail, the dark web, hacking or exploiting information on social media. The fraudsters then use this information to take out products in their victims’ names, for example opening bank accounts and applying for credit cards, loans, shopping online – and now, insurance. Insurance identity fraud is when a criminal uses these methods to take out an insurance product in someone else’s name. Nick Mothershaw, director of identity and fraud solutions at Experian, explains why someone would want to do this. He says that this type of fraud is often called ‘ghost broking’, and involves ‘taking out a policy using a good address that gets a low premium, doctoring it, and selling on to an unsuspecting buyer looking for a better premium’. The victim of insurance identity theft might not find out about the crime until they receive some kind of correspondence from an insurance provider with whom they do not have a policy, asking for payment or alerting them to an issue.
Similarly, the victim who unwittingly buys the doctored insurance cover may not find out that they do not have a valid policy until it’s too late and they try to make a claim. Other types of insurance fraud can involve people not telling the truth to get a better premium or people making false or exaggerated claims, says Nick. To check whether your insurance product is legitimate, the Association of British Insurers says you can check that it is listed on the Motor Insurers’ Bureau’s Motor Insurance Database, which records policy details of all vehicles in the UK. It also says to beware of insurance policies sold via social networking websites, pubs clubs and bars, newsagents and motor repair shops. The Insurance Fraud Bureau runs Cheatline with Crimestoppers to report insurance fraud.
HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST IDENTITY FRAUD? Set your privacy settings across all the social media channels you use. Install anti-virus software on your laptop and any other personal devices and then keep it up to date. If you’re using one, avoid accessing sensitive apps such as mobile banking. Think about your offline information too, like post. Always redirect your mail when you leave home and try to make sure your mailbox is secure.
Simon Dukes, Cifas chief executive, said: ‘We have seen identity fraud attempts increase year-on-year, now reaching epidemic levels. These frauds are taking place almost exclusively online. The vast amounts of personal data that is available either online or through data breaches is only making it easier for the fraudster. Criminals are relentlessly targeting consumers and businesses and we must all be alert to the threat and do more to protect personal information. For smaller and medium-sized businesses in particular, they must focus on educating staff on good cyber security behaviours and raise awareness of the social engineering techniques employed by fraudsters. Relying solely on new fraud prevention technology is not enough. No FSCS protection, instead covered by French deposit guarantee scheme.
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Bitcoin is a virtual currency, or cryptocurrency, that’s controlled by a decentralized network of users and isn’t directly subject to the whims of central banking authorities or national governments. Like traditional currencies, such as the U. Bitcoin has value relative to other currencies and physical goods. Whole Bitcoin units can be subdivided into decimals representing smaller units of value. Currently, the smallest Bitcoin unit is the satoshi, or 0.
The satoshi can’t be broken into smaller units. Bitcoin is the most versatile cryptocurrency around. For all its promise, Bitcoin remains a niche currency that’s subject to wild value fluctuations. Despite the wild-eyed pronouncements of hardcore proponents, it’s certainly not a legitimate investment or trading vehicle, as is the case with stable national currencies, such as the U. The code’s underlying principles, known as cryptography, are based on advanced mathematical and computer engineering principles. It’s virtually impossible to break Bitcoin’s source code and manipulate the currency’s supply.
Are there any Bitcoin miners that run from a web page and use the GPU?
Although it was preceded by other virtual currencies, Bitcoin is known as the first modern cryptocurrency. That’s because Bitcoin is the first to blend certain key features shared by most subsequently created cryptocurrencies. The system is designed to publicly record Bitcoin transactions and other relevant data without revealing the identity of the individuals or groups involved. Instead, Bitcoin users are identified by public keys, or numerical codes that identify them to other users, and sometimes pseudonymous handles or usernames.
Additional protections allow users to further conceal the source and flow of Bitcoin. For instance, special computer programs available to all Bitcoin users, called mixing services, privately swap a specific Bitcoin unit for another Bitcoin unit of identical value, and thereby obscure the source of the owner’s holdings. Many Bitcoin exchanges also exchange Bitcoin units for other cryptocurrencies, including less popular alternatives that can’t directly be exchanged for fiat currencies. Such swings are unheard of among stable fiat currencies.
The block chain is a public, distributed ledger of all prior Bitcoin transactions, which are stored in groups known as blocks. Because new Bitcoin transactions constantly occur, the Bitcoin block chain, though finite, grows over time. As long as miners continue their work and record recent transactions, the Bitcoin block chain will always be a work in progress. In other words, there’s no predetermined length at which the block chain will stop growing. On average, miners create a new block chain, which includes all prior transactions and a new transaction block, every 10 minutes. Every two weeks, Bitcoin’s source code is designed to adjust to the amount of mining power devoted to creating new block chains, preserving the 10-minute average creation interval.
If mining power increased during the most recent two-week span, new block chains become more difficult to create during the subsequent two-week span. Bitcoin’s block chain is the sole arbiter of Bitcoin ownership. No complete record exists anywhere else. Bitcoin doesn’t have any standardized facility for chargebacks or refunds.
1 and 78 digits in length. Individual users can have multiple anonymous handles, each with its own private key. Private keys confirm their owners’ identities and allow them to spend or receive Bitcoin. Users either manually create their own private keys or use a random number generator to do the same. Since private keys essentially give Bitcoin holdings value, security experts advise against storing private keys in easily accessible online locations or keeping only one private key copy.
Savvy users store identical key copies on paper printouts and physical media not connected to the Internet. The largest and most notorious Bitcoin hack involved wallets held by Mt. Hackers often target public wallets that store users’ private keys, enabling them to spend the stolen Bitcoin. Like keys, copies of wallets can be stored on the cloud, an internal hard drive, or an external storage device. Unlike keys, they can’t be stored on paper. As with keys, it’s strongly advised that users have at least one wallet backup.
What Is Bit Fun?
Backing up a wallet doesn’t duplicate the stored Bitcoin units, only their ownership record and transaction history. As keepers of the block chain, they keep the entire Bitcoin community honest and indirectly support the currency’s value. They perform incredibly complex mathematical tasks in an effort to mint new Bitcoin, which they then keep or exchange for fiat currency. In an elegant twist, Bitcoin’s source code harnesses this computing power to collect, record, and organize previously unverified transactions, adding a new block to the block chain about every 10 minutes. This work also verifies the accuracy and completeness of all previously existing blocks, preventing double-spending and ensuring that the Bitcoin system remains accurate and complete. Each time a new block chain is created, a predetermined number of fresh Bitcoin are minted. Bitcoin for their effort and often also receive transaction fees paid by buyers.
But it comes at a notable cost: the consumption of vast amounts of electricity, often powered by non-renewable sources. This is achieved by slowing, over time, the rate at which the creation of new block chain copies produces new Bitcoin. Every four years or so, this rate halves. This enforced scarcity is a key point of distinction between Bitcoin and traditional fiat currencies, which central banks produce by decree, and supply of which is theoretically unlimited. In this regard, Bitcoin has more in common with gold than the U. The fact that Bitcoin units are virtually impossible to duplicate does not mean that Bitcoin users are immune to theft or fraud. The Bitcoin system has some imperfections and weak points that can be exploited by sophisticated hackers looking to steal Bitcoin for their own use.
Gox incident, as well as a host of smaller, less publicized incidents, underscore that Bitcoin exchanges are particularly vulnerable to theft by hacking. In many jurisdictions, Bitcoin occupies a legal gray area, meaning local law enforcement authorities view theft prevention as a relatively low priority. Moreover, it’s often difficult for the authorities to prosecute those responsible for Bitcoin heists, many of which originate in politically unstable or unfriendly nations and affect a global population of Bitcoin holders. Those who use Bitcoin for illicit purposes face additional risks. Bitcoin users who participate in the dark web are likely already breaking the law, and thus have limited recourse in the event of a hack or theft. Most Bitcoin heists involve sophisticated hack attacks by highly accomplished outsiders or rogue exchange employees.
Private keys stored in publicly accessible digital repositories, such as Bitcoin exchanges or personal cloud storage drives, are vulnerable to theft by hacking. The thieves use these private keys to access and transfer the corresponding Bitcoin holdings, relieving their rightful owners of their funds. Some Bitcoin wallets have security flaws that render them vulnerable to attack. As a convenience, some service providers store private keys in the same virtual wallets as Bitcoin funds themselves, allowing hackers to steal the funds and keys in one fell swoop. Operating Fraudulent Exchanges and Investment Funds. Some seemingly legitimate companies dealing in Bitcoin are actually fronts for financial crimes. Trust made a name for itself in the early 2010s by providing outsize returns to early investors.
Since they attract thousands of users and store millions of dollars in Bitcoin, exchanges are attractive targets. The vulnerabilities of dark web marketplaces are similar to those of Bitcoin exchanges. Another huge Bitcoin heist, not as well publicized as the Mt. Gox hack, affected a dark web marketplace called Sheep Marketplace.