Articles Posted in Identity Theft

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Our friend Denise Richardson of givembackmycredit.com has posted an interesting article on how college students are especially at risk for becoming victims of identity theft. Since July 2009 there have been more than 70 successful data breaches in 30 states; in 88% of these breaches an individual’s or student’s Social Security Number was shown.

One reason college students are more vulnerable to identity theft is because of the number of times they are asked to give out personal information. Some universities even use students’ SSNs for student identification numbers, which is then sometimes shown on a student ID card. It’s estimated that over a million students, alumni and faculty have been affected by a data loss or breach that exposed their personal information.

Personal information can be illegally accessed several different ways, such as outside hackers or even unhappy university employees who obtain the information to sell to identity thieves.

LifeLock recommends individuals who have been informed of a potential breach of personally identifiable information should;

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Associated Press has posted an article about a new form of identity theft that targets children’s social security numbers. Hundreds of businesses are using computer searching to locate dormant social security numbers, which belong to children who don’t use them. The businesses then sell the numbers under a different name to people who can then earn phony credit and rack up huge debts they have no intention of ever paying off.

This scheme is a new threat to the nation’s credit system because it falls in a legal gray area in that federal investigators have not yet figured out how to prosecute those involved.

“If people are obtaining enough credit by fraud, we’re back to another financial collapse,” said Linda Marshall, an assistant U.S. attorney in Kansas City. “We tend to talk about it as the next wave.”

A Kansas City FBI agent accidentally uncovered the scheme while investigating a mortgage fraud case. The sellers avoid dealing with the law by not referring to them as social security numbers. Instead they call them CPNs, which can stand for credit profile, credit protection, or credit privacy numbers. Because of this, this form of identity theft is difficult to detect and it remains unclear exactly how much damage is being done.

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Our friend Denise Richardson of givemebackmycredit.com has posted an article about one man’s struggle with identity theft. Dan Wheeler’s wallet was stolen from his truck about fifteen years ago and has been dealing with identity theft issues ever since. If that wasn’t bad enough, because of the identity theft, he has also been wrongfully branded as a sex offender…possibly forever. Trying to correct identity theft can be very expensive, and being labeled a sex offender makes it nearly impossible for him to get any job that requires a background check.

Identity theft continues to be a growing problem, whether it’s medical, criminal, employment, reputation or financial. Once your information is compromised and/or stolen, you can’t predict or control what the consequences will be. A recent study by Ponemon Institute has shown that organizations are being bombarded by at least one successful data attack per week, which carries a cost of anywhere between $1million to $53 million annually.

This study found that among the 2,807 publicly disclosed data breaches worldwide during the past five years, the cost to the victim firms as well as those whose information was exposed came to whopping $139 billion. Another stunning figure.

The study found that social security numbers were the most commonly compromised, followed by credit card numbers. “Remember, once that SSN lands in the wrong hands -it’s irretrievable.”

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Good morning,

I hope your week is going well. I received a lot of good feedback on the video last week – everyone that wrote in said they liked it. One person said my head was too big which reminded me of the Seinfeld episode (the “Andrea Doria” episode) where everyone kept saying Elaine’s head was so large.

I don’t think my head is too out of whack with my body – but I have taken the good advice and moved the camera a bit further away. 🙂

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The Western Mass Women Magazine has posted an article that gives helpful information about identity theft. There are several types of identity theft: medical, business/commercial (used to gain credit in the name of the person’s business), criminal (used by identity thieves to avoid being caught and prosecuted), and financial (when a thief uses a false identity to receive products or money in your name). 10 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2008 and the numbers are still growing.

There are three common techniques that identity thieves readily use: phishing, smishing, and vishing.

All of which attempt to contact the potential identity theft victim through email, voice messaging and texting (respectively) in order to collect as much personal information as possible. These forms of communication re usually sent from a seemingly legitimate source, such as one’s bank or credit card company, and often state that an immediate response is required to resolve an “urgent matter” regarding one’s account.

The identity thief counts on people to respond to such messages and provide details about their account as well as personal information. After obtaining that, it becomes very easy for them to set up fake accounts in the victim’s name.

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The New York Times has posted an article that discusses how lenders are adding to the problem of identity theft by still giving someone credit even if there are indicators of fraud. About 10 million Americans are victims of identity theft annually, partly because personal information (like Social Security numbers) is so easily accessible.

Chris Jay Hoofnagle, a lecturer at the University of California at Berkley, put out a report in which…

the Fair Credit Reporting Act that allows victims of ID theft to ask creditors for the fraudulent applications submitted in their names, Mr. Hoofnagle worked with a small sample of six ID theft victims and delved into how they were defrauded.

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Waaytv.com has posted an article with some good pointers for avoiding identity theft and good news about identity theft and homeowners insurance. About 9 million Americans are victims of identity theft annually. The big problem is that people usually don’t even know they’re victims of it until they are contacted about bills or other expenses that the thief is responsible for. Normally, victims of identity theft spend about $1,200 of their own money and 175 hours to reverse the damage. If you suspect your identity has been stolen, contact your bank and credit card companies immediately.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said: “Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country… It can happen to anybody… it doesn’t matter how big you are, how little you are, how famous you are, how unknown you are…”

The good news is that several homeowners insurance companies cover identity theft as part of their policies. The coverage can cover things such as reimbursement for “expenses lost during the process,” phone bills, mailing costs, lost wages and legal fees. It costs between $25-50 to add identity theft coverage to a homeowners/renters insurance policy.

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NPR.org has posted an article that discusses the dangers of medical identity theft and how you can better prevent it. Medical identity theft can not only affect consumers’ credit scores, but also puts their personal safety at risk. The identity thief can provide false information, like blood type and medications, that can later affect the actual insurance holder

.”We’ve had people who, all of a sudden, their health care record has different blood types,” Dixon says. “They have health care records with different genders and ages. Different medications. There are people we’ve talked with who, their imposter went in and had a hospital stay and put down that they were allergic to one drug, and then the real person is not allergic to that drug, but they’re allergic to other drugs.”

Health care workers have found that asking patients to tell them their medical history can help throw and identity thief off. Often times, they will stumble over or mess up information on the patient’s medical chart.

Nearly all cases of this kind of identity theft are “insider jobs.” Employees like accountants and receptionists have easy access to patient records. It’s a good idea to get a hardcopy of your medical chart, even if a fee is charged, so there is a way to prove what the chart used to look like should it be falsely altered later on.

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Silive.com has posted an article about the a warning from the IRS concerning scams during the tax filing season. Scam artists are using the IRS logo, name and other devices to impersonate the agency and thus obtain your personal information for the purpose of identity theft. Scammers usually try to contact people through Twitter, emails or other online messaging services. Others use faxes or phone calls or set up their own websites.

The IRS rarely sends unsolicited emails to people, and if it does, information about tax accounts isn’t discussed, nor will they ask for personal information or sensitive financial information such as bank accounts or PIN numbers.

Anyone with a computer, phone or fax machine could receive a scam message or unknowingly visit a phony or misleading Web site. Individuals, businesses, educators, charities and others have been targeted by e-mails that claim to come from the IRS or Treasury Department. Scam e-mails are generally sent out in bulk, based on e-mail addresses (urls), similar to spam.

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Yahoo!Finance has posted an article that discusses traits that victims of identity theft have in common. Experian, a credit bureau, has conducted a study that indicates identity thieves go for “affluent suburban consumers” who often live in higher-income neighborhoods with few renters and own one or more new or luxury vehicles. Of twelve categorizations of people, three were most highly sought after my identity thieves: “affluent suburbia,” “upscale American” and the more middle-class “American diversity.”

Experian says these consumers live in and around metropolitan areas, favor leisure activities, have college diplomas or advanced degrees and more often tend to be married.

Experian identifies the common activities of those most often victimized by ID theft:

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