Friday, September 30, 2005

Identity Thieves Win Consumers Lose

ID Theft Disclosure Not Required by Visa and
MasterCard for individual consumers.

In a setback to U.S. consumers, a California judge
ruled last week that Visa and MasterCard International
do not need to send individual warnings to the
thousands of consumers whose personal account
information was stolen.

The ruling involved a consumer lawsuit in the
aftermath of the major computer security breakdown
involving CardSystems Solutions, Inc. which processes
payments for merchants. That computer breach,
initially disclosed by MasterCard three months ago,
exposed up to 40 million credit and debit accounts to
potential identity thieves

According to the details of the lawsuit released
publicly, the identity thieves acquired at least
264,000 account holders information.

The data exposed involved customer names, account
numbers and security codes which id thieves can use to
make fake credit and debit cards.

The California attorney who filed the lawsuit, argued
Visa and MasterCard at least should be required to
notify the Californians whose account information was

The notification request was made under a 2-year-old
California law that has been widely copied across the
country to help ensure consumers are alerted when
their personal or financial information stored on a
computer is lost, stolen or breached

Both Visa and MasterCard argued they shouldn't be
obligated to send the notices because they don't have
direct relationships with the account holders, whose
cards were issued by the thousands of banks that
belong to the associations.

This means the individual financial institutions
affected account holders would have to be notified
individually by their bank. It's common knowledge
within the banking industry that individual notices
can result in card re-issuances which can cost as much
as $35 each.

So, our protection tip for today is a combination of
something old and something new. The old - closely
monitor your credit card statements for unusual
activity. The new - contact your credit card issuers
to inquire what information they have on file for your
account related to the CardSystem Solutions exposure
and what newly instituted preventative measures are
now available to protect & insure the integrity of your
account from identity theft.

Additionally, consider strengthening your account
access password and secondary security questions.

For example, many consumers use their mother's maiden
name or the state of birth for account access
verification which identity thieves can easily acquire
from the numerous on-line search services available.
Finally, implement a comprehensive, automatic
monitoring solution for your credit and public records

Refer to our "recommended resources" section for a
select few options available for your convenience.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

ID Theft Prevention involving Medicare

Identity thieves generally target vulnerable segments
of our population such as senior citizens, students,
and the military.

Your parents or related senior citizens who utilize
Medicare are especially targets for identity theft.

Here's one major reason why - the identification
number on their Medicare card is their Social Security
number (SSN)

With an estimated 42 million Americans now, the
federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
issues more cards with Social Security numbers than
any other agency except for the Social Security

Over the next 25 years, as the baby boom generation
continues to age, that 42 million Medicare card number
is likely to swell to over 70 million.

So, while most private health insurance companies have
already adopted using alternative or random numbers in
place of using the SSN, Medicare still has not
announced any plans to change their consumer card
policy due to the projected cost of $100 million.

Until Congress or multiple state legislation forces a
change, Medicare being a U.S. federal agency will
continue to issue and maintain their cards with social
security numbers printed on them.

Our tip for today is for those senior citizens you
know is to carry their Medicare card in their wallet
or purse only when going to a doctor's appointment or
when it's absolutely required. Protect that Medicare card just
like it was a credit card by using only sparingly and
questioning anyone who requests it.

If that senior citizen you love suspects their
identity is being misused, call 1-800-MEDICARE
(1-800-633-4227) . TTY users should call
1-877-486-2048 or the Fraud Hotline of the H.H.S.
Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-447-8477.

Post portions excerpted from LA Times.

Friday, September 23, 2005

7 ID Theft Prevention Reasons to Check your Non Credit Public Information

Credit reports alone can not tell you if an identity
thief has used your name in these ways:

  1. rented, purchased, or transferred property
  2. applied for a government-issued license
  3. opened an insurance policy
  4. has acquired a criminal record
  5. declared bankruptcy
  6. need to correct errors in your public information
    caused by identity theft or just simply confusion with
    other similar named people
  7. dozens of other negative reportings resulting from
    a divorce or a problematic family member with access
    to your automobile and last name

These type of data are routinely accessed by employers
who conduct background checks. But, consumers have
not enjoyed that same level of access until recently.

To proactively manage your identity with an early
warning system, we urge consumers to consider a public
records search in addition to regular credit
monitoring. The problem has always been how do you
easily search across the hundreds of federal, state, &
local data repositories in existence which may hold
negative reporting information under your name.

We recently learned of a new resource which can
provide your consolidated Public Information Profile
(PIP). This PIP, provided by a Virginia based firm
known as, is a detailed summary of
the vast quantity of information available to others
about you. sifts through more than 10
billion records to verify your identity and build your

A typical PIP report may include data from:

  • Federal, State and County records
  • Financial records like bankruptcies, liens and
  • Property ownership records, including one billion
    acres of satellite and aerial photos
  • Government-issued and other licenses
  • Law enforcement records on felony and misdemeanor
  • UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) records that reveal
    the availability of assets for attachment or seizure,
    and the financial relationship between an individual
    and other entities.

So, our tip for today is to request your PIP to extend
your id theft prevention strategy from just credit based sources.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Prevent Id Theft during Hotel Stays

this is an audio post - click to play

Did you know you can risk becoming an identity theft
victim simply by carelessly leaving behind your
magnetic hotel room key?

U.S. Assistant Attorney Kurt Alme indicated both
the Secret Service and FBI have investigated cases
where hotel room keys that included guests information
were used to steal identity information.

So, today's tip is when you check into hotels, ask the front
desk clerk if any personal or credit information is included on
the magnetic strip of your room key.

If it is, then do not return the key when checking out of the
hotel. Rather, shred it when you return to your home or office.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Reducing Identity Theft Potential from Katrina

Know of any loved ones who've been effected by
Hurricane Katrina?

Credit and identity problems have quickly emerged as
added big problems for the Katrina victims. Identity
thieves know Katrina victims are easy and
unfortunately plentiful targets for credit fraud.

Lifelock, an Arizona based company which claims to be
the country's first and only preventative identity
theft solution, introduced earlier this month
a FREE, no obligation service especially for Katrina

The company will place statements on all victim's
credit reports stating the consumer is a victim of the
hurricane and asks the lender to take into account
should their credit score decline. Additionally,
Lifelock will place fraud alerts on all credit bureaus
requiring any business attempt to pull a credit file
to contact the account holder directly.

This new service is part of the core Lifelock
capability to force banks to contact consumers
directly before issuing credit. According to
Lifelock, the company is so sure it's service is
effective, they offer a $1 million guarantee to cover
legal and expenses if a problem ever did occur for one
of their consumers.

For more information on this service, contact Lifelock
on the web or call toll free at 877 LIFELOCK.

Today's tip is to contact any relatives or friends
who've been negatively impacted by Katrina and tell
them about the FREE Lifelock offer.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

ID Theft Prevention Win by Verizon Wireless

Here's an important development we just learned in what
may become a trend for firms to more aggressively protect
consumer information from identity theft and fraud.

With this week's favorable court decision for Verizon
Wireless, the largest U.S. provider with over 47
million subscribers, consumers actually received
an important win against identity theft.

Source Resource, a private investigation firm in
Cookeville, Tennessee, illegally acquired confidential
consumer information by posing as Verizon Wireless
customers using identifying information such
as the social security number and mother's maiden
name. Even worse, according to Verizon Wireless
Source Resources advertised on the Internet their
capability to find out consumer's wireless

With the court ruling, Verizon Wireless won the
request for a permanent injunction against Source
Resources as part of an agreed upon settlement. This
means that Source Resources also plans to work with
Verizon Wireless in "surrendering records of its
transactions and information about how it previously
obtained customer records."

Our id theft tip for today is to contact Verizon Wireless if
you are a subscriber and verify your personal
information on file and change your account access

Note, for Verizon Wireless subscribers you can contact
customer service from you cell phone by
dialing " *611 + Send ".

Friday, September 09, 2005

3 Powerful ID Theft Prevention Sources for Free

this is an audio post - click to play
My Odeo Channel (odeo/9c725dd60e62666e)
--------Text of Audio Summary follows below:-------------

Here's a quick audio recap of highlites from recent textual postings from Identity Theft Secrets blog.

Want to know 3 FREE but Powerful ways to prevent id theft from happening to you?

To register your phone number call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to register with the national Do Not Call directory.

To remove your name from the "preapproved" credit offers which can be stolen from your mail box, call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688). A single phone call will eliminate your name for 5 years from all (3) major credit bureaus.

Finally, to get an absolutely FREE credit report from the only service authorized by all three credit bureaus (meaning Experian, Equifax, & Trans Union), call 1-877-322-8228.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Reduce Your ID Theft Potential from Email by Opting Out

Identity theft using fake email solicitations is on
the rise.

"Phishing" is the term where an email is sent to you
which may look to be very similar to your bank or
credit card company. That email typically requests
an urgent action by you to "verify your account" by
clicking on an embedded link which subsequently takes
you to a phony web site. That phony web site usually
contains a form requesting you to provide your
personal information such as account number, social
security number, and password which can subsequently
be exploited by the identity thief to commit fraud
against you.

Any legitimate business which you already maintain a
credit relationship with would never request you to
provide that level of sensitive personal information
from an email.

So, today's tip is to simply not click on emails which
are requesting you to provide your personal
information as the simple act of just visiting those
type of fraudulent websites can open your personal
computer to inadvertently downloading a virus or worse
key loggers and Trojans. Instead, immediately delete
those type of emails from your in box and call you
financial institution if you have doubts.

Further we recommend you reduce your visibility on the
various email lists that spammers
and identity thieves can steal when they commit
computer break ins against legitimate companies.

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA), a trade
association for businesses in direct, database, and
interactive global marketing, maintains a Mail
Preference Service that lets you opt out of receiving
direct mail marketing from many national companies for
five years. When you register with this service, your
name will be put on a "delete" file and made available
to direct-mail marketers. However, your registration
will not stop mailings from any organizations that are
not registered with the DMA.

To "opt-out" of receiving unsolicited commercial email
from DMA members, visit
Your online request will be effective for one year.

As a final note to our readers, we offer our free tips
on this web site completely anonymously. We do not
request nor capture any email addresses. We do offer
the convenience of email updates without the problems
of spam, viruses, & "phishing". To access that
convenience simply select any of the RSS subscription
options available on the right hand
section of this website.

Monday, September 05, 2005

ID Theft Prevention from Telemarketing Fraudsters

Unfortunately with the Katrina disaster in New
Orleans, we're now hearing of identity thieves
calling consumers for donations from never heard of
charitable organizations.

The thieves prey on consumers who are busy and are
lead to believe the caller represents a legitimate
charitable organization such as the Red Cross. The
goal of the id theft fraudsters is to get you to
provide your credit number or social security number
during the phone call.

That information will then be combined with what they
already know about you from the phone book to open up
new accounts such as cellular phone service and retail
"instant" credit cards.

So our tip for today is simply to lower your potential
identity theft vulnerability by taking action with a
free, confidential service available from the federal

The federal government has created the National Do Not
Call Registry as a free, easy way to reduce
the telemarketing calls you get at home. To register
your phone number or to get information about the
registry, visit, or call
1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to

You will get fewer telemarketing calls within 31 days
of registering your number. Your number will stay on
the registry for five years, until it is disconnected,
or until you take it off the registry. After five
years, you will be able to renew your registration.

Make sure, you also call from your cell phone(s) as we
understand telemarketers now have access to these
previously unlisted numbers.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Reduce Identity Theft using your Prescreen Opt Out Right

Prescreened offers of credit or insurance sometimes
called "preapproved" offers - are sent to consumers
unsolicited, usually by mail on an irregular schedule.
They are based on information in a consumer's credit
report that indicates the individuals receiving the
offer meet the criteria set by the company making
the offer.

As a result, an identity thief can steal your
"preapproved" offer from your mailbox, call the lender
to accept the offer and then start spending using your
good name and credit. Your reward will be to receive
credit card bills for goods you never purchased.

So it's a good idea to opt out from receiving these
offers to substantially reduce your risk of becoming
an identity theft victim. You can always still apply
for credit any time you feel it's necessary. The
prescreen opt out does not impact your credit rating
in anyway.

The opt out right has been available for quite some
time. However, it wasn't always very easy for
consumers to find or understand how to take action.
That's why effective August 1, 2005, the FTC mandated
all lenders must provide a simple & easy to understand
notice that explains consumers' right to opt out of
receiving future offers.

You can opt out of receiving them for five years or
opt out of receiving them permanently. Call toll-free
1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit for details. The telephone
number and website are operated by the major consumer
credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union.

The information you provide is confidential and will
be used only to process your request to opt out.
You may choose to opt out for five years or
permanently, and may opt back in at any time by
calling the same toll free number listed above.

Special note, if you hold any joint credit
relationships, like a mortgage or a car loan with a
spouse, partner, or other adult, you may continue to
receive some prescreened solicitations until both of
you exercise your opt-out right.

You can forward today's id theft prevention tip using
our "email this post" feature (looks like an small
envelope with a black arrow on it)to your wife or any
others you hold joint credit accounts with.

Bookmark our site or subscribe to the RSS feeds
options (see right hand panel) for more important
notices on how you can opt out of other marketing
lists as part of your strategy to reduce, prevent, or
protect you from identity theft.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Avoiding Id Theft from Phony Jury Duty Calls

We recently learned of a new twist on identity theft.

Apparently id thieves are getting creative. For
example, in Utah, it was recently reported
by the Associated Press identity thieves have
impersonated court officials. Callers posing
as court officials accuse people of failing to comply
with jury duty.

Under the false threat of prosecution alleged by the
identity thieves, the consumer is instructed
to provide their confidential data such as social
security number over the phone.

The reality is that official contact by your local
court with prospective jurors is through U.S.P.S.
mail. Certainly, if court officials ever call you,
they will not request your social security number
(SSN) or your credit card number to pay a fine.

So, today's identity theft prevention tip from us is
simply to guard against releasing your personal
information to callers posing as officials of the
court in your area.

If the caller presses you for your SSN or credit card
number, simply hang up and contact your local
courthouse directly to verify your status for
outstanding jury duty.