Monday, October 31, 2005

Surprising facts about Id Theft

this is an audio post - click to play

Did you know most identity theft crimes are committed more frequently offline than online (meaning with the internet)?

Despite the growing fears of online fraud and identity theft, a recent survey by Javelin Strategy & Research indicates offline is more prevalent.

But, their study concludes that consumers who monitor their accounts online experience financial losses that were 1/8th of those who just monitor their monthly paper based statements.

The key takeaways for this audio post:

1) Offline is more frequent for id theft
2) Online is a better monitoring medium

This has been another quick factoid from Id Theft Secrets Blog.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Id Theft Risk for 465,000 Georgians to Act Now

This is a special "alert" for the 465,000 Georgia
State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) members and their
dependents to the potential identity theft risk resulting
from a security breach of 6 months ago.

The SHBP provides health care coverage for state
employees, teachers, school system personnel and their

This past Friday, a spokesman for the Georgia Technology
Authority(GTA) disclosed the agency will be notifying
all of the effected consumers in a personal letter by
the end of the November of a computer security breach
which was first uncovered in April, 2005.

The personal information had been accessed by an GTA
employee who was a computer programmer. He has been
subsequently fired and arrested for computer
trespassing and theft.

The information accessed included data on file with
the GTA from the year 2002:

  • Names
  • Social Security Numbers (SSN)
  • Dates of Birth
  • Address
  • Gender
  • Names & SSN of Covered Dependents

While no evidence is available yet to support those
465,000 Georgia consumers information have been
illegally shared or sold to identity thieves, it's
highly recommended to minimally seek a credit report
check up for any suspicious account activity the past
six months.

So, today's tip is if you are, have, or know of anyone
who's been covered by the Georgia State Health Benefit
Plan - contact the three major credit bureaus.
Georgia state law allows for up to 2 free credit
reports per year from Equifax, Experian, & Trans Union.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Prevent Identity Theft by Freezing your Credit File

The extreme identity theft prevention method you may
have never heard about.

But, it's arguably one of the few tools available that
actually gives the you the ability to prevent
credit fraud stemming from identity theft before it
actually happens.

It's called a "credit file freeze".

With a credit freeze, no one can open any form of
credit in your name. Your credit file is off limits to
potential lenders, insurers and even potential

Credit file freezes are an effective way to prevent a
thief from opening new accounts or obtaining a
mortgage in your name.

Under a freeze, no one can get new credit under your
name unless you lift the freeze.

If your credit is "frozen" and someone applies for
credit in your name, the lender will most likely deny
the application.(Sidenote, lenders you already have an
existing credit relationship or legitimate collection
agencies working on their behalf will still have
access to your credit file.)

With a credit freeze, an id thief can have your name,
birthday and Social Security number and it won't
No credit will be issued as in California
where the credit freeze law has been in effect since
2003. According to their state law,
once the credit bureaus receive your request they must
freeze your report until you notify them differently.

However, this does not mean that you won't be able to
get credit for yourself or allow potential employers
to run a background check.

The three major credit bureaus assign a personal
identification number (PIN) to you when you freeze
your report. Using your authorized and unique PIN you
can lift the freeze when necessary.

But, until recently in all but a dozen states this
credit file freeze has been unavailable to most

In the few states where it's actually available, it
has been costly and/or available only to documented
identity theft victims.


The credit industry makes billions gathering and
selling consumer data, so it's not necessarily in
their best financial interest to support legislation
which would restrict their ability to generate
revenue. Same for the retailers who prosper by
granting instant credit accounts to consumers while
their shopping.

Those retailers get their data from the three major
credit bureaus to support the instant credit granting

However, your credit information is ultimately yours
to protect -or- leave exposed for an identity thief to

Various state legislators evidently feel the same way
in the wake of the many publicly reported identity
theft disclosures this year. Beginning in January
2006, states such as Colorado, Louisiana, Connecticut,
and Maine will phase in laws for credit file freeze
eligibility open to all consumers whether or not they
are already an id theft victim.

So, our tip for today is to contact each of the three
major credit bureaus and inquire into your eligibility
for freezing your credit file as well as the changing

Equifax - (800) 685-1111

Experian - (888) 397-3742

Trans Union - (888) 909-8872

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

4 Id Theft Protection Tactics for Your Children

There's a 1 in 5 chance that your college aged or
younger children could be an identity theft victim
according to the Federal Trade Commission (F.T.C.)

That is if, if you were even aware of it or possessed
enough information to even file a criminal report.

According to the F.T.C., 60% of all identity thefts
are not even reported to authorities.

As a follow to our recent article we're alerting our
readers to a positive, new development in your fight
against identity theft involving under age family members.

For added protection against identity theft, just
last week an Arizona based firm known as LifeLock launched
a unique identity theft prevention program for children.

Starting this past Tuesday, existing and new LifeLock
subscribers can add identity theft prevention services for minors
16 years or younger for $10 annually.

A quick highlight of the LifeLock service reveals they will:

  1. Check credit reports every ninety days to ensure there
    is no activity.
  2. Place fraud alerts on credit reports, stating that
    this is a minor child and that no activity should
  3. Check for any new open checking accounts.
  4. Obtain a work history from the Social Security
    Administration to ensure that no income is being
    reported on your child's SSN.

So, today's tip is merely to consider enrolling with
this first of it's kind new service for children.
For more information, refer to Lifelock's website.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Six Crucial Items for Comprehensive ID Theft Protection

Save time and money with full service identity theft
prevention and asset protection service

It now costs on average $1,500 and 175 hours to
recover from identity theft according to recent
figures reported by leading experts.

After researching the various services available to
help you guard against identity theft,
we've really felt the need to inform you about the
need for a comprehensive coverage
which can be tailored to meet your needs.


There are many services which only offer credit
reports and or monitoring. There's even a select
few which now offer credit and full public information
reporting combined.

But there's only one that we know of which effectively
combines credit reporting with your asset
(checking, savings, etc.) monitoring backed up by
identity theft insurance plus customer service.

EverydayWealth, an Austin, Texas based firm, is that source.

All of these five services combined are included into
a single, low subscription price for what you would
pay for just accessing your credit report elsewhere

  1. Credit Report - available each month with out
    negatively impacting your credit score
  2. Consumer Alerts - timely advice on avoiding the
    latest scams and rip-offs
  3. Internet & Identity Theft Insurance Coverage of
    - Covers lost wages to fight identity theft
  4. Wealth Monitor - Monitor all your accounts online
    anytime from a single highly secure webpage
  5. Guidance Center - personalized assistance and
    instruction available ten hours daily during weekdays
  6. Guarantee - No Risk, satisfaction guarantee

So, today's tip is check out this valuable service as
one of your best, single options to deploy your very
own comprehensive id theft prevention tool to save
yourself much time and money while growing your assets.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Your Family's Best Guard against Identity Theft

Your personal identity theft could be happening to you
right now, and you wouldn't know it until after the
damage had been fully done.

Besides yourself, what about your elderly parents or

Children and senior citizens often are the favorite
targets of identity thieves because the fraudulent use
of their personal information can go on much longer
before it is detected.

As a recent example,a Denver man discovered he had
been the victim of identity theft at the age of 7.
The thieves used his identity to run up a $40,000 bad
line of credit under his social security number.
The Denver man, Zach Friesen now 19 years of age, only
discovered the identity theft when he applied for his
first post high school job.

Identity theft can be difficult to prevent even if you
take every precaution. Through no fault of your own,
many businesses that may maintain your personal
information have just started publicly reporting this
year to have been breached by identity thieves or even
compromised from within since a 2003 California
consumer disclosure law was enacted.

While more state lawmakers have begun the process to
emulate the California disclosure law, individual
consumers living outside of California may still not
be notified by their companies breached by identity
thieves. MasterCard International disclosed this
summer up to 40 million account holders information
was exposed to identity thieves. However, its up to
the credit card issuer companies themselves to contact
consumers affected by the data exposure.

Companies such as J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup
Inc., American Express Co. and MBNA Corp. indicated
that they are not automatically alerting their
customers that their information may have
been exposed according to a June report by the
Washington Post.

No wonder, as most of the financial institutions are
publicly traded and their stock value would likely
fall dramatically if bad news hits the markets about
their ability to secure consumer information.

Want to gain back some control?

Our tip for today to guard your personal information
is twofold.

First, frequently review your credit information for
accounts you did not open. Better still, get an
automatic personal credit alert service from Fico or
other reputable suppliers that monitor all three
of the major credit bureaus. Make sure to include you
and your family members where possible.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

ID Theft Warning for H&R Block

According to a Spokane, WA television story
H&R Block was the victim of a computer burglary
that may have exposed consumers to potential
identity theft.

Allegedly the stolen information contained encrypted
data and the only readable personal information on the
computer is names and addresses.

Please note, with the numerous on-line reverse
directories available on the Internet, an identity
thief can gather much more sensitive personal
information such as your age, mortgage company, spouse
name, phone number, & other public record information
which can be used to commit identity fraud.

While H&R Block has been reported to have already sent
warning letters to the effected consumers, this latest
breach of consumer information is not the latest
incident for the company.

We learned from publicly available records from the
office of Congressman Charles Shumer (NY), that H&R
Block has in the past five years suffered as least 2
other major id theft losses. In a Jan., 2003, letter
to the Internal Revenue Service commissioner,
Congressman Shumer requested the IRS to implement
tighter security measures for tax preparation


In 2001 with H&R Block for example, tens of thousands
of taxpayers had their returns misplaced or destroyed.

Again, in 2003, a former employee of H&R Block stole
more than two dozen tax returns and used the
information to open credit card accounts.

We are not bashing H&R Block, but merely providing
previously obscure information to enlighten our
subscribers to the problem which still exists today and what
you can do about it
in your future.

Companies such as H&R Block, until stronger
legislation is put in place with penalties for
consumer information loss, are
not the most effective id theft protection partner
available. Maximizing shareholder equity is most
companies primary responsibility - not safeguarding
your personal information from identity theft.

Furthermore, even if these companies due suffer a
consumer information theft, in most states there is no
requirement to disclose or warn those affected to the
potential for identity theft. So, we give credit to
H&R Block for at least notifying those consumers whose
data was stolen.

So, today's tip is merely a reminder to adopt an
effective monitoring mechanism for your credit and
public record information. It's your right and
that no company large or small can take
away from you.

For your convenience, our resources section provides
direct links to several companies we either currently
use or have reviewed in your fight against identity