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
companies.

Why?

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
responsibility
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
theft.

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