Saturday, December 31, 2005

Prevent Identity Theft with Processed Checks

Every time when you receive your stack of processed
checks along with your monthly statement in the mail box,
you're unknowingly increasing your odds of becoming an
identity theft victim.

Want some to know some easy ways to thwart those
identity thieves who use check fraud?

While it's certainly a preferred practice to shred
your statement and checks after you've reconciled your
monthly account, you can go even further by eliminating
the potential for an identity thief to steal your
information from your mail box.

  1. Most major banks now offer a number of on-line options
    for you to receive your statement via a secure website.
    Additionally, banks will also provide the ability for
    you to view (and print if necessary) an electronic version
    of your processed checks for tax receipt purposes.
  2. Plus, you can schedule automatic payment of your
    regularly reoccurring bills to further eliminate the
    need for paper invoices needing to be sent via postal
    mail where there's at least two opportunities each
    month for all of your personal information to be stolen.

(Side-note, one of our staffers was stung 4 years ago
by an identity theft ring which was operating with
disgruntled USPS mail employees)

So, our tip for today is to consider the following
steps to protect your banking and financial statements
from mail intercept methods of identity thieves:

  • Install a lockable mail box or better yet a mail slot
    on your front door which only allows your deposited
    mail to be accessed from inside your locked home.
  • Enroll with your bank's on-line bill payment service,
  • Opt out of receiving paper based statements each month
    from your banking, credit card, phone, Internet/DSL,
    cable, movie, power and electric service providers.
  • Request your checking statements to be delivered as
    on-line versions that only you can access via your
    bank's secure, password protected web site.
  • Finally, shred all of your old statements using a
    quality cross-cut shredder.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Illinois Gets Tough with Identity Theft

Starting in January, '06 residents of Illinois now
will have added weapons available to them in the fight
against identity theft according to the Illinois Public
Interest Research Group.

While Congress has mulled over a dozen different
bills, we've seen individual states take action following the
public disclosure of personal data security breaches
involving notable companies this year involving nearly
50 million Americans. High profile disclosures
involving ChoicePoint, DSW Shoe, MasterCard International, &
Bank of America have forced lawmakers in some states
like Illinois to emulate the 2003 California law requiring
consumers to be notified when their sensitive personal
information is exposed.

It's no longer strictly considered the fault of the consumers,
but rather the responsibility also of the large firms
who manage highly confidential personal information to
adopt stricter security measures to protect security breaches
which can negatively impact the privacy of millions
of individuals at a time.

As a result, Illinois now has two new tough laws
scheduled to take effect January 1, 2006:

  1. The Credit Freeze Act allows victims of identity theft
    to block access to their credit report which will prevent
    thieves from taking out credit in victims' names.
  2. The Security Breach Notification Act requires
    companies, non-profits and state and local government
    to notify Illinois residents if the security of their
    personal information has been compromised.

Additionally, consumers in Illinois have the right
from businesses to plug some of the security holes
identity thieves use to steal their personal

Insurance companies can no longer print your social
security number(ssn) on consumer insurance cards.
The insurance company must replace that card with a new
identification number by January 1, 2006.

Coming in July, 2006, all businesses will be
prohibited from publicly posting your social security
number or printing it on any cards unless you do not
ask them to stop from their current practice.

So, our tip for today, is if you live in Illinois
take advantage of these tough new options to protect
your credit identity from theft and fraud.

We advise, for everyone, the adoption of automatic credit
monitoring as an effective tool to minimize the extent of
damage an identity thief can cause.

Your financial privacy is your right.

Make it your New Year's resolution.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Missing SSN and Credit Card Data Disclosure by Marriott

206,000 time-share owners, customers, & Marriott
employees data missing. The data includes social security
numbers and credit card account information.

This Wednesday, according to the Washington Post, a
mid November incident involving a missing backup
computer tape containing the highly sensitive personal
information treasured by identity thieves has resulted
in Marriott issuing disclosure letters last Saturday to the
affected consumers.

The incident, involving Marriott's Vacation Club International
unit based in Orlando, Florida, prompted disclosures to

"time- share owners, customers and the division's employees
to be on the alert for changes to their credit histories or

To Marriott's credit they are offering free credit
monitoring services to those consumers who have been
affected even though so far there has been no evidence
reported that identity theft has occurred.

So, our tip for today, is to notify any family members
or associates of Marriott's Vacation Club and let them
know they should contact Marriott directly for more
information on the free credit monitoring service available.

Additionally, it would be prudent for them to also consider
placing a fraud alert with the 3 major national credit bureaus
on their credit card account associated with Marriott's
Vacation Club.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Id Theft Prevention using Your Driver Information

Imagine an identity thief is driving around using your
name and in the process generating speeding tickets
or more serious moving violations such as personal
injury accidents.

You wouldn't have any idea this identity fraud has
been committed against you until it's too late. Most
likely in the form of an arrest warrant for failing to
appear in court or pay fines.

Never mind that it wasn't really you, but rather the
identity thief, the judicial system now has you
(the true victim) flagged as a criminal.

As anyone who has ever been to a local court house or
DMV office can attest, be prepared for a very lengthy,
frustrating, & bureaucratic nightmare.

Oh, by the way, you will also be responsible for
spending your hard earned income to clear your
own driving record of the fines generated by the
identity thief.

In many states, a drunk driving citation alone can
cost you minimally $2,000 in fines.

Additionally, your auto insurance rates will
significantly increase - that is if you are not
abruptly dropped altogether.

Want a small dose of prevention without all
of the hassle of waiting in line at the DMV

Our tip for today, is to check out this resource
which for as little as $24.95 will secure your DMV
record for delivery to you or a loved one via email
within 3 days.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Millions Face Identity Theft Risk This Coming Year

25% of consumers do not yet shred their personal
documents despite the fact identity thieves could build
build enough personal information against them to
apply for credit in their name accordingly to a recent
survey by MyCallCredit.

Further as reported, women are more careful
about shredding documents than men, with 77%
of women saying they regularly shred personal
information, compared with 68% of men.

So, our tip for today, is shred your
personal banking and credit card statements
each month after scrutinizing them for
unauthorized purchases or suspect transactions.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Identity Theft Prevention with Check Ordering

this is an audio post - click to play

"Here's another quick audio tip from Id Theft Secrets blog.

Want to significantly reduce your chances of becoming
an identity theft victim by check fraudsters?

Here's how.

Next time you order checks from your bank do not have
them mailed to your home or apartment address.

Instead, arrange to have your checks delivered to your
local bank branch where you will simply pick them up.

This step keeps your checks away from the mail box
where identity thieves can easily steal them.

This has been another quick audio tip from
Id Theft Secret blog."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

ABN Amro Found Lost Personal Identity Info Tape

As an update to a widely reported mishap involving ABN
Amro Mortgage Group,the company reported yesterday
on their special website the "lost" data tape has been

The tape included the personal information of their
residential mortgage customers:

  • Names
  • Account information
  • Payment history
  • Social Security Numbers (SSN)

It was lost after after pickup from ABN Amro's data
center while in transit by the DHL courier to Experian.

But, due to the elapsed length of time (first reported
missing Nov. 18, 2005) and the fact the missing tape
contained highly sensitive personal information valued
by identity thieves, ABN Amro is taking a proactive
approach to aiding the consumers who could be effected
by this potential security breach.

According to ABN Amro consumers effected by this
security breach are eligible for 1 year of free credit
monitoring through TransUnion.

This time period was extended from their initial 90
day free period offered.

So, our tip for today is in support of ABN Amro
mortgage customers to contact the company if you have
not received a notification letter. You have the right to find
out whether your personal information was on the "missing"

For LaSalle Bank (IL): 1-866-904-7222
For LaSalle Bank (IN & MI): 1-866-732-6555
For ABN AMRO Mortgage Group:
1-800-783-8900 (Option #2)

Please note, you will need to have your mortgage
number available in order for the Customer Service
representative to assist you.

Finally, if you know of any loved ones or associates
who may be customers of ABN Amro Mortgage, please
feel free to contact them directly or forward this article
to them to take action to protect themselves from potential
identity theft.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Identity Theft Win in Fresno

While most of the news about identity theft
is usually not positive, there are infrequent
"wins" like this one below.

In Fresno,CA, according to the local ABC news
affiliate, local police busted a large identity
theft ring with at least dozens of victims, possibly
as many as one hundred.

As these organized identity theft rings tend to
operate, this one was using a hotel as their base
in an attempt to mask their fraudulent activities
before moving on to another town.

But police, after receiving a stolen car tip, made
the arrest and found out just how large this ring's
recent activities were with stolen:

  • 300 credit cards
  • Passports
  • Driver licenses
  • Sophisticated equipment to make fake IDs
  • Thousands of dollars worth of stolen property

So, our tip for today is simply to guard your
sensitive documents and credit cards. Take only a single
credit card with you in your wallet on your daily commute
or shopping trips. Make sure that single credit card is
one which has a with low spending limit to help reduce
your potential losses from an identity thief.

When you exit your car make sure to take your purse or
wallet with you even during quick trips to the cleaners
as sophisticated identity theft rings employ specialists
called "collectors" whose job is to steal the source
data needed to manufacture fake IDs.

Use these tips and others you will find on our site
to reduce your chances of being "marked" as an easy
victim of identity theft.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Reducing Holiday Shopping Identity Theft

this is an audio post - click to play

Here's another quick audio tip from Id Theft Secrets blog.
(our free podcast is also available via Odeo & other leading MP3
subscription channels such as iTunes & Talkr)

Holiday shopping for many is a time of joy and some stress
to complete everything in time.

However, it's also a time of the year when identity theft
opportunity significantly increases for most people.

Here's how you can help decrease your potential to
become the latest identity theft victim.

Do not use your ATM card in retail shops if that card
also doubles as a Mastercard or Visa.


Credit card liability, due to theft or unauthorized
purchases, is usually limited to only $50.

However, ATM losses can be unlimited!

So, instead of handing over your ATM card which
has that linked Visa or Mastercard account - pay
cash or use your straight credit card only.

Then, finally make sure to get your copy of the
purchase receipt from the sales clerk.

This has been another quick audio tip from
Id Theft Secrets blog.

Friday, December 16, 2005

How Identity Theft Victims Can Avoid Being Treated as Criminals

If we have ever learned of a compelling reason to
to take proactive steps to protect yourself from
identity theft, here's one b-i-g example.

It seems, according to a recent NBC story, a Maryland
woman's life has become a living nightmare the past
5 years. She's forced to deal with the impact an identity
thief perpetrated against her during a three month period
where the Texas based crook did the following:

  • $36,000 in debt involving computers, personal loans, &
    department store accounts
  • 54 addresses
  • 60 different aliases
  • 130 accounts in collection

All of this, according to the NBC4 story, happened
after the Texas identity thief stole her Maryland victim's
social security number off her health insurance
identification from an un-named computer database.

Because the identity thief effectively assumed her
identity, the Maryland woman who's really the victim
here, could face being pulled over by police
anytime there's an outstanding warrant in her name.

Furthermore, she could be denied jobs due to the
negative payment information on her credit report.

And, that's in addition to the financial expense,
frustration, phone calls from collectors, & time
required away from work to fight this unjust crime
against her.

Want to protect yourself from this type of fraud
being committed against you?

Our tip for today is to set yourself up with an
early warning system to alert you to problems before
they escalate to the life changing headache the
Maryland woman has been facing the past 5 years.

Some of the key signs to watch for may include:

  1. New Names associated with your social security
    number (SSN)
  2. New Addresses associated with your SSN or Name
  3. Missing Credit Card statements
  4. New Employers assigned to your name
  5. New Loan & Loan Inquiries
  6. New Phone Connections
  7. New Bankruptcies & Tax Liens
  8. Debt collectors suddenly calling you at home & work

Remember, it took that identity thief 3 months to run
up the huge amount of debt against her. Having an
automatic monitoring system for your credit can enable
you to stop or substantially reduce the damages against
you resulting from a case of identity theft or social
security fraud.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Twenty Identity Theft Protection Tips for Shredding

Here's a quick update to our holiday
shopping guide to identity theft.

Denying identity thieves your personal
information available from the
trash is one sure way to protect yourself
from identity theft.

Now for a brief list of the 20 types of
documents you will need to shred regularly:

  1. Obsolete financial records, including loan
  2. Pre-approved credit card applications
  3. Personal medical records or physician statements
  4. Correspondence and tax preparation worksheets
  5. Receipts for purchases
  6. Bank statements
  7. ATM receipts
  8. Credit card statements
  9. Cancelled checks
  10. Mail and old records
  11. Utility bills
  12. Credit card charge receipts
  13. Insurance forms
  14. Investment transactions
  15. Expired charge cards
  16. Mailing labels from magazines
  17. Pay stubs
  18. Old driver's licenses or passports
  19. Expired insurance and membership cards
  20. Any documents that may contain Social
    Security numbers, birth dates, your mother's
    maiden name and any account numbers or on-line

Remember, during the holiday shopping season,
identity thieves understand you will generate
an incremental amount of paper (receipts,
shipping labels, etc.) they can steal from
your trash or from businesses and retail
establishments which may be careless in
their disposal practices during this busy
time of the year.

Our tip for today involves a small bit of
follow up now & after the holidays.

So, take charge of your own identity protection
and make sure to ask for any of your receipts.
Put all of them in a folder to be locked away
in a secure filing cabinet for one month. After
the one month period, reflecting normal return policy
expirations, retrieve that entire stack of receipts
and shred them using a quality, cross-cut shredder.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Celebrity Id Theft Common Traits to You

What do you have in common with the famous celebrities
who've also been victimized dating back to 1993?

Identity theft is now getting lots of press. Even our
U.S. Congress finally woke up and started the legislative
process in 2005 to address this crime now that it effects
most Americans regardless of income, social standing, &

But, let's roll back the clock a few years ago as we
take a look at famous celebrities who were high
profile identity theft victims and how those same
methods used then are still being used against all
the rest of us who actually work for a living.

Just that it's faster for the Internet enabled
identity thieft to conduct his research and piece
together your confidential profile.

And to those who would minimize the impact of identity
theft reported cases,consider that even if it's only
one victim, we feel that's too many if that unfortunate
individual happens to be you or a loved one who had
personal information exposed or abused through no fault
of their own.

Question: What would you have in common with the
following celebrities?

  • Oprah
  • Tiger Woods
  • Warren Buffett
  • Mel Gibson
  • Ross Perot
  • Steven Spielberg
  • Martha Stewart
  • Ted Turner
  • Paris Hilton
  • Lindsay Lohan
  • Christina Aguilera
  • And up to 100 others who were targeted by just two
    very industrious identity thieves..

Answer: They were all victims of identity theft!

Meet Identity Thief #1.

Abraham Abdallah, a 32-year-old high school dropout at
the time of his arrest in 2001. Court papers say
Abraham Abdallah had a dog-eared copy of last fall's
Forbes "400 Richest" article, with notations of Social
Security numbers, home addresses and birth dates of
200 chief executives, celebrities and tycoons. They
say he also had more than 400 stolen credit card
numbers, one belonging to a federal prosecutor
according to CBS News.

Further in the story, posing as his victims, he
obtained social security numbers, credit card numbers
and all vital financial records. With that, he contacted
their banks and brokerage firms. Couriers and prostitutes
all across New York City were used to deliver expensive
items bought with the victims' credit cards and accounts
at brokerage houses such as Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns
and Merrill Lynch.

Like most victims even today, Turner and Spielberg
were unaware their identities may have been stolen at
the time of the article.

The scheme started to unravel when Merrill Lynch
executives got suspicious about an e-mail request to
transfer $10 million from an account belonging to
Thomas Siebel, founder of Siebel Systems, police said.

Meet Identity Thief #2.

James Rinaldo Jackson, among other things, a Steven
Spielberg fanatic. Such a fanatic, in fact, that for an
entire year in the mid-1990s, he knew everything
Spielberg purchased on his American Express card
according to MSNBC.

Everything Jackson learned about Spielberg, he learned
while in prison, much of it using a cell phone supplied by
a family member... Just a few calls while in the care of the
federal prison system, and Jackson scored all sorts of data
on Spielberg and about 100 other Hollywood types. All in
a single day’s work.

So, our tip for today is:

  1. Release only your social security number (SSN)
    information to only those few legitimate entities
    which really require it for your benefit
  2. Determine how those entities safeguard your personal
    information and under what exact circumstances will
    they release it to third parties without your consent
  3. Do not provide personal information to telemarketers,
    especially not credit card numbers, PIN #'s, social
    security number, mother's maiden name, or your date of
  4. Establish rigorous passwords for accessing your
    banking, credit card, & utility accounts by using
    upper/lower case/numeric combinations. Change
    these passwords every three months
  5. For online shopping, use a dedicated credit card with
    online statement access and a low limit. For extra
    protection, either have your account number changed or
    take advantage of the cards which utilize a "temporary"
    account number.

As always, check your credit report frequently as well
your monthly bank statements - preferably on-line
backed up with exception alerts to your wireless
phone or easily accessible email.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Online ID Theft Protection Dell, PC World, & Microsoft Use

Get what Dell, Microsoft, & other leading firms use
for their anti-spyware protection!

This time of the year, on-line spending is arguably at
it's highest which also means the opportunity for
identity theft via "hidden" spyware is too.

In a recent poll conducted by the Kentucky County
Attorneys Association, Inc., consumers feel they are
more at risk of becoming victims of identity theft
than any other crime:

  • Robbery, burglary or mugging (31 percent)
  • Drug-related crime (19 percent)
  • Alcohol-related crime (10 percent)
  • Violent crime including assault, rape or murder
    (3 percent)

Spyware and adware is not only an invasion of your
privacy, but it's hard to remove. Dozens of spyware
programs are being created by bad guys every single day.

Spyware monitors your every keystroke and then reports
it a remote server. So, your passwords, account
numbers, and any personal information can be recorded
and sent anywhere in the world without your knowledge
to be abused by identity thieves.

Here's a fictional example of the type of stolen
personal information which was traded by the recently
shut down Shadow Crew website frequented by
international identity thieves.

Scary stuff - which is why we heartily recommend you
run multiple layers of defense against identity theft.
As part of that multi-layered defense, we know of
individuals who utilize several anti-spyware/firewall
products to thwart would be identity thieves from
stealing their on-line information.

Why use multiple tools?

Identity theft rings have been uncovered to be very
resourceful and fast moving. It stands to reason they
know full well what the major anti-theft tools are to
stop them and unfortunately how to beat or stay
ahead of them.

Which is why we've found a combination of the most
effective name brand and up & coming anti-spyware
tools are your best defense against being identified
as an easy mark to be victimized.

Here's a practical example:

We recently tested a fast emerging leader, Sunbelt
Software's CounterSpy, on one of our office personal
computers which already has well known brand X & Y
installed along with a full fledged firewall.

Not only did CounterSpy complete it's full disk scan
in 1/3rd the time, but it also identified two "hidden"
spyware programs the other leading tools had missed.

Our results, evidently, are not alone as PC World gave
CounterSpy 1.0 its highest rating in a head-to-head
comparison of seven anti-spyware utilities.

It's also the only anti-spyware tool which gets
regular threat database updates from three sources
(including Microsoft's own spyware research group).

Dell computer has even tested and recommends
CounterSpy, according to Sunbelt's website.

So, our tip for today is get your own 1-year
subscription now for just $20 with a 30-day
money back guarantee. (If you need a second
copy for another personal computer - it's
half price!)

It's one of the least expensive, full featured
insurance policies you can take to protect
you & your family members from on-line identity

Monday, December 12, 2005

Id Theft Protection Holiday Gifts

During this upcoming holiday season, instead of giving
that funny tie or wrong brand of perfume as gifts which
quickly lose their appeal, consider giving id theft prevention
gifts which keep your loved ones protected throughout the

A recent study by America Online and the National
Cyber Security Alliance found that 81% of home PCs lack
at least one of the three critical protections necessary to
help guard against viruses, spyware, hackers, and other
threats to their personal information:

  1. Updated computer virus software
  2. Spyware protection
  3. A secure firewall

Plus, 69% of the surveyed homes with children under
age 18 had spyware or adware. Spyware and adware tracks
your browser surfing history and in the case of spyware,
even logs all of your keystrokes to be later reported to the
on line identity thief.

Imagine all of your email, your on line banking, &
holiday shopping transactions (with sensitive
passwords or credit card numbers) are then used
by the identity thief to defraud you of your
personal identity and credit.

So, our quick tip for today is to consider adding
these helpful tools to your holiday shopping list:

And as always, keep your personal records containing
account numbers or social security numbers stored in a
locked file cabinet at home.

Finally, a hearty "thank you" goes out to all of our
readers and subscribers who have already taken
advantage of our Free Id Theft Secrets toolbar.

It's a convenient way to give yourself an
early holiday gift of 1 click access to some identity
theft prevention tools we have mentioned today.

Please feel free to share the link as well as this
website with your friends, co-workers, & family
members so they may also reap the benefit of
identity theft protection this holiday season
and in to 2006.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Identity Theft Protection from Utility Fraud

With the record cold spell which has descended on
parts of the U.S. this week, this latest story is even
more appalling than most. It seems a Fort Worth, TX
man learned the "cold" truth of just how identity
theft can strike.

This past Friday, Beau Black, only learned he
was the victim of identity theft when his power
went off in his home. Evidently, an identity thief
had stolen his identity and called the local electric
utility company to request his power be shut off.

Fortunately, Mr. Block was not the only victim of this
scam and phone call to the power utility resulted in
his power being turned back on before the effect of
winter's chill took effect.

However, according to the story reported by the local
CBS news affiliate, Mr. Black had not previously taken
advantage of an enhanced security option available
from the utility company. That program offers to all
TXU customers, a unique and special identification
password (other than SSN) option.

So, our tip for today is to contact all of your local
utilities and request for non social security number
(SSN) password protection for your account access.
Additionally, explore with the utility company if they
provide wireless or email alerts anytime your account
balance or address is changed.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Identity Theft Prevention for Online Dating Sites

Looking for love on-line via popular dating web sites
and chat rooms, has also opened up the potential victim
pool available to identity thieves and scam artists.

According to the FBI, there's a particular type of con
artist known as the "Sweetheart Scammer" who
specialize in finding their targets through on-line
dating sites and chat rooms. They specialize in a
scam which starts with identity theft.
Flowers and candy are sent are to the intended victim
that were typically purchased with a stolen credit
card. Then the identity thief will send a fake
cashiers check or money order for the victim to

The identity thief's goal here is for the victim to
cash the cashiers check and ship the amount in post
office money orders to an out of the U.S. location.
If the victim falls for this ploy, by cashing the
fake check the end result lost your own money;
not to mention your personal identity. Furthermore,
you have just opened yourself up to on-line harassment
in the future from this scam artist.

To avoid this trap and to help protect your identity,
here's a few helpful tips:

Do not use your real name or personal information when
posting within on-line dating sites.

Use separate e-mail and Instant Messaging (I.M.)
accounts when communicating to prospects within
on-line dating sites.

Do not use your regular email address in anyway as
your on-line persona.

Select on-line dating sites which utilize a double
blind email contact method whereby both parties do not
know each others real identity.

When you're ready for contact outside the dating
service, don't give out your work or home number. They
can both of which input into a reverse look up
directory which would reveal your home address. Sign
up with your home or wireless phone company for
blocking your caller id before you make contact.

Do not give out your name and address (or any other
personally identifying information) early in the
contact process.

Make sure to understand how to record your on-line
dating chat sessions.

Lastly, if you feel you have been or know some one who
has fallen victim to the fake cashier's check request,
use this resource to report the crime.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Identity Protection from Child Predators

*Updated 1/8/06 with new resource link (see end of story)

One of our long time friends sent us a link last week
which really got all the fellow parents here very,
very nervous about identity abuse of children.

The link leads to a video story by MSNBC detailing how
sexual predators use the internet to actually come to their
intended victim's home.

What particularly struck us about the video, was just
how easily the predators were able to get personally
identifying information on kids. Using this information,
the predators (according to experts as many as
50,000 are on-line regularly out of an registered total
of over half a million nationally) are able to quite literally
find directions right to the intended victim's home and/or school.

Here's how:

They can gather personal information about the child
through an on line profile, a chat room discussion, or the
child's screen name. Using this information, they may
be able to locate the child's home telephone number
and then determine where the child resides.

With the use of on-line reverse address directories,
the child predator can find the intended victim by
inputting a name, city, or even a phone number
and in some rare instances even an email address.

So the victim identification process engaged by the
predator may have been much longer and riskier in the
past, is now unfortunately all too convenient with the
same tools used by identity thieves and available on
the internet.

Similar in a way to the identity theft scams known as
"phishing" & "pharming", many under age minors
unwittingly accelerate the process used by child
predators to identify and locate their targets. Kids
today make use of popular social networking
sites such as which require you to fill
out a detailed, personal profile as a condition to
gain access.

Items such as name, zip code, date of birth, gender,
high school, & interests are collected to be
subsequently displayed to anyone with access.
With this information, the predator lurks in chat
rooms for their victim armed with a contact strategy.

When the predator finds someone who
seems vulnerable, he invites the child into a private
area of the chat room to get better acquainted. Next
comes private chat via an instant message service
followed by e-mail, phone conversations and finally,
a face-to-face meeting.

We were able to retrieve, in 3 minutes, several high
school age minors'profiles containing personally
identifying information even without having to
register with one of the major social networking

Here's three chilling stats supporting the need
for parental action:

  • 67% of the victims of sexual assault are less than 18
  • 1/3 are less than age 12 according to the U.S. Dept.
    of Justice
  • 25% of sexual solicitations and less than 40% of
  • unwanted exposures were ever reported to parents according
    to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

The Los Angeles district attorney's "Protecting Our
Kids" Web site says 71% of parents stop monitoring
their child's Internet use after the child turns 14.
Yet, 72% of all Internet-related missing children are
15 or older. Possibly just a coincidence here, but you
have to be at least 14 years old to hold a
account. There's a federal law known as COPPA which
requires parental permission for kids aged 13 and
under to submit personally identifying information to
a website doing commercial business within the U.S.

Want to do something to protect your kid's personal
identity on line, irregardless of their age?

You can minimize the risk of a child meeting an on
line predator by taking some simple personal identity
protection steps:

Avoid leaving on line profiles. Many web sites offer
users the opportunity to set up an on line profile
where they can provide information about themselves.
This information can be accessed and used by
predators. One way to protect your child's privacy is
for him or her to avoid these on line profiles.
Usually, the on line information is requested for advertising
purposes, and your child is not required to complete a
profile in order to participate in on line activities.
Control access to chat rooms. Adults who are seeking
to exploit children spend countless hours in chat
rooms. Many experts believe that chat rooms are not
safe for children, particularly young children. If you
decide to allow your children to enter chat rooms,
make sure your decision is based on their age and

Limit instant messaging. Like email and chat rooms,
instant messaging (or "IMing") can be used to
communicate secretly. Children often use abbreviations
and code (such as "POS" which means "parent over
shoulder") to change the course of the conversation
and to keep parents from understanding on line

Restrict the use of digital photographs. Children
should not send photos to anyone, including other
children, without parental approval. You should also
avoid posting photographs of children on sites that
might be accessible to predators, including
so-called modeling sites.

Keep screen names anonymous. Predators can use screen
names to help them track down a child. Make sure that
your child's screen name does not include personal
information such as name, home address, or school

Access your child's email. Experts recommend that
parents share an email account with their child, or
maintain access to their child's email account and
check it frequently. You might feel this is too
intrusive, but its not. A computer is different from a
diary or a journal. A journal contains private
thoughts that are not communicated to others. However,
emails, chatting and instant messaging are an open
window to your child's life, carrying information to
and from your home.

Implement your internet service provider's parental
controls to limit the type of content and length of
time your child can have access to. In addition, your
Internet Explorer or Firefox browser will also support
parental controls.

American Online (AOL)
Microsoft Network (MSN)

Place your child's computer in common area. You should
place your computer in a central room of the house, in
order to monitor what your child is doing on line. The
computer screen should face out, into the room, so it
is easy for you to see. Develop a list of family rules
for using the Internet and post it next to the

Remind children that computer use is not confidential.
Children want to be treated as adults, and they feel
entitled to privacy. But with a computer, you can go
too far in trying to respect your child's privacy. Children
should not have the expectation that everything they do
on a computer will be considered personal and confidential.

Show your kids locations & photos of registered offenders
to be avoided during their daily activities involving school
and play travel.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Identity Theft Secrets Toolbar Now Available

To follow up from our recent article where we
indicated an important announcement would
be coming this weekend.

Well, that time is now here!

Introducing the Identity Theft Secrets toolbar.

Id Theft Secrets Blog toolbar

The key benefits for you to take advantage of
this new tool to save literally hundreds of
keystrokes daily are:
  1. Free - Absolutely zero cost & no P.I.I. is needed
  2. Safe - No spyware installed; your privacy maintained; no viruses or pop ups
  3. Easy - One Click Access to Many Tools
  4. Powerful - Google search, MP3 Podcasts, RSS Reader, Browser Privacy Cleaning, Anti-Spyware Scanner, & Pop Up Ad Blocker
All you have to do is click here and you will be able
to download the toolbar to your Internet Explorer
or Firefox browser.

Once the toolbar is installed to your favorite
browser, you will then have one click access
to your favorite Id Theft Secret articles and
provided tools described above.

It's totally free and without any spyware.
Plus, there's no personally identifying information
(P.I.I.)'s anonymous.

So take advantage of our free offer and make
sure to tell your friend about our site.

Enjoy this great time saving tool.

It's our way of saying thanks to all of
our readers and subscribers.

Id Theft Secrets Poll Results Indicate Content Satisfaction Exceeded Expectations

As a follow up to our announcement earlier this month,
we've compiled the results from our first subscriber survey
to measure overall satisfaction with our article content.

The results from a partial month are in and indicate
the vast majority of our readers who participated in
the satisfaction survey rated us as exceeding
expectations. Two thirds (67%) of those who
responded, indicated the daily article content
"significantly exceeded my expectations".

While this poll was unscientific in it's methodology,
we certainly believe the results are conclusive
evidence that our dedication to providing fresh,
concise, & helpful "how to" identity theft prevention
tips. We will continue to direct our efforts in
scouring the land for more interesting and highly
actionable content for our readers to continue to use.

In the coming weeks, we will rotate in additional mini
polls dedicated to our planned content topic expansion
and ask for your support to participate in helping to shape
the editorial to continue to meet your evolving needs for
identity theft secrets.

Finally, for all of those readers and subscribers who
participated in our initial poll, we "thank you" very
much for providing your valuable feedback.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Simple ID Theft Prevention - Check your Social Security Statement

this is an audio post - click to play

Here's our quick audio tip for today.

Want to determine if your social security number
is being used by someone else?

Perhaps, you might qualify for benefits on someone
else's record?

Or, how about just to check for any errors
which could negatively impact your retirement

Does the SSA have your correct:

  • Date of Birth
  • Full Name

If the SSA does not have your current mailing address
or if you are under the age of 25 as well as other requirements,
you may not be receiving the automatically mailed annual statements.

The SSA is required by law to send these statements
automatically to eligible people.

Contact the Social Security Administration's toll free hot-line
1-800-772-1213 and ask for "Request for Social
Security Statement
form SSA-7004".

Call them today, as it may take up to 6 weeks for you to receive
your statement via mail.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Tough New Identity Theft Protection Law Starts Today

An important new weapon from those fighting to stem
the tide of identity theft has just taken effect today in the
state of North Carolina.

Starting December 1, 2005, North Carolina residents
will have the benefit of one of the most comprehensive
laws in the country as disclosed by the law's sponsor -
Attorney General Roy Cooper.

It's estimated the new law will address the more than
300,000 North Carolina consumers who become
identity theft victims annually.

“"By freezing your credit, you can block an identity
thief from opening an account or getting credit in your
name,” "Cooper said.

Consumers can freeze their credit report by sending a
certified letter and $10 to each of the three credit bureaus.
The attorney general's office has made available detailed
instructions on how to request a security freeze.

Also available is a sample request letter that North
Carolina consumers can submit to the three major
credit bureaus.

But, the tough new North Carolina identity theft
law goes even further to protect consumers:

  • Minimizing the use of Social Security numbers as
    identification numbers and restricting the sale and
    display of SSNs.
  • Making sure that businesses that dispose of personal
    identifying information about their customers destroy
    or shred those records, so that identity thieves can'’t
    retrieve information from discarded files that have been
    carelessly thrown away.
  • Requiring businesses to notify their customers if a
    security breach may have compromised their personal
    information and placed them at risk of identity theft.
  • Prohibiting state and local government agencies from
    unnecessarily collecting people’s Social Security
    numbers or from disclosing Social Security numbers to
    the general public if it is necessary to collect from

Next to the 2003 California law, emulated by several
other states, this new important piece of North
Carolina legislation seems to be well designed to
substantially reduce and cut off identity theft at the
source points.

Freezing your credit file will only be a minor
inconvenience for the times when you're impulse
shopping for an automobile or would want "instant
credit" typically used in a retail store.

You, however, always reserve the right to "un-freeze"
access to your credit report. The benefits seeingly
far outweigh any major disadvantages to the consumer.

So, our tip for today is to immediately take advantage
of this new level of protection if you or anyone you
know of is a resident within the state of North

For those, not currently residing in North Carolina,
you can still reduce your potential for identity theft
and credit fraud by contacting all of your financial
institutions and requesting an "opt out". The opt out
request, in this case, would be to not share your
non-public or credit report information with other
business partners and affiliates.

Finally, check back for an important new development
we will release FREE to all of our regular subscribers this