Monday, January 30, 2006

Choicepoint Identity Theft to Cost Record $15 Million

The FTC gets tough with Choicepoint while the Securitities
and Exchange Commission (SEC) has an ongoing investigation
into stock sales made by the top two executives prior to the
public data disclosure last year.

In the largest civil penalty ever levied by the Federal Trade
Commission (FTC), Choicepoint agreed to pay $10 million to settle
the investigation plus another $5 million for "consumer redress".

In addition to the fines, Choicepoint must also establish and maintain
a comprehensive information security program as well as be audited
bi-annually by an 3rd party until 2026.

As a follow up to our first reporting of Choicepoint's major security
breach along with other equally if not larger data breaches in 2005,
the key question facing the other major offenders is will the FTC now
use the same "get tough" approach industry wide.

Is the FTC signaling to the business community a tougher standard
now exists for consumer data protection and enforcement?

While Choicepoint certainly was not the largest offender in 2005, it's
business practices, according to the FTC, left the company and
consumers significantly exposed to identity theft:

Did not have reasonable procedures to screen
prospective subscribers.

Turned over consumers’ sensitive personal information
to subscribers whose applications raised obvious
“red flags”.

Failed to tighten its application approval procedures or
monitor subscribers even after receiving subpoenas
from law enforcement authorities alerting it to
fraudulent activity going back to 2001.

Violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by
furnishing consumer credit reports to subscribers
who did not have a permissible purpose to obtain

Failing to maintain reasonable procedures to verify
both subscriber identities and how they intended to
use the consumer's information...

Violated the FTC Act by making false and misleading
statements about its privacy policies.

Choicepoint, a publicly held company, generated revenues of $1 Billion
last year. So, a $15 million settlement is a sharp "slap on the wrist"
but will not materially damage Choicepoint's ability to continue
operations (including being one of the leading suppliers to the
government's Patriot Act data mining efforts). The true financial
impact to Choicepoint will come later when the SEC completes it's
investigation into what may be determined to have been illegal stock
sales by the chairman and president before the public disclosures in

For now, though, the FTC chairman (who was herself an identity
theft victim in 2005) has at least, with a data broker (Choicepoint)
sent a strong message that consumer data must be protected

The final answer to our question raised earlier within this
article, remains to be answered for now. That is will the
FTC apply the same standard to larger violators such as
CitiFinancial (3.9 million lost customer credit SSN &
address records) -or- Time Warner (600,000 lost), -or-
Bank of America
(over 100,000 lost covering 3 separate occassions)
-or- the largest of them all: Cardsystems Int'l. with
over 40 million account holders impacted?

We'll keep monitoring all of our sources and will notify
you when there's any significant movement to answer that
question (use our subscriber options for automatic updates
expedited straight to you).

So, our tip for today is to take action to insure your own personal
information is safe against identity theft. Institute a defensive
strategy of personal information denial to parties that do not
require your SSN. Shred old financial statements. Opt out from
the various marketing lists containing your name and address
along with even more sensitive public and non-public information.

Finally, to counter your defensive strategy, deploy an offensive
weapon to proactively guard against un-disclosed security
breaches involving your credit and non-credit information.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Identity Thief Steals Social Security Number from Hospital

Most people commonly associate identity thief being
committed from dumpster diving, mail box intercepts,
or even on-line data breaches.

However, another area targeted by identity thieves
is medical institutions such as hospitals or doctor's


Lots of easily accessible documents containing social
security numbers and full names along with addresses
in what evidently identity thieves perceive as "soft"
targets of opportunity to collect personal information
to commit fraud.

Case in point, a Maryland woman is attempting to
sue for over $60 million as a result of her social
security number being stolen (SSN) by an identity
thief who worked in the hospital billing department.
The identity thief subsequently used the stolen SSN to
fraudulently open up credit accounts causing the victim's
credit rating to plummet as she was unnecessarily harassed
by collection agencies.

Evidently, the Maryland woman's law suit alleges the
hospital should have conducted a background and
criminal records check to discover the identity thief
had just been released from prison after serving time for
identity theft and should have never been allowed
near sensitive billing information for patients.

Special note to our readers, while it's been nearly 3
full years since the hospital based identity thief
victimized the Maryland woman, she's most likely
suffered significant financial, legal, and emotional
duress during this time and with the prospects of
the law suit process having no immediate conclusion.

Want to avoid the substantial damage to your credit
and financial health without having to resort to lengthy
legal process?

Since, you can not control the hiring process and
sensitive records security of companies, we recommend
you arm yourself with an aggressive monitoring and
prevention strategy to prevent identity theft from
happening to you.

So, our tip for today is today:

  • Question the need of any organization asking you
    for your social security number.
  • When filling out billing application forms for a
    medical institution which request your SSN, make
    sure to provide a written request for them to either
    destroy and/or lock away your sensitive records.
  • Plus, request that an alternate number be used rather
    than your SSN.

Finally, to round our your defense, get a comprehensive
monitoring and alerting service for your credit & non-credit
accounts so that you can receive "early warnings" when
suspicious activity takes place involving your name and
financial future.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Identity Theft Prevention Tip for Credit Card Purchases

this is an audio post - click to play

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

With all of the reports the past year of major security breaches
involving sensitive credit and personal information, it's no wonder
many consumers may be hesitant to use their credit cards - especially
for on-line purchases.

While the vast majority of identity theft involves offline methods for
harvesting your account numbers, here's a couple of helpful tips to foil
would be identity thieves:

When shopping offline, like in a retail department store, never let
the sales clerk put your credit card account number on a check
or any other document not associated with a purchase on your account.
(Special note, this is against the law in some states.)

When shopping on-line, take advantage of your credit card provider's ability to issue random "virtual" account numbers. This way you will
never have to give out your real credit card number on-line.

Please note, while this feature is a no-cost option for on-line shopping,
it can not be used for purchases (like movie or sports event tickets)
which require you to show your credit card at the time of pick up.

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

For the full transcript of this podcast and more free resources, please
visit us on the web.

While there, you may also subscribe for free to our RSS feeds which will
automatically notify you whenever we add new content."

Monday, January 23, 2006

Identity Theft Drains Woman's Checking Account in Single Day

Discovery of rapid loss of funds reveals compelling
reason to monitor accounts automatically.

A Utah woman, who fortunately had already been set up
with on-line banking, came home one night to find out her
bank account was overdrawn --- after she verified
there would be sufficient funds that morning!

It seems, as reported by WSU Signpost, her husband had
become a victim of identity theft and fraud from "phishing".

Apparently, the husband had received a phony email
from someone claiming his Paypal account needed to be
updated. However, the phony email requested
confirmation of his personal information and including
his checking account data.

Ouch! At that exact point in time, the identity thief
had just stung the couple.

He now had all the information, collected
fraudulently, to commit theft in their name since
Paypal accounts are commonly linked to a checking
account which means it can directly deduct payments.

A side-note, depending on how fast you discover and
notify your bank, the amount of your checking account
funds you can lose will greatly vary.....especially after
72 hours of an incident of theft.

Fortunately, for this Utah woman, because she was
already enrolled in online banking, she was able to
work with her bank to quickly limit the damage by
freezing her account, thus requiring her approval
for any withdrawals from those Paypal linked funds.

So, our tip for today, is get yourself setup for
on-line banking. It will benefit you in the following

  • Enable you to monitor your balances and activity
    more frequently than monthy mailed statements will
  • Depending on your institution, many online banking
    services feature the ability for you to set up
    "alerts" which will automatically email or text
    message you when suspicious transactions take
  • Also, with your online banking service, you also
    eliminate the potential for identity theft
    resulting from your monthly statements and
    processed checks being intercepted from your
    mailbox by id theft data "collectors"

As always, we further recommend you institute a
comprehensive credit and non-credit monitoring system
to protect your personal identity across all of your
non banking relationships as well.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Comprehensive Identity Theft Prevention & Resolution Services Now Available

We've recommended in the past the need to utilize
multiple weapons in your fight against identity theft
fraud. Especially, now that in 2006 the odds for
Congress approving a national disclosure law have
improved which will not only pre-empt tougher state
laws, but also serve the needs of big business over

So, it's really necessary for consumers to arm themselves
against the on-going identity theft growth trend.

Typically there's been many key pieces of the puzzle
you've needed in order to enjoy a comprehensive
defense against identity theft:

  • Credit report snapshots & on-going credit monitoring
    with exception alerts
  • Verification of your social security number (SSN)
    benefits and/or associated name not being used by
    another person
  • Public record checks of your background to catch the
    non-credit report items; especially for un-warranted
    criminal activity -or- bankruptcy filings under your
  • Medical and insurance record checks for fraudulent
    claims by identity thieves
  • Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) checks for faulty
    accident reports
  • Bounced or bad check reporting by retailers and
    banking institutions
  • And even more sinister databases used for Patriot act
    or sex offender screening

These repositories we have helped to expose these past
months are allies in your defense against identity theft.
We've advocated the use of ALL of those repositories as
necessary components of your fully empowered identity
theft prevention strategy.

However, until just recently, we were not aware of any
source which effectively combined ALL of these individual
identity theft tools into a single, affordable service which
provided you the opportunity to take back control of your
personal information.

That is until today!

We've learned of a new company, started just last
month, which is dedicated to providing a single point
of service for a fully comprehensive suite of the best
theft prevention AND resolution services
available within the U.S.

That resource is known as Identity Rehab, a Denver
based firm, which publicizes itself as the "complete
identity theft solution".

identity theft

Identity Rehab offers an identity theft "snapshot"profile
of your identity and personal information across 13 separate
data repositories used by employers, banks, insurers, and
other companies which determine what rates you may
qualify for (or, if at all). In addition to the "snapshot"
report, they will also provide an on-going monitoring
of your profile across these disparate repositories.

Plus, as part of their positioning as a complete
solution provider, Identity Rehab also offers
consumer advocacy services for when you need
a place to turn for advice on how to correct the
many sources associated with your identity.

Combined or even selected as separate services, we
believe Identity Rehab holds the key to unlocking the
puzzle for consumers to finally enjoy affordable but
comprehensive identity theft prevention across the
numerous credit and non-credit point solutions
available today.

So, our tip for today is to check it out and take advantage
of this affordable full service solution to fighting identity
theft while saving yourself time and money.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

How to Avoid A Million Dollar Tax Bill from Identity Theft

An ounce of identity theft prevention can make a huge
difference in the agony, financial ruin, & time spent
attempting to repair the damage resulting from an out
of control identity theft.

Case in point, a California woman has just recently
been reported as owing the IRS $1 million in back taxes....
on income she never even earned.....during a time she wasn't
even working at all.

It seems, an identity thief had used her social
security number (SSN) to land a job (steelworker) in
a completely different state. Additionally, that
identity thief also passed her SSN on to other thieves
resulting in her identity becoming associated with six
different companies in Texas.

As a result her bank accounts were frozen, making it
an ordeal to even buy groceries for the family. She
had to borrow money from her parents just to cover
normal living expenses as access to their earned funds
were held frozen by their bank since she could not
prove her real identity.

After a year and over 40 hours per week working with
the IRS and Social Security Administration, she finally
received an IRS letter stating she no longer was held liable
for the back taxes owed.

Her social security number (SSN), however, is still
being used illegally by identity thieves. Also, she
can not buy a house or apply for a job without
incurring significant hassles.

So, our tip for today, is to invest the small amount
of prevention needed to save you and your family an
enormous amount of personal frustration and expense
associated with identity theft.

Check out a new source we've uncovered which can
provide you a comprehensive solution to identity theft

It can materially impact your chances of not becoming
a victim like the woman that had the $1 million tax

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

DSW Forced to Tighten Identity Data Protection

In 2005 DSW, a major shoe retailer and on-line
merchant, was a high profile victim of identity
theft affected 1.4 million of it's customers.

At that time hackers, according to the Federal Trade
Commission, DSW's faulty data security procedures
were able to responsible for hackers gaining access to
the confidential credit card, debit card and checking
account information of over 1.4 million consumers who
had previously trusted the shoe retailer enough as

"The FTC charges that until at least March 2005, DSW
engaged in a number of practices that, taken together,
failed to provide reasonable and appropriate security for
sensitive customer information."

The settlement requires DSW to establish and maintain
a comprehensive information security program that
includes administrative, technical, and physical safeguards.

It also requires DSW to obtain, every two years for
the next 20 years, an audit from a qualified, independent,
third-party professional to assure that its security
program meets the standards of the order."

In what may very well become an emerging standard in
2006 and beyond, large companies (DSW sold over 23 million
shoes, generating $960 million in revenues during 2004) are
now being held to a much higher standard of consumer data

Given the other major data security breaches in 2005,
totaling over 56 million Americans being unjustly exposed
to identity theft, the FTC has been forced to take action
against DSW and 6 other firms.

However, let's not be swayed by a handful of token
cases against firms far less politically powerful in
Washington, DC than the financial services industry
that historically is one of the very largest campaign
contributors to both Republicans and Democrats alike.

For example, Bank of America has been documented with
3 major security breaches within the past few years.
The same for H&R Block.

So, while it may appear the watchdog (FTC) agency is
vigorously acting in the behalf of the average tax
paying consumer, it's still our primary responsibility
to take identity theft protection in our own hands.

Our tips for today is to lower your overall identity
theft potential by opting out, checking your credit
report for errors, institute automatic credit monitoring,
shred monthly financial statements after thorough
inspection, enroll in on-line bill payment, as well as
secure your mailbox.

An ounce of identity theft prevention is worth it's
weight in gold.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Teen Responsible for Largest Identity Theft

this is an audio post - click to play

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

A 17 year old North Carolina teen was recently arrested, in what authorities
claim was the largest identity theft case in the county surrounding Rocky Mount.

That the teen is accused of 115 counts of identity theft fraud
totallying over $100,000 in merchandise acquired falsely.

It seems, as reported by, the teen acquired many of his victims
personal information by stealing mail from residential boxes and to assume their
identities to subsequently get credit cards.

We surmise, the young lad had time, to intercept the loaded mailboxes he
passed by on the way home from school everyday.

So, our tip for today, is secure your mail. Get a lockeable mailbox where
only you or your direct family members can access the incoming mail.
Also, while it may be convenient for you, do not leave outgoing mail for your
postman in your un-locked mailbox.

A professional identity thief, or even an unsophisticated identity "collector" like
the 17 year old teen in North Carolina can easily capture all the
required, sensitive personal information needed to quickly commit financial fraud
in your name.

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

For today's transcript, free resources, & more visit our website."

Monday, January 16, 2006

Identity Theft Scam using Chase Bank Identity Theft Fear

This is an identity theft scam "alert".

Identity thieves have morphed their attacks recently.
This latest version, according to the New York State
Consumer Protection Board, involves the use of phony
emails from Chase Bank.

In the email, the intended victim is warned that someone
tried to access their bank account from a "foreign" internet

The phony email further instructs the reader to correct the error
by clicking on a link to what turns out to be a fake Chase Bank
website. In fact, the phony website would then attempt to extract
the consumer's personal information needed to commit identity theft.

Legitimate banks & businesses do not request your passwords, account
numbers and certainly do not send out threatening emails like the one

Dear Chase & Co. Member

For the User Agreement, Section 9, we may immediately
issue a warning, temporarily suspend, indefinitely
suspend or terminate your membership and refuse to
provide our services to you if we believe that your
actions may cause financial loss or legal liability
for you, our users or us.

Our terms and conditions you agreed to state that
your service must always be under your control or
those you designate all times. We have noticed
some unusual activity related to your service that
indicates that other parties may have access and
or control of your information in your service.

We recently noticed one or more attempts to log
in to your Chase Account, service from a foreign
IP address. If you recently accessed your service
while traveling, the unusual log in attempts may
have been initiated by you. However, if you did
not initiate the logins, please visit
Chase homepage as soon as possible to restore your
account status.

The log in attempt was made from:

ISP host :

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause,
and appreciate your assistance in helping us maintain
the integrity of the entire system. Thank you for your
prompt attention to this matter.Please do not reply to
this e-mail. Mail sent to this address cannot be answered.

To restore your account status click the link below:
[link to phony website]

So, our tip for today, is beware of this Chase Bank email claiming
you may be an identity theft victim. If you do receive this email
do not even open it, just delete it immediately.

Also, make sure you warn your friends and associates as identity
thieves who use email "phishing" methods count on you being far
too busy attempting to empty out your full inbox - especially after
a long weekend - to notice a scam.

If you feel you may have already responded to this phony email or
for more questions relating to your account, immediately contact
Chase Bank's official website or by phone with the numbers below.

Chase Deposit Customers:
If you are contacting us from outside of the United States please
call Customer Service at 1-713-262-3300.

Chase Personal Financial Services Clients:
Personal Line: 1-800-216-2700

Chase Credit Cards:
Personal: 1-800-551-1476
Business: 1-800-628-4882

Chase Mortgages:

Chase Auto Finance:
Retail/Loans: 1-800-336-6675
Auto Leases: 1-800-227-5151

Small Business Customers:
1-800-CHASE38 (1-800-242-7338)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Identity Theft Prevention from Cell Phone Call Records for Sale

Here's an important update to a previous, related
article on cell phone data and identity theft.

A common method for obtaining cell phone records known
as "pretexting," involves a data broker pretending to
be a cell phone's owner and tricking the wireless
phone provider into providing private calling
information without your consent or knowledge.

This tricking of a wireless service company is known
as "pre-texting".

Pretexting for financial data is illegal, but laws
evidently do not cover it's use for fraudulently
obtaining wireless phone records. Unfortunately,
there are as many as 40 separate
data brokers who traffic private calling record
information. Of that group, there's a few of those
firms who even claim on their websites the ability to
secure your information in as little as 2 hours of a
request by any unauthorized individual willing to
supply credit payment via their on-line form.

In a story reported last week, the FBI ran a test
against one of those data brokers known by their
commercial website, The FBI paid $160 to buy the records for an agent's
cell phone and received the list within three hours.

So, beyond the compromise of the FBI agent's cell
phone calling & billing information, this data broker
placed any confidential sources recently called by the
FBI also at risk.

Imagine, other unlikely identity thieves having
unauthorized access to your cell phone records and the
damage which could be done:

  1. Employers can check whether a worker is calling a
    competitor, perhaps looking for a new job.
  2. Suspicious spouses can see if their husband or wife
    has been calling a paramour lately.
  3. Or, how about the stalker who just wants to
    harass or track down his next victim using wireless
    call records in sort of a sick version of social networking.

If on-line data brokers are acquiring their information
by accessing customers’ on-line accounts, they might
also have access to the individual’s billing address, credit
card information, and even their social security number.

These pieces of personal information are so often used in
security verification for other services that possessing this
data would put the on-line data broker in complete
of the individual’s electronic identity.

As for as we've been able to uncover, there is NO
consumer disclosure requirement for the wireless
companies to notify you if an unauthorized person
(e.g, the "identity thief") gained access to your
personal information due to a security breach.

This lack of a consumer disclosure requirement
stands in contrast to the financial services industry.

So, our tip for today is to take steps to protect your
privacy with your wireless provider:

  • Change the often times standard account password,
    consisting of the last 4 digits of your social
    security number (SSN), to something much more obscure
    and lengthy.
  • Establish a secondary account security password in the
    form of a personalized question and answer only known
    by you.

We researched this option with a leading wireless
provider recently and found their service representative
very helpful in quickly instituting the changes. In that
instance, we learned not only could you institute a customized
secondary security question with an answer consisting
of least 20 alpha numeric characters, but that this action
also instantly takes effect in the form of a "special alert" flag
through out that wireless provider's customer service

Thus, anytime anyone is attempting to access that
particular wireless subscriber's record, the customer
service representative recieves a bold, blinking notice on
screen to request two sets of authentication from the
caller attempting to gain access.

Finally, we would recommend you change your account
passwords on at least a quarterly basis.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Woman Loses Job from Identity Theft

Want to know the importance of checking your
non-credit information for any id theft instances?

A Massachusetts woman was fired from her job of
only three weeks after a routine background check reveals
her name was associated with a 10 page history of crime.

She wasn't a criminal, but it turns out that an identity
thief had stolen her driver's license many years ago and
had given it to police when arrested.

Or, how about another Massachusetts woman who never
had problems finding work until 5 years ago when she started
mysteriously getting rejected by employers from job applications.
After being turned down for legitimate work, she evidently had no
other recourse than to settle for menial jobs far below her experience
just to survive.

These stories and more have become a growing problem in America
as more companies, fueled by laws actually designed to protect
citizens, frequently utilize background checks on prospective employees.

A survey last year by the Society for Human Resource
Management found that 68 percent of personnel
officers said they always perform criminal checks
on applicants
....... as well as examine credit and
driving records where applicable.
Fear of lawsuits against their company is most likely the primary driver.

No wonder, as an example, FedEx Corp. was accused earlier this
month in a lawsuit of hiring a sex offender who was later charged
with molesting an 8-year-old boy while at work in Fairfield, Conn.

Unfortunate as it may be, your background report holds more weight
than the sum total of all of your experience listed on a resume.

Do you want to not leave your ability to pay the rent up to a hidden
identity thief's
misdeeds against you. Or, how about just simple
instances of errors or old
misdemeanors which were not expunged
from your record, but could cost you
your job…and future jobs?

Our tip for today, is to start the new year on a identity theft free

Get an exhaustive public information profile (PIP) run against
your name.

Your PIP will reveal any criminal records, past judgements, & much
more critical information NOT found in your typical credit report
which can harm your employment ability.

We recommend you get one done today.

Monday, January 09, 2006

ATM Fraud Identity Theft Caught on Video

Identity thieves will go to great lengths to
steal your personal information to commit
fraud under your name.

This graphic is of an actual ATM
scam captured by security video.
It was forwarded to us by one of our
law enforcement friends this weekend.

In this picture, the unsuspecting victim
has already inserted his card into the "rigged" ATM slot.
However, the victim is confused by the ATM machine capturing
his card without the opportunity to conduct a normal banking

The thief, in the dark shirt, while posing as just another
citizen, offers to help the guy who's recognized his card
is now stuck in the ATM. The identity thief convinces
the victim he can help him retrieve his card if victim
enters his personal identifying code (pin) code while
the thief simultaneously holds down the "cancel" and
"enter" buttons on the ATM.

After several "failed" attempts to successfully retrieve
the "stuck" ATM card, both the victim and the helpful
citzen (aka, the "thief") give up and exit the area.

But, then the thief and/or his "look out "
accomplice quickly return to retrieve the
"stuck" card and their previously planted
capture strip known as a "loop".

Want to prevent this type of shocking
story from happening to you or your
loved ones? A co-worker? Or, a friend?

Our tip for today, is to lessen your potential for this type of
identity theft with the following steps:

Only use ATMs that are in an exposed area, making it more
difficult for the thief to set up the trap. Preferably, only use
ATMs located outside of a bank branch entrance.

Run your index or pinkie finger along the lip of the ATM
card slot prior to insertion so that you can feel for any
foreign objects, such as the "loop" that would be glued
in the slot where your card goes.

If someone offers to "help" you with a stuck card, refuse to
input your pin code. Instead seek immediate assistance
from the bank staff. Use the customer service phone typically
located adjacent to the ATM area.

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Friday, January 06, 2006

Identity Theft Prevention More States Enact Tough New Laws

Tougher laws protecting consumers from personal data
security breaches not being disclosed are now at least in a handful of individual states.

Twelve states have credit-freeze legislation, which
allows residents to block new creditors from accessing
their credit reports and helps prevent identity
thieves from opening spending accounts using a stolen

Credit-freeze laws in Connecticut, Illinois and New
Jersey were effective New Years Day, while Maine's law
will become effective February 1st and Colorado's on
July 1, 2006.

Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota,
and Nevada require companies to notify consumers in a
timely manner if sensitive financial information has
been stolen.

Connecticut's law hits even tougher. Residents there
can "freeze" their credit reports when they believe a
security breach has exposed their personal credit identity.

Plus, New Jersey and Virginia have banned public
disclosure of a person's social security number (SSN).

So, while Congress first promised, then back pedaled
in 2005, on enacting a national standard the individual states
have taken the lead with most modeling their base disclosure
law off the California statute which has been in effect since

That California law was the first in the nation which
required companies to notify state residents when
their unencrypted personal information was reasonably
thought to have been exposed.

Many in the media believe that landmark California law
was the catalyst behind all of the public disclosures
in 2005 tototalingver 50 million Americans' data
exposed or stolen from companies, medical facilities,
and universities or other public institutions.

Now more than 20 states have breach-notification laws,
but that still leaves over half of the nation without

So, our tip for today is twofold:

  • First, take advantage of your legal rights to inspect
    or freeze your credit report along with your just as
    crucial non-credit records such as your public
    information profile (PIP) and driving records.
  • Two, use this free resource to find and contact your
    to voice your concern for the need to
    enact a tough national, but complimentary to existing
    states' standard for all Americans to enjoy the same identity
    theft protection laws only available within a few states.

Note, article portions excerpted from the Christian
Science Monitor
and the Washington Times.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

H&R Block Latest SSN Identity Disclosure

Ooops! H&R Block, the nationally known tax preparation
firm, did it again.

As a follow up to our October article on H&R Block's
disclosure of confidential personal information, we
learned of the latest security breach effecting an
unspecified number of consumers.

According to the information from the company's
website, a "recent mailing of TaxCut CDs contained
an error on the mailing label for a small percentage
of total recipients."

"For a small group of former clients, the company
inadvertently included some personal information in
the mailing label. Embedded within the more than
40-character source code were the nine digits of the
recipient's Social Security Number (SSN)."

The latest disclosure, in December, 2005, tends to
indicate one area of on-going concern consumers
nationwide have with the proper handling of their
personal information - that is, too a large degree,
you do not have much control over the large
that are entrusted to secure your
digital identity

Unless, you choose to not conduct business with
organizations that have repeatedly exhibited loose
security practices.

However, where you do have control is the ability
to proactively monitor your credit & non-credit
information. Additionally, in selected states
effective this month, consumers now have for the first
time the ability to "freeze" their credit report.

This action, which the credit industry may view as
drastic, puts the consumer firmly in control over
whom and when your credit file can be accessed for
deciding the issuance of new credit accounts.

So, our tip for today is to review the disclosure and
remediation steps provided by H&R Block in case you or
an associate was affected by this latest security

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Identity Theft and Auto Insurance

this is an audio post - click to play

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

As follow up to our recent article on identity theft
and it's effect on your DMV record, we also needed
to cover the insurance impact of someone impersonating

Insurance companies utilize your driving record, accident
claims, & other factors you may not ever have known of,
to assign your monthly premium.

If you're like most consumers, who feel auto insurance rates
are already too high, then that identity thief can cause those
rates to sky rocket beyond your ability to pay.

The identity thief, who causes an accident and provides a
phony id card and insurance will cause your record to be
negatively charged for reckless driving.

The free report you want to get is called a C.L.U.E. Auto Report
available from a Georgia based company called ChoiceTrust.

It provides a five year history of automobile insurance losses
associated with an individual. The following data will be identified
for each loss:
  • date of loss
  • loss type
  • amount paid along with
  • general information such as policy number, claim number and
  • insurance company name
  • Plus, a List or record of companies that have inquired about
  • your loss history in the last two (2) years
So, our quick tip for today, is to take advantage of your rights
under the national FACT law of 2003 and check out your
driver insurance record for any instances where identity
theft or simply inaccurate information will cause you to
unjustly pay higher automobile insurance rates this year.

It's the perfect compliment to simply checking your DMV

Monday, January 02, 2006

Top Six Identity Theft Prevention New Year Resolutions

Now that the new year is officially here, many of us have
made our new year's resolutions to lose weight, make more
money, & perhaps spend more time with family or
pursuing leisurely fun activities.

new years identity theft resolution

Here's our top six Free and easier to achieve
resolutions to prevent identity theft and increase
your personal privacy this year:

  1. Order & check your free credit report for any errors or
    signs of fraud.
  2. Opt-out from receiving unsolicited "pre-approved"
    credit card offers.
  3. Eliminate your phone number from telemarketer lists.
  4. Remove your personal name and address from junk
    mail lists.
  5. Check your medical history for any unknown clones
    masquerading as you.
  6. Verify your driver record is clean from incorrect
    information on file for you.

Remember, most of these prevention tips are your right
under the law to find out what consumer information is
on file under your name as well as the opportunity to
dispute inaccuracies (usually within 30 days).

Further, it's also your right to restrict access to
your personal information to only those authorized
parties recognized by the Fair Credit Reporting Act
such as creditors, insurers, employers, landlords, or
other businesses that you are submitting an
application to.

Your consent is required for reports that are provided
to employers, or reports that contain medical
information. A consumer reporting agency (CRA) may not
give out information about you to your employer, or
prospective employer, without your written consent. A
CRA may not report medical information about you to
creditors, insurers, or employers without your

So, our tip for today is take advantage of these
rights you're entitled to achieve some of the easiest,
but effective, new year resolutions to fight and
prevent identity theft.

They can all be achieved in less than 1 week.