Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Identity Theft Victim's Quick Reaction Saves $755,000 Retirement Fund

this is an audio post - click to play

A quick reaction by an identity theft victim saves her entire
retirement account after it mysteriously disappears.

$755,000 would have been spent entirely or
become completely
untraceable to any recovery
attempts by law enforcement, had it
not been
quickly discovered by the victim
, a woman residing
in Delaware.

The woman called police immediately upon discovering the theft.
The resulting fraud investigation uncovered the money had been
transferred electronically to a phony account that was created
within the online stock-trading service, E*Trade Financial.
As a result of the quick reaction by the identity theft victim
and law enforcement, the entire $755,000 was recovered.

The woman was not sure how her account was accessed as
investigators are continuing with the search through internet
service provider records.

The good news, here, is the identity theft victim did
things right which we advocate as part of your
prevention strategy:

  • Frequent monitoring on-line of your financial accounts
  • Scrutinizing your balances and especially withdrawal transactions
  • Not hesitating to contact proper authorities when suspicious
    activity is discovered
So, our tip for today is to incorporate an identity theft
"burglar alarm" on all of your banking and credit profiles
to constantly monitor for irregular activity to alert you
via your favorite wireless or email device. Also, make
sure to check your public records quarterly for any
non-credit report data items which are just as harmful
to your reputation if an identity thief has generated
false arrests or bankruptcies in your name.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Identity Theft Fueled by Couples Murder

this is an audio post - click to play

A Baltimore, Maryland couple was recently slain
over a 3 hour period solely to assume their
personal identities.

It seems identity theft has now spilled over
into more serious crime with the murder of
the Baltimore couple of which the woman was

What makes this act even more appalling
is evidently one of the primary criminals
had recently been released from
prison on
parole by mistake from a
10 year assault conviction.

So, our tip for today is to guard your
identity and also install an intruder alert
system staffed with centralized monitoring
staff available to protect you 24 hours/7 days
a week. It helps to have a service with a
convenient 1 touch "panic button" feature
for those unexpected criminal encounters.

Brinks, as one source, can be reached at
for standard solutions
starting from $99.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Identity Theft Encryption Not Required as Judge Rules for Financial Institutions

New court ruling means a financial institution does NOT
have to encrypt a customer record database. Ruling judge
"throws out" the consumer's lawsuit against
the company which thieves stole a laptop
containing the personal identity & information
of over 500,000 consumers.

Not Congress, not big profit only financial institutions, and
certainly not data brokers have your best interests in mind
when it comes to protecting consumer information against
thieves (remember Choicepoint was actually selling data to
an identity theft ring).

Now a federal court, with this recent decision, affirms how the
odds really are stacked against consumers like all of us in
becoming an identity theft victim.

Here's why:

The target of the lawsuit is a USA based financial
institution which means it's regulated
under the
Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA)
. The GLBA Security
Guidelines require regulated entities to "establish appropriate
standards for the financial institutions subject to their
jurisdiction relating to administrative, technical, and
physical safeguards:

(1) to insure the security and confidentiality of
customer records and information;

(2) to protect against any anticipated threats or
hazards to the security or integrity
of such
records; and

(3) to protect against unauthorized access to
or use of such records or information which

could result in substantial harm or
inconvenience to any customer."

What this means in everyday language is the GLB
law requires lender financial institutions to take
"reasonable measures"
to do everything
possible to protect their customers' sensitive
personal information.

While transmission of data was covered,
evidently encryption of the personal information
contained on the company's laptop was not deemed
applicable by the ruling judge under the GLB law.

So, technical legal loopholes aside in how the
"reasonable measures" interpretation by the judge,
the key takeaway of this article is consumers are
on their own when it comes to protecting
personal data.

So, our tip for today is contact your financial
institutions to opt out from data sharing of
your personal information. Also, request
them to mail to you a statement how they
safeguard your data. Where these
companies utilize your social security
number (ssn) as the primary account
identifier, request a random or alternate
number to be pinned to your file. Plus,
demand a secondary security access
password of your choosing which will be
required for when your file is accessed
over the phone during customer service calls.

Finally, to round out your practice of denying access
to your sensitive personal information, prevent and
limit your potential damage by adopting an
automatic notification alert service for suspicious
activity typically indicating early signs of identity theft.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

CardSystems 40 million Identity Theft FTC Settlement

this is an audio post - click to play

Several major banks abruptly cancelled and reissued ATM debit
cards to over 200,000 consumers nationwide.

As follow up to our recent article on the single largest identity
theft/security breach to date, the FTC announced the settlement
with CardSystems and their failure to protect sensitive card
information affecting millions of consumers.

It was the largest known compromise of financial data to date.

In that security breach in 2005, identity thieves were able to
generate millions of dollars in fraudulent purchases and
compromised millions of credit and debit cards, according to
Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

CardSystems, now owned by Pay by Touch Solutions, is a payment
processor for all of the major credit cards known under
the Visa and MasterCard brands.

CardSystems authorized and approved credit and debit card purchases
for merchants last year amounting to 210 million card purchases.

CardSystems collects card numbers, expiration dates, and other
personal data from the magnetic strip of the card which was
subsequently stored on its computer network.

Just the type of data identity thieves prefer to generate fake
ATM or credit cards.

The FTC accused CardSystems of failing to have enough security
measures in place to keep hackers out of its computer network
and to limit access between computers on its network and
between its computers and the Internet. The company did not
do enough to detect or investigate unauthorized access to
personal information, the FTC said.

As part of the FTC settlement, CardSystems will be required to
be audited every two years for the next 20 years by an independent,
3rd party to confirm its security program meets the standards of the

CardSystems, though, could still face massive civil litigation which
may explain why they were sold in December, 2005 to Pay by Touch

So, our tip for today is contact your bank if you have not already
received your new ATM/debit card containing a different access
number. Be proactive as several major banks have abruptly cancelled
the debit cards of as many as 200,000 customers within the past 3

Finally, identity theft can actually show up months after the actual
theft takes place, so it's prudent for you to adopt a stringent policy of scrutiny. To make this easy for you, we urge you to
enroll in automatic account monitoring both at your bank, credit
card, & credit reporting levels.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

$1.5 Million Identity Theft Bust of Retired Policeman

this is an audio post - click to play

Priests, kids, and now a retired policeman as identity thieves.
The common element in all of these recent articles we've
published is the surprise and shock of the victims to these
identity theft crimes.

This latest one started with a California man being surprised
to learn he was served with foreclosure papers on a property
he never even knew he purchased. At least, the foreclosed
property was listed in his credit report, but the identity
thief who stole it was collecting the rent money each

That's not all, as police investigators found a total of (3)
homes in the identity theft victim's name totallying
more than $1.5 million in outstanding debt.

As reported, the identity thief was a retired policeman
who used his credit repair business to conduct this
particular crime against the California man. The identity
thief forged signatures of a real estate agent and escrow
officer as well as enlisted the the aid of a notary to
commit this identity theft and subsequent multi property

So, our tip for today is why settle for being surprised
by identity theft? Better still, avoid the magnitude of
a large identity theft purchase being committed against
you by adopting an automatic credit monitoring solution
which can alert you to highly unusual purchases -or-
irregular activity involving your credit and public

End note:

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Forward this article to a friend and tell them
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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Identity Theft Scam on Scam with Visa and Mastercard

this is an audio post - click to play

Here's a special alert to the millions of Visa or Mastercard account holders
who are targets of a "double scam" perpetrated
by identity thieves with a
creative flair.

This double scam starts with you receiving an unsolicited phone
call using a spin on the "pretexting" method of fraud.

The phone caller tells you they're a Visa or Mastercard employee
who's confirming unusual spending activity on your account.

The caller then requests your special code on the back of your
credit card. Note, the calling identity thief may sound very
confident and official by even disclosing how the supposedly
"fraudulent spending activity" appeared on your account.

For example, "...the charges we have seen with many account
holders are typically under $499 so as not to raise your
suspicions...."it's usually indicated as an anti-marketing
device or service...."

Our tip for today is to NOT provide your 3 or 4 digit security
code to unsolicited callers - ever!

Instead, immediately hang up and call Visa or Mastercard directly
as there's a strong chance the calling identity thief may already
possess your account number (see our recent article on how this
happened), but needs your security code to rapidly run up
fraudulent charges in your name.

To phone Visa and Mastercard's emergency customer service centers
please refer to these toll free numbers:

  • Visa - (800) 847-2911
  • Mastercard - (800) 622-7747

Friday, February 17, 2006

Identity Theft Suspected of Priest

this is an audio post - click to play

In support of National Consumer Protection Week we
continue our all podcasts focus for prevention tips for
you to reduce your potential to falling victim to identity
theft fraud.

Today's audio article we have an unusual
twist on identity theft that we have
never ever learned of before in all the
years we've been in operation.

A Wisconsin priest is accused by a
fellow priest co-worker of identity
theft leading to unauthorized
purchases of computer and exercise
equipment totallying to $3,600.

There was a time in this country when
you could at least trust your local

It seems, according to this story, that
time is long past and suggests anyone
now can become an identity thief -or-
id theft victim regardless of how they
may publicly appear.

As we've reported in another of our
recent articles involving a 17 year
old, the face of the typical identity
thief simply mirrors the general
population of America.

Why, because identity theft has become
such a pervasive crime effecting millions
of Americans in every state across all
economic and social groups.

Want to take back control from the
many institutions & people which may
not hold your best interests in mind
regarding your sensitive personal

Our tip for today is place your trust
in proactive monitoring to prevent
detect and limit the financial impact
of identity theft.

Remember - deny and limit identity theft
opportunities from happening to you!

End note:

Like what you've read today - please tell a
friend how they will too recieve Free tips,
resources, & reviews of the best available
ID Theft Secrets conveniently delivered to
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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Identity Theft using Latest Telemarketing Scam

this is an audio post - click to play

This is an scam alert for all consumers and especially
those residing in the states of Indiana, Michigan,
Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin.

In this recent scam the identity thief calls unsuspecting
victims while claiming to be from the “Nationwide Verification
Office” or "Security Security Administration".

The identity theft then tells the consumer his or her
banking account information has been "posted on the Internet"
and asks the victim to "verify a bank account number to keep
it from getting into the wrong hands".

It appears this scam involves identity thieves who specifically
target the elderly.

So, our tip for today is simply warn any elderly family members
or friends of this identity theft scam. Let them know any
legitimate financial institution would never request their
bank account number in this manner.

Instead, inform that relative to hang up on the calling identity
thief and immediately report the incident to police.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Identity Theft Turns to Child Porn Bust

this is an audio post - click to play

A New Mexico man gets unfairly labeled as a child
pornagrapher after he himself was the victim of
identity theft.

It seems an identity thief stole the man's name
and credit card number which were subsequently
used in the purchase of a website which posted
child porno.

The true victim, the New Mexico man, began noticing
strange charges on his debit card last March but
never reported them to police.

But he was surprised 3 weeks ago to learn a search
warrant being served to him by the Internet Crimes
Against Children unit while a local television
station conducted a "live" broadcast of the raid
on his home.

It gets worse, though, as this New Mexico man
is a humanities teacher - was put on administrative

Imagine the humiliation before his community, his
co-workers, his wife, and even his 6 year old son.

The good news to this story, however, is the investigation
uncovered the New Mexico man was actually the victim of
identity theft and was not the child pornagrapher.

He's now, according to the source, is back in school
resuming his teaching career of 8 years.

The only clue the New Mexico man could publicly shed on how he
may have contributed to becoming an identity theft victim was
if some retail sales clerk may have written his account
down when he passed his debit card over during a
purchase transaction.

Want to avoid becoming this type of double victim?

Our tip for today, is avoid using your ATM card as a credit card.
Secondly, since identity thieves don't always utilize your stolen
information immediately, having automatic credit monitoring with
exception alerts is highly recommended to catch suspicious
transactions when they occur.

Finally, check your criminal and public records profiles
for any instances where an identity thief has used your name.

Special endnote:

Please subscribe anonymously for twice weekly automatic free
tips delivered automatically to your web browser or our new

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Top Identity Theft State Says "No" to Jail Time

this is an audio post - click to play

Identity thieves catch a break from Arizona senators
rejection of a law enforcement backed bill requiring
mandatory jail time.

Is it any wonder why Arizona leads the nation in
identity theft, according to the Federal Trade
Commission (FTC)?

Our tip for today, is to arm yourself (and that special
Valentine) against identity theft by enrolling in a
quality prevention and remediation service.

As in the state of Arizona, our national Congress has
been slow to enact tough disclosure and/or enforcement
laws to effectively protect you from identity thieves.

It's up to each of us consumers to protect ourselves.

So, tell your friends and associates about us so they
may also get Free tips and resources to combat
identity theft.

Monday, February 13, 2006

14 Million Americans at Risk For Identity Theft

this is an audio post - click to play

Recent AP survey of only 11 states reveals millions
of motorists could be left highly vulnerable to
identity theft until 2011 if no action taken.

This is frightening to discover that so many
Americans have their social security number (SSN)
listed on their personal driver's license card.

To put the magnitude of that number in perspective,
9.9 million Americans had their personal information
exposed solely in 2005. So, to knowingly understand
there's a 50% increase (over 2005) in the potential
at risk population totallying 14 million Americans is

However, this situation goes from shocking
to outrageous when you consider the social security
number's ultimate value as the single most valueable
piece of personal information identity thieves can
acquire is unsurpassed.

Just think, every time a retail clerk asks to see
your driver's license to complete a check or credit
card transaction. Or, how about the times a job
applicant is required to have their driver's license
photo copied as a condition of employment.

The social security number along with your name,
address and date of birth are keys to opening
up new credit relationships. With this information
an identity thief can and will be able to quickly
max out new credit card accounts, buy automobiles,
run up a new wireless phone bill, & worse.

In some states, the personal liability is extremely
high. For example:

  • 719,658 in Colorado
  • 2,600,000 in Ohio

So, our tip for today is immediately get a replacement
driver's license which does not include your social
security number (ssn).

Friday, February 10, 2006

7 Unlucky Signs of Identity Theft

"People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years
and thousands of dollars cleaning up the mess the identity thieves
have made of their good name and credit record.” – F.T.C.

Here's 7 ways to detect if you're an are well on your way to
joining the 10 million other identity theft victims of last year and
what you can do to prevent these mistakes from happening

1) Failing to receive bills or other monthly financial
statements via USPS mail which means an identity thief
has changed your address.

2) Receiving credit cards or account statements that you
did not apply for.

3) A lender tries to repossess a car you didn't
even know you owned.

4) Being contacted by the police for a crime
committed in your name.

5) Getting denied for a loan for no apparent reason
when you thought your credit rating was excellent.

6) Receiving calls and letters from debt collectors or
businesses for merchandise or services you did not

7) Sudden, unexplained charges or withdrawals from
your financial accounts - especially credit cards.

What can you do to prevent these signs of identity
theft from happening to you?

One way is to frequently monitor your accounts on-line
since identity theft is commonly a crime committed
against unknowing consumers who are simply too busy with
the everyday pace of work and family life. Coupled with
the traditionally slow monthly financial statement mailing
cycle, an identity thief can wreck your credit and good name
faster than you can detect authorized activity.

That is....unless you utilize a non-manual review and
exception signaling process like the graphic below
illustrates for a bank or credit card provider.

identity theft prevention monitor

So, our tip for today is to enroll for automatic fraud monitoring
on all the balances of your financial accounts especially looking
for unexplained charges or withdrawals. Go further and
select the options to recieve weekly or even daily
"alerts" for when an identity thief's unauthorized
purchases "trigger" large out of pattern balance
changes which can be caught as depicted above.

Please remember, simple prevention steps can save you from the
overwhelming frustration and considerable expense of
attempting to reverse the damages of identity theft
after it has happened to you and your family members.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Providence Health Identity Theft of 365,000 Patients

this is an audio post - click to play

Special audio "alert" for patients and employees of Providence.

On New Years Eve, 2005, the confidential medical records of
365,000 current and former patients of Providence Home
Services, based in Portland, Oregon, were stolen from
an automobile containing computer backup disks and tapes.

Included in the patient information stolen, were:

  • Names
  • Addresses
  • Dates of birth
  • Health conditions
  • Drug Prescriptions

For 250,000 patients, the Social Security Number
were included and an unspecified number of individual
records even contained financial information.

Not just patients were affected by this theft of personal
identity information. 1,500 current and former employees
of Providence were also among the stolen records.

While it's still too soon to document how many actual cases
of identity theft have developed from the stolen information,
scam artists have already begun to attack using "pretexting".

Pretexting, works where a scam artist impersonates to be a
legitimate Providence employee by asking for the intended
victim's personal information such as social security number
or bank account so they can “verify” the stolen data.

So, our tip for today, is to avoid any pretext callers
and contact Providence directly for assistance.
Providence can be reached at 1-888-284-8997 or
on their website for more information and support options.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Boston Newspaper Exposes 215,000 Credit Card Identities to Theft

This story would be comical, if it were not actually true.

It involves the Boston Globe and Worcester Telecom-Gazette
which are both owned by the New York Times Corporation.

215,000 credit card numbers were printed on the back
paper used to wrap newspaper bundles distributed to
retailers in central Massachusetts.

Additionally, the bank routing information of as many as
1,100 subscribers who pay by check was also exposed.

The error, first discovered by a local store clerk,
occurred when the Telecom-Gazette printers used
recycled internal reporting slips to print the
packing slips attached to bundles of newspapers.

While the newspaper publisher has notified the major
credit card companies of this breach, a special
toll free number has been setup for customers to
call and verify if their information was exposed.

That number is 1-888-665-2644.

Our tip for today, is to reduce your exposure
potential by getting your newspaper delivered
on-line. Even better still, build your own
customized newspaper using RSS feeds
which automatically
update your browser
whenever new information is posted to
the source newspapers or websites.

This will serve the purpose of not having a
physical packing mistake like the Boston
newspapers expose your sensitive personal
information to identity theft "collectors"
who scour unprotected neighborhood

Finally, to protect yourself from the lack
of required public disclosure laws which
still exist in many states, enroll in an
automatic credit monitoring service to
serve as your personal "burglar alarm"
against suspicious or unauthorized credit
activity involving your name.

Article excerpted from Reuters.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Top Identity Theft Areas Fuel Need for Early Detection

Based on where you live in America can materially
increase the potential for identity theft and fraud.

A recent nation wide compilation of identity theft
reports indicate the top metropolitan areas are as
the following FTC reporting for 2005:

Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ

Las Vegas-Paradise, NV

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, FL

San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA

Houston-Baytown-Sugar Land, TX

San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA

San Antonio, TX

Denver-Aurora, CO

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA

Orlando, FL

Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, CA

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DV-VA-MD-WV

Charlotte-Gastonia-Santa Clara, CA

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL

Austin-Round Rock, TX

Additionally, while the overall percentage of identity theft
may have decreased (less than 1 percent 2004 - 2005) according
to a recent survey conducted by Javelin Research, the average
fraud amount has increased.

The good news for consumers is early detection of identity theft
results in smaller average fraud amounts ($4,431 vs. $8,466)
and smaller consumer costs ($347 vs. $538) to reverse the damages.

So, our tip for today is to adopt these key early prevention

Get enrolled in automatic payroll deposit to your
bank or credit union account as an alternative to recieving
paper checks.

Scrutinize your bank and credit card statements
twice per
month or even weekly through online
account access
that's typically available for free with
your financial institution.

Adopt an automatic credit or comprehensive account monitoring
solution which also provides exception "alerts" backed up
by dedicated help staff to support you with remediation.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Identity Theft Protection as Employee Benefit

this is an audio post - click to play

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

According to recent figures from other leading identity
theft experts, over 56 million Americans had their
personal information exposed in 2005 alone.

The FTC estimates that identity theft crimes totalled
$52 billion in fraud in 2004. That's almost $200 for
every man, woman, and child living within the United

Further, based on FTC figures, identity theft has been
the fastest growing crime in America the past 3 years.

And, the average lost wages associated with
identity theft has grown to $16,000 according to the

Victims remain vulnerable for the rest of their lives.
The ITRC reports that identity thieves are likely to
use stolen data months or years later the initial theft.

A recent research study by Michigan State University
found the majority (51%) of of all identity thefts
occur in the workplace, usually perpetrated by people
hired to perform everyday tasks such as data entry work.

While many businesses fear for the security of their
customer database, payroll records are more often what's
stolen, and with increasing frequency. Approx. 90 percent
of business record thefts involve payroll or employment
records; only about 10 percent involve customer lists,
according to the FTC.

On June 1, 2005, a new provision of the Fair Access to
Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) took effect. It states
that any employer whose action or inaction results in
the loss of employee information can be fined by federal
and state government, and sued in civil court. An employee
is entitled to recover actual damages sustained if their
identity is stolen due to the employer's inaction, or
statutory damages up to $1,000. Employees may also bring
class-action suits against employers for actual and punitive
damages. Plus, federal fines of up to $2,500 per
employee, and state fines of up to $1,000 per employee also
may be levied.

One solution against potential fines and lawsuits to the
employer is to offer identity theft protection as an
employee benefit
. Companies can choose whether or not to
pay for this benefit. But, it's generally percieved as
inexpensive so we see identity theft protection services
becoming more readily available as no cost employee

So, our tip for today is to check with your employer
benefit's cooordinator. See what new options have
been recently added to help protect you from identity
theft. Also, confirm what security safeguards the
the human resources department mandates for the
secure handling and access of your personal
information, particularly your sensitive identifiers
which an identity thief can use to quickly open up
new credit accounts in your name:

  • Social security number (SSN)
  • Date of birth (DOB)
  • Driver's license number (DMV)
  • Home/cell phone number
  • Home address

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

For the full transcript of this podcast and more
helpful 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."