Friday, March 03, 2006

1.3 Million Personal Identities Exposed by Ohio Officials

this is an audio post - click to play

Identity thieves had worldwide internet access to the
following routinely posted personal information of
over 1 million Ohio residents
:
  • Tax documents
  • Medical records
  • Land disputes
  • Tax liens
  • Civil lawsuit
  • Traffic tickets
  • Bank account balances
  • Bank account numbers
Federal authorities had uncovered a 8 person identity theft
ring which had operated across five states including Ohio
by accessing a local county court house website in Cincinnati.

Here's the irony --- the local government officials believed
they were complying with Ohio's Open Records Act by routinely
posting confidential information on their website ----
including over:
  • 450,000 documents containing social security numbers (ssn)
  • 320,000 traffic tickets (name, addr, & dmv number)
  • 600,000 domestic-relations filings (names & addresses)
The identity theft ring used the stolen identities to scam
banks and retail department stores with phony credit cards and
faked checks in:
  1. Ohio
  2. Kentucky
  3. Michigan
  4. Indiana
  5. Georgia
  6. Tennessee
According to the Secret Service agent that was part of the
investigative team which cracked the identity theft ring, the
thieves looked for addresses, names and Social Security
numbers
(ssn) from middle-class and upper-middle-class areas.

The thieves could get everything they needed from the
court house
website for identity theft & fraud:
  • Date of birth,
  • Physical description
  • Social security number (ssn)
This exposure is not directly related this week's furor over Ohio
Secretary of State Ken Blackwell whose office appears to also have
placed thousands of Social Security numbers (ssn) on its
Web site.

But here's the similarity: Blackwell's records are also public
documents compiled in the routine course of business which are
made readily available to any consumer, business, or identity
theft ring still operating.

Combine these willful security breaches with the issue of
2,600,000
registered drivers in Ohio carry licenses
containing their social
security number along with
their full name and address
--- identity theft criminals
apparently hold a sizeable advantage over consumers.

That is, unless you fight back against the identity thieves and
careless public officials by considering these simple steps as
our tip for today (especially if you live in Ohio):

Contact your local representative to demand your personal information
be removed or redacted from public documents before posting to the
internet or even general public access.

Scrutinize your most current credit report for any obvious signs
of identity theft or linked inaccurate information harmful to your
credit rating costing you higher interest rates & potential job
loss.

Adopt an automatic monitoring service for all of your banking,
credit card, & credit bureau data to catch early indications of
identity theft being committed against you and your loved ones.

Conduct a public records (liens, DMV, criminal,& property) search
for any court ordered judgements against your name.

Finally, verify your medical information profile does not contain
an "unknown evil twin" falsely filing claims which will increase
your premium cost higher.

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