Friday, March 24, 2006

Identity Theft from Stolen Fidelity Laptop Exposes 196,000 Workers

Identity-Theft-from-Stolen-Fidelity-Laptop-Exposes-196,000 -Workers-audio post - click to play

While our U.S. House of Representatives earlier
this month voted 48-17 for a bill which would
preempt California's tougher disclosure
requirements for companies that expose consumer
information to identity theft, Fidelity announced
it was the latest example of a serious data security
breach notification the California law protects.


"Critics of Congress...point out that the financial
services industries have lavished millions of dollars
of contributions on the very congressmen who are
supporting bids by those industries to curb
California's laws.

The commercial banking industry has given Republican
candidates $53 million since 2000, 64 percent of the
industry's total monetary political gifts in that period."

California law requires notification in all cases and is
not subject to the companies definition of whether the
security exposure will "reasonably lead to the
unauthorized
use of their confidential
information''.


The federal bill also allows consumers to place a freeze
on their credit reports after they've become a
victim
of ID theft, not before as the California law
provides.

So, in the case of the recent Fidelity Investments identity
exposure
, under the House bill headed for the Senate's
approval, you would likely never be disclosed that
your personal information was in the hands of unauthorized
individuals.

Are you willing to trust this type of confidential information
to just anyone who is able to illegally access it as in the
case with Fideltity Investments?:

  • Name
  • Social Security Number
  • Compensation details

We believe you, like most consumers, consider that information
to be extremely private and certainly worthy of full protection
as well as notification should it become available to persons
unknown without your consent.

Evidently Fidelity, due in part to the tough California law,
shares that believe and has sent letters to all of those
196,000 workers notifying them of this security breach even
though it's still too early to document any known cases of
identity theft attributable to the stolen laptop.

But, Fidelity, in their credit, has contacted the three major
credit reporting bureaus to advise them of the situation and
arranged for those affected to enroll in a free credit
monitoring service. The service includes credit monitoring,
a copy of their credit reports and notification of activity.

Fidelity, additionally, has gone further to protect their
affected clients from losses associated with this identity
theft.

“If we conclude an unauthorized transaction has taken place
in [an individual’s] Fidelity account as a result of this
incident, we will reimburse them for account losses
connected with the unauthorized transactions,” Crowley said.

While the pending legislation moves forward,known as the
"Financial Data Protection Act of 2005 (H.R. 3997)", which
many privacy advocates believe will strip the tougher
standard
embodied by the California law, more security
breaches exposing hard working Americans to identity
theft will continue to occur.

So, our tip for today is to not wait for identity theft to happen
to you. Take back control of your own personal data
by opting out from unncessary data sharing amongst financial
institutions and their marketing partners. Plus, protect
yourself
against the loose data security practices of companies
and other entities who's paramount concern is in increasing
bottom line profit seemingly at the expense of those consumers
their confidential data is entrusted with.

And, in the case of Fideltity Investment's identity theft
exposure, warn your friends about this important announcement
creating the need to proactively enroll in automatic account
monitoring -before- credit fraud is committed against you.

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