Thursday, May 18, 2006

Identity Thief Collects Tax Refund Before Victim Files

Identity-Thief-Collects-Tax-Refund-Before-Victim-Files audio post - click to play

How could a Florida couple be denied their tax refund?

Well, when an identity thief beat them to filing a tax
return - even before the state of Florida mailed out the
couple's required annual earnings statement.


The couple was informed their taxes had already
been filed
, much to their surprise when they
themselves attempted to submit their completed
1040 tax return.

It seems, according to the lawsuit filed by the couple,
the identity thief had access to the couple's
"personal financial data and withholding
information
available only within the People
First system."


Furthermore on Convergys, "a state inspector general also
found that Convergys employees were able to copy,
e-mail, download and view personnel records
without leaving a paper trail in the People First system."

Plus, "a former Convergys employee in Jacksonville
last year pleaded guilty to identity theft charges
and got four years in prison. Although Convergys
assured the state it was doing background checks
on employees, it missed Lester's earlier
conviction for auto theft"

Finally, the suit also cited a case filed by
two former employees of GDXdata, a Denver
subcontractor of Convergys, who said their
employer sent Florida employee data
to be
processed in India, Barbados
and possibly
China. The DMS has
confirmed the India "off-shoring" but
said there have been no known cases
of identity theft resulting from it.

While the lawsuit may ultimately get
tossed out of court, it brings to light a
very important lesson which unfortunately
we've seen alarmingly far too often.

That lesson here is you can not afford to be at
the mercy of for profit organizations to protect
(or not protect) your most confidential personal
information from abuse or theft.


So, our tip for today is to take charge and get
some measure of control over your own sensitive
credit and personal information. Aggressively
question the information security practices
of organizations you know hold your social security
number and credit information. Deny potential
identity thieves from accessing your confidential
data by questioning when a form is presented
to you
requesting your social security
number - is it
really necessary to supply
that personal data?


Or can that organization utilize an alternate
identification (many do upon request).

And for your convenience, check this website
for any past security breaches or incidents
of "lost" consumer data we've exposed to raise
your awareness of organizations you may consider
too risky for you to conduct business with
due
to lax data security practices.

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