Identity Theft Risk for 2.6 Million Circuit City Credit Card Holders
A unit of JP Morgan Chase & company has lost
millions of consumers data again - 2.6 million to
In this latest self inflicted wound, the Circuit City
branded credit card holder's personal information
was mistakenly discarded as trash and is believed
to be buried in a landfill.
A Chase, the 2nd largest card issuer in America
with over 91 million accounts, company spokesman
blamed the problem on “human error and said
the bank wished to apologize to its customers."
Excuse me, but this latest incident is not some measly
excusable offense. Chase Bank had a computer stolen
from their Dallas office in Nov. 2005 which contained
the personal and financial information of their clients.
Also, last year when Mastercard International let
hackers expose nearly 40 million consumers account
information to identity theft, Chase officials elected
to not even inform those customers they knew
had been the victims of the data breach.
And now, in 2006, over 2,500,000 million people's
most sensitive financial information has been quite
literally tossed into the trash like it's totally worthless.
Tell that to all those potential identity theft credit
fraud victims or identity thieves who are quite
willing to pay as much as $200 for a credit
profile containing a complete set of the
following confidential information:
- Phone numbers
- Account numbers
- Social security numbers (ssn)
For the lucky identity theft ring, the opportunity to recover
even a small percentage of those 2.6 million account holders
information is a veritable gold mine.
Identity thieves typically use stolen personal information to
either run up charges on existing credit accounts or open up
completely new charge accounts. In both instances, the identity
thieves have favored taking advantage of greedy retailers
who push "instant credit" as an incentive to immediately purchase
lots of expensive consumer electronics such as HDTV, laptops, &
cell phones which can quickly be sold for cash on the street.
Let's say even a miniscule percentage of those 2.6 million
Circuit City account holder's information can be recovered by
identity theft "collectors". Assuming only 10,000 names
also combined with social security numbers could
be recovered from this latest Chase security breach -
what would the damage estimate be?
It would easily translate into a potentially $21,000,000 opportunity
for identity thieves and a huge bad debt write off for the merchants
and consumers to settle the damages from the fraudulent purchases.
($2,100 average loss to consumers for established accounts - FTC, 2003)
This latest consumer data security lapse by Chase just points
what many believe is the real reason behind identity theft data
exposures continuing to grow out of control with seemingly no
end in sight. These big companies like Chase evidently
don't see enough enough money to be made from
securing sensitive customer information like it was
their very own.
Further, there's not enough money to be lost in privacy
breaches for those same company executives to care about.
Thanks to organizations like Chase & others, since 2005, the
number of Americans who've needlessly had their personal
information exposed to identity theft is now over 93 million.
With the very real prospects that number will climb over 100
million by Christmas just points out the now widely
held suspicion that many companies are woefully
inept at protecting consumer privacy.
Here's what you can do today to fight back.
Our tip for today is for all of those 2.6 million Chase card holders of
the Circuit City brand. Contact Chase for more information on how
to qualify for your "free" credit monitoring.
Also, contact any of the three major credit bureaus
(Experian, Equifax, & TransUnion) to place your "free" fraud alert
on your credit report as an added prevention step against would be
identity thieves ruining your good credit.
The toll free number to contact Chase is 877-284-7840.
Finally, make sure to tell a friend or family about this Chase data
security breach - especially if there are or were Circuit City card
holders - so they too may avoid the pain and agony of