Monday, October 30, 2006

Identity Theft Suspected Powered by Limewire

Identity Theft Suspected Powered by Limewire audio post - click to play

As a follow up to a highly popular article
we posted in March, the Limewire file sharing
software is suspected again with a massive
identity theft case this time in Denver, CO.

It seems, 75 individuals and businesses
across America have their highly confidential
financial information exposed to three suspected
identity thieves who operated computers in an
Denver apartment.

Amongst the information retrieved by police

  • Tax Records
  • Bank Account Data
  • Online Bill Paying Records

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) millions
of computer users share files online every day using
file sharing software such as the popular Limewire.

"The potential harm to people is huge."

This is why, we suspect, the potential for a massive
identity theft exposure could occur from this Denver
incident as unsuspecting normal user safeguards
may have
been breached.

Once breached, beyond just music and pictures, any
files on the unsuspecting user's computers
be illegally accessed by hackers.

As in the case in Denver, the district attorney's
office issued a warning this past Friday they
believe the Limewire file sharing program had
been exploited to enable someone to illegally
access every file and document on computers
all across America.

So, our tip for today is to simply check if
your children may have installed any file
software such as Limewire on
your computer
. Also, even if you do not find
Limewire installed on your personal computer,
it's a prudent step to make sure your hard drive
or main document folders are not listed as
- especially if you utilize a persistent
internet connection such as DSL.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

SSN Identity Hack of 1.3 Million Chicago Voters

SSN-Identity-Hack-of-1.3-Million-Chicago-Voters-audio post - click to play

"Vote early and often" has been a Chicago
humorous poke at
the city's past reputation
for rigged elections. With the
recent admission,
by a civic organization, of their recently
penetration of the entire voter database, no one

in Chicago is laughing now.

It seems, 1.3 million Chicagoan's voter records have been
compromised by the unauthorized access from the Illinois
Ballet Integrity Project which describes itself as a
not for profit civic organization dedicated to the
correction of election system deficiences.

What planet are these folks operating from?

Aren't they aware that accessing a database of
a government, although a city, is tantamount to
breaking and entering which is usually a crime?

But, when the database which was illegally accessed
includes the highly sensitive information of consumers
this self described "civic" organization has most
minimally crossed an ethical line by committing a
public disservice. Most likely, though, they've
committed an serious error which is tantamount
to identity theft.

Here's why.

The sensitive information contained within the
Chicago registered voter database included:

  • Social Security Numbers (ssn)
  • Date of Birth (dob)

While this civic group claims they only accessed
the database to prove their point, who's to believe
those 1,3000,000 social security numbers have not
been compromised.

Would you bet your financial future and
well being on it?

So, our tip for today is for all of those 1.3
million registered voters in Chicago to seek
protection. Get yourself enrolled in any
quality credit monitoring service to
prevent the abuse of identity theft & credit fraud.

Also, make sure to tell a friend or an associate
you know who's a registered voter in Chicago about
this important new development.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Identity Thieves Steal Man's House

From the strange but true category of identity
theft, an 89 year old Canadian man's entire
home was stolen in what authorities recognized
as a legal real estate transaction.

Identity-Thieves-Steal-Man's-House-audio post - click to play

What makes this particular identity theft even
more outrageous is the man is facing the loss
of his home forever, even though it was sold
fraudulently to an non-existant relative as
part of the scam.

Identity-Thieves Steal-Man's-House by Id-Theft-Secrets

It seems the thieves assumed the 89 year old
man's identity, even presenting a fake driver's
license during the power of attorney paper work
signing over of his property to a fictious person.

"To find it's been stolen right out
from under them is totally devastating."

The identity theft victim can't even legally
enter his (formerly) home because that act
would be considered trespassing requiring
consent from the new owners.

"You really have to do due diligence
these days."

So, our tip for today is to prevent this
type of particular identity theft from
happening to you. Twice per year make
sure to run a complete check of your
public information profile (pip) to
scan the more than 400 databases
for the hidden evidence this type of
identity theft has not already been
committed against you.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Medical Identity Theft Threats Life and Liberty

Medical-Identity-Theft-Threatens-Life-and-Liberty audio post - click to play

A Florida medical identity theft victim almost
became another
more serious type of victim. It
seems her blood type had been
changed within
her medical files. An imposter had caused
entries into her file, like the incorrect blood type,

which could have resulted in her death as a result
of the
medical indentity thief.

Or, in Boston where an area psychiatrist made false entries
in charts of individuals who were not his patients so that
he could submit false bills in their names to insurance

The innocent victims of this medical identity theft learned,
as one innocent man did, only after applying for employment
that his medical record had been falsified to include
numerous false pschiatric sessions that did not ever happen
and a diagnosis for severe depression.

And, in Pennsylvania a man discovered a medical identity thief
had used is identity at (5) different hospitals to receive more
than $100,000 worth of medical treatment. Besides the
financial burden, the Pennsylvania man now is faced with the
prospects of unraveling the five separate medical histories all
created under his name by the medical identity thief.

Unlike financial identity theft, the medical variety does not
always provide a clear path for you (the consumer) to get an
idea your personal information has been abused nor an easily
identifiable path to recovery.

So, our tip for today is to understand you do have some limited
but empowering rights. Under HIPAA, the Health Insurance
Portability and Accountability Act, you:

Right to access, inspect, and copy your health information

Right to request correction or amend your health information

Right to request accounting of disclosures of health information
(who has received it?)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Identity Theft All Stars Stopped by Special Task Force

Identity-Theft-All-Stars-Stopped-by-Special-Task-Force-audio post - click to play

In an age of rampant identity theft, we often learn
of many criminals who successfully beat the system.

However, a California task force has successfully
halted the operations of several highly productive
identity theft rings responsible for millions of
dollars in losses.

The task force, comprised of inter governmental agencies,
was formed to stem the tide of the most serious identity
theft cases. Cases which, over the past few years, have
evolved from simple identity theft to large scale
identity-theft rings where bank employees, civil servants
and mortgage brokers – people who are instilled with
trust – victimize their customers.

For you to to gain an insider's view behind how serious
identity theft rings operate and threaten your financial
safety, here's a few excerpts from many successful
operations recently busted by the crime task force:

Operation Paper or Plastic

Operation Paper or Plastic focused
on members of a widespread identity theft ring who
purchased tax refund checks and credit cards
had been stolen from the mail. The identity
theft ring, which allegedly was run by a Las Vegas,
Nevada man manufactured counterfeit identification
, which allowed members of the ring to cash the
tax refund checks and to use the stolen
credit cards
for merchandise and cash advances at

Operation Paper or Plastic resulted in 20 defendants
for allegedly causing more than $1 million in losses
over four years.

Operation French Fry

In this case, waiters at over 100 areas restaurants
are charged with "skimming" – or collecting encoded
information – from customers' Washington Mutual
and Wells Fargo Bank ATM cards. Other defendants
are charged with restriping their own ATM cards
with the stolen information and obtaining new PIN
numbers that allowed them to access the bank

More than 150 accounts were compromised by the ring,
which caused losses of more than $1 million.

Undisclosed Operation Name

A Huntington Beach man who advertised within the
Street Journal pretending to be a would be
attempting to locate businesses for sale used
information fraudulently gained from the businesses, as
well as personal information belonging to the owners, to
defraud banks and other lenders.

This identity thief would then open up fake business
, secure lines of credit under the business names,
and then illegally obtain merchandise and cash.

All told, this identity thief was responsible for more than
$1.5 million in losses.

Undisclosed Operation Name

This identity thief opened more than 70 credit
accounts, mostly under false names, and then used
the credit cards to take cash advances and transfer
funds among other credit cards and bank accounts.
This Santa Ana identity thief specialized in the
use of stolen Social Security numbers (ssn)
defraud lenders.

As a result this identity thief is facing up to 35
years in prison for his role in generating over
$700,000 in credit card losses.

Serious criminals, serious losses for consumers and
financial lenders. And in these few cases, out of
the thousands which take place across America each
month, a few well organized identity thieves have
been removed from threatening consumer safety.

But, you can be assured for every identity thief
stopped by the crime force there are countless
others still out there operating quietly and
effectively in destroying innocent American's
financial futures. Even more daunting are
the internationally based identity theft rings
which combine the use of locally based criminals
with a world wide internet reach to trade your
stolen information on fraud exchange web sites,
seemingly beyond the grasp of local or
law enforcement.

So, our tip for today is to help crime fighters
stop these sophisticated identity theft rings
from victimizing you. Get active credit and
bank monitoring so you will instantly know
when suspicious activity takes place in your

Special endnote:

One of our editors recieved (4) alerts to her
wireless phone within the past week as part of
a personal test to gauge the effectiveness of
her credit monitoring service.

It was no cause for alarm, however, as her
test coincided with her opening up a new
credit card account and then immediately
transferring the balance from an older
account she planned to close down.

Her test was designed to emulate the type
of common identity theft activity used today.

The three alerts she was automatically notified
about as planned were:

  • A credit file inquiry made by the new card company
  • A new credit card account opened in her name
  • A balance increase of $1,141 which triggered
  • A balance increase alert of 323%

The test was successful and just illustrates
had an identity thief, like the ones from
the crime rings above been stealing from
her, she would have instantly been notified
via text messages on her cell phone while
at work.

She would then have ample time to contact
her credit card or bank companies to file
a fraud alert and avoid the charge losses.

Identity theft prevention can work for you.

Final note, excerpts of today's post were provided
courtesy of the U.S. Attorney's office.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

5 Year Old with Bad Debt from Father's Identity Theft

5-Year-Old-with-Bad-Debt-from-Father's-Identity-Theft-audio post - click to play

Can you imagine how it must be for a kindergarten aged kid to be
in debt with collections agents harassing him for his milk money
just because his not so dear old dad stole his identity?

Well, a California dad was arrested recently after police found identity
theft associated items at the man's home which also revealed drugs.

Proving again the strong causal connection between identity
theft and meth
addiction, the father was booked for identity
theft and possession of a controlled substance.

Evidently, the drugs were a more powerful motivating force in his
life than any decency to not impact his young son's financial future
by committing identity theft against him before he was 5 year's old.

So, our tip for today is to be on guard against identity theft attempts
against your children by unsavory relatives. Investigate your options,
such as Lifelock, which offers limited identity theft protection for
kids under the age of 16 (provided an adult family member is already
a paid member).

Lifelock is one of the only services we know of which specifically
will provide identity theft prevention services for under age minors.

Special End Note:

Not many people know about how to prevent their children's
identity theft. Tell a friend about this podcast or article.
It's anonymous, free, and safe for you to share our tips.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

HP Identity Theft Scandal Reveals Spyware and Imposter Tactics

As follow up to our recent HP article, we've learned even
more disturbing and deceptive business practices were
used or considered by senior officials in the HP identity
theft scandal still publicly unfolding in the wake of
several governmental investigations underway.

HP-Identity-Theft-Scandal-Reveals-Spyware-and-Imposter-Tactics audio post - click to play

One of the more disturbing tactics, especially alarming for
a technology company, was the actual consideration of sending
spyware embedded email. It seems, there was a plan to utilize
spyware within an email that would've been sent to
Cnet &
Wall Stree Journal reporters in the hopes HP's
investigators would learn the source of the boardroom leak.

"Fight spyware threats

HP has identified specific threats which may affect
your computer. The information provided will assist
you with removing and reducing these threats.

HP partners with Symantec to provide Norton Internet
Security 2006 for the detection and removal of Adware
and Spyware from your computer."

Even more bizarre, was the consideration of another plan which
would have involved the "planting" of operatives posing as
or cleaning staff within the Wall Street Journal & Cnet
offices to gather or collect any evidence of the HP boardroom
leak source.

Harkening back to the last days of President Nixon's regime
and the Watergate scandal which lead to his demise, we again
see similar motives, tactics, spin, & denials emerging
this HP identity theft exposure.

Let's identify each of them separately:

Motives: Power, Arrogance, & Control within the Boardroom

Tactics: Privacy invasion, Deceptive & Illegal Investigation Methods

Spin: Blame underlings (remember Enron) & Ignorance of illegalities

Denials: Claim Innocence in the face of obvious facts

All of these ingredients, while adding up to evidence of un-checked
boardroom ethics, point out an even more obvious truth which will
unfold as investigations move forward from the California
Attorney General, the FBI,
Congress and even the Securities
and Exchange Commission

That is, consumer privacy was certainly invaded and according to
the California Attorney General several felony crimes were too:

  • Identity Theft
  • Fraudulent Wire communications
  • Wrongful use of computer data &
  • Conspiracy to Commit These Crimes

The defendants are accused of false and fraudulent
pretenses to
obtain confidential information
from a phone company, including billing records, belonging
to 12 people. If convicted, the five could each face as
much as 12 years in state prison
and $65,000 in fines.

Continuing with her stance, as an corporate identity thief, the
former HP chairperson (Dunn) is now actively practicing the
"spin" phase of this scandal as she will claim on this Sunday's
60 Minutes interview:

"Dunn says she is innocent of the charges.."

"Every company has investigations. Investigations,
by their nature, are intrusive."

There you have it folks. An admission by an accused corporate
identity thief which suggests just because everyone is
doing it
that it (the act of identity theft) is somehow

We are quoting the admissions, not of some common street criminal
stealing medical records from a dumpster nor a mid level manager
conveniently "losing" a laptop containing the employee records
from a small business.

We are talking about Hewlett Packard (HP), a titan in the American
computer industry worth billions of dollars annually in sales.

And yet, it seems the corporate boardroom brand of identity theft
is seemingly no different than any other common criminal story
exposed this year.

"One of the senior HP officials charged even provided
the social security number of an employee to a 3rd
party investigator as part of this witch hunt to find
the board room leak."

The personal privacy and confidential information of innocent
Americans were violated.

Want to protect yourself against out of control identity
thieves who
will simply will not stop in their quest to
abuse your personal

Our tip for today is to stop those who would use phone
pretexting methods to fraudulently gain access to
cell phone records.

Call your wireless phone company and demand they institute a
secondary password only you would know for your account
access. Also, make sure to request your name and personal
information is made "opt out" to prevent it from being
shared with 3rd parties without your knowledge
or consent.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Manager Commits SSN Identity Theft Against His Own 200,000 Patients

Manager-Commits-SSN-Identity-Theft-Against-His-Own-200000-Patients audio post - click to play

According to a November 2005 survey, 67 percent of
Americans are concerned about the privacy of their
personal health information and are mostly unaware
of their rights.

With good reason, take for example a former manager of
a California medical group who was arrested earlier this
year after stealing a DVD containing confidential data of
200,000 patients.

That identity thief was not some common street criminal
doing dumpster diving, but rather a trusted branch
for a medical services company servicing
hundreds of doctors

As part of the patient data on the stolen DVD, later recovered
by the FBI, it included:

  • Patient Names
  • Addresses
  • Phone Numbers
  • Dates of Birth
  • Social Security Numbers (ssn)
  • Medical Diagnoses
  • Medical Procedures performed
However, as in court documents obtained, we learned this
"inside man" was later revealed to have been associated
with a number of other thefts revealing a pattern of larceny
we've concluded medical data is a prime target for

This manager of the California medical services company, for
example, was also implicated in 6 other burgularies
involving 3 different locations of his employer.

This "inside man" was implicated, according to the court documents,
as all of the burgularies involved someone with company
knowledge such as:

  • Where within locked offices was a computer database containing credit card and payment authorization information for donors?
  • Which desk contained keys needed to unlock the cabinet containing computer disks?
  • How was the alarm system deactivated during 2 of the thefts?

This identity thief, working as the "inside man", was eventually
caught and much of the stolen equipment and data was recovered.

But, there's no limit to the amount of damage which could have
been done had it been proven this identity thief uploaded all
of that patient data to the various online forums he
hawked his stolen goods with.

Other medical identity thieves, who evidently were never caught,
have had an even larger impact. For example, how about the 1.4
million California's recieving in-home care whose social security
numbers and dates of birth (dob) were exposed when a Cal-Berkeley
researcher's computer was accessed by a hacker.

Or, how about the 145,000 UCLA blood donor's whose names,
dates of birth, and social security numbers (ssn) were on
a laptop stolen.

As in all of these cases and many more, their common repeating
theme is one of targeted identity theft by reckless criminals
operating from "insider's" knowledge or even access to highly
confidential medical and identity information.

So, our tip for today is to arm yourself against the organizations
which may still have more careful medical identity thieves quietly
stealing your data and selling it to the highest bidder.

You have the right to protect your personal information.

Get yourself enrolled in quality credit monitoring. Make sure
you check out your medical information profile and
request your personal information from medical providers so
that you have a personal backup file just in case it's ever stolen
by an identity thief and you need to prove the accuracy of your

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Identity Thief Gets Retired Teacher Billed for His Foot Amputation

Imagine getting slapped with an unexpected and huge
hospital bill for a surgery you didn't even have.
But, when you walk into the hospital to show them
your foot is indeed intact and request to see your
medical file, both requests are abruptly denied.

While this may appear to be strange and untrue, in
fact due to the rising rate of medical identity theft
and federal privacy laws, this type of sudden, unexpected
identity theft can actually happen to you.

Identity-Thief-Gets-Retired-Teacher-Billed-for-His-Foot Amputation audio post - click to play

Just ask the 56 year old retired schoolteacher this
really did happen to recently.

To make matters worse, a case of medical identity theft
can not only bring financial ruin, but it may also become
life threatening in the not too distant future.

That retired school teacher found that out the hard way
when she suffered a heart attack. When she woke up two
days later finding herself in the hospital, she was asked
by the attendant nurse what drugs she was taking for her

The only problem was - the retired school teacher is NOT

That minor error in her medical file, no doubt related to
her previous encounter with identity theft, could very
well have turned fatal for the retired school teacher.

But, wait there's even more complications with this scenario.

You see, federal privacy laws such as HIPAA were enacted
to protect consumers from unauthorized access to their
confidential medical records by other parties.

When, an identity thief victim reveals to a doctor or
medical office their records are intermingled with
someone else, that other person's privacy is
protected even though they are the
criminal who
created the situation.

"Its not the same as a credit report disclosure"

What makes matters worse, most consumers never even
find out a medical identity theft incident has been
perpetrated against them unless an insurance company
or medical provider makes contact for an overdue payment.

So, our tip for today is to be on the guard for medical
identity theft as it's one of the fastest growing segments
in a crime of choice for the modern American criminal.

Get a copy of your medical information profile and
scrutinize the details for any discrepancies, errors
or outright trails of an identity thief using your
good name.

Besides it saving your from unfairly getting a large
overdue bill, checking your medical insurance records
might just save your life from future prescription errors.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Death of Privacy from Medical Identity Theft

Imagine photocopies of checks, social security numbers,
dates of birth, & many other types of highly confidential
personal data for up to tens of thousands of former
students were not stolen by identity thieves but were
simply thrown into the trash without any shredding.

The-Death-of-Privacy-from-Medical-Identity-Theft audio post - click to play

Well, instead of imagination, this actually happened in 2003
involving the University of Minnesota. The documents, though,
covered consumer data from the 1970s to the mid 1990s.

It seems, the university's Department of Healthcare Management's
independent study program office, known as the Excutive Healthcare
Study program, was the offending agent in this very serious breach
of personal data security.

"That could cause thousands of identity thefts."

The documents, estimated to be as many as 300 boxes worth, sat in
an open trash bin before being subsequently dumped in a public
landfill where anyone could just pick up this type of sensitive
consumer data:

  • Social Security numbers (ssn)
  • Dates of Birth
  • Checking account numbers
  • Legal signatures on checks and applications
  • Home addresses
  • Telephone numbers
  • Patient Medical histories
  • Student grades including ssn

medical identity theft

But why would someone simply throw into an open trash
bin sensitive consumer data most associated today with
rampant identity theft and credit fraud?

Expediancy is the answer then as it is now.

You see, businesses do not like for their employees to waste time
on non revenue producing tasks. With the pace of business today
and it's resulting premium placed on profit at any costs, you will
find a "take any action - even it's the wrong action" mentality
which is common in most companies. As an example, remember
Enron as one of the more aggregious offenders of expediancy
and out of control profit seeking we've seen in recent years.

Within this type of business climate, is it any wonder that
some old, moldy boxes of records no one really cared about
could easily be disposed of in an open trash bi

Here's three big reasons why someone at the University of
Minnesota or any other current day would be offender will
want to care about how they dispose of sensitive consumer
financial and medical data:

  1. GLB
  2. FACTA
  3. HIPAA

These three acronymns are federal laws which were
enacted specifically
to protect the privacy of
consumer data
after past incidents of abuse became
so widespread that our U.S. Congress was forced to pass
new legislation to stop those business practices deemed
to be outright harmful to Americans.

But, you will find as we expose throughout this month,
organizations continue to commit acts of improper
records disposal - especially medical data because
there has been very little real enforcement of
those laws with active monitoring.

So, our tip for today is to demand your rights under federal
law to have organizations which maintain your documents
containing your social security number (ssn) and medical
information to shred or burn them before disposal.

For any organization to fail to do so is subject to
fines, penalties,
and even lawsuits.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Medical Identity Theft Causes Man to face Home Foreclosure

Medical-Identity-Theft-Causes-Man-to-face-Home-Foreclosure audio post - click to play

In a bizarre twist of fate, an identity theft victim's
cards have been cancelled and his home is
facing foreclosure all
because a criminal used the
victim's stolen identity to have
colon surgery.

To make matters worst for the victim, a Colorado man, wasn't
even allowed to review the hospital file on him due to
federal privacy laws.

Evidently, it all begin when the victim was duped into providing
his social security number (ssn) and date of birth to verify a check
payment for his advertisement order with a trade magazine.

It appears the ad salesman who requested his SSN was actually
career criminal out on parole who got the $44,000 colon
charged to his identity theft victim's social
security number.

Months later, however, the identity thief died, after getting
his colon surgery.

But, his criminal fraud damage done to the identity theft victim
lives on.

It took the victim a full year to convince the hospital he
truly did not have colon surgery so the outstanding $44,000 bill
in his name could be waived.

"...I offered to take off my shirt to show them I
had no scars whatsoever, to prove surgery wasn’t
done on me.."

The id theft victim, also a small businessman, was forced to
take out a high interest loan for his company due to the
negative payment information on his credit report resulting
from his identity theft.

Plus, like the other 250,000 people annually who are
identity theft victims, they run the added risk
of the following mishaps due to the imposter's medical history
being confused with their own:

  • Incorrect medical treatment
  • Wrong prescriptions leading to dangerous drug interactions
  • Denial of needed surgery due to previous conditions
  • Inability to purchase disability or life insurance

Besides the financial ruin, like the Colorado identity theft victim,
you could also face years of hassle -or- outright life threatening
lack of service from the medical industry all because of the criminal
activity of an identity thief.

So, our tip(s) for today to prevent medical identity theft from
happening to you or an elderly loved one are:

  • Get copies of everything in your medical file
  • Request the disclosure of who's accessed your records
  • Look for any treatments you did not personally recieve
  • Get a list of all payments made using your medical insurance
  • Monitor your credit report for signs of un-paid medical debts

Finally, make sure you ask your doctor's office how they secure your
medical information file containing your social security number
according to the provisions of the federal HIPAA & FACTA laws.

Special end note:

Bookmark this site or subcribe to our spam free automatic updates
as we will expose in our next episode the criminal misdeeds of
an organization which simply threw medical records in the trash
without shredding them first.

You will discover the shocking truth why this is not the first nor
last time
this shameful practice takes place.

Make sure you tell a friend.