Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Hawaii Says Aloha to Identity Theft

Hawaii-Says-Aloha-to-Identity-Theft-audio post - click to play

While veterans across America continue to worry
from the massive 26.5 million personal identities
exposed last week by the V.A., the state of Hawaii
makes significant progress in the fight against
identity theft fraud.

Aloha, in Hawaii, can mean both hello or goodbye
depending on the context of how it's used.

In the case of Hawaii residents it's a welcome
hello, but for identity thieves it may very well
mean "goodbye" as the Governor signs into law
several bills designed to protect sensitive consumer

1) Credit Freeze rights are now available to Hawaii
residents to "lock" their credit report so identity
thieves can not gain unauthorized access to a
victim's credit needed to open up a new loan or
charge card.

2) Security Breach Notification will require that
individuals whose personal information has been
compromised by an unauthorized security breach
be notified of the exposure.

3) Disposal of Personal Information protects
against unauthorized access or use of the information
after it is disposed of and ensures that confidential
information when no longer needed is destroyed.

4) Social Security Number Protection will
minimize the abuses associated with the use of a
Social Security number by restricting its use as an
primary identifier. The proposal would prohibit
in certain circumstances: (a) the communication
of Social Security Numbers (SSN) to the general
public; (b) the printing of SSNs on an
identification card or in mailings to customers
or (c) the transmission of their customers'
SSNs to third parties without the customers'
written consent.

5) Confidential Personal Information makes
the act of possessing confidential personal information
without proper authorization a criminal offense,
As well as calls for harsher criminal penalties
for repeat offenders.

So, our tip for today is to take advantage of the
new rights available to you as a resident of the
state of Hawaii. Especially important is the
"freeze" law which allows you to
control access to
your credit report. With
the "freeze" credit bureaus can no longer merely
provide "instant" credit access to any lender
(including retail stores) preferred by identity
thieves for their ability to rapidly open
up new accounts or charge cards in your

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Identity Theft Made Easy

Identity-Theft-Made-Easy-audio post - click to play

Warning this is satire and
not an endorsement

for identity thieves.

Why stick up banks, sell drugs, or
commit other crimes sure to
land you behind bars for lengthy
prison sentences; instead try
identity theft.

Here's why.

There exists a virtually limitless
supply of potential victims - in
the U.S. alone there has been over
80 million Americans who's data
has either been outright stolen,
lost, or breached by unauthorized
individuals in the past year and
a half covering 130 separate
incidents. And that's only the
ones that have been disclosed.

Don't worry about getting caught
or going to jail either. It seems
in most cases by the time the
victim figures out they've been
stung by identity theft, there
won't be anyone to around to arrest.

Plus, even with the rare chance
you happen to get caught by police,
who are simply too overwhelmed with
with investigating drug peddlers and
violent gang members and murderers
to have the time for identity theft,
you most likely recieve a minimal
amount of jail time (if not probation).

Rob a 7-11 store with a gun and only
get away with $50, you'll do 10 years
minimum in many states. Steal someone's
identity and commit credit fraud to
the amount of $2,500 or more and maybe
you may recieve a maximum of 2 years.

Do the math, your risk is lower and
the profit is much higher being an
identity thief than certainly a drug

Now that you see the easy money potential
to identity theft, here's how you can
easily commit this crime.

First, you get a job for some large company
or even a medical office. Any lower level
job will do, preferably a clerk in billing
or human resources - you know the kind of
jobs which promise long hours of menial
tasks - for a minimum wage.

But, then there is the upside to what on
the surface may seem like a dead end job
for a large company - which will most likely
lay you off the first opportunity arises
to replace you with a cheaper hire or with
another wonder computer. You see the real
upside potential for you lies in all that
personal data you have access to.

The kind of personal data that's highly
confidential such as social security numbers
(ssn), date of birth, full legal name, &
mother's maiden name. You know, all the
kind of highly sought after personal data
that your friend of a friend will gladly
pay you up to anywhere from $25
to $100
per person to steal from.

All you have to do to realize your big
payday (and not from actually working for it)
is to do any of the following to liberate that
data from your employer's premises:

Print the detailed employee list and simply
throw it in the trash scheduled to go into
the dumpster that night.

Show your boss what a hard worker you are by
taking a laptop home with all that unencrypted
data (including social security numbers) but
make sure to call your criminal friends ahead
of time so that you can conveniently arrange
to have the laptop "lost" or "stolen" from
your car or home by a "random" act of theft.

Don't worry about getting caught, unlike robbing
a bank or that 7-11 store, there most likely are
no surveillance cameras around to capture your
act of identity theft. Plus, if your company
ever does figure out (likely months later) it
was you, they will cover up the act completely
or delay for weeks releasing any victim warnings
for fear of public embarassment and potential
class action law suits.

Congress, even helps your company cover it up
as they have not acted in the past year with
any national law requiring companies to issue
timely disclosures of security breaches being
mandatory. Understand, your Congressman is
far too busy soliciting campaign contributions
and all expense paid golf junkets from those
same large companies who want to continue to
keep consumers utterly in the dark about just
how lax their personal data security has been
for years.

And you, as the would be identity thief, finally
do not need to worry about those victims you've
stolen their identity from. Until recently, most
identity theft victims did not know their rights
to get a free credit report each year or where to
check out their public records for any of the
tell-tale signs you've committed identity theft
against them.

So, go ahead steal those identities.

It's so easy...practically anyone can do it...and

Priests, ex-cops, teenagers, mothers, and more
already have!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

26 Million Veterans Subject to Massive Identity Theft

26-Million-Veterans-Subject-to-Massive-Identity-Theft an audio post - click to play

A single, careless employee's very serious
mistake combined with a break-in of his home
has resulted in what officials are calling
the largest exposure of social security
(ssn) ever!

Veterans discharged since 1975 and
their spouses
as well as those who
submitted VA benefits claims

Cardservices International's exposure last year
of 40 million account holder's information was
actually larger - but that identity theft by
hackers did not include the social security
numbers of consumers.

In contrast, to Cardservices International's
identity theft, this one by an employee of
the Department of Veteran's Affairs hits
American consumers much harder
because of
the exposure of their
social security numbers (ssn).

26.5 million of them to be exact and according
to the Department of Veteran's Affairs, this
massive data security breach that took place
May 3rd, also included other highly confidential
personal information prized by identity thieves:

  • Names of Veterans and some Spouses
  • Addresses
  • Phone Numbers
  • Birth Dates
  • Disability Ratings

Social security numbers along with a person's name
and birth date are 3/4th of the most sought after
information by identity thieves and is needed to
open up new credit accounts to rapidly commit
against innocent victims.

While the FBI is investigating this data security
breach, there's no evidence publicy available to
indicate actual cases of credit fraud have yet been
documented against any of the 26 million consumers.

However, VA officials have urged veterans to monitor
their credit scores and credit-card and bank statements.
Evidently those VA officials, with their lax data
security policies, have not extended "free" credit
monitoring to all of those veteran's and their spouses.

The VA inspector general has criticized the department
for lax information-security practices, chiefly
concerning the ease with which computer hackers
might penetrate VA systems.

Once again, we learn of the identity thief's dream
combination: sloppy security allowing employee's taking
highly sensitive personal information away from the
office whereby an "random" burgulary exposes countless
victims to years of financial burden.

So, our tip for today is to especially be on guard for
any suspicious activity invoving your existing credit
card or banking accounts. For those veteran's affected
by this social security number theft, we urge you to
immediately enroll in automatic credit monitoring as
well as be prepared to check your medical information
profile over the next 3 months for any signs of false
claims filed in your name.

Finally, to contact Congress to urge them to finally
take decisive action againt companies and other
large entities who mishandle Veteran's most sensitive
personal information without penalty, use this
convenient form to make your voice heard.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Costco ID Theft Suspect Dares Capture by Posing for Camera

Costco-ID-Theft-Suspect-Dares-Capture-by-Posing-for-Camera audio post - click to play

Brazen identity thief leaves a trail of fraudulent
credit accounts across South Florida is wanted by
by police investigators for a $1,000 reward.

This identity thief is evidently not shy at all.
Using an stolent identity from a California man,
he opened a Costo American Express
account which
required his face to be

Not exactly what you would suspect
a criminal to do.

But, this bold identity thief then proceeded
to immediately go shopping at Costco,
almost $8,000 ($7,797)
in merchandise
using the stolen
identity of the California man.

Perhaps, emboldened by his fraudulent credit
purchases with Costco, this same identity
thief is also suspected of opening up
accounts with these other retailers
located in South Florida:

  • Bloomingdale’s
  • Sam’s Club
  • The Banana Republic

He even was successful in opening a

With identity thieves like this one on the
loose, there's evidently no deterrent to
him wrecking the lives of countless innocent
victims unless he's stopped by law enforcement.

So, our tip for today is a public advisory.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime
Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS. Anonymous
information leading to an arrest could be
worth a reward of up to $1,000.

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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
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
to lax data security practices.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Identity Theft Victim before Preschool

Identity-Theft-Victim-before-Preschool audio post - click to play

Think back to a more gentler time 25 years
or more ago about your earliest recollections
as a child.

Perhaps you can recall your first spoken words or
the joy your parents had from you taking your very
first steps toward walking upright.

Now, suddenly fast forward to the present day and
consider the shocking reality your child can easily
become an identity theft victim even before they
start pre-school.

That's right folks. Your child's financial
can be materially damaged if
not destroyed by a
stranger well in
advance of them being able to
qualify for loans and credit cards needed
for college.

Case in point, a two year old Utah girl was recently
documented as being the identity theft victim
of a 36 year old man she never has even met.

It seems, the identity thief gained possession
of the 2 year old gir's social security number
(ssn) by purchasing it from a black market
which peddles stolen personal information.

Children are increasingly becoming the victims
of identity theft as the criminals know it may
take years before the evidence of the id theft
fraud is revealed.

Nationally, it is a big problem with over 2
million children effected annually.

So, our tip for today is to take action against
would be identity thieves lurking to commit
credit fraud to ruin your children's financial
future. Check out this company, Lifelock, we
briefly reviewed last year.

According to Lifelock, they claim to be the
only service "offers protection for kids
under the age of 16 for only $10 per
and that comes with our $1
million guarantee."

As part of Lifelock's service credit reports,
checking accounts, & work benefits from the
Social Security Administration are periodically
checked on behalf of your under age child.

While you could certainly do most of these
tasks yourself, for $10 annually per child
it may be worthwhile to consider the
convenience of an automatic service like


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Friday, May 12, 2006

Aetna Identity Theft from Stolen Laptop

Aetna-Identity-Theft-from-Stolen-Laptop0audio post - click to play

"Putting information to work for you", the motto
on the Aetna website has taken a perverse turn
for the worse.

A fortnight ago Aetna, one of the largest U.S.
based health insurers, was forced to disclose
the loss of the highly sensitive information
of 38,000 members resulting from the theft
of an employee's laptop.

Yes, you read that right. Another "stolen"
laptop of a careless employee of some large
company. Careless, in the sense of why would
an employee have the most confidential and
and trusted information of the company's
members on a laptop - sitting in his car in
the first place - evidently visible to any

The car was broken into while it was in an
outdoor public parking lot.

Aetna said the employee "did not follow
our corporate policies, and it was
coupled with a criminal theft."

Hmm, makes you wonder who's really responsible
here in the "criminal theft": the careless
Aetna employee who violated company security
policies, perhaps?

Here's why. The data which was contained on the
stolen laptop included:

  • Names
  • Addresses
  • Social Security numbers (ssn)

To Aetna's credit, even though there's no evidence
to date of identity theft, they're offering free
credit monitoring to all affected individuals.

So, our tip for today is to make sure to contact
Aetna if you suspect your data was exposed to
identity theft. Take advantage of their "free"
credit monitoring offer.

Lastly, tell a friend or associate of this security
breach involving Aetna as the health insurer who's
responsible did not disclose what city or state the
incident took place in nor the two companies insured
with Aetna that are affected.


This is part 2 of our installment
continued from this Wednesday on banks and
insurance company identity theft.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Another Major Identity Data Loss by Wells Fargo

Another-Major-Identity-Data-Loss-by-Wells-Fargo-audio post - click to play

When will it ever end?

Isn't it interesting to note large banks & insurance
evidently do not protect your personal
data in armored cars like
they regularly do with
their own money?

We wonder when will these large companies ever
get it right when it comes to properly securing
your confidential consumer data when in transit.

The first installment this week exposes the mortgage
unit of
Wells Fargo Bank which this past Friday
issued a statement
on the company's website
disclosing it had lost a computer
The "lost" computer contained highly
sensitive and confidential information on current
and prospective customers:

  • Names
  • Addresses
  • Social Security Numbers (SSN)
  • Mortgage Loan Numbers

It was not disclosed how many consumers are impacted by this latest
data breach by Wells Fargo. However, according to figures available
on the company's web site, 23 million individuals are claimed
customers of Wells Fargo worldwide.

While it's still too soon to determine the level of identity theft
that may arise from this latest data breach by Wells Fargo, the
company has made arrangements for impacted customers to receive
a "...one-year free credit monitoring subscription.."

That may seem very generous of Wells Fargo to offer free credit
monitoring to those whose data has been lost.

However, given Wells Fargo's recent track record in not properly
securing consumer data, you may consider the "free" credit
monitoring offer by the company as an indication of how the
company's officials really feel about their internal data
security procedures.

Here's why:

In November 2003, the names, addresses and Social
Security numbers of thousands of Wells Fargo
customers were compromised when a burglar broke
into the office of a consultant working for the
bank and stole a computer containing the data.

A year later, in November 2004, the company
announced that three laptops and one desktop
computer containing personal data on thousands
of the bank’s borrowers were stolen from an
Atlanta-based subcontractor that printed
monthly statements for Wells Fargo. That
incident prompted two of the affected
individuals to sue the bank for negligence
and breach of contract. The case was decided
in the bank’s favor in March.

And in February 2004, a laptop containing
confidential information on more than
35,000 Wells Fargo customers was lost
by a company employee when it was left
in a car that was stolen from a gas station.

Given the track record of Wells Fargo the
two and half years, is it any wonder
why anyone would want to continue banking
there without feeling nervous?

So, our tip for today is if you use Wells Fargo
bank contact them immediately to insure
your sensitive personal information was not
part of that latest batch exposed. If so, make
sure to take advantage of their "free" credit
monitoring offer.

Finally, tell your friends on this latest security
breach which may also have them in a position of
becoming the next victim of identity theft and
check back with us later this week as we will
expose another major data security breach in
our 2nd part of this installment.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Identity Theft: Are You Really My Mother?

Identity-Theft-Are-You-Really-My-Mother-audio post - click to play

In a bizarre twist to the past year's trend of unusual
identity theft cases being exposed, this latest episode
reaches an unusual new low.

Apparently, a Utah woman became the victim of identity
theft when someone else used her driver's license number
to give birth under her name.

To make matters even worst for the victim, she was faced
with the prospect of losing custody to her four
to the Division of Child and Family Services
because the identity thief's recently born baby tested
positive for drugs. Plus, the baby had been abandoned
at the hospital by the birth mother.

Bizarre, yes....scary for the real mother of four,

But how could such a bizarre case of identity theft
develop in the first place?

The identity theft victim had her driver's license and
credit cards stolen 3 months ago. Although, the Utah
woman cancelled her credit cards and replaced "everything"
she learned the hard way just how resourceful identity
thieves really are once they grab you personal information.

This case also underscores just how important it is to
check your non-credit related personal information
for identity theft. Thieves know must consumers do not think
first about all the myriad of places your personal identity
are used on a daily basis. Even more, stolen identities
are fraudently abused to acquire medical services
and or
to confuse the legal system during arrests
or background
checks of criminal activity.

So, our tip for today is to be extra diligent in protecting
the validity of your personal identity. We recommend you
conduct a "clean sweep" of not only your credit file,
more importantly your non-credit but public
such as your driver's license and background
records for any liens or even criminal records registered in
your name before it's too late to easily expunge them from
your identity.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Fly, Drive, and Lose Your Identity

Fly-Drive-and Lose-Your-Identity-audio post - click to play

Rent a car. Get on an air plane.

These two tasks performed millions of times daily
across America are seemingly harmless acts.
However, did you know there are just two key
documents that if left behind while traveling

can leave you wide open to identity theft fraud?

Consider this, when you fly anywhere on airlines
you must have a boarding pass just in order to
get on the plane. That boarding pass typically
contains your name and frequent flyer account
But, how many times have you left your
boarding pass behind on the seat or tucked in the
magazine holder in front of you?

With those two pieces of seemingly harmless information,
it is more than possible for an identity thief to access
your frequent flyer account on-line, order new
and even change your account
information to theirs

Or, how about when you land at your destination and
need to rent a car. If you're like most hurried
travelers, you pay by credit card. But the payment
statement and rental agreement contain more
enough confidential information for an
identity thief to commit financial fraud against you.

Why is this a potentially huge problem?

Opportunity and motive.

The opportunity to come in daily contact with a
large amount of potential victims who leave their
boarding passes or rental car agreements behind
to be found by airport cleaning crews is very real.

The motive - well let us just state that the people
who clean up the airplanes and rental cars, while
certainly deserving of higher pay for their hard
work - do not get compensated for every seat they

With the black market price for valid credit
accounts with full name information
being worth
$50 and higher for each, it's a seller's
dream to literally have highly distracted victim's
personal data literally given to them on a daily

So, our tip for today is when traveling make sure
to keep your boarding pass in your pocket until
you get back to a place where you can shred it.
Also, for that rental car you return, it's also
more than a good idea to spend 1 minute physically
inspecting the glove department or seats for
agreement before rushing off to your final

Remember, identity theft can be a crime of opportunity,
but practicing small acts of daily prevention will
up to a big insurance against becoming an easy
victim of credit fraud or scams using your good name.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Identity Theft Exposure of 137,000 Bobcats

Identity-Theft-Exposure-of-137,000-Bobcats-audio post - click to play

Special Alert for OU Alumni effective 5/1/06.

For more than one year, hackers worldwide had
unauthorized computer access to a database holding
the social security numbers (ssn) of over 137,000
alumni of Ohio University.

Yet, the number of identity theft effected alumni
could reach as high as 300,000 when you
consider the number of individuals who did not
have ssn but other personally identifying
information on the database which identity
thieves could still use to commit credit fraud.

This unfortunately includes Faculty
and staff who
were hired prior to
January 2004.

Given the lenthy time - over one year in length- and
the extensive scope of this identity theft security
breach (worldwide), Ohio University officials
understandably are moving to notify individuals who
could be negatively impacted.

So, our tip for today is to contact the special toll
free hotline if you're an Ohio University alumni or
staff member affected by this security breach.

1-800-901-2303 -or- via the web at

Or, tell a friend or fellow Bobcats about this advisory.

Once you have contacted the hotline to verify you
were one of the unfortunate 300,000 your next course
of action will be to file an immediate fraud alert
with the three national credit bureaus.

The free initial fraud alert service requests that
any creditor contact you by phone at a designated
phone number before attempting to opening a new
loan or credit card account.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Identity Theft from Divorce Records

Identity-Theft-from-Divorce-Records-audio post - click to play

Your divorce is now final, but you have
just begun the long road ahead with

Imagine enduring the long mental anguish
and financially draining experience of a
divorce which in many states can last for
two or more years.

Finally the legal paper work gets signed and
finalized with the court to dissolve the
marriage putting you once again with the
rest of your life to look forward.

But, wait - you have just entered into
a new danger zone. That's right, identity
theft victim you are now primed to become.


Because traditionally divorce records have
been considered part of the public
thus stripping you of your privacy.

This means all of your more confidential
personal and financial information
pertaining to your divorce proceedings
can be easily read by anyone with
access (or wanting to take advantage of your):

  • Social Security number
  • Home Addresses
  • Bank Account Number
  • Bank Account Holder's Name
  • Bank Account Balance
  • Annual Salary
  • Income and Net Worth

As you can see from the list above, everything an
identity thief would need to assume your identity
and commit financial fraud in your name is readily

For identity thieves, it doesn't get any easier
than this to acquire your most sensitive
information. The identity thief
doesn't even have to steal your wallet or mail.

Just a simple visit to the local county courthouse
can reap a huge amount of potential identity theft

Just in the state of California during 2004, over
150,000 petitions for marital dissolution
were filed with the courts.

Given, it's widely believed that overall 1 out of
every 2 marriages end in divorce, identity
have a very deep and widely
distributed base
of potential victims to
commit financial fraud against nationwide.

Fortunately, one state, California is once again
leading the country by doing something about
preventing identity theft.

In a recent 12 to 3 vote by the Appropriations
Committee, a bill which would allow judges to
edit out personal and financial information
divorce records (upon spousal request)
is moving forward to the general assembly.

Should this bill continue to move forward and become
a new law, identity thieves would be dealt a
blow to how they harvest the
confidential data
of countless numbers
of potential identity theft victims.

So, until this bill becomes law in California or for
those millions of individuals residing in states that
do not have this type of financial privacy coverage,
our tip for today is to seek protection through the
only means we know available.

Conduct an identity fraud sweep through your public
records - particularly for the type of identity theft
which can occur that falls below the radar of


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