Thursday, November 22, 2007

Is Facebook Ads Beacon a Privacy and Identity Theft Threat?

Facebook, the rapidly expanding social networking site, with their
announced new ad targeting system may be an invasion of consumer
privacy from the sharing of their user's purchases from at least 44
large websites.

Is Facebook Ads Beacon a Privacy and Identity Theft Threat

In a CNet interview with, purchases made with
participating online retailers will be automatically be shared with
anyone you are associated with on Facebook.

" that no Facebook user should have their private
purchases online posted for the entire world to see
without their explicit opted-in permission."

To provide readers an inside view into how invasive this information
sharing has become even with the initial announcement by Facebook,
consider the following listing of their initial group of their participating

  • Blockbuster
  • Busted Tees
  • CBS Interactive ( & Dotspotter)
  • Citysearch
  • CollegeHumor
  • eBay
  • ExpoTV
  • Gamefly
  • Hotwire
  • iWon
  • Joost
  • Kiva
  • Kongregate
  • LiveJournal
  • Live Nation
  • Mercantila
  • National Basketball Association
  • Pronto
  • Redlight
  • SeamlessWeb
  • Sony Online Entertainment LLC
  • Sony Pictures
  • STA Travel
  • The Knot
  • Travelocity
  • TripAdvisor
  • Travel Ticker
  • TypePad
  • viagogo
  • Vox
  • Yelp

In all fairness though, Facebook does provide consumers the
ability to opt-out of the information sharing. However, according
to MoveOn this privacy saving features is rendered effectively
useless by Facebook's implementation:

"The opt-out is very well hidden,"

"It basically pops up for a second and
then goes away, and it's on the bottom
of your screen when you're purchasing
on a totally unrelated Web site, so
you aren't even looking for it."

"...there's not a universal opt-out,
so members have to repeat the process
on each partner site."
"I think Facebook probably needs to
do a better job of warning people about it.."

We agree, Facebook could do a better job of warning consumers
of the dangers of information sharing - especially purchase
information over the internet.

So, until that happens we can share at least one consumer's
solution to the Facebook Beacon information sharing problem.

Our tip for today, at least for Firefox browsers, provides a way
to block the Facebook Ads system and their beacons from
reporting your information.

We recommend you consider that tool in your continuing
fight to prevent unnecessary invasions of your privacy -
especially those which can result in identity theft.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Identity Theft Can Put You in Jail While Criminals Go Free

Think identity theft only results in fraudulent transactions on your
credit card. Think again, as a New Mexico man recently learned wound
up spending nearly a week in jail due to the misdeeds of an identity thief.

It seems, according to the Albuquerque Times, a 28 year old
man was wanted on a 2 year old outstanding arrest warrant
for narcotics charges which were actually the result of an
identity thief who had used his name.

Evidently back in 2002, the victim lost his wallet which
contained his social security card (ssn) and the identity
thief used it for a 2005 narcotics arrest which he
subsequently skipped out on the bail.

As a result the innocent 28 year old man ended up
spending 6 scary nights in jail before local authorities
would even listen to him about the mistaken identity.

"Unfortunately, people can be victims for years to
come despite anything we try.."

Because of this unfortunate situation, the victim was even
reported to be in risk of losing his:

  • Job
  • House
  • Truck
  • Peace of Mind

Avoid this from happening to you or someone you know.

Our tip for today, is to conduct your own self background
check. Get your public information profile (pip) to scrutinize
it for any incorrect information such as unwarranted arrests
which can very likely land you in jail or worse.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pathology Group Patient Data Stolen Exposes 70,000 to Identity Theft

A Memphis area testing laboratory was the victim of stolen computers
containing the highly sensitive personal information of patients with
recent lab work.

It seems amongst the data contained on the stolen computers, was
according to the story:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Medical Information

What is interesting about this particular story is the length of
time it evidently took for the patients to receive warning letters
disclosing the loss of their personal data:

"Pathology Group sent a letter out, notifying
clients that someone broke into the locked
office building on September 23 or 24th."

"My biggest concern is the timeliness,"

We agree on the lengthy amount of time which lapsed
between the discovery of the break in and the disclosure
to the impacted patients.

So, our tip for today is for anyone in the greater Memphis,
TN area to contact the Pathology Group to confirm you
were not of the unfortunate 70,000 who's personal data
was contained on the stolen computers.

They can be reached at the following phone number:


Finally, make sure to tell a friend, associate, or family member
about this important identity theft security alert.