Posts Tagged ‘ID theft’

Get smart about ID theft – get the help you need!

Friday, March 25th, 2011

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Recent headlines about data breaches and losses of personal information have prompted many companies to advertise products or services to help consumers prevent or minimize their risk of identity theft.

The Federal Trade Commission urges consumers to be sure they understand what they’re getting when they sign up for a product to protect their information. Consumers should also be aware of the rights and protections available to them under federal or state laws – these can help protect your identity, as well as help you recover from identity theft at no cost. Knowing your rights can help you determine what commercial product or service may be appropriate for you.

Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, you may be entitled to two kinds of free fraud alerts: initial and extended. An initial alert can be placed if you suspect you are about to become or have become a victim of identity theft. It’s good for 90 days. An extended alert stays on your credit report for seven years. To place it, you will need to have been victimized and provide a police report stating so.

You can also place a credit freeze on your credit report, which will mean potential creditors and others can’t access it unless you lift the freeze either permanently or temporarily. A freeze is different from a fraud alert in that it stops all access to your credit report, while an alert allows creditors to get your report after verifying your identity.

Identity theft protection companies offer a range of products and services. Some of them only offer to lock, flag or freeze your credit report, something you can do yourself.

Other services will monitor your credit report, and notify you of the activity. Again, this is something you can do yourself. Still other services offer to help you rebuild your identity in the event of an identity theft. These require a power of attorney, so that they can act on your behalf when dealing with credit bureaus or creditors.

Many companies offer additional services, including removing your name from mailing lists or pre-screened offers of credit, while others offer reimbursement if you experience a financial loss due to ID theft. There are also those that monitor your personal information online, and notify you if your identity has been exposed to possible theft.

Before you sign up for any of these services, compare what they offer, read the fine print, and determine what will work best for you.

But do something. Statistics show that millions of Americans became victims of identity theft last year, and the numbers are growing. Be a smart consumer and get proactive when it comes to your personal information.

Identity theft

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Father arrested for using dead son’s identity

It goes against the laws of nature for parents to have to bury their children. But, that’s what David Frank Pflegl had to do in 1987 as the survivor of an auto accident that killed his 19-year-old son, David Frank Pflegl II. It is probably one of the hardest most painful things for any parent to do. However, the senior Pflegl, 63, found a way to keep his son’s memory alive: he committed ID theft, forgery and communication fraud using his dead son’s identity, according to his December indictment.

Pflegl was arrested a week ago in Utah on the identity theft and related charges. Pflegl used his son’s identity to obtain a $140,000 mortgage in Lindon, Utah. He also had driver’s licenses in Oregon and Utah. Additionally, he held a passport in his deceased son’s name—a crime that resulted in a federal investigation by the State Department. Oregon investigators and the Utah Department of Public Safety participated in the identity theft investigation. (more…)

Identity theft protection

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Identity theft and tax season

It’s tax season. It’s an annual occurrence, happening at the same time of year, every year. And in observance, here’s our annual phishing, scamming and identity theft warning with tips for avoiding getting taken to the cleaners … by anyone but the IRS.

Your mailbox

  • If you don’t already have one, buy a locking mailbox before your W2 is delivered. Just think how easy it is to commit identity theft with just that one piece of stolen mail.
  • (more…)

Data breach

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Health Net data breach prompts attorney general’s “historic lawsuit”

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said last November that he was “outraged and appalled” upon learning of Health Net’s massive data breach and their keeping it hush-hush for six months. He acted on those feelings this week by filing suit against the insurer and its new owners, United Health Group and Oxford Health Plans.

The data breach occurred May 2009 when a hard drive containing the information of 1.5 million customers went missing. Records were for the period 2002 through 2009. Roughly 446,000 of the members are from Connecticut.

Blumenthal’s lawsuit asserts Health Net gave its employees inadequate supervision and training on appropriate maintenance, use and disclosure of protected health information.

The company explained the six-month lag time between their awareness of the breach and their notifying state officials by saying the time was necessary to complete a “detailed forensic review.” Kroll, a computer forensic consulting firm hired to complete the investigation determined the information wasn’t encrypted or protected in any way from access or viewing. (more…)

Red Flag Rules delayed … yes, again

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

delayedIt’s impossible to write about the Red Flag Rules without an apologetic “stop me if you’ve heard this one before” preface. So don’t shoot the messenger, but the deadline for the Feds’ identity-protecting Red Flag Rules has been delayed. The newest deadline—the fifth—replaces the January 1 deadline with one of June 1, 2010.

Congress created the program in 2003 in an attempt to stem the tide of identity theft by forcing creditors to use a common sense approach to identity theft prevention. It was originally slated to take effect in November 2008.

From its inception the rules have met with formidable pushback from the American Medical Association, the American Bar Association and the nation’s bankers, each group taking exception to the FTC’s interpretation of “creditor.” (more…)

Evil ID theft elves

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Contrary to popular belief, not all of Santa’s elves are jovial, industrious toymakers; there are also evil elves that take temporary holiday retail jobs to commit ID theft and credit fraud. And, they’ll steal your identity in less time than it takes Santa to slip down the chimney.

Big retail stores hire as many as 50 new employees during the holiday season, and many of them don’t get vetted as thoroughly as year-round workers. Adding to the ID theft risk is the fact that these additional employees aren’t management—they double the number of employees management typically oversees.

So, how can shoppers protect themselves from the evil ID theft elves? (more…)

ID theft, forgery are among the many reasons to hate bill collectors

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

The Minnesota Department of Commerce said you can add ID theft, forgery and theft to the long list or reasons for hating bill collectors. And, if you wondered where all that money went when you closed on your house, it might be that your title company kept the premium.

The Department of Commerce investigated bill collector Lee Hanna and HS and Associates LLC, a collection agency, and alleges that Hanna committed ID theft by using customer information to open a credit card account, forged checks with the same customer’s name and transferred client money from the company’s trust accounts and operating accounts for personal expenses, including bar tabs and rent.

The credit card account opened by ID theft was charged $14,389.91; the two forged checks totaled $6,500 and the client money inappropriately used for personal expenses was in the amount of $19,000, according to the department. (more…)

ID theft indictment for Bank of New York Mellon employee

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Adeniyi Adeyemi, a computer technician at the Bank of New York Mellon, was indicted on 149 counts of grand larceny, ID theft, money laundering, scheme to defraud, computer tampering and unlawful possession of personal identification information.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office accused 27-year-old Adeyemi of committing ID theft against more than 150 of his coworkers at the bank and using their identities to steal more than $1.1 million from charities and non-profit organizations over a period of more than seven years.

The ID theft took place from November 2001 to April 2009. Adeyemi allegedly opened more than 30 accounts with banks and brokerage firms in the names of his co-workers, and deposited stolen funds, according to the DA’s office. He also hijacked their online banking profiles and wired money stolen from their bank accounts into other fraudulently opened bank accounts. (more…)

ID theft and pickpocket risks during holiday shopping season

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

I’ve decided to do most of my Christmas shopping from home this year, using only well-known sites to make sure I don’t become an ID theft or credit card fraud victim. The only thing that will get me to the mall or the big box stores is the Black Friday bargains. Other than that, I’m doing the rest of my shopping over the Internet from the comfort of my home office. Unfortunately, while this strategy will get me the best bargains, it also presents ID theft risks.

To get the best deals, shoppers have to get in line for a coupon at 3 A.M., and then wait till 5 A.M. to rush the doors with hundreds of other shoppers. Once they have their loot in their carts, they’ll wait in line again to check out. It’s the perfect opportunity for pickpockets who take advantage of the mayhem to steal wallets for credit card fraud and ID theft. (more…)

Gifts for the hard-to-buy-for

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Shopping for the kids on your list is definitely more fun, but you can’t put it off any longer: it’s time to figure out what to buy for all those hard-to-buy-for people on your holiday shopping list. Well, lucky you, I have some tips on what to buy—and perhaps more importantly—what not to buy.

I know that it’s tempting to give up and resort to gag gifts after several years of buying bad gifts despite your good intentions. Resist. Let’s start there with the list of what not to buy for hard-to-buy-for people:

Do not buy

  • Wind-up boxing nuns,
  • Racing grandma and grandpa,
  • Reindeer that poop candy, or
  • Singing bass plaque.
  • Do not buy gift certificates for elderly relatives; they don’t need anything from the mall, don’t want to go shopping, don’t have anyplace to put it and really shouldn’t be driving anyhow.

The list of what to buy for hard-to-buy-for people is shorter.