The FTC released their annual summary of consumer complaints earlier in 2016 and identity theft complaints took the second spot – behind only debt collection complaints. What is even scarier is the increase in identity theft. There was a 47% increase in reported identity theft complaints since 2014! A 47% increase, it’s time to learn how to protect yourself from identity theft!
They have rolled out a new site that can allow those victims of identity theft to put together a recovery plan, but once you are a victim trying to fix the problem is much harder than avoiding it in the first place! The fact that identity theft is on the rise only reinforces the fact that you must be proactive when looking to protect yourself from identity theft.
There are a number of different ways you can do this. There are many companies out there today that specialize in helping prevent identity theft. At the end of the day, it really comes down to actionable items you can put into place, and knowledge about how you can protect yourself, as well as red flags to be aware of. Sure, you can spend a lot of money monthly or annually to have a little peace of mind, but really putting yourself in a long term position to protect yourself from identity theft means taking personal action.
We offer a no frills way to go on the offensive. It is instantly downloadable and you can start taking action that will be meaningful immediately. Also, there is an unconditional money back guarantee, and for a fraction of the cost of these firms looking to lock you into their product for life to protect you there are no ongoing fees. Take a look at our product, you can view our enhanced identity theft protection website to learn all about it. Don’t become another statistic, take action now. Identity theft is on the rise, get protected today!
Toronto Police believe the city elite – CEO’s and wealthy entrepreneurs – are having their identities cloned by criminals who are using Linkedin and similar social networking sites to find their victims.
Toronto Police fraud officers said several “high profile” members of the city’s business elite have been defrauded recently after their information were stolen and used to create identities to obtain credit cards or services to accumulate cash or credit.
Insp. Bryce Evans, of the force’s financial crimes unit, said he couldn’t reveal names of the “high profile” Torontonians who were allegedly scammed due to ongoing probes.
He said the investigations requires time and resources since the high-tech crooks are usually in other countries and use a range of false addresses.
“Some people are posting way too much personal information on websites,” Evans said on Thursday. “Thieves are stealing this information to create identities and commit fraud.”
Toronto Det. Alan Spratt said some thieves use Linkedin data and a photograph from another person to create identities, which are used to befriend others online before scamming them for cash.
“People should always verify independently what they are told on the Internet,” Spratt said on Friday. “Never accept what people say and verify information yourself.”
Joe says: Whether a CEO or a 14 year old high school kid, you should always be careful about what personal information you put on social networking sites such as Linkedin and Facebook.
Take a look on Facebook and you can quickly find people who have their personal info open for anyone to see. Info like name, when its their birthday, where they live, school they attend or place they work. All this could easily be used by a criminal to clone their identity. How hard do you think it would be for a criminal to find out where you live if he had your name, photo and the name of your school or place of employment?
Go log in to your Facebook account and any other social networking sites you use right now and make sure privacy settings are set to ‘only show my personal info to my friends’ (or similar depending on the network).
Don’t think that will make your personal information secure though. Although it will keep out casual browsers, any determined criminal won’t be put off by something as trivial as a privacy setting. Facebook has been coming under fire for security breaches and breaking various privacy laws around the world for years and it has long been known to be vulnerable to hackers.
“On July 28, 2010 the BBC reported that security consultant Ron Bowes used a piece of code to scan Facebook profiles to collect data of 100 million profiles. The data collected was not hidden by the user’s privacy settings. Bowes then published the list online. This list, which has been shared as a downloadable file, contains the URL of every searchable Facebook user’s profile, their name and unique ID.” Source: Wikipedia
Just one of the many reasons you won’t find me on Facebook.
A new study has found that a child in America is 51 times more likely to have their identity stolen than an adult.
Carnegie Mellon Cylab looked at over 40,000 juveniles and found 4,311 of them had been a victim of identity theft. That’s a huge 10.2% for our kids while as an adult we have a 0.2% chance of being a victim based on 2009/10 figures.
Stealing a child’s social security number is the jackpot as far as idenity thieves are concerned because the child is unlikely to become aware of the problem until they reach adulthood and go to open a bank account or apply for a credit card. – then of course the sh*t hits the fan but it’s far too late.
According to the Cylab report, another reason the criminals go after a child’s social security number is that there is no way for anyone to check what name belongs with the number.
“one reason that minor Social Security numbers are so valuable is that there is currently no process or organization, like an employee or creditor, to check what name and birth date is officially attached to that Social Security number. As long as an identity thief has a Social Security number with a clean history, the thief can attach any name and date of birth to it.”
The report includes several identity theft stories that will shock most parents such as the story of Kentucky youngster Nathan. At just 14 years old it was discovered he already had a credit history going back over a decade.
In his credit history his parents found a foreclosed mortgage and several credit cards all in the name of a suspect from California. The thief had looked after his new credit file and established a good credit history for the first few years. So much so that he was then able to buy a $605,000 home in California.
Soon after the home loans and credit cards began defaulting and eventually the bank foreclosed and credit card debts were handed to collection agencies and the identity theft came to light. Police estimate the fraud is for over $607,000
Child identity theft isn’t always about starting a new credit history though. Many are stolen to be used by illegal immigrants so they can get utilities switched on and are able to start work with no questions asked.
Joe Says: At the moment requesting a juvenile’s credit file is usually a waste of time because a credit file is attached to a name, date of birth and a social security number. Because the identity thief attaches the SSN to a new name and DOB any credit check returns a blank.
You can however take steps to lower the chances of it happening by taking a few sensible precautions.
Of the 4311 children that had their identity stolen, over 40% were in their teens. As all parents know, teens want to be treated as adults and as such will want to fill their wallets with as many cards as they can so as to mimick Ma and Pa. For their own good do not let that include their social security card. Many identities are stolen when a wallet or purse is lost and falls into the wrong hands.
For this reason you should really set an example by not carrying your own SSN either.
Never give your child’s personal details unless you know what will happen to them. It is your legal right to ask if they will be stored, if so for how long and where? What security is in place to protect the info? If they are to be destroyed wil they be shredded?
Watch the video below to see just how the criminal steals and then uses your child’s identity.
AllClearId who supplied the video above offer a free check on your child’s social security number which reports all records associated with it regardless of DOB or name attached to it. I’ve had a look at it and at the moment it seems to be an excellent method of finding out whether your Son or Daughter has already fallen victim to child identity theft. I have no affiliation with the company and haven’t used any of their services so use your own diligence.
UCLA has contacted over 16,000 patients and warned them they could be a target of medical identity theft after an external hard drive with their medical details was stolen from a Doctor’s home.
Luckily the hard drive was encrypted but unfortunately the password was written on a piece of paper which is also missing. The paper was kept close by the hard drive – oh dear.
The burglary took place in September but it has taken until now to locate all the effected patients to warn them.
According to the LA Times this isn’t the first time UCLA Health System has had a major breach of patient privacy.
Between 2005 and 2009, hospital officials were repeatedly caught and fired for reviewing, without authorization, the medical records of dozens of celebrities, including Britney Spears and Farrah Fawcett. That prompted a state law imposing escalating fines on hospitals for patient privacy lapses. State regulators later fined Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in connection with privacy breaches involving the records of Michael Jackson. Source: LA Times
The medical records range from July 2007 to July 2011 and includes patients from the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center, Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Mattel Children’s Hospital as well as outpatient clinics.
The information on the hard drive included patients addresses, birth dates, medical record numbers and medical information but did not include any financial information or social security numbers.
UCLA released a statement saying that they had hired a data security company to assist any patients worried they may be at risk from medical identity theft and have notified the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights although they point out they have no evidence the records on the hard drive had been accessed.
Joe Says: While this may be a random burglary and the hard drive was taken without knowledge of what was on it, it would pay to fall on the side of caution if you believe your details were on it.
Contact the credit bureaus and set up a fraud alert.
You should probably also check your credit report for anything out of the ordinary.
Stay extra vigilant for the next six months or so.
If you do spot anything at all out of the ordinary use the contact details sent to you by UCLA to let the data security company know immediately as they will be able to prevent any further damage as well as correcting any already done.
I can’t let this one go without mentioning the password. It is completely pointless setting a password if you then write it down on a post it note and stick it on your monitor. If you have to write down a password then put it in your wallet and NEVER write what it is for.
Tax fraud using identity theft is growing faster than government and law enforcment agencies can handle it. That’s what a House oversight subcommittee has been told today in Washington according to report on ABC News.
”As of Aug. 31 of this year, IRS incident tracking reports indicated that the numbers of taxpayers affected by identity theft has more than doubled since 2008 to over 580,000 taxpayers this year alone,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Department inspector general for tax administration.
The crime has become too easy. It’s like a party, according to Rep. Richard Nugent, R-Fla., whose district has a problem with tax-related identity theft.
“Tampa Police Department has busted what the lawbreakers call ‘make it rain’ parties, where criminals get together in a hotel room with Internet access and file fake return after fake return,” Nugent told the committee.
Chances of getting caught and punished are low because each fraud case amounts to an average of $3,400, often too little to merit prosecution. To make putting the criminals behind bars even more difficult, the IRS is limited by law in sharing information from a taxpayer’s return with local law enforcement authorities. Source
It can take as long as 18 months to get your tax sorted out if someone claims a tax credit in your name you can forget getting any due back taxes for a while.
The Boston Herald ran a report today about heartless identity thieves using the social security numbers of recently deceased children to fraudulently claim tax refunds.
According to the Herald:
The IRS estimates that dishonest tax filers this past tax season alone submitted returns on 350,000 dead Americans, falsely claiming $1.25 billion in refunds. The root of the problem is the SSA’s Death Master File that lists information, by law publicly available, on everyone who dies in the United States, including their Social Security numbers.
Ironically, it was created at the request of businesses to prevent the misuse of personal information. But that was in pre-Internet 1980.
The file contains 90 million names but con artists have begun to focus on the newest additions to the list, particularly children.
Last year, the Pilcher family of Potomac, Md., lost their infant daughter, Ava, to lung disease. As if that weren’t pain enough, the IRS rejected their 2010 income tax filing because someone else had already claimed Ava as a dependent. ID crooks need only file before the family does. Source
Joe says: In 2008 an audit by the Inspector General strongly recommended waiting a full year before making any information about a deceased American available to the public and removing social security numbers from the details passed to private genealogical societies who then add the information to their databases which can then be accessed by anyone signing up as a member.
None of the recommendations have as yet been carried out.