Archive for April, 2011
Wednesday, April 27th, 2011
Sony PlayStation users in Australia are at increased rick of identity theft after hackers uncovered personal data for millions of customers. The breach forced the company to shut down the online gaming and entertainment networks for a week.
Names, addresses, birth dates and other personal details—potentially even credit card numbers—of up to 77 million people may have been stolen. Sony Computer Entertainment Australia has hired a security firm to do a complete investigation into the breach and strengthen the security of its systems.
To be safe, PlayStation users should change their user names and passwords as soon as possible, and carefully monitor their credit card statements and credit reports.
Popularity: 1% [?]
Wednesday, April 27th, 2011
A Phoenix business was raided by police this week and four employees were arrested on suspicion of identity theft.
After raiding Allied Tube & Conduit in West Phoenix, police found that these employees were using fake identification because they were not legal U.S. citizens. Police received a tip about the workers through a hot line.
This is just the latest incident of illegal workers using stolen identification. According to the Social Security Administration, an estimated 75 percent of illegal aliens use fraudulently obtained Social Security numbers to pay payroll taxes. There are laws in the works to better protect U.S. citizens. However, it’s important that you take precautions of your own.
Be careful who you give your Social Security number to. Whenever possible, ask if you can use an alternate form of identification. In addition, check your credit reports and Social Security statements regularly. If anything looks suspicious, investigate it immediately.
Popularity: 14% [?]
Tuesday, April 26th, 2011
According to Newsfactor.com, a man pleaded guilty to fraud and identity theft charges stemming from the discovery of 675,000 stolen credit card accounts on his home computers.
Rogelio Hackett Jr. may have earned more than $100,000 by selling credit card accounts. He made so much money he didn’t need another job. Credit card companies traced more than $36 million in fraudulent transactions to the accounts that were breached by this man.
In August 2007 alone, Hackett obtained data on more than 350,000 accounts by hacking the network of an unidentified company specializing in online ticket sales, according to police. He also owned equipment to manufacture counterfeit credit cards and held more than 100 such cards.
Hackett, who pleaded guilty in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, will be sentenced July 22 and faces two to 12 years in prison.
Popularity: unranked [?]
Tuesday, April 19th, 2011
The Social Security Administration (SSA) exposed personally identifiable information for as many as 36,657 individuals over the past three years, according to a report issued by the SSA’s inspector general.
The report reveals that Social Security sold the information in its Death Master File that erroneously contained information about living people. The Death Master File is a database that contains information about persons who had Social Security numbers and whose deaths were reported to the Social Security Administration.
From May 2007 through April 2010, Social Security publication of the Death Master File meant that personally identifiable information was publicly available for as many as 36,657 additional living individuals erroneously listed as deceased. Their Social Security numbers; first, middle and last names; dates of birth; and state and ZIP codes of last known residences were available to users of the Death Master File.
Popularity: 8% [?]
Monday, April 18th, 2011
There’s a new resource for people who need information about identity theft. Fourteen federal agencies, managed by the FTC, have created a website–OnGuardOnline.gov—that helps people figure out what to do if they receive an unexpected message from the IRS or suspect that their Social Security number is being misused by an identity thief.
Many people are finding out that more than one tax return was filed in their name, or that IRS records show they’ve have been paid by an employer that they’ve never worked for. If this happens to you, it’s critical to act quickly, inform the IRS immediately, and start monitoring your credit.
Popularity: 2% [?]
Thursday, April 14th, 2011
Even if you’ve never heard of Epsilon, you might be one of the customers whose data the online marketing company leaked. It’s important that you understand the risks involved in the Epsilon data breach and take action to protect yourself. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Epsilon and how does its data breach impact me?
Epsilon is an online marketing firm that keeps records of consumer data, such as names and email addresses, for dozens of major corporations, in a database. The trouble began when this database was hacked in early April.
The list of companies impacted by the Epsilon breach includes American Express, Barclays Bank, Best Buy, Food 4 Less, Kroger, Target, TiVo, USBank, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, Citibank, Home Shopping Network, Ameriprise Financial, McKinsey & Co., Ritz-Carlton Rewards, New York & Co., Walgreens, The College Board, Disney Destinations, L.L Bean Visa Card, Lacoste, AbeBooks, Hilton Honors Program, Dillions. Fred Meyer, Beachbody, TD Ameritrade, Ethan Allen, Eileen Fisher, MoneyGram, TIAA-CREF, Verizon, City Market, Smith Brands, Brookstone, Robert Half, QFC, bebe Stores, Ralphs, Fry’s 1-800-Flowers, Red Roof Inn, King Soopers, Air Miles, Eddie Bauer, Scottrade, and Dell Australia.
If you’ve done business or provided information to any of these companies, you may be at risk.
How can this breach increase my risk of identity theft?
The Epsilon breach has given identity thieves access to a large database, containing the email addresses of customers that have trusted relationships with reputable companies. The biggest concern with stolen email addresses is that identity thieves can use them to create legitimate-looking phishing emails, encouraging victims to reveal their personal and financial information. They can also use small pieces of your identity to gather additional pieces, ultimately creating a new identity based on your existing one. They’ll likely use this data to apply for credit in your name.
How can I protect myself?
While thieves might already have your name and email address, there are steps you can take to ensure they don’t use this information to gather additional identity-forming pieces of information about you. To minimize your risk and stay ahead of the scammers, take a few simple precautions:
• Make sure you’re using an up-to-date browser and antivirus software.
• Always use strong passwords. Scammers often use automated programs to guess the passwords to your email, bank, and other accounts. That’s why your passwords should be long and have letters, numbers, and characters (like % or $) scattered randomly within them.
• Ignore emails that ask you to provide personal information or open attachments. No reputable company or service provider will ask you for this information over email or randomly by phone. When in doubt, call the company directly to verify that the request is valid.
• Sign up for an identity theft protection service to proactively protect your information. We recommend TrustedID’s IDEssentials™. This complete service includes the steps recommended abovepinstant, online access to your credit score; complete monitoring of your credit cards and Social Security number; spyware and anti-phishing protection; fraud alerts and reminders; Facebook privacy monitor, and more. If you become a victim of a data breach or are targeted by hackers, this complete protection helps you detect and stop identity theft before it happens.
Visit TrustedID for more information on how you can fully protect yourself against data breaches, phishing scams, and identity theft schemes.
Popularity: 56% [?]
Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
Here’s yet another case of tax identity theft.
In an “NY1 For You” report, New Yorker Sharon Hawa talks about how when she recently tried to file her tax return, she learned that someone had already filed using her social security number.
This was the second time she was a victim of tax identity theft. When she used H&R Block in 2009, she learned that someone had already filed her tax return using her identity. She reported the fraud to the IRS and it took more than a year to receive her refund.
“When they use the direct deposit all they need is a routing number. E-filing and direct deposit doesn’t require any validation of personal identity. So you’re not submitting a W-2 form when you’re e-filing. You’re not submitting photo identification,” Hawa says.
In both cases, the thieves filed early before she even received her W-2 forms.
Tax time is prime time for identity theft. The following tips can help reduce your risk of identity theft during the tax season:
• Always keep your tax paperwork in a safe and secure location. Shred any paperwork you no longer need before you dispose of it.
• If you are filing your taxes online, create unique passwords and personal identification numbers (PIN) for your online accounts. Avoid using easy-to-guess passwords based on your anniversary date, your name or your Social Security number.
• Monitor your mail closely during tax season. Make a list of everyone who pays you, including employers, banks and brokerages, and make sure you receive copies of what they send to the IRS.
• Choose your tax professionals as carefully as you would a doctor or lawyer. Remember that a tax preparer has access to your Social Security Number, address, and other private information.
Popularity: 1% [?]
Tuesday, April 12th, 2011
Oops. The Texas Controller’s Office accidentally posted the personal information of about 3.5 million Texas residents, including addresses, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and driver’s license numbers — on its public servers. Some of the personal data were posted online for more than a year.
The state Attorney General’s Office and the FBI have launched an investigation to find out why the information was not encrypted and security-protected as the state law requires and if any of the data was misused for identity theft.
The Controller’s Office has set up a website to provide more information and tell victims what to do. If you think you’ve been victimized, find out by ordering your credit reports from the three main credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, to see if there’s any suspicious activity.
Popularity: 5% [?]
Monday, April 11th, 2011
We frequently talk about how child identity theft cases are on the rise. It’s a huge problem because child identity theft is often not discovered for several years, until the child needs to get a credit card or take out a loan. By then, identity thieves have often run up massive bills using the kid’s name.
In some cases, the child’s own family members steal the identity. For instance, if a relative has bad credit, they may take advantage of a child’s clean slate and use their information to get credit.
If you’re a parent, only give your child’s Social Security number when absolutely necessary. There’s no reason for family members to have a child’s Social Security number. And if you suspect your child’s identity has been stolen, file a police report. To be extra safe, you can order a credit report in your child’s name every year. It should be blank. If it’s not, call any company listed on it and find out why they’re reporting credit in your child’s name.
Popularity: 1% [?]
Friday, April 8th, 2011
Medical identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. Hospitals are responsible for protecting the private information of their patients but they’re not always successful.
This week, the Connecticut Watchdog reported that Hartford Healthcare and its Midstate Medical Center affiliate in Meriden experienced a data breach that may have compromised medical records of 93,500 patients.
The hospital says a hard drive containing protected health information and personal information was taken home by an employee of Hartford Healthcare, who then lost it. The hard drive contained patient names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and medical record numbers. If this information gets into the wrong hands, these people are at risk of identity theft.
Attorney General Jepsen asked that impacted patients be provided with two years of credit monitoring services, identity theft insurance, and reimbursement for the costs associated with placing and lifting security freezes.
Popularity: 1% [?]