Global Payment Inc-Update


Global Payment has officially confirmed the breach of information although they are saying that it is contained and that no names or Social security number were lost.  The estimate is that 1.5 million cardholders were affected.  They have also confirmed that VISA has dropped them from their registry of provider that meet security standards.

http://www.timesunion.com/business/article/Visa-discontinues-Global-Payments-3454033.php

 

Please do not misunderstand what it means by VISA ‘dropped’ them.  Global is indeed still processing payments for VISA.  Global expects to be reinstated.  What this means is that if you have a VISA card you can still be affected by this security breach.

It is also possible that this information is being used right now.  You need to be alert and be aware.  Steps that you can take:

  • Just because names and SSNs were not lost does not mean that anyone is safe.  Thieves can still access information about you online.  Update your passwords to your accounts.
  • Make sure that your browser, antispyware, and antivirus protection is up to date.
  • Do not overlook a missing credit card statement, it could be an indication that your account has been stolen and the thief turned in a change of address, redirecting that statement to them.
  • Check your credit card statement closely for fraudulent charges no matter how small.  Thieves often test cards by submitting charges for as little as five cents.
  • Put identity theft protection in place now before you become a victim.

Identity Theft Shield will not only help you with getting the credit side fixed by working on your behalf with creditors, investigators will look for non-financial issues and help fix those too.

 

 

How many tax returns?


2012 is here and for most people that means filing your taxes.  How many filings will be done under your social security number?  Between 2008 and 2010 the number of identity theft tax filings increased nearly 500%!

How can this affect you? Expecting a refund? The IRS may have sent your refund to an identity thief or even worse, because of the identity theft you could now owe taxes!

But that is just the short term effect, what if you find that you cannot be hired by a company because you already work there?  Your Social security benefits balance has been zeroed out?  This happened to a California woman.  Click the link to hear her story.

Up to 200 illegal immigrants using California woman’s Social Security number

Identity theft is not just about credit cards and bank accounts.  It’s an all encompassing nightmare that can affect many different areas of your life, Identity Theft Shield can help.

 

Taking stock and taking charge


Back in 2007, the Federal Trade Commission published a booklet called “Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Business” that gave five tips for protecting personal information.

The booklet concentrates on five key things that we can also do as individuals to better protect our information.

Take stock

What personal or sensitive information do you have?  Any form of identification should be considered personal and/or sensitive.  Whether it identifies you or accounts you hold, property etc.  You need to know that you have it and get it all together in one place.

Scale down

Honestly evaluate your situation do you really need 15 credit cards?  Do you really need a credit card from every retailer you shop at.  If you have a Visa that is accepted at Sears, JC Penney, Macy’s etc do you really need a separate credit card from each retailer?

Another big and unnecessary risk we take is with all those retailer loyalty cards.  How many do you have hanging from your keychain right now?  Every one of those little keychain cards represents a different database that you are now listed in.  Do you really shop at that retailer often enough for it to be worth the risk?  If not, opt out of the program.

Lock it

Separate your information into what is necessary and what is not.  Secure your personal information.  A home safe or strongbox can serve this purpose.  Any documents you are not using should be locked away in a safe place.

Pitch it

Now how about that pile of unnecessary documents and cards?  First things first.  If you are planning to scale back on credit cards, contact these creditors and close those accounts! Identity thieves love dormant accounts.  Properly shred all of the documents and cards that you have deemed unnecessary.

Plan ahead

There is an old adage, “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”  That is exactly what you need to do, prepare for the worst.  There is no way to completely eliminate your risk of becoming an identity theft victim, so you need to be prepared when and if it happens to you.

Photocopy the contents of your wallet and lock it up with the rest of your important information.  If it is ever lost or stolen, you will know exactly who to contact to close the accounts.  It also will be easier to list what was stolen or lost on the police report that you file.

Make a list of all the loyalty rewards programs you are enrolled in so that you can easily contact them.

Have something in place to help you fix it!  Restoring an identity is not as simple as many think.  According to Wiley Rein Publications, it can take an average of 600 hours and an average cost of $1,400 to restore an identity.  This is where Identity Theft Shield from LegalShield can help.

So are we safer on Facebook? Time will tell


Facebook has reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over its privacy policies.  That means we can all breathe a sigh of relief, right?  Well time will tell.

I would like to think that means my information will be protected just as Facebook says it is, but I can’t help but consider the fact that several of the points brought up in the settlement was the fact that the Facebook Privacy statement said one thing, and the reality was that Facebook was doing things totally differently.

While I can hope that things will be done correctly from now on, there is no guarantee.  Only as we move forward and see the independent third party evaluation can we hope to see if Facebook is following the terms of the settlement.  I hope that they do, but I will not take it as gospel.  I will continue to be aware of the fact that advertisers and third party application developers may very well have access to my personal information and act accordingly.

If it happens that things remain the same, I can take comfort in the fact that I have a LegalShield Membership and that I can depend on  Identity Theft Shield to fix it.

 

Your kids are targets too!


The family computer poses a risk not just to you, but to your kids too.  Identity theft, scams and God forbid, pedophiles are all risks that our children face every time they log on to a computer so it is important that we teach our kids online safety.

The Federal Trade Commission has been on the front lines of this fight with the Online-Onguard program for years now but it really wasn’t targeted toward kids safety.  There is a new program that the FTC has implemented in conjunction with Online-Onguard called NetCetera which focuses on educating our kids on online safety.

NetCetera is targeted toward adults to help them talk to the kids around them about Privacy, etiquette and safety  in an online world, not just computers but Cellphones.  It gives tips on explaining to kids what the risks are, how to identify them, how to avoid them and steps for kids to take when they think that they may be subjected to them.
Some of the topics covered:
Sexting
Cyberbullying
Privacy
Scams
NetCetera is available in a 56 page book including a glossary of internet terms and a listing of Resources to help parents teach kids about online safety.  If you are a parent or educator this is a must have tool in teaching our kids how to stay safe.  You can order NetCetera materials for free from the Federal Trade Commission.
But risks to our children are the same as risks to ourselves.  We can teach them to lower their risk but the risk never goes away.

Sorry Bill doesn’t live here


Usually when a client calls me to ask the question “What do I do?” it’s because they need to use their membership and are not sure how to go about it or even if they should call.  My advice is always to use the membership and let the attorneys handle legal issues and the Investigators for Identity Theft Shield answer their identity theft questions but this morning I was stunned by a client asking me a different question.

It seems my client is the recipient of email meant for someone else.  Not a single email but several.  These email are being sent to her from a phone service provider.  When she received the first one, she tried to contact the person that it was meant for and called the phone number that had been provided for the intended recipient.  Guess what? she got another email letting her know that the intended recipient now had a message to pick up.

You would think this is a minor thing but…The email contains everything a thief would need to steal the intended recipient’s identity, all of their personal information.  Name, address, phone number, account number etc.  Not good.

She told me that she although she understood identity theft, she never understood exactly how easy it was to steal someone’s identity.  This company handed someone elses’ information to her on a silver platter.   This triggering a bit of thinking on her part.  Who else is getting all this information sent to them?  Are they honest?  What companies has sent out her information to the wrong person.

She is very thankful right now to have her LegalShield and Identity Theft Shield memberships.  She now realizes just how easy it is for her identity to be stolen and is relieved to know that she is covered when the wrong person gets their hands on her information.

Easier said than done


The arrest statistics for Identity theft are extremely low, somewhere around 5%. that means that 95% of identity thieves get away with it.  It’s a very low risk crime for the criminal.  Many people think the police should just arrest the thieves.  It’s a nice thought but much easier said than done.  After 12 year with a police department let me outline why these thieves can get away with theft.

Police departments do not have the resources to investigate every identity theft report they get.

In large metro areas the police force is already stretched thin responding to calls, patrolling their assigned areas, investigating crimes that occurred locally and doing traffic control.  They just don’t have the manpower to investigate each identity theft case that falls into their laps.

 Jurisdictional issues

You may live in Florida while the thefts can originate from anywhere.  The thief may be doing the stealing from California, but they are ordering from a company in Texas.  That creates a problem for law enforce since there is at least three different agencies involved and all limited to their own jurisdiction.  The Florida agency cannot do anything in California where the thief has an address and is committing the crime, the California agency can’t do anything about the fraud which occurred in Texas.  All they can try to do is coordinate thier investigations, but again we come down to the manpower issue.  The florida agency may know the address the thief is using, but that does not mean that the California Agency has anyone available to investigate it.  Now imaging this on a global scale. You are in the US and and your information is being used in Indonesia.

 The person using your information is not the one who stole it and there may be multiple people using your information.

People are being bought and traded in underground chat rooms like the newest hottest commodity.  It’s a black market version of Wall Street or E-bay.  Identity theft rings buy the information from the local thieves(who stole it from you or someone who has access to it).  The Identity theft rings “broker” the information to the “suppliers” and “consumers”.

Suppliers are usually criminal cartels providing false documentation to illegal immigrants that the cartels buy in bulk from identity theft rings.  US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are contantly busting up these rings.  You can visit their site at www.ice.gov Check out the news releases on Document Fraud and Workplace Enforcement.

Consumers are the individuals who purchase your information. They may wish to steal your credit, cover their own criminal past, hide their illegal immigrant status, get medical benefits or to use it for any of the same things you would use your information for like get a job.

Often when you get this deep into it, the information is crosing international borders.  The information that a waitress at Red Lobster stole from you while she was off somewhere processing your credit card was sold by her to a local ring.  That local ring then sold it to a clearing house in say Siberia. It now flows through that clearing house to chat rooms where it is auctioned off to the highest bidder who may be using it themselves or creating fraudulent driver’s licenses and social security cards..

When you do realize that you are a victim, the information may have travelled around the world and back; and it could be months or even years after the information was first stolen.  Identity theft is a complex and complicated crime the only thing we can do is to be aware, informed and prepared.  I am dedicated to making you aware and informed, Identity Theft Shield is a good way to be prepared

There are no borders with identity theft


Identity theft is a crime without borders.  If you see me mention that it is a ‘global phenomenon, I’m not talking about the fact that there are victims in practically every country on Earth, I’m talking about the fact that the victim can be in one country, the thief in another and the information used in yet another.

Simon Bunce is a good example.  Simon is a citizen of the United Kingdom, but His information surfaced as a purchaser of Child Pornography during a US Investigation.   Then the nightmare began for Simon.

Deep in the heart of Texas

It all started in the state of Texas.  US investigators were hard at work cracking down on Child Pornography on the internet.  During the investigation thousands of British credit card numbers were discovered, all used to purchase child pornography on the internet.

Now we all know that Great Britain and the US had a little spat a few years ago called the Revolutionary war.  No hard feelings neither side is holding a grude.  We get along famously.  So famously in fact that our American investigators took the helpful step of forwarding this information to British authorities.

Enter Simon Bunce et al

Across the pond, Authorities are just as determined to wipe out child pornography.  They immediately identified and went after those on the list, some 7000 people including Mr. Bunce.  This is when the nightmare began.  Police arrested Mr Bunce on ‘suspicion of possessing child pornography’ and seized his computer.  If only it had stopped there.

Mr Bunce was now suspected of being a pedophile.  Goodbye cushy high paying job, goodbye family; hello to a nightmare.  Mr Bunce’s wife did stand by him.  Mr Bunce took it upon himself to investigate just how his credit card number ended up on a list of suspected pedophiles.

Indonesia? But I was having Dinner in London

Mr Bunce followed the trail to Jakarta Indonesia.  Someone in Indonesia had used his credit card to make the infamous purchase while he had been busy enjoying a nice dinner (which he paid for using the card in question).  A very neat trick.  David Copperfield and Cris Angel could take lessons from Mr Bunce in the magic department, I mean being in two places that distant at the same time is a neat trick.

Eventually the Police agreed and cleared him of the charges but at a high cost for Simon Bunce.  He was arrested, lost his job and his family and probably had to deal with suspicion and scorn from his neighbors and friends.  How would you treat a pedophile?

Mr Bunce had done nothing to deserve the nightmare he had to live through.  Identity thieves ruin lives.  It is not a victimless crime.  Perhaps credit monitoring could have helped in this situation.  One of the benefits of Identity Theft Shield is continuous credit monitoring and immediate notification of suspicious activity.

Here’s a new hit song for identity thieves!


This song is blowing up the Top Ten on the Identity Identity Theft Hit Parade!  Da Dumpster Dive!  These guys may be diving in for old Kool Aid and Bagels, but Identity thieves dive in for a different reason.

By now most of us are understanding the need to shred our old personal documents.  An in home shredder is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity.  And we know that it needs to be DOD Approved and not a ribbon shredder.  Ribbon shredders just create jigsaw puzzles for identity thieves, strips can be pieced back together to harvest information.  With individual getting more savvy about the destruction of information, your home trash is much less attractive to identity thieves than this item.

Why are dumpsters so attractive to identity thieves?  Well you always find dumpsters near businesses.  Businesses gather all sorts of personal information from their clients and customers.   Names, addresses, phone numbers, account numbers and the list goes on.  And businesses do not always follow the law when it comes to disposal on this information.

It is a fairly common event to turn on your local news to see a report about files dumped in dumpsters.   Honest people come across these files and report it to news reporters, police or others and it ends up on your evening news.  For every honest person that reports the situation, how many dishonest people are taking the information for nefarious purposes.

Personal information found in dumpsters is a gold mine.  The thief does not have to use you information personally.  There is a huge black market out there for personal information and the thieves know this.  They can make a fortune selling what they find in these dumpsters.

If a business you have dealt with improperly disposes of your personal information in a dumpster, and a thief gets his hands on it; well that information can be sold as many times as the thief wants.  Multiple people can buy and use your information.  This is why it is important to have a plan, to be able to react quickly and at any time to respond to identity theft issues.

Tales of identity theft


Most of us think of identity theft as something new, a modern crime if you will but Identity Theft has been occurring as long as civilization has been around.  As a matter of fact you can find what is probably the first documented case of Identity theft in your bible in the book of Genesis.

Esau and Jacob

The Story of Esau and Jacob is probably the oldest case of identity theft ever recorded.  We learned about this one in Sunday School.  How Jacob and his mother conspired to steal Esau’s birthright by convincing the blind Issac that Jacob was his older son, Esau.

But examples can also be found in classic literature.  The Classic novel by Alexandre Dumas, The Man in the Iron Mask also gives us a tale of identity theft. The next time you read a book or watch a movie, pay very close attention.  You just might find that it is a tale of identity theft.