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.

 

 

Advertisements

The IRS and Identity Theft


As time goes on we become more aware of the fact that identity theft is not just about stealing credit.  But there is still a long ways to go in completely dispelling that myth.  By focusing so much attention on credit cards and bank accounts, we may be completely ignoring other areas of risk, like our social security number.

It’s tax season right now and a requirement on all tax returns is your social security number.  Your employer reports your income to the IRS using your social security number, but what if another employer you don’t work for is reporting income attached to your social security number?

It happens according to 2008 FTC statistics, the top states for employment related identity theft are:

  1. Arizona 33%
  2. Texas 27%
  3. New Mexico 23%
  4. Colorado 22%
  5. California 20%

*percentage of  reported identity theft cases*

The consequences for employment identity theft can include Tax Audits, loss of Tax return funds and charges for additional taxes owed.

There are so many suggestions on how to combat this trend but the most simple one has been overlooked, stop giving your social security number to everyone who asks for it!   Everyone who asks does not have a right or need to have it.

 

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.

 

Old habits die hard


All of us have developed habits over the course of our lives and habits can be hard to break.  Some habits are beneficial. If it is your habit to take a walk every day that is beneficial, it contributes to your health and fitness.  Some habits are basically harmless, like tossing dirty clothes in a pile on the floor.  And other habits are dangerous like drinking and driving.

All of us are influenced by habits and often we don’t consider many habits dangerous unless they directly impact our health or lives.  In today’s information driven world many habits we consider harmless are more dangerous than we think.  These habits increase our risk of falling victim to identity theft.  By changing these habits we can lower our risk.  Take a look at these habits, everyone of them increases your risk.

Considering junk mail harmless

Junk mail shows up in our mailboxes on a daily basis and most people consider it nothing more than an annoyance.  The truth is junk mail can be a real danger.  How many pre-approved credit card offers do you get?  All it takes if for a thief to get theirs hands on one, change the address and open an account in your name.

Tossing documents in the trash without shredding them first

Look at a piece of junk mail laying around right now, does it have a bar code?  barcodes carry information, and yet most people simply throw junk mail in the trash.   When it comes to personal documents people are getting better but anything that contains a name and the following information should be treated as sensitive:

  • Social security or other identifying number
  • Account number
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Date of birth

Carrying unecessary identification cards

Many of us have multiple identification cards such as Social Security card, Military ID’s Insurance cards, Medicaid cards.  All of these cards give thieves the information that they need to steal your identity.  Only carry these cards with you when absolutely necessary.  If your wallet is lost or stolen, these cards will not be lost along with it.

Carrying too many credit/debit cards

Many of us may have multiple credit accounts or bank accounts and we have cards for each account.  Limit the number of cards you carry.  You don’t need to carry your JC Penney store credit card unless you are going shopping at JC Penney.

Giving our social security number as a matter of habit

Not everyone who asks for your social security needs or has a right to it.  Ask why it is needed.  Your employer has a need and a right to your Social Security number when you are an employee, a prospective employer does not.   Government agencies have a right to your social security number, a private company probably does not.  Also when giving your social security number verbally to someone  be aware of your surroundings, think about who may be listening in.

Leaving purses or wallets unattended

Never leave your purse or wallet inside your car.  If you must leave it in your vehicle lock it in the trunk.  A thief who breaks into your car has access to the entire passenger compartment and can search through it very quickly and efficiently.  Anything you leave in the passenger compartment is fair game.

Not checking our credit report regularly

When is the last time you checked your credit report?  When you bought your last car? When you bought your house? Never?  Checking your credit report regularly gives you the greatest chance of minimizing the damage an identity thief can do to you.  Also there are government protections in place for consumers who become victims and many of these protections are time sensitive requiring you to take action within a certain time frame.  For example fraudulent credit card charges must be disputed in writing within 60 days of when the fraudulent charge would first appear on the credit card bill.  If an identity thief changes the address and you don’t get the bill, the 60 day time limit still applies.

Evaluate your habits of dealing with your personal information.  If they are lax, work on changing those habits to lower your risk.  Remember that we can all lower our risk but we cannot eliminate it.  The more we develop good habits the less of a chance that a thief will get our information from us.  Have a plan when and if you do become a victim, LegalShield can help.

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.

He’s dead, he won’t care


On a traditional Catholic calendar  October 31st through November 2nd are all holidays.  October 31st needs no explanation All Hallows Eve or Halloween is quite notable.  That makes November 1st All Hallows Day, Better known as All Saint’s Day.  November 1st is set aside to honor the many saints of the church.  That only leaves November 2nd.

November 2nd is not really observed in the U.S. except in ares where there is a large Hispanic population.  November 2nd is All Souls Day, better known in Mexico as Dia de los Muertos-Day of the Dead.

The Day of the Dead/All Souls Day, is a day to honor and remember those who have passed on.  Being today is the Day of the Dead, It is an appropriate day for me to honor and remember the dead in my own way.   By telling you about a practice that dishonors our departed loved ones.  It is called Ghosting and it is one of the first widely used forms of identity theft.  Ghosting is simply taking over the identity of someone who has died.

Classic Ghosting

There was a time when governments did not document births or deaths.  It fell to families and churches to record this information through family bibles, baptismal records or church membership registries.  That meant that the information on births and deaths was only available locally.  Identity thieves only needed to worry about a few things to successfully ghost someone. They needed to be the same sex and race as the deceased and close to the same age.  All they had to do was go to a different location and establish themselves as the deceased.

Modern Ghosting

When Government began to be more effective at recording vital statistics, Classic Ghosting became much harder.  Today it is almost impossible.  Ghosting still occurs today but in a different form.

Today ghosting is all about using the information of the deceased to commit financial identity theft or Social Security Identity Theft.  Yes we do have what is called the Death Master File to prevent it from happening but it can take years for the deceased to be added to the file.

A Well known victim of Modern Ghosting is the Late Nirvana front man, Kurt Cobain.  Kurt Cobain died in 1994 yet his social security number was allegedly used in 2007 to purchase a $3.2 million home in New Jersey.

Identity thieves will target anyone even our loved ones who have passed on.  When you lose someone you love, they can no longer protect themselves.  It is up to us to protect them.   or for us to take steps to protect ourselves before we pass on.  Talking to an attorney now about what you can  do as a part of your estate planning would be a good first step.

You’re Repo’ing my car? But I’m only 4 years old!


As parents, the safety of our little ones is important.  We put time and effort into teaching them how to be safe.  For example “Don’t talk to strangers.”  We don’t teach them to protect their identities.  We don’t even consider them at risk for the most part.

Most of us still consider Identity Theft a financial issue.  It’s all about our credit cards and bank accounts.  And our kids don’t have credit cards.  And usually a parent or trusted adult is listed on that bank account so our children won’t become a victim.

Actually our children are prime targets for identity theft.  I didn’t get a social security number until I was 8 years old.  I wouldn’t have gotten it then, but my mother applied for mine when she applied for my older brother’s just to get it out of the way.  Now our newborns are often coming home from the hospital with Social Security numbers already assigned to them.

A child has something very valuable to Identity thieves-Clean Credit.  They also don’t use that credit so a thief has years and years to use the child’s information with almost no risk of discovery.  Child identity theft victims may not find out until they apply for a driver’s license or for college financial aid.  The activities of an Identity thief can ruin the life of a childhood victim.

As parents we need to be aware of the risk to our children and we need to teach our children about protecting their identity.  Make the protection of Personally Identifying Information a family issue.  Have children help with shredding documents.   To get them in the habit, let them shred some of their old school papers.  Always check junk mail for credit card or other offers of credit in your child’s name.  Consider enrolling your child some form of Identity theft protection designed for children, like Safeguard for Minors.

The important thing is to teach them to be aware and protect their identities.