Credit monitoring company Equifax has been hit by a high-tech heist that exposed the Social Security numbers and other sensitive information about 143 million Americans. Now the unwitting victims have to worry about the threat of having their identities stolen.
The Atlanta-based company, one of three major U.S. credit bureaus, said Thursday that “criminals” exploited a U.S. website application to access files between mid-May and July of this year.
The theft obtained consumers’ names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers. The purloined data can be enough for crooks to hijack the identities of people whose credentials were stolen through no fault of their own, potentially wreaking havoc on their lives.
“On a scale of one to 10, this is a 10 in terms of potential identity theft,” said Gartner security analyst Avivah Litan. “Credit bureaus keep so much data about us that affects almost everything we do.”
Lenders rely on the information collected by the credit bureaus to help them decide whether to approve financing for homes, (more…)
IDShield isn’t a typical identity theft protection service. While it monitors a lot of the same types of information as competing services, IDShield (starting at $9.95 per month) differentiates itself with its consultation services and full identity restoration, with the help of licensed private investigators.
Editors’ Note: We are beginning to evaluate IDShield and will update this article with a full rated review this fall. LegalShield ID Premium, which we previously reviewed, is no longer available.
IDShield starts at $9.95 per month for two adults, but families can pay $19.95 monthly to protect the parents and up to eight children.
That price includes security monitoring of everything from your Social Security number and credit card numbers to court records and new-address requests. In addition, IDShield offers privacy monitoring for things such as phone numbers and social media accounts. Also included is a free password manager, to help secure your personal information.
Members get access to an IDShield app, where you can see your credit score and get alerts via push notifications. If you do get an alert, you can take action directly from it; for example, you can (more…)
I Was An ID Theft Victim: Here’s What I Did Right (And Wrong)
Learn from this author’s experience
by Gerri Detweiler Posted: September 3, 2017
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It was bound to happen at some point: I became a victim of identity theft. After a 20+ year career writing and educating consumers about credit, including identity theft, I found myself on the other side of the story.
I was alerted through credit monitoring that a new retail credit card had been opened in my name. While I had shopped at that store the day before, I most certainly had not opened an account. A phone call to the retailer revealed that the perpetrator had bought a few hundred dollars worth of sneakers online and they were out for delivery as we were speaking.
It’s been a few months since the incident and here are some lessons I’ve learned.
What I Did Right
I monitor my credit. This helps me see warning signs, such as new inquiries and accounts on my credit reports. In addition to card issuers that provide me with free credit scores each month, I have a Nav account that provides me with free personal and business credit scores plus alerts. (There are over 150 places (more…)
The only reason you have not yet been the victim of an identity-related crime (and that includes credit card fraud) is that no one practiced in the art has had the opportunity to separate you from your available credit, health care, or other bankable soft assets — yet.
The figures on data compromises vary, but Risk Based Security estimates that just last year more than 4.2 billion sensitive records were compromised — information that opens the door to all kinds of identity-related malfeasance, including account takeover, credit draining, theft of health care, and even the commission of a crime in the victim’s name.
To put it bluntly, your chances of avoiding fraud are right up there with winning it big at a bingo convention in Florida — slim to none.
Following the Eyewitness News investigation, the U.S. Treasury’s Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reviewed millions of tax returns filed by undocumented workers in 2015. The inspector general released a formal audit report this summer showing those tax returns include an estimated 1.5 million cases of identity theft. (That’s for a single year reviewed.)
After WTHR’s reporting, the IRS pledged to better identify victims, to place a warning on their accounts and to notify them of suspected identity theft. But the TIGTA audit reveals that did not happen in hundreds of thousands of cases.
According to the inspector general’s review, more than 830,000 victims were not identified even though identity thieves electronically filed tax returns with evidence that they used the victims’ Social Security Numbers to gain employment. Despite the IRS’s promise to notify (more…)
Whether it’s an Internet hacker stealing Social Security numbers from hospital records, a doctor’s office employee using patient data to set up phony store accounts, or an organized criminal group seeking to ransom patient information, medical identity theft is a growing crime.
Hospitals, major insurance companies and even the Veterans Administration have been targets.
That’s because medical records contain a wealth of personal and financial information, from Social Security numbers and birth dates to credit card and bank account numbers, making them invaluable to thieves looking to commit fraud, experts say.
There were more data breaches in the health care sector in 2015 than in any other critical infrastructure sector, according to a new report from the Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force.
“Health care cybersecurity is a key public health concern that needs immediate and aggressive attention,” the group wrote.
“If the health care system is connected, but insecure, this connectivity could betray patient safety, subjecting them to unnecessary risk and forcing them to pay unaffordable personal costs,” they continued. “Our nation must find a (more…)
Identity theft happens when someone steals personal information for financial gain. Tax-related identity theft happens when someone uses another person’s stolen Social Security number (SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN) to file a tax return to obtain a fraudulent refund.
Many people realize they are victims of identity theft when they submit their tax returns and the Internal Revenue Service lets them know someone else already used their SSN to file a return.
The IRS has stopped millions of dollars from getting into the hands of thieves. To protect against identity theft, the agency launched “The Taxes. Security. Together.” awareness campaign in 2015 to inform people about ways to protect their personal, tax and financial data. For example, don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or purse and only provide your Social Security number if it’s necessary. Protect personal information at home and protect personal computers with anti-spam and anti-virus software. Routinely change passwords for online accounts.
Remember, criminals often try to impersonate banks, credit card companies and even the IRS hoping to steal personal data. Learn to recognize and avoid fake communications. Also, the IRS will not call a taxpayer threatening a lawsuit, arrest or to (more…)
American Document Destruction Inc, is proud to offer our clients both on-site mobile and off-site shredding. We understand that many business owners struggle with understanding which solution best suits their destruction needs. We also realize that choosing the right service for your business is all about being well-informed. As a result, we strive to educate our customers about all records and information management best practices—including document destruction—so they can make the most informed decision for their business.
Each destruction solution has its benefits
On-site shredding has gained popularity over the past several years due to a number of factors including:
expedient disposal of business information
ability to witness the shredding process
Similarly, the following statements by ADD, Inc. customers illustrate commonly held concerns about off-site shredding:
“I don’t want my documents to leave my premises for security reasons.”
“I want on-site shredding services because I want to watch the shredding being done.”
“I think it is safer to have the shredding done at my office because I don’t know or trust where it goes if it leaves my premises.”
Yet, while each destruction solution has its benefits, off-site shredding still offers a number of advantages over on-site shredding.
When Tiffany Bennett got an email from her phone company saying the password on the account she shares with her husband Kevin had been changed, she didn’t think anything of it.
“He and I share an account and we do that sometimes. I meant to check with Kevin to see if he had done it and it slipped my mind,” she remembered.
After all, this was her cell phone, not a credit card or something.
“When I really knew something was wrong and put everything together was a couple hours later when all of a sudden my texting wouldn’t work,” she said.
Thieves had somehow gotten the username and password the Bennetts used to access their account with their phone company. The thieves may have hacked the phone company, or they may have hacked a different website where the Bennetts used the same username and password combination. However they got the information, the thieves logged in, changed the password and transferred Tiffany Bennett’s phone number to a new phone, locking her out.
“Her phone number still worked,” Kevin Bennett recalled, “it just rang on the phone that they had, and this (more…)
The curious case of Leah Palmer
Unmasking the fraudsters
ID theft accounts for more than half of fraud recorded by Cifas, a not-for-profit organisation that shares fraud prevention tips between businesses and public bodies.
More than four in five of these crimes were committed online, it said, with many victims unaware that they had been targeted until they received a (more…)