Category Archives: News

Protecting yourself from identity theft: An explainer

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-201709191635–tms–savingsgctnzy-a20170919-20170919-story.html

Protecting yourself from identity theft: An explainer

Anya Kamenetz, Tribune Content AgencyThe Savings Game

I want to take this space to explain a little more about the various steps one can take to guard against theft of your money or identity, because it’s been in the news so much lately, and I know it can all be confusing.

First, what are we afraid of here? Three things:

1) A thief uses your existing credit card numbers to buy things.

2) Someone impersonates you and opens up new credit accounts or takes out loans in your name.

3) Someone uses your personal information to file a tax return and claim a refund.

In some ways, straightforward credit card fraud is the least frightening. That’s because the credit card companies have gotten very good at flagging charges that are out of the ordinary in any way, and those charges can be reversed when you respond quickly. When I bought gas on a recent trip to New Jersey, the credit card company wanted to make sure it was really me, because I lived in Brooklyn and don’t own a car. It’s also important to look at your own statements each month for charges you don’t recognize, even tiny ones.

The second possibility (more…)

Should you worry about identity theft?

http://www.livemint.com/Money/ABgusszVZhUExJmXOlMy9O/Should-you-worry-about-identity-theft.html

Should you worry about identity theft?

Laws in India regarding data protection may be weak, but following basic cyber hygiene rules can make your own defences stronger
iStock

iStock

Earlier this month, US-based credit information company Equifax Inc. said its systems had been struck by a cybersecurity incident that may have affected about 143 million US consumers. A report by Bloomberg said the incident could be ranked among one of the largest data breaches in history. The intruders accessed names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s licence numbers and also credit card numbers, Equifax said in a statement.

While this reiterates what cyber security professionals say, that nothing is hack proof, it does remind us of the range of cyber crimes, which revolve around identity theft and frauds. It gives us a chance to reflect upon how well prepared we are, if a cyber attack strikes us, or if our personally (more…)

Yes, your child could be a victim of identity theft

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/yes-your-child-could-be-a-victim-of-identity-theft/

Yes, your child could be a victim of identity theft

By MoneyTips

Could your child have a credit report even if he or she has never used a credit card or borrowed money? It’s possible when identity theft is involved.

Your child’s Social Security number (SSN) may be exposed in a number of ways — school records and medical records are just two common examples. Any time your child’s SSN is entered on a form and stored in a new location, one more avenue is established for identity thieves potentially to access the SSN. By pairing your child’s valid SSN with a different birth date, thieves can open fraudulent accounts without your knowledge.

This type of fraud is particularly insidious because it can go undetected for many years. You may not realize fraud has taken place until your child reaches early adulthood and applies for student loans, car loans or other forms of credit. By then, the damage is extensive and difficult to repair.

Most parents wouldn’t think to review their child’s credit report. Unless unexplained bills, collections calls or IRS notices show up, why would you even expect a credit report to exist?

That’s the very reason why you should (more…)

Your next worry after the Equifax breach: Fake tax returns

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/18/your-next-worry-after-the-equifax-breach-fake-tax-returns.html

Your next worry after the Equifax breach: Fake tax returns

  • Tax-related identity theft is one of the IRS “Dirty Dozen” top tax scams.
  • Victims of the Equifax breach may not qualify for IRS ID-theft precautions like an identity protecting PIN.
  • Getting organized now can help you file your return earlier next year.

Your next worry after the Equifax breach: Fake tax returns

Your next worry after the Equifax breach: Fake tax returns  

After the Equifax data breach, year-end tax planning may be even more important.

Social Security numbers were among the data exposed in the Equifax hack, which affects up to 143 million people. Immediate to-dos have focused on fraud alerts, credit freezes and monitoring to curtail thieves’ ability to open new accounts in victims’ names. But experts say consumers should also start thinking ahead to tax season — when criminals could potentially use those stolen Social Security numbers to file fraudulent tax returns and snare refunds.

“This is going to be an ongoing problem,” said Tim Gagnon, an associate teaching professor of accounting at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business.

Having a credit freeze or other monitoring in place doesn’t prevent tax-related identity theft, which is among the top scams on the IRS “Dirty Dozen” list. The agency estimates that during (more…)

Here’s a Better Identity Theft Idea for Elizabeth Warren

Here’s a Better Identity Theft Idea for Elizabeth Warren

Here’s a Better Identity Theft Idea for Elizabeth Warren

Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via ZUMA

Hannah Levintova reports that Elizabeth Warren has introduced legislation in response to the Equifax hack:

The bill, titled the Freedom from Equifax Exploitation (FREE) Act, would require credit reporting agencies to offer customers free options to impose or lift a “credit freeze” that stops the sharing and selling of personal credit information to third parties. Currently, there is no federal rule requiring that credit reporting agencies offer any sort of freeze option, and agencies that do, charge between $2-$10 each time a freeze is imposed or lifted.

….The bill—also sponsored by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)—would also offer consumers better fraud alert protections in the wake of the breach, requiring credit reporting agencies to offer up to seven years of renewable fraud alert protections.

As happy as I am to see Warren responding to this—even if there’s precious little chance of Republicans offering their support—I’m surprised that her bill is so weak. It should be stronger and less complicated.

A “credit freeze” is a simple thing: it means that if you apply for credit and someone asks for a credit report, Equifax¹ has to contact you first to make sure that it was really (more…)

Here’s what to do if your identity is stolen

https://www.marketplace.org/2017/09/15/life/here-s-what-do-if-your-identity-stolen

Here’s what to do if your identity is stolen

The FTC has instructions on what to do if you've stopped receiving government benefits because of identity theft. Above, blank Social Security checks are run through a printer at the U.S. Treasury facility in Philadelphia.
The FTC has instructions on what to do if you’ve stopped receiving government benefits because of identity theft. Above, blank Social Security checks are run through a printer at the U.S. Treasury facility in Philadelphia. – William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Let’s assume the worst for a moment. You’ve checked on Equifax’s website and discovered that you’re one of 143 million Americans whose personal information may have been accessed by hackers. In the following days, you notice unexplained withdrawals from your bank account or charges on your credit card — some of the clues that your identity has been stolen. What do you do now?

First, take a deep breath, the Federal Trade Commission advises. Then steel yourself for a lot of paperwork and phone calls. The FTC’s goal is to protect consumers, and its website has a wealth of resources for consumers on how to recover from identity theft. Here are some of them:

Take care of those fraudulent charges. Call the fraud department of companies where the fraud occurred and ask them to remove those charges or close or freeze the accounts in question so no new charges can be added. Change your logins, passwords and (more…)

To prevent identity theft, government will issue new Medicare cards

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/prevent-identity-theft-government-will-issue-new-medicare-cards/

 

THE RUNDOWN
A BLOG OF NEWS AND INSIGHT

To prevent identity theft, government will issue new Medicare cards

BY LAUREN NEERGAARD, ASSOCIATED PRESS  September 14, 2017 at 6:56 AM EDT
John and Mary Benbow, 67, and 68, respectively, of La Jolla, shown holding his finger over his social security number on his Medicare card, work hard to protect themselves from the scourge of identiy theft. They took their first names off their checks, they black out personal information and shred financial documents before putting them in the trash. There's just one area where they feel vulnerable and there's little that they can do about it. They must carry around their Medicare cards, which are emblazoned with their Social Security numbers, which experts say are a skeleton key to an individual's financial life.  (Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

John and Mary Benbow, 67, and 68, respectively, of La Jolla, shown holding his finger over his social security number on his Medicare card, work hard to protect themselves from the scourge of identiy theft. They took their first names off their checks, they black out personal information and shred financial documents before putting them in the trash. There’s just one area where they feel vulnerable and there’s little that they can do about it. They must carry around their Medicare cards, which are emblazoned with their Social Security numbers, which experts say are a skeleton key to an individual’s financial life. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Medicare cards are getting a makeover to fight identity theft.

No more Social Security numbers plastered on the card. Next April, Medicare will begin mailing every beneficiary a new card with a unique new number to identify them.

“Criminals are increasingly targeting people age 65 and older for medical identity theft,” Medicare chief Seema Verma told The Associated Press. “We are committed to preventing (more…)

What consumers should know about identity theft

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/what-consumers-should-know-about-identity-theft-091217.html

By Mark Huffman

Mark Huffman has been a consumer news reporter for ConsumerAffairs since 2004. He covers real estate, gas prices and the economy and has reported extensively on negative-option sales. He was previously an Associated Press reporter and editor in Washington, D.C., a correspondent for Westwoood One Radio Networks and Marketwatch.  Read Full Bio→

Email Mark Huffman  Phone: 866-773-0221

Photo
Photo (c) blas – Fotolia

When Equifax reported a massive data breach, you may have been concerned that you could become a victim of identity theft.On the other hand, you might be only vaguely aware of the threat and not sure what identity theft is or how identity thieves operate. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has published a comprehensive guide to identity theft, with advice for affected consumers.

It offers useful tips for protecting your data and recommends steps to take if you become a victim.

Eva Velasquez, President and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) in San Diego is accustomed to working with consumers who have been blindsided by identity theft and aren’t even really sure what has happened to them.

“Identity theft is the misuse of your personally (more…)

Equifax data breach could create lifelong identity theft threat

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/09/09/equifax-data-breach-could-create-life-long-identity-theft-threat/646765001/

Equifax data breach could create lifelong identity theft threat

Nearly half of all Americans are affected by a cyber security breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit-reporting agencies. Here’s how to avoid being a victim. USA TODAY

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When a credit card gets stolen, it’s easy for the victim of the crime to shut down the card, get a new account number and avoid monetary loss. But financial peril rises and can persist for years when personal data likely to stay the same forever — like Social Security numbers, names and dates of birth — get stolen like it did in the cyber attack on credit-reporting service Equifax.

Once hackers gain access to these key pieces of personal data — which is akin to the DNA of a person’s online digital self — it is at the cyber thieves’ disposal forever to cause harm.

“It’s very problematic for hackers to have all that important information all in one place,” says John Ulzheimer, a credit expert who once worked for Equifax and credit-score firm FICO. “This information is perpetually valuable. You are not going to change your name or date of birth (more…)

Equifax breach sows chaos among 143M Americans

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/equifax-breach-exposes-143-million-people-identity-theft-49694776

Equifax breach sows chaos among 143M Americans

Equifax Inc.The Associated Press

This July 21, 2012, photo shows Equifax Inc., offices in Atlanta. Credit monitoring company Equifax says a breach exposed social security numbers and other data from about 143 million Americans. The Atlanta-based company said Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, that “criminals” exploited a U.S. website application to access files between mid-May and July of this year. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)more +

A day after credit-reporting company Equifax disclosed that “criminals” had stolen vital data about 143 million Americans, it had somehow managed to leave much of the public in the dark about their exposure, how they should protect themselves and what Equifax planned to do for those affected.

The breach is unquestionably serious. It exposed crucial pieces of personal data that criminals could use to commit identity theft, from Social Security numbers and birthdates to address histories and legal names.

That data — the “crown jewels of personal information,” in the words of independent credit analysts John Ulzheimer — can’t be changed, and once it’s in circulation, it’s basically out there forever.

But Equifax’s response has satisfied almost no one.

UNHAPPINESS EVERYWHERE

Consumers complained of jammed phone (more…)