Archive for the ‘Identity Theft’ Category

Identity Theft – What Should I Do if I’ve Become a Victim?

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010
Identity thieves take advantage of everyday opportunities to discover your personal information and use it to commit fraud or other crimes. The good news is a victim of identity theft has more options today than ever before. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there are four important actions you can take to minimize the credit damage caused by circumstances beyond your control.1. Contact any of the three major credit bureaus. Speak to someone in the fraud department and request that a fraud alert be placed on your credit report. As soon as one credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the other two will automatically place one on your report as well. With a fraud alert in place, creditors must contact you before opening any new accounts in your name or changing any details of your existing accounts.

Then request a free copy of your credit report from each one. Review all of your credit information looking for unauthorized accounts, charges, or changes. Check the accuracy of your name, address, phone number, Social Security number (SSN), past employers, and any other personal information. Request any inaccuracies be corrected by notifying the bureaus by phone and follow up in writing by using certified mail, return receipt requested, so you will have documentation of all requests and responses by the bureaus. The addresses for each bureau are listed at the end of this article.

Continue to check your reports every few months, especially in the first year after you have lost your personal information.

2. Contact the creditors for the accounts that have been altered or opened without your permission. This includes bank accounts, credit card companies, lenders, utilities, phone companies, Internet service providers, and any other services that may be opened fraudulently. Contact the company’s fraud department b phone and follow up with a letter.

The FTC offers the “ID Theft Affidavit” to dispute new accounts, available at www.ftc.gov . To dispute charges on existing accounts, request the company’s fraud dispute forms.

If you suspect that a thief has been passing bad checks in your name, close the account immediately and notify your bank. Contact the major check verification services and ask that the retailers who use their databases stop accepting your checks for purchases. To find out if an identity thief has been writing checks in your name, call SCAN at 1-800-262-7771. The three major check verification services are:

• TeleCheck – Call 1-800-710-9898 or 927-0188.

• Certegy, Inc. – Call 1-800-437-5120.

• International Check Services – Call 1-800-631-9656.

3. The third step to take if you believe you are a victim of identity theft is to file a police report. Request a copy of the report for your records and to send to creditors for verification of the crime. Unfortunately, 61% of victims in 2004 did not notify the police of identity theft crimes.

4. Finally, file a complaint with the FTC to help law enforcement across the country track identity thieves and catch them. You will also be referred to other useful government agencies and consumer organizations to help you recover from identity theft. Contact the FTC in any of the following ways:

• Call the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338);

• Write Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580;

• Or visit www.consumer.gov/idtheft .

5. If you have been turned down for a loan, lost a job, or possibly had to pay significantly more interest fees because damage to your credit score due to circumstances beyond your control, you may have a credit damage claim. Now with a newly developed process called Credit Damage Measurement, you can measure the financial loss you have sustained and as a result, receive fair compensation.

These five steps should resolve most of your credit problems after becoming a victim of identity theft. However, stay alert for new occurrences. Review your credit report every year and report any problems to creditors immediately both by phone and in writing. With diligence and a little patience, you can recover your good name.

As promised, here is the location and contact information for he three credit bureaus to report fraud:

• Equifax – Call 1-800-525-6285; write P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241; or visit www.equifax.com for more information.

• Experian – Call 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); write P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013; or visit www.experian.com for more information.

• TransUnion – Call 1-800-680-7289; write Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790; or visit www.tuc.com for more information.

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Child Identity Theft

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

When a child is born, a parent may apply for a Social Security number for that child.  A child’s Social Security number is very much sought after by identity thieves.  The child identity thief could be a family member (uncle, aunt cousin), another adult who has access and is allowed in your home, someone who has stolen your mail or hacked into your computer.  We think we know who the child identity thief could be, but we don’t.

Most parents apply for the baby’s SSN so that they can claim the child on their taxes and you must submit the SSN on the official tax forms, so now, anybody who has the means to see that tax form can copy the child’s information.  The child’s identity could be stolen at the hospital or at a health professionals’ office.  What about the dishonest legal professional who sells the child’s identity to an unscrupulous client.  It does not matter what profession a person is in, they have the potential to be dishonest.

The thief could be anybody.  Typically, your not going to check your child’s credit rating (why would you), so your not going to know their identity has been stolen.  Now the identity thief has more than a decade to create a new identity for him and gain credit cards, loans, cell phones, utilities, bank accounts, drivers license etc. etc.  The crime is not discovered until your child has grown and applies for her first education loan, apartment, credit card or job!  By now, the trail has become ice cold and your child’s credit record has been cut to ribbons.  In all likelihood all of the accounts opened in her name have been purchased by a collection agency.

It would be very difficult for your child to repair what has happened because of the difficulty in tracking down the original loan applications and transaction records if the original account has been through several hands because of companies merging and being bought-up.  Our children need to be taught about the dangers of providing their personal information and your personal information when they are logged onto the net.  Today’s kids have a burning desire to log into the many chat rooms and social networking sites and they may be asked for personal information on a registration screen or by an identity thief.

The preventative identity theft company, LifeLock, has already launched the first-of-its-kind Children’s ID Theft Prevention Program.  Now, LifeLock’s subscribers can add the children’s ID theft program to their existing full suite of ID theft preventative services.  The children’s theft prevention program is for minors 16 years and younger.  A recent study in the state of Utah revealed that 1,800 Social Security numbers assigned to children 12 years of age and younger had been forged, according to the state’s Identity Theft Task Force.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has advised that between 5% and 7% of identity theft victims are under the age of 18 and if you include college-aged individuals, it is almost 20%.

“Due to the extreme increase in ID theft among minors, we have taken the initiative to develop a first-of-its-kind program to protect children,” said Todd Davis, CEO of LifeLock.  Tracking credit bureau activity and monitoring depository accounts are considered standard when dealing with identity theft.  But Davis insists that working with the Social Security Administration and identifying work activity from unusually young minors is a red flag that warrants further investigation. “LifeLock is in the process of working with local and federal agencies, as well as leaders in Washington D.C. to lead the efforts in protecting our children from identity theft. This is a critical aspect of our overall service,” continued Davis. “As the Utah investigation demonstrated, sadly, there are numerous victims yet to be discovered.”  LifeLock subscribers can pay $10 per year for the Children’s ID Theft Prevention Program through which LifeLock will regularly audit the credit bureau, monitor depository banking accounts, and track any unusual “work activity” with the Social Security Administration on behalf of LifeLock’s youth customers. All minors enrolled in the program will also benefit by LifeLock’s standard $1 million guarantee.

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Read The Latest Identity Theft Stories Involving Identity Theft Cases

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Identity theft is raising topic in world crime diaries today. You will find many pages of crime diaries been written on identity theft. All countries departments are into searching for some very strict actions to take against those conducting such crimes. There have been many cases noted down on identity thefts. All over the world, many countries have started taking this crime very seriously. Past times did not observe so such of rise in this type of crimes. But changing technologies have introduced many such sophisticated criminals into this business.

Recent times have seen many scams on identity thefts and strict actions have also been taking against those found guilty of such crimes. Some countries have modified their justice books for introducing clauses for identity thefts while others have introduced new clauses for identity criminals. There are many such fields in which identity theft takes place. Let us see some identity theft prone areas.

Identity theft prone areas

One such is phishing mail. We often get mails saying that they are from our bank or credit card providers and they need our personal details for re verification process. We usually do not ignore such mails because they also have a clause that of you don’t reply in certain period of time, you may loose your service.

So naturally any one would reply to such mail and give all his personal details including name, address, telephone number and even account number. Such mails are usually fraud mails that are generated by identity thefts and they just want your personal details so that they can make money out of it. Another such story goes like this. One man got a text message on his mobile phone having advertisement of an exciting offer provided b their company.

It assured that they would give great ideas to pay off all your debts and also get free from mortgages within 10 years. He naturally called that number. They talked with him very politely and he was impressed seeing their service. He gave his details and then after some days he realised that he has been declared as criminal who has done mess with his credits with the bank and tried to take off all the debts and now he will fore go penalty of 2 million dollars! He was in total shock and did not realise what exactly had happened.

Some more stories

Another such story goes like a person was having transaction with his bank ATM card and some man was observing him entering his pin number. After some days, that card got stolen and he realised that at end of that day, he had lost his 40 thousand dollars from his bank account.

Another person had thrown a form having his personal details such as name, telephone number and his bank account number in trash can out side his house. After 3 days he found all money from his account was deducted and his account was closed. Many such stories go and hence you have to be very particular about disposing off your personal details also.

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Medical Identity Theft Prevention and Protection

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Medical identity theft, by definition, is what results when a thief steals someone else’s social security number or health insurance information in order to obtain medical benefits of their own, particularly in the form of hospital visits and prescription drugs. The two facets of medical identity theft involve financial breaches of security and healthcare fraud. Long-term detrimental effects can easily result from this increasingly prevalent type of identity theft.

Medical identity theft is not as easy to detect or reverse as are the more common forms of identity fraud. This type of identity theft has left victims with tainted health records, medical histories, and diagnoses. Victims may receive bills for medications, tests and even surgeries that they never received. In order to ensure your own adequate identity theft protection, always be on the look out for medical service bills, records and notations that are not and were never applicable to your own history. If at any time you receive a bill for a service you never received, or you’re asked questions regarding an unknown medical condition, you’ve probably been victimized. Some victims of medical identity theft have even received faulty blood transfusions due to their records indicating the wrong blood type. So not only can this crime ruin your credit, it can also be potentially life-threatening.

Thieves often fail to pay their shares of insurance deductibles and co-pays, leaving their victims to receive credit reports detailing unrecognizable medical debts. Having a working knowledge of identity theft prevention techniques will help you protect yourself from this damaging crime. It is estimated that 1 in 6 Americans don’t have insurance, making it very tempting for some people to engage in medical identity theft, especially when emergency situations arise. If, heaven forbid, someone uses your personal data in an emergency care facility, they are very likely to get away with it as these facilities cannot refuse care and are less likely to catch the error in the first place.

To date, there are no government statistics as to the number of medical identity fraud cases occurring annually in the United States, but insurance providers and hospitals agree that this type of theft is presenting itself more and more. Approximately 250,000 Americans have been victims of medical identity theft thus far, according to the World Privacy Forum. If you think your medical records and insurance data are safe, never underestimate a thief’s ability to get their hands on your information. Because insurance companies share patient information, just because you clear up a tarnished medical history does not mean you’re always protected should you decide to switch to another provider.

Should a medical identity thief ever use your good name to seek treatment, you could be refused insurance coverage later–depending on the treatment they sought. It’s no secret that insurance agencies can and will refuse coverage to people with histories of certain drug use or pre-existing conditions. Here are a few medical identity theft protection tips for you and your loved ones to keep in mind:

• Any notices from your insurance carrier should be opened immediately. If you’re ever informed of or billed for treatment you didn’t receive, dispute it right away. Always shred these documents before throwing them in the trash.

• Be diligent about checking your credit report–this is important for any type of identity theft prevention. Strange medical bills need to be disputed with credit reporting agencies, as well as your insurance company.

• If you receive mail from a doctor’s office or hospital where you haven’t been a patient, don’t just assume it’s junk. Open these immediately, as they could be data theft notices or bills for services to which you weren’t privy. Let credit agencies know so they can put fraud alerts on your file. Also let your insurance company know right away.

• Suspect that you’re a victim of Medicare/Medicaid fraud? Call 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477), contact the Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-368-1019 or go to their website at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/.

• Think you might have been the victim of medical identity theft? File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission ( http://www.ftc.gov/idtheft ) by visiting their website or calling their Identity Theft Hotline toll-free at 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338).

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Information About Identity Theft Statistics

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

Identity theft or fraud is the intentional appropriation for personal information of another person used to impersonate them in a legal sense. Stealing the identity of a person enables the thief to make a frightening number of personal and financial transactions but not in their own name which leaves the victim responsible for almost everything that might happen due to the identity theft.

However the FTC or Federal Trade Commission has kept a record of identity theft and surprisingly they also have the number of incidents being reported each year. Therefore the identity theft statistics taken recently has reveled that id theft has affected as many as 10 million people in US every year. Based on the identity theft statistics of FTC the losses to financial and business organizations have totaled around 53 billion dollar in a year.

Earlier statistics

These statistics for id theft also reveal that most common types of identity thefts are communications services fraud like utility services account for your information or opening a cell phone, credit card frauds and even loan and bank frauds.

The primary cause of identity theft for several years has been the low tech and good old fashioned analog crime where the impersonators searching through mailboxes, searching the garbage for any credit card receipts or discarded bank statements and snatching purses. However the rapid advancement in technology has actually seen an outbreak of sophisticated phishing scams. The identity theft statistics today expose these scams as the most dangerous of theft which uses both technical subterfuge and social engineering.

Identity theft had been first mentioned in the literature during 1990s and studies have showed that from 2001 to 2002 there was nearly 12 to 20 percent increase in the crime while from 2002 to 2003 the figure climbed up to nearly 80 percent. The Better Business Bureau conducted survey during 2006 which showed a decrease compared to previous figures.

However the identity theft statistics showed in Texas was along was nearly 700 percent increase in the cases during 2004 to 2005. According to the Better Business Bureau statistics it reported that in just six moths during 2004 there were nearly 3.5 million households affected by this crime. The statistics have always shown an increase since then with more number of people affected every year.

Current Statistics

In the year 2007, Consumer Sentinel which is a FTC database had registered above 780,000 complaints of identity theft and fraud crimes. The data was generated from different law enforcement agencies which are compiled by FTC. However the number of complaints during 2008 sent tot eh Consumer Sentinel database was above 1.2 million of cases from different reporting agencies.

This simply means that it showed a 50 percent increase in the overall identity theft cases compared to 2007 and 2008 data. The data for 2009 is however unavailable yet, but it has been predicted that there would be another shocking increase in the identity theft statistics of the year. This is simply because of the economic adversity such as current recession that generally corresponds to the increase in crime rate which also includes id theft in huge.
More on how to protect yourself from identity theft.

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