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  • One Man’s Trash Gives Identity Thieves Cash

    Posted on August 6th, 2008 NewSunSEO No comments

    Did you know that once you wheel your trash bin to the curb, its contents are legally there for the taking? It isn’t household knowledge, but in 1988, the Supreme Court ruled that garbage is public domain. According to the law, once you place that pail or bag at your curb, you are giving up any expectation of privacy to its contents. So a police officer, your nosy neighbor, or an identify thief has every right to rifle through your trash.

    What they do with that trash is an entirely different matter. And what identity thieves do is use your identifying information to commit fraud, which ultimately makes them money. There are so many ways in which an identity thief can commit crimes. Almost any identifying data will do – a birth date, social security number, even a cell phone number is all it takes. In 2006 alone, there were 67,000 victims of identity theft, and the numbers just keep going up.

    The only way to put the brakes on this growing epidemic is to destroy all paperwork with identifying information on it. Luckily, with the availability of affordable shredders and mobile shredding services, this can be easily accomplished. A good cross or confetti cut shredder will handle the job for the average consumer. Any trash with identifying information on it, even something as seemingly innocuous as your name and address should get the shredder treatment. Junk mail should be destroyed as well, as it is often overlooked, yet a pre-approved credit application is an identity thief’s dream come true.

    For consumers who don’t want to go through the time and effort of shredding their own paperwork, or for businesses, a professional shredder service is definitely the way to go. Document destruction services do all the work for you – making the process painless, and they can recycle the shredded documents as well.

    With the widespread availability of affordable shredders and professional shred services, identity theft can be nipped in the bud. So be careful what goes in that trash can… you really never know who might go through it.

  • Identity Theft County’s Top Property Crime

    Posted on July 10th, 2008 NewSunSEO No comments

    Some victims are hit through online banking or shopping, but most common cause is leaving purse or wallet in car

    Tonia Hall didn’t know the problems she was creating for herself when she logged into her online banking account at the end of her work day last June.

    She was was checking her balance before writing checks for household bills and running a few errands. The $1,000 in her checking account was more than enough to cover what she needed.

    But the next morning, her bank called, wanting to know why she had emptied out her and her son’s accounts. Soon she was getting calls about checks she had written on her errands.

    Her checks had bounced.

    The bank log showed that five minutes after Hall had signed out and left the office, her account was hacked into, the money she was counting on to pay bills, cover checks and buy groceries and gas transferred to an unknown account, leaving Hall with debts and bounced checks.

    Who entered her bank account, or how they did it, was never resolved, Hall said. Her bank refunded the lost money but couldn’t do anything for her reputation.

    “To me, it was a lot of money,” said Hall, a single mother of two. “I still go places where, because of what happened, I can’t write a check. I didn’t do anything wrong.”

    Hall is one of hundreds of Sonoma County residents who are victims of credit card and identity fraud.

    “We get more reports of identity theft every day than traffic accidents,” said Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Mike Lazarini.

    Credit card theft and fraud is the leading property crime in Sonoma County, officials with the Santa Rosa police and Sonoma County sheriff said.

    The Federal Trade Commission estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year and 3.7 percent of American’s have had fraudulent purchases made to their credit.

    In May, 36 cases of credit card and identity fraud were reported to the Santa Rosa Police Department. In the same time period, 22 cases were reported to the sheriff’s department.

    “At local, national and international levels, it’s growing,” said Sheriff’s Sgt. Glen Lawrence.

    Some victims, like Hall, had entered credit card and bank information online or used banking Web sites.

    Others had simply lost their wallets.

    Most commonly, Lawrence said, victims left their purses or wallets in their cars while running out for an errand or a walk in the park.

    Many cases cross county or state lines. Some are international, making following the trail of a stolen identity, even through electronic purchases, difficult, Lawrence said.

    But arrests are made.

    Earlier this month, Tina Ryan was sentenced to nine months in Sonoma County Jail for copying credit card data from a Sebastopol company she had worked for and using the information to buy thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts. Investigators said Ryan bought more than 100 items with the stolen credit information.

    In May, two Oakland women were arrested in Windsor on suspicion of using stolen credit identities to make purchases at Wal-Mart, Lawrence said.

    Sheriff’s deputies arrested Lois Ann Fairman and Tyja Wilkins, who reportedly were using 30 stolen credit cards to make purchases. Detectives believe the women transferred information from the stolen cards to gift cards, Lawrence said.

    No charges have been brought against the women in Sonoma County, but investigators are attempting to locate the victims and expect the case to be far-reaching, Lawrence said.

    Credit card and identity fraud is easier to avoid than prosecute, Lawrence said.

    “The most common theft begins when a victim leaves a purse or wallet in their car. It’s the most common and the most preventable,” he said.

    Being cautious with mail, safeguarding personal information, shredding financial documents, credit card offers and receipts, ordering credit reports and using Internet sites carefully are all safeguards against fraud, Lazarini said.

    By Laura Norton – THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

  • MetLife Enhances Travel Assistance with Identity Theft Solutions

    Posted on May 22nd, 2008 NewSunSEO No comments
    “MetLife, the largest U.S. life insurer and a leading provider of employee benefits, today announced the enhancement of its Travel Assistance offering by adding Identity Theft Solutions as a standard benefit. Offered in partnership with, and administered by, AXA Assistance USA, Inc. Travel Assistance is an optional feature available with MetLife’s Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) products and Business Travel Accident (BTA) insurance – all part of MetLife’s comprehensive portfolio of group life products.
     
    The Federal Trade Commission estimates that more than 8 million adults have their identities stolen each year. “Restoring one’s good name after an identity theft can be a stressful and complicated process,” notes Graham Cox, vice president, Life Product Management, MetLife. “That’s why access to educational resources to help prevent identity theft is so important. Should it occur, having personal assistance during this challenging time can help employees expedite a resolution. Identity Theft Solutions can help employers optimize the value of their group life benefits, while providing a living benefit that employees can use today.”
     
    Identity Theft Solutions provides tips and education on how to prevent identity theft and personal guidance in the event that it takes place.”
     
    If you want to read more of this article, click here http://www.centredaily.com/business/story/606275.html
  • What to Do When Thieves Snatch Your Medical Identity

    Posted on April 21st, 2008 NewSunSEO No comments

    Been breached? If you know—or even suspect—that your medical identity has been stolen, take these steps now.

    • Get a copy of your medical records from healthcare providers and review them to make sure they’re consistent with treatment you’ve received.

    • Ask your insurer for copies of all “Explanation of Benefits” statements for the past year. (You may be able to get them online.) Review these for accuracy, too.

    • Get a free copy of your credit report from one of the three credit bureaus. (Through AnnualCreditReport.com, you can obtain a free report once a year from each of the three companies.) Sometimes collection notices for unpaid bills alert victims to theft.

    • File a police report if you’re a victim. It may encourage providers and your insurer to correct your records promptly.

    For a more detailed description of actions you can take, the World Privacy Forum offers these tips.

  • Confidential Document Destruction : Top 20 Things to Shred

    Posted on April 9th, 2008 NewSunSEO No comments

    One of the fastest growing crimes of our time is identity theft. In recent years, identity thieves have left many people feeling uneasy and with good reason. As soon as someone steals something that can provide them with your identity, such as financial records, legal documents, or medical records, they can use everything that you have worked for to their benefit.

    It is relatively easy for someone to steal your identity, especially for those who know what they are doing. Once your information has been stolen, your bank account can be emptied or the balance on your credit cards can be run up. It is hard to catch an identity thief and it’s not easy to fix what they have done. The best way to be safe from identity theft is to prevent it. In order to protect yourself, you need to know what a thief is looking for and be sure to shred such documents.

    Here are the top 20 documents to shred (in no particular order) to protect yourself against identity theft :

    1. Financial records are an obvious hit for identity theft. These documents contain all your financial information, possibly even your account numbers.

    2. Magnetic media – tapes, disks, CD’s or anything storing electronic data.

    3. Payroll records. These documents contain how much money you make, exactly what thieves want to know.

    4. Legal documents. Even though these documents might not contain financial information, they most likely contain personal information that can lead to your financial info.

    5. Account records – which contain personal information like your address, phone number and sometimes even your social security number.

    6. Medical records

    7. Class Rosters

    8. Maps and blueprints

    9. New product proposals. If this falls into the hands of a thief, they can propose your product before you do.

    10. Inventory lists. This is like a map for a robbery. Knowing what you have makes it really easy to know what to steal.

    11. Confidential correspondence – such as letters, emails, etc.

    12. Customer lists and estimates

    13. Tax records contain lots of personal information. Also how high your taxes are is dependent on how much you make.

    14. Outdated business records

    15. Invoices

    16. Cancelled checks

    17. Price Lists

    18. Microfilm and fiche

    19. Credit and ID Cards

    20. Junk Mail – this is overlooked quite often.