Archive for March, 2012

If you’re a Visa or MasterCard cardholder, your personal information may be in jeopardy.

The company that processes credit and debit cards for banks and merchants—including Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc.—suffered a breach in security, according to a report from .

Roughly 1.5 million cardholders may be at risk. Visa and MasterCard are warning their customers. The extent of the security breach and any data loss is not yet known.


Does your company follow practices that can lead to data loss? View our slideshow to learn the surprising main causes of data breaches and read our expert tips to protect your company’s data.


Tax-related identity theft is on the rise.

The Internal Revenue Service has flagged 2 million tax returns to review for possible fraud, according to .

That’s close to the total number of returns that were identified for review in 2011—and there’s still one month left in tax-filing season.

To learn more about top tax scams that can lead to tax-related identity theft, read our slideshow. And protect yourself with our .


By Ondrej Krehel,

Thanks to modern technology, it’s getting easier to access precious data on databases. The loss of consumer information in high-profile data breaches underscores the need for safe practices.

I’ve identified some common unsafe practices that have led to a number of such data loss incidents. Take a look at these 15 major security flaws:



Taxpayers have another reason to be frustrated with the Internal Revenue Service: Late refunds due to widespread identity theft.

The delayed refunds are a result of the IRS’s work to fight identity-theft-related tax fraud, according to the . Though that means the agency’s efforts are paying off, the downside is a delay for many people of low- to moderate-income who anticipate the funds to pay bills.


The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel report lists the received by the agency in 2011. For the 12th year in a row, identity theft complaints remained the number one gripe for consumers.

Opening my e-mail reminds me of walking through the bazaar of a third world open air market—. In the last 30 days I have received spam purporting to be from the Better Business Bureau, the Internal Revenue Service, the United States post office, the FBI, and most recently (this morning) even one from the AICPA—the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, a group of which I am not a member. The subject line was “Termination of your Accountant Status” and the body of the email explained to me that my status as a CPA was about to be terminated as a result of my participation in the filing of a fraudulent tax return. I was directed to take immediate action by clicking on the link called “complaint.” An eternal cynic and professionally paranoid, I did some research and determined that the logo of the AICPA was correct, as were the return addresses and phone numbers listed in the email.


The Obama administration unveiled a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” at a White House event Thursday morning, making the case that values such as transparency, security and accuracy should guide companies as they collect and use data about consumers.

The announcement is one more step in a years-long effort by the administration to create a simple and clear way for consumers to decide whether and how they want their online activities to be tracked. The effort includes major industry players like Google and Facebook, consumer advocates and technology researchers, who are trying to build a framework of rules and regulation that would protect consumers’ privacy without squelching the growth of new technologies.


Click to enlarge.

Consumers put their identities at risk in everyday activities, whether they’re getting a physical, enrolling their kids in summer camp, or checking out a book from the library.

For , take time to review the relationships you have with companies, organizations and people you entrust with your data with the Identity Theft 911 PII Chart™.