Archive for February, 2013

2_Small Biz Javelin

Identity theft is on the rise again, hitting a three-year high and producing one new victim every three seconds in 2012, according to a by Javelin Strategy & Research. Data breaches are responsible for much of the stolen personal information. One in four people who received a breach notification letter fell victim to identity theft, the study found, compared with one in five people in 2011.

Fallout from the upswing in identity theft is hurting small businesses. Fraud victims are more selective of where they shop after an incident, the study said. About 15 percent of all fraud victims actively changed their shopping behavior, avoiding smaller online merchants in favor of larger retail sites.

More than 12.6 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2012, up by one million from 2011. All told criminals rung up $21 billion in stolen funds, goods and damages in 2012.

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Blog_FTC Studey Credit Score

The Federal Trade Commission recently released . The results are unsettling: As many as 40 million Americans may have mistakes on their credit reports; 20 million of those errors may be significant.

The big three credit reporting agencies—TransUnion, Experian and Equifax—collect consumer data from credit cards, banks and loan agencies we do business with, then profit by selling that information to new banks, merchants, insurance companies and even our employers. Consumer credit worthiness often is reduced to a number—your credit score—which can have dramatic effect on insurance and loan rates.

“This study highlights once again the need for consumers to be vigilant when it comes to checking their credit reports and adopting a culture of monitoring,” said Adam Levin, chairman and founder of IDentity Theft 911. “Consumers need to discover negative information, whether it is due to error or identity theft, as quickly as possible.”

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3_Fraud Files_Loans

In a new form of identity theft, fraud rings are stealing personal information then applying to low-cost, online colleges to milk money from federal student loan programs. But Uncle Sam is hardly the only victim here. Trapped in red tape, one San Francisco Bay area woman has spent more than a year trying to clear her name and repair her damaged credit report.

In October 2011, Christina Benson*, 71, a teaching coordinator, first received a phone call from a U.S. Department of Education investigator, which handles fraudulent federal loan claims. The inspector wanted to verify some of Benson’s information, but Benson knew better than to divulge that data over the phone since her purse had been stolen and her mail raided by identity thieves. “If you don’t cooperate,” the inspector told her, “we’ll assume you’re the ringleader.”

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Infographic

We put together this handy guide to protect your family from identity theft. Our experts know firsthand that consumers are susceptible to different forms of the crime depending on their stage in life. Preserve your credit and good name with this simple primer.

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4_Movie

The movie “Identity Thief” opens nationwide in early February, and while we love a good laugh, this flick comes at a cost: the truth.

While the topic deserves the national attention the movie, starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy, will generate, the devil is in the details. And many of the details in “Identity Thief” are wrong.

Here are five major plot points that do a disservice to an often-misunderstood crime:

2_HIPAA blog
Your health information is increasingly stored in an electronic format so providers can easily view, transmit and manipulate it with your best interests in mind. However, as with any digital data, there’s always a possibility that it will fall into the wrong hands where an identity thief or ill-intentioned person can use it against you.

The is a federal law that sets rules and limits on who can look at and receive your health information. Until recently, the law hadn’t received any major updates since the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) originally established it in 1996.

The good news is that in January, HHS released that not only enhance patient privacy and security protections in an ever-expanding digital age, but also provide individuals new rights to their health information and strengthen the government’s ability to enforce the law.

IDentity Theft 911 caught up with Judi Hofman, co-chairwoman for the American Health Information Management Association’s national privacy and security practice council, to discuss what these changes mean for consumers.

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shutterstock_108619787

Credit card fraud has been on the rise for years now, but federal authorities recently cracked down on 13 people across the country who are alleged to have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars.

The 13 arrests, made in four states, brought down an alleged crime ring that the U.S. Department of Justice says involved more than 7,000 fraudulent identities, tens of thousands of credit cards, and more than $200 million in fraudulent purchases, according to a report from the FBI. In all, this is one of the largest cases of widespread fraud ever brought by the Justice Department.

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shutterstock_126812309

If you think of your smartphone as just a phone, rather than a very powerful mini-computer that happens to make phone calls, you may be cruising for a world of pain.

That’s because the amount of sensitive data many of us store on our phones is truly staggering. A smartphone provides us direct access to our savings and checking accounts. It may store our passwords to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, even our email accounts. The phone numbers and email addresses of all our friends and colleagues are easy to find in our contacts directory.

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