It’s the ultimate in financial creepiness: knowing someone’s been spying on your credit or other financial details. How about then having those details posted online for anyone to view — or grab?
That’s apparently what happened yesterday when a group of public officials and celebrities including First Lady Michelle Obama, FBI Director Robert Mueller and, yes, celebrity Paris Hilton. They all reportedly had their credit reports and other financial details posted online. are pointing to a website in Russia that published the information on Monday and continued to add to it throughout the day. So far, it hasn’t been confirmed whether the information posted was accurate or whether it perhaps was a hoax, though it sounds as if it probably was the former.
Though the number of victims here appears to be small — just under a dozen by last report — the fact that they are high profile public figures means the hack not only makes the news, but it brings out the big guns to head an investigation and hopefully track down the perpetrators.
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.
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.”
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:
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.
A 2011 law passed in Colorado extended significant protection to many kids in the state’s foster care system, but now one state Senator wants to expand its reach.
Earlier this month, that would expand the law to cover not only kids in the state’s foster care program, but also those who are in the custody of the state’s Division of Youth Corrections, and mental hospitals, according to a report from the Centennial Citizen. Anecdotally, many who have participated in the system have told stories of having their Social Security number compromised to obtain credit, and typically these incidents take years to discover because in many cases, when kids are affected, they have no reason to suspect there’s outstanding credit in their names until they turn 18 at the earliest.
In the past several years, the number of incidents of related to consumers’ tax returns has surged, and there seems to be little the Internal Revenue Service can do about it. Now, some experts say that a major reason for this increase in fraud could be the result of the agency’s e-filing option.
The ability to submit one’s taxes online is a major convenience for both Americans across the country who may fret every filing season, as well as the IRS itself, which can handle the hundreds of millions of submissions it receives every year more expediently, according to . But all that ease of use can also pose a major problem for taxpayers because it opens the door for identity thieves to more quickly get in and out of the system when they try to commit fraud.
In 2013, we’ll have to make a choice: Either we acknowledge we’re at war and push back hard, or we keep pretending nothing’s wrong⎯and get snuffed.
In the coming weeks, as we’ve seen every year for the past six, there will be endless reports detailing the digital dangers and identity threats lurking in every corner of our highly networked universe. But allow me to ask a heretical question: To what end?