Posted by: ID Guardian on March 7, 2013
Tax time is one of the busiest times of the year in terms of sharing personally identifying information. Consumers are often too preoccupied with the tasks of preparing to file their tax returns and may not consider the risks they may be placing on their financial futures. In support of National Consumer Protection Week, we have put together guidelines for consumers to help protect themselves from becoming victims of identity theft while filing their tax returns.
The latest 2013 Identity Fraud Report conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research and co-sponsored by Intersections, showed there were more than 12 million victims of identity fraud in 2012. That same year, the IRS identified more than 640,000 incidents of identity theft Continue reading this post »
Posted by: ID Guardian on July 17, 2012
One year ago, on July 12, 2011, child identity theft took center stage at an FTC hearing in Washington, DC. It was one of the first public discussions on this devastating crime, and an important step toward raising awareness about this growing form of identity theft. The hearing was also intended to educate consumers on how to protect their child’s identity and to urge decision-makers to take this crime seriously.
During the course of the last 12 months, many stories and studies have appeared in the news on this topic creating a lot of buzz and even some misinformation. We learned that criminals prey on children’s identities due to their clean credit histories, seen the many ways the crime is carried out (like synthetic identity theft and tax filing), and even seen some movement in legislation to focus on protecting minors with the crime.
To help clear up any confusion and to help consumers, we developed a list of the most common misconceptions around child identity theft. It’s important that parents, in order to best protect their children, understand the risks and realities: Continue reading this post »
Posted by: ID Guardian on June 25, 2012
Historically, summer is the busiest time of year for consumers entering the real estate market. Whether it’s selling or buying a home, or even just relocating, the disarray of moving-related obligations can often leave the responsibility of protecting personal information from identity thieves, entirely neglected. With the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently naming identity theft as the top consumer complaint in 2011 for the 12th consecutive year, it is important for consumers to be aware of the risks moving brings as their personal information is increasingly shared among a variety of sources.
As consumers are busy filling out loan applications, switching utility accounts, and rerouting mail, they are typically too preoccupied with the logistics to take the time to stop and think about where their personal information is going, and if it is properly secured. Once somebody’s personal information enters the hands of another, protecting themselves from potential identity thieves can become difficult. Taking preventative protection measures can help deter any unfortunate misstep during the moving process.
Most local post offices provide the proper tools to officially forward mail, but there are additional steps that should be taken, including keeping a personal eye on sensitive mail or digital files. Using a moving service to transport boxes is a great way to ease the move, but consumers may not always think it’s important to do full background checks on the movers they hire. Important documents or digital thumb drives containing sensitive information could be a goldmine of fraud opportunities if they end up in the wrong hands. Continue reading this post »
Posted by: ID Guardian on May 1, 2012
By now, most consumers are aware of the risks of becoming an identity theft victim. We shop online, apply for credit cards at an early age, and even pay taxes through mobile apps! But what many may not realize is that the threat of having one’s identity stolen can still occur even after someone has passed away.
The federal government actually requires that the name, Social Security number (SSN) and other personally identifying information become publically available once a person has died. This sensitive information that we’re taught to protect during our lives is housed in the Social Security Death Master File. And once we’re gone – it is available for anyone to see.
What does this mean? It means experienced criminals have access to the information they need to commit identity fraud, apply for credit, and even file taxes using the SSN of the deceased person. Imagine filing taxes on behalf of your family member who has passed away, only to learn that someone else had already filed using their information. Families are left to pick up the pieces of the debt incurred in their loved one’s name by the thief.
Those who have lost a loved one have plenty to deal with, but it is important that protecting the accounts and identity of the deceased is at the top of the checklist.
Below are some simple tips to keep in mind:
The most important thing to remember when wrapping up the financial affairs of the deceased is to be prompt – take matters into your own hands, to make sure an identity thief doesn’t take it into theirs.
Posted by: Neal OFarrell on April 23, 2012
One of the biggest identity theft stories so far this year has been about fraudulent tax returns, and the unexpected surge in fraudulent tax returns being submitted by thieves using stolen identities. It’s been an almost daily media headline for months. There have been Congressional hearings, and victims are coming forward in droves telling their stories.
Recently, I talked about one victim I met who was in a panic because her tax refund, which she needed to pay for vital medications, had been sent to a thief instead. Her accountant told her to expect to wait months for the IRS to figure it out and send her the refund she was expecting.
Now it seems we’re getting a clearer idea of just how massive and costly the problem really is. In recent testimony before Congress, the Inspector General of the IRS admitted that in 2011, their organization had stopped nearly a million fraudulent tax returns that were based on identity theft. Continue reading this post »
Posted by: Neal OFarrell on March 23, 2012
There’s no doubt that data breaches continue to be a major source of data donations to thieves. In 2011 alone, more than 360 million personal records were exposed in the U.S., and the real number may be much higher. Those numbers weren’t helped by major breaches like Sony PlayStation, which involved the theft of more than 70 million customer records, and the Zappos online store that lost more than 24 million customer records to thieves.
But much as we’d like to criticize these organizations for not taking care of our personal information as they promised, we might want to take a good look in the mirror if we want to be honest about the real causes. The truth is- as consumers – we give away our personal information every day.
Applying for loans or insurance. There are lots of well-known companies that offer to find us the very best rates for things like car and home insurance, mortgages, and home loans. But in many cases, all these companies are doing is sharing your personal information with a network of their paying partners, who are then free to contact you with their offers. Continue reading this post »