Tuesday, March 30, 2010

ID Theft Court Penalties Getting Hard Core

It's often been said that identity theft crimes are too hard to prosecute -- maybe one in four victims even report the crime to law enforcement, it's defined in too many varying ways, or it's outweighed by heavier crimes such as mail or banking fraud. (See waysandmeans.house.gov) But a recent Miami computer hacking case exemplifies that courts are starting to get hard core.

Prosecutors went for the maximum 25 year sentence for the criminal behind the largest US identity theft ring in history, and the courts nearly went for it -- sentencing him to another 20 years, according to a timescolonist.com article. (Defendant Gonzalez plead guilty in September to another ID theft ring, totaling 35 years possible in prison. AP, March 2010)

Gonzalez's work victimized millions of individuals and cost businesses in excess of $200 million. He admits hacking into Barnes & Noble, Office Max and an unparalleled number of other companies. In all, over 40 million credit card numbers were gleaned, allowing purchases of a Miami condo, a rolex, car and other items he'll now forfeit to the court. (AP, March 2010)

High profile and hard core court penalties for identity theft have been a long time coming, and may or may not act as a sufficient deterrent.

Sue B Martines, J.D.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Personal Data on 3.3 Million Student-Loan Borrowers Is Reported Stolen !

The headline reads:

"Personal Data on 3.3 Million Student-Loan Borrowers Is Reported Stolen

"ECMC Group Inc., a student-loan guarantee agency in Minnesota, acknowledged on Friday a data breach in which the personal information of 3.3 million borrowers, including their Social Security numbers, was compromised."

Wow! Who's gonna have to pay for this?

These 3.3 million students are so screwed but I'll bet no one is going to do anything to the idiots who violated SEC rules and ran an unsecured data system with critically valuable information.

The usual routine is followed here.
"We are sorry."
"Security is our number one concern."
"We are giving affected students ID theft monitoring insurance."
"Blah, blah, bah."

Can you imagine what will happen with electronic medical records! The same incompetent and careless fools will now have all your medical information on digital servers!

God help us all!

Read more at http://chronicle.com/article/Personal-Data-on-33-Million/64870/

Thursday, March 25, 2010

FTC Shows That #'s Do Not Lie

In the FTC's annual Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN) report that was released in February 2010 shows identity theft was the number one complaint category (21% of all complaints) in 2009.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Medical Identity Theft on the Rise

Imagine finding out that someone has used your identity to get more than $100,000 worth of medical treatment. Imagine finding out there’s incorrect information in your medical file like the wrong medical history, blood type and allergies. The Wall Street Journal recently posted an article on the growing prevalence of medical identity theft and the impact it has on its victims.

As more and more medical records become electronic, the information becomes easier for thieves to steal. Unfortunately, many don’t realize an identity theft has occurred until their medical records have been distorted and medical bills ran up.

The impact can be very serious if personal medical records are altered with the wrong medical history, blood type and allergies. The article says that consumers could also exhaust their lifetime coverage or be considered uninsurable, if their insurance has been used by someone else.

It's important to be proactive.

Written by Aleshia Altizer, a Corporate Writer at Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. Pre-Paid Legal's signature products, including the Life Events Legal Plan and Identity Theft Shield, serve more than 1.5 million families in North America.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sweet or Sour Social Networking Implications for Job Applicants?

Who’d a thunk… You’re a new college grad applying for a position at an accounting firm. You’re an above-average student and a good candidate for the job. But it’s the new millennium -- and potential employers , without overt intentions to either violate privacy or over-step the hiring process necessarily, actually rely on Facebook, Linked-In and Twitter, to inform their decision-making process.
And there it is -- the reference to your sorority/fraternity exploits peripherally mentioned on a fellow college grad’s Facebook page. Does it, or “should” it, matter??
In a recent bankinfosecurity.com article on "The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Networking," it’s stated that,
“The number of employers using social networking sites to screen candidates
has more than doubled [emphasis added] since 2008.”
A King County (Seattle) Bar Association article notes that 44% of prospective employers and 39% of current employers seek out social networking sites on applicants and current employees. Ouch.
So let’s get this straight – there are laws that prohibit age, gender, race or political affiliation discrimination in hiring/firing processes, but it’s totally permissible to access that information on social networking sites? Maybe, maybe not.
And on the other hand, perhaps it’s reasonable and prudent measures for current and future employers to access information on these fast-growing sites, in order to justifiably do their own due diligence.
If the above-referenced applicant was applying to Crowe Horwath, LLP, a public accounting and consulting firm whose strategic sourcing director has been quoted in the same bankinforsecurity.com article as saying that they, “leverage social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for their information security hiring needs,” that applicant may be looking elsewhere.
Leave a sour taste?
Progress can be bittersweet but the palate is still to be determined for these samplings, as many courts have not yet had to render decisions relating to social networking. In the meantime, beware for where you post!
Sue B Martines, J.D.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Identity Theft’s Youngest Victims: Children and Teens

Applying for that first credit card or opening that first checking account should be an exciting step for teens. But for some, this could be the moment when they discover that they’ve been victimized by identity theft. Children are susceptible because it is often years before they attempt to apply for credit, leaving the thief plenty of time to abuse their credit and vanish.

A story posted on MSN Money gives a sobering look at the impact of identity theft to our children.

The article tells about a 17-year-old from California who went in to open a checking and savings account at the bank only to discover his Social Security Number was under someone else’s name. The young man’s identity had been stolen years before when he was only 12. Now as a college graduate he has been “financially crippled” by the bad credit the thief left behind.

It's important to be proactive.

- - - - - - - -

Written by Aleshia Altizer, a Corporate Writer at Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. Pre-Paid Legal's signature products, including the Life Events Legal Plan and Identity Theft Shield, serve more than 1.5 million families in North America.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Iowa Homeland Security Dept Web Site Hack - Viedo Interview

The title is linked to my article on this in InsiderIowa.com.


The following are two segments of my interviews with experts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IInb4Qdh0Mo Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dx-6PTJZDio Part 2

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Criminal Twist With ID Theft

Sure the concern with the rise of medical identity theft is warranted, especially since our economy is straining to rebound from , let’s just say “tough” times. When folks are in a financial pickle, as was certainly the case in the recent news of Ms. De la Torre, the cancer-stricken mother of three from Chicago, who just wanted her physical pain to end and turned to identity theft to help her afford the medical care that would help her do so. But when the desperation that drives identity theft leads to the ultimate crime of murder it warrants more than concern.
It’s a wake-up call that is too often overlooked. That identity theft is very often either a symptom of larger underlying threats, or can lead to more serious crimes. It’s the “siippery slope effect,” as we call it in the law – that one act can lead to another and another, and so on. Such was believed the case in a totally unrelated recent incident in Brooklyn, New York. This was a case of identity theft believing to have led to murder.
It kinda makes sense – if your victim is getting too much in the way, why not just eliminate them? That’s what criminals have done for centuries. In the Brooklyn case, the victim, a federal court translator, went missing the exact day several checks were deposited into thieves’ bank, and drawn from the victim’s account.
Law enforcement seems to have both the ammunition and the firepower to combat identity theft effectively, and frequently prosecutes, but the crime continues.
Under a 1998 federal criminal statute, for example, federal prosecutors can go after any knowing and unauthorized use or transfer of someone else's "means of identification," where the criminal intends to commit, or even aid and abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a federal offense or a state or local felony. Violations are punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment (25 years, if the crime is committed to facilitate international terrorism).

So where's the real problem in controlling identity theft?
By no means can legislation by itself effectively limit the identity theft epidemic. The effectiveness of any law in controlling crime depends not only on the existence and application of the law, but also on general recognition of the twists and turns the problem can take. Today’s identity theft in the news is further evidence of identity theft’s growth, and the need for each of us to do our part to be informed.
Written by Sue B Martines, J.D.

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