Feature Article
Mark Pribish
ID Theft and the Military
By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

According to the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), there were 662 data breach events in 2010 (click here to read the article).

Of the 662 data breach events, 104 data breaches (15.7%) were related to military and government agencies affecting thousands of active duty personnel. This total was also a 15% increase from 90 military and government related data breach events in 2009.

The ITRC will categorize a data breach event when your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) including your name, driver's license number, social security number, bank account number, healthcare identification number, student identification number, employee identification number, tax identification number if you are a business, etc., have been lost or stolen.

When I learned about the 104 military and government data breach events in 2010, I was motivated to search engine the key words "Military ID Theft." Here are some startling headline news stories from 2007-2010 resulting from my search:

Information on 207,000 Army Reservists Stolen
Eric Chabrow, Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity.com - May 13, 2010
Laptop containing names, addresses, social security numbers taken from contractor

Military Life Makes You a Target for Fraud
Ethan Ewing, Millitary.com, April 2009
Your military life makes you a prime target for financial fraud and scams. Deployments, frequent relocations, and the unique demands of a military lifestyle, make you and your family appealing to con artists and fraudsters.

Leak at Fort Worth base compromises identities of 8,000 military members
By SCOTT GORDON , NBCDFW.com, Thu, Nov 13, 2008
A former U.S. Navy petty officer at Fort Worth's Joint Reserve Base accessed secret military databases and compromised the identities of 8,000 sailors and reservists, police said. Investigators said the information was used to make fraudulent checks and identification cards. More than $1 million was stolen, police said.

ID Theft Surges Among US Troops in UK
Stars and Stripes | Geoff Ziezulewicz | November 18, 2008
U.S. military personnel have emerged as prime identity theft targets.

Military personnel prime targets for ID theft
By Byron Achohido and Jon Swartz, USA Today, June 15, 2007
The Department of Defense since the late '60s has used Social Security numbers for everything from dog tags to chow-line rosters. Now, data thieves and con artists have begun to increasingly target military personnel, data security experts say.

To be clear, data breach events are not exclusive to the military and government as the ITRC also reported that businesses accounted for the largest percentage of data breaches in 2010 (42.1%) - followed by medical/healthcare (24.2%), educational institutions (9.8%) and the banking industry (8.2%).

However, our military and government employees (along with the rest of us) have enough to be concerned about with the continuing challenge of identity theft criminals. Let's hope that our military and government agencies will improve on their information security and data breach risk management so that we will see a decrease - and not an increase - in data breach events in 2011.

To conclude, the ITRC has a dedicated fact sheet about the military and ID Theft (click here to read the article) where the ITRC "suggests that active duty personnel consider using online banking services in order to monitor and track bank account activity" and to "be aware of your environment (for example key loggers, spyware, shoulder surfing) when accessing accounts."

To learn more about these threats and how to protect yourself and your family from Identity Theft, you can read my past newsletters at the Merchants Identity Theft Educational Website at www.idtheftedu.com.


Scam Central

The Adoption Scam

Many couples long to experience the joy of bringing children of their own into this world. The excitement of watching children learn to walk and talk, go to school, graduate, and eventually have children of their own is certainly a wonderful experience, even if the road is bumpy along the way. Unfortunately, many couples are unable to bring children into this world by natural means. For those couples, adoption is usually the only available option and there are many children all around the world waiting for loving parents to come and take them home.

Unfortunately, there are those that prey on the tenderness and emotions of people looking to adopt children. Those looking to adopt children should beware of scam artists posing as overseas adoptions agencies and orphanages that are not only out to take your money, but looking to take your personally identifiable information as well. Because adopting a child is a worthy cause and an emotional as well as financial investment, taking extra precautions and thoroughly researching adoption agencies is a must.

How It Works:

An online advertisement will claim to be an adoption agency that has children in need of a good home. When you request further information, you receive a fake birth certificate and picture of a child. You also learn that you will be required to send pictures of your family and fill out forms that require your Social Security Number or other sensitive information. You will also be required to send money in order to adopt the child. The agency claims that once your money has been received, your child will be sent to you. However, the adoption agency is not real and your money is gone leaving you shy several hundred or perhaps thousands of dollars, at risk of identity theft, and still without a child.

Your Defense:

Adopting a child is not like ordering luggage online. You don't just pick them from a catalog and have them shipped to you. If you desire to adopt a child, your best defense is to visit the orphanage where the child is currently living, verify that the agency is legitimate and that the child is real. With an overseas adoption agency, this is not an easy task so you are going to have to do some research from home. Check references thoroughly before investing the time, money, and emotion in what can be a lengthy process. There are support groups with individuals and couples who have been through this experience that can walk you through the process and make recommendations, including legitimate adoption agencies, what to expect on the journey home, and how to make the transition easier for your child.

Be sure to check with local government agencies. Is the agency or orphanage real and licensed to adopt children to foreigners? Is the child you are looking to adopt a true orphan? Each country has different laws and regulations, so make sure you have done your homework and have all the necessary paperwork complete before making the trip to another country to bring your child home.

By using some common sense and doing a little research, you can help ensure that the children you have been longing to raise will find their way into your deserving home.

If you believe your identity has been stolen, call 866.SMART68 today.