Feature Article
Mark Pribish
Data Breach Events and ID Theft Continue to Rise
By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

According to a newly released Javelin Strategy & Research 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report (http://www.javelinstrategy.com/), the number of identity fraud victims in the United States has jumped by 12 percent to 11.1 million adults - the highest increase to-date since the survey started in 2003 - while the total overall fraud amount increased by 12.5 percent to $54 billion.

At the same time, the ID Theft marketplace continues to grow with emerging and unregulated ID Theft solution providers and new ID Theft solutions that promise and guarantee protection and peace of mind.

The question I have always asked over the last five years is "How can any ONE company offering an ID Theft related solution guarantee or promise peace of mind and protection before it happens?" This question is especially relevant since most of our confidential information (along with the confidential information of family members) has been in the databases of colleges/universities, employer groups, financial institutions, healthcare providers, insurance companies, tax preparers, and more for years.

The fact is that no ONE Company can prevent ID Theft and Data Breach events from ever happening - and while there are more ID Theft companies and ID Theft solutions being offered to consumers than ever before - the Javelin Strategy & Research report shows there is more evidence of ID Theft related events than ever before.

This means that while you and members of your family need to be proactive and informed about protecting confidential and sensitive information, you also need to be aware that any ID Theft solution provider that uses words like guarantee has limitations and exclusions (e.g. what is commonly known as the get out of jail card) related to said guarantee.

To support this point I have another question and that is - "What does the list of companies, organizations and public entities below all have in common?" The answer is that employees and customers of these companies and organizations were all affected by data breach events where confidential information including social security numbers were lost or stolen - IN THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY - and the month has not yet ended.

  • Ameriquest Mortgage Company
  • AvMed Health Plans
  • BlueCross BlueShield (Chattanooga, TN)
  • California Department of Health Care Services
  • Ceridian Corporation
  • Columbia University
  • Highmark Insurance
  • Humboldt State University
  • Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission
  • Equifax
  • New York Social Security Administration
  • Memphis Police Department
  • Methodist Hospital
  • National Archives and Record Administration
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • State of Ohio
  • Southern Illinois University
  • University of Texas
  • University of Texas El Paso
  • West Virginia University
  • Wyoming Department of Health

In conclusion, please take note and special attention when considering the purchase of any ID Theft "protection" services that use words like "promise" and "guarantee" as NO one company can deliver on such an unrealistic offer.

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

Beware of the "Tax Rebate Scam"

Tax season is already upon is, so we thought it would be good to review an old scam.

If you haven't already received your stimulus rebate checks, be sure you avoid two schemes thieves are using to steal your money and personal information.

How It Works:

In the first scheme, a thief calls your home, pretending to be an agent from IRS, and informs you that you are eligible for a large rebate. The thieves then ask for your personal information, checking account number and routing number so they can empty out your bank accounts and commit other fraud.

The second scheme comes in the form of an e-mail message that appears to come from the IRS. The message instructs you to click on a link to a fake website and complete a rebate form that requests personal information. The thieves then use your information to gain access to your bank account and credit cards.

Your Defense:

Remember: The IRS will never make an unsolicited request for your personal information over the phone or through e-mail so do not reveal any personal or account information to individuals who contact you in this manner.

To protect yourself against potential identity thieves, always take the following precautions:

  • Be skeptical of communications you receive from sources you are not expecting. Verify the authenticity of phone calls, standard mail, faxes or e-mails of questionable origin before responding.
  • Do not transfer funds or reveal secret passwords, PINs or other security-based data to third parties; genuine organizations or institutions do not need your secret data for ordinary business transactions.
  • Do not open attachments to e-mails of possibly questionable origin, since they may contain viruses that will infect your computer.

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