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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Why Protecting Your Name and Personal Data Is So Critical

Identity Theft Resource Center Reviews 2006

Linda Foley, founder of ITRC, is optimistic in her 2006 Review that business is watching the store better when it comes to data breaches. Although this is promising, there is much more to do, based on my 35 years of experience as a junk mail data broker. There are too many inbred problems that will require major “re-tooling” to solve. Things like incompetence in handling mailing lists; greed trumps security; junk mailers’ attitude that they own our names and personal data. Government and educational arenas need the most work, says Foley. 2007 will see fraud increases in the use of checks.

Your Identity Far From Safe

ZDNet reports that the new Democratic Congress is dragging up the same ho-hum, ineffective ID theft legislation as they did when the GOP was in control. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California either doesn’t understand the problem or doesn’t really care about the consumer in her new bill. In another article by Bob Keefe, there are too many exceptions for business and government and too few rights for Americans, according to Marc Rotenberg of Electronic Privacy Information Center. Bill preempts stronger state laws, says Beth Givens at Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. Basic problem, legislation all focused on after-the-fact, rather than preventing the crime.

Is the US Postal Service Aiding and Abetting ID Theft?

Certainly they would not do it consciously. However, like so many other government entities, security levels are lower than they should be, and there are inherent risks like the one that happened to me. We had been missing mail recently, one or two pieces at a time which eventually reached us. This last Friday, a neighbor brought me five pieces, three junk mail, one personal financial, one credit card offer, also considered junk mail, wrongly delivered to his address. The financial did have sensitive data, but the credit card offer had all the ingredients for someone to steal my identity, had the neighbor not been so thoughtful and the offer ended up in the wrong hands. I’m complaining, which you should do if it happens to you.

ChoicePoint Identity Theft Victims Almost Double

Soon after the ChoicePoint incident in Feb. of 2005, victims started showing up; 800 of them. CP questioned the figure which was eventually confirmed, but the news is that two years later the number of casualties losing money has risen to 1,400. The average loss per victim in 2005 was $6,383. That’s almost $9 million in consumer losses from just one data breach. There have been 444 since ChoicePoint, 10 since the first of the year and it’s only January!

Sr. Gets Jr.’s Credit Card Mail…Also His Credit Record?

A reader has told me about a situation that happened to him recently that reeks of potential disaster. The Sr. received an offer for a credit card through the mail, but it was addressed to him as “Jr.” Jr. has lived close by for several years, and is old enough to have established his own credit record. So why the switch all of a sudden. The problem is Sr. has had a bankruptcy which he does not want connected to Jr. in any way. It could be another example of credit report mistakes; 54 percent contain mistaken personal info, 25 percent serious errors. I advised Sr. to request his credit report and tell Jr. to do the same. Just another example of sloppy work in the data industry.

Cyber Crime Big in 2006

Brian Krebs reports in a recent Washington Post article there was a significant spike in 2006 in junk e-mail, and the crooks continue to get more sophisticated. I just had a “phishing” attack by someone masquerading as an eBay member who threatened to call the police if I didn’t explain where the phone he ordered was. He wanted me to respond with some personal information which, of course, I didn’t. What’s even more frightening is another industry article stating that marketers are turning to alternate methods of data collection after you opt-in for e-mail. Expect to receive surveys and polls, and ultimately relinquish more of your privacy.
This Mailing List Could Be Hazardous to Your Privacy


This Mailing List Could Be Hazardous to Your Privacy:

“Maladies and Ailments From Infolio” is a list of almost 13 million US consumers with ailments ranging from heart disease to impotence, ADHD, cancer, diabetes and more.

Want this list used in your next job interview or health insurance examination? Probably not.

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