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Monday, February 26, 2007


The VA did it again in Alabama, losing a computer hard drive housing personal information on 1.8 million veteran patients and doctors. reports that the hard drive was identified as lost on Jan. 22 but, in keeping with VA practices, was not reported. The information included Social Security numbers for the patients, as well as Medicare billing codes for the doctors. Just another example of an incompetent Government, you might say. I won’t argue with that, but that’s not the end of the story. On December 13, 2006, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse Chronology of Data Breaches announced the 100 million mark in personal records lost. Barely two months later, and incorporating the latest VA incident, there are 52 more breaches representing 3.6 million additional records lost. The ID theft issue is not getting better, it continues to grow at an alarming rate. Sure, the number of victims was down in 2006, and there is a reason. The heat was on so the sophisticated crooks went underground until it’s safe to proceed. Keep your eyes open for a banner year in 2007 for identity theft victims, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.


One of the major driving forces of The Junk Mail Conspiracy is that your convenience in ordering products in this medium far outweighs the challenges to your privacy. You are encouraged to give up all that personal data in return for ease in shopping, and discounts on products. You are assured that your sensitive data is secure. And then comes ChoicePoint in Feb. of 2005, and a snowball effect following that incident ending in ID fraud victims losing $50 billion in 2006. And now Microsoft, along with other online advertising companies, wants to track and analyze all your behavior on the Internet. In a article, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) wants to restrict this “modeling” of consumer habits. Once again, the ones that want to capture and save all this data forever tell us it provides a “convenience” to the online community. Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy says Microsoft’s tactics have been particularly “egregious.” Apparently MS was trumpeting the fact they would deliver your private information to advertisers and marketers. What’s new?

The closest I’ve come to a data breach nightmare was several years ago when, as a data broker, I was called by a hysterical man in California who said I had “outed” him from the federal witness protection program. As it turned out, a list I had obtained for a client designated him as a “new homeowner,” which was correct, but obviously a huge mistake. He received the mailing, panicked, called the company sending the advertisement, and they referred him to me. The man never recovered his composure, and ended the conversation saying this could be “costly” for him and his family. Perhaps John T. Healy’s predicament isn’t quite as bad, but it comes very close. The man who stole his identity is in jail convicted of killing a cop. The real Healy learned about this for the first time when a bounty hunter banged down his door. In an article on MSNBC, a statement is made that every potential ID theft victim—and that’s all of us—should memorize: “Now, Healy runs the risk of forever having his name linked with a convicted murderer.” So, identity theft is not always financial, but regardless of whether it’s about being compared with a killer, or the theft of your hard earned money, your private information is “forever” in the hands of business and the bad guys.


I did a post recently about how some ID thieves were specializing in stealing personal records from the retail trade. Although this is not new, a recent incident here in Arizona is worth mentioning. At least 40 people were victimized around the Tucson area, with a potential loss of over $100,000. Four people were arrested with computers, personal ID’s, Social Security numbers, and other types of private documents. Their motive: “…ripping people off to support their meth habits.” according to Pima County Sheriff’s deputy, Dawn Barkman. The lesson to be learned here is that the identity crooks are organized, and with a goal to sustain their drug habit, the desire involves much more than just greed. And it isn’t just those neighborhoods populated with drug dealers where it happens. The “druggies” are just another faction of a presiding hierarchy within the criminal community that has realized the value of your sensitive data. With an agenda that calls for using this information until you finally discover your fate, then moving on to your neighbor, there is nothing short of the individual’s control over their names and personal data that will solve the problem.


The key to the 4th Amendment—which is the closest thing to the protection of our privacy in the Constitution—says—and I am paraphrasing—that your privacy should not be violated without a warrant, and that the warrant must “particularly” describe the place to be searched. In my interpretation, the recent NSA spying violates your 4th Amendment rights, and here is why. The only way to conduct data mining of the type done by the NSA is to do random searches with private databases which identify innocent Americans along with the bad guys. I know, because I did predictive modeling when I was in the junk mail industry. There is nothing “particular” about data brokers looking through millions of your personal records in the process of “possibly” finding the potential terrorist. And if this is the only solution, we must either revise the 4th Amendment, or stop the procedure. Technology has outpaced current law, and it has certainly surpassed the wildest dreams of our forefathers. It’s time to recognize this and do something about it.

Friday, February 23, 2007


InfoUSA, headquartered in Omaha, NE, has been on the acquisition trail for the last several years. Why do you care? If for no other reason, amassing this much sensitive data under one, separate corporate control means that security must be even more stringent than normal. Not saying it isn’t, but time will tell. says it bluntly in the headline of their 2006 article: “Is InfoUSA Taking over the World?” Those companies acquired include seven major list companies, each of which deals in millions of your names and private information every day. They also now own Yesmail, an E-mail marketing company, OneSource offering business data, CatalogVision, providing data mining, and American Medical Information who sell medical lists. Several industry competitors say Info USA’s service will suffer; doesn’t security run hand-in-hand with service? The numbers are staggering: 220 million consumers; 13 million businesses; 2.6 million bankruptcies; and 11.4 million executives. This one bears watching.


With the latest FTC findings, and a survey by the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), concludes that identity theft is still at the top of the fraud list, contrary to financial services industry claims it is on the wane. See article. The FTC’s 250,000 complaints on the issue—36 percent of the total—keep it number one for the seventh year in a row. Credit card fraud is the thieves’ method of choice. In a Harris Interactive survey commissioned by NCPC, ID theft and credit card fraud find the American public “extremely concerned.”

If you’re that concerned, you should start buying in to my concept that consumers should have control over their names and personal data.

Another study by the Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC) found that 2 in 5 identity theft victims were known personally by the crook. In more NCPC findings, 14 percent of the population, or 40 million adult Americans, claim to be ID theft victims. And here’s one I haven’t heard before. The black community appears to have the highest victimization: 31 percent compared to an overall population rate of 14 percent. Is anyone listening?


Using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) turns the tide on government and lets American citizens become Big Brother for a day. I did it once to get some information from the FTC on one of their private meetings on mailing list brokers. It’s very organized and legal-like, so if you follow procedures, everything should work out fine. Nat Hentoff did an article, “Spying on Big Brother,” in the Village Voice back in December of 2006. He quoted a statement by serious humorist Dave Barry: “As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.” Funny…but true. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has initiated a program called “Spy Files Campaign” that assists activist groups in learning what information the government is holding on them. One of Hentoff’s discoveries was the fact that the FBI has “…long been deeply suspicious of Quakers.” If you are interested in learning what Big Brother Bush and his cronies know about you, or an organization you are affiliated with, go to Remember, it was Bush that told us on September 12, 2001, “We will not allow this enemy to win the war by changing our way of life or restricting our freedoms.”


You won’t be pleased to know that 2006 was a banner year for cyber crooks. Scammers and spammers found a multitude of holes in software products to ply their antics, according to an article in The Washington Post. More than 90 percent of all e-mail sent in Oct. 2006 was unsolicited, and spam was up 60 percent the last two months of that year. The spam problem seems to originate with “bots,” or a system that takes over computers anonymously to control them remotely, running programs known as worms. As you read this piece, 3 to 4 million bots are running on the Internet. “Botnets” were the vehicle used by organized crime online in 2006 to steal $2 billion through phishing scams. The criminals can also seed these bots to record and steal usernames and passwords from compromised computers. It’s become a 9 to 5, Monday through Friday job for one of the most sophisticated groups of racketeers since the “Mob.” The problem is we can’t categorize them as in the past because there’s no real profile. Just greed, and that’s universal.


In late January, the subject of your Internet surfing habits resurfaced in a piece on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has already made it clear he wants national legislation to capture and maintain the personal aspects of your online activity. It’s the old “data retention” game, one the junk mail industry has been playing for years, and now an adopted procedure by any business that comes in contact with your private information. The Justice Department is thinking along the lines of what the European Union adopted, or a maximum of 12 months. However, the EU law has a number of Amendments that restrict the use of retained data to protect Internet users. EU privacy laws are also much more stringent in how individual personal data can be used in general. Whatever way you shake this out, I don’t trust Gonzales or the Bush administration with any of my sensitive data.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


The goal of The Dunning Letter is to create a grass-roots movement that will mandate consumer control over their names and personal data. It will also require compensation to the name-holder each time this sensitive data is sold. There are three ways to accomplish this: (A) Pass federal legislation giving consumers the control; (B) Through this grass-roots effort, form an alliance between consumer/business/government to grant control; (C) Establish consumer sensitive data as a form of media like broadcast, print, Internet, with the same individual control and compensation to the name-holder. Data brokers and other junk mail companies gross $4 billion annually selling names and private information. These same data brokers of the ChoicePoint variety are the very companies responsible for some of the major breaches. It is time to franchise this movement nationwide and enlist the commitment of the American public to stand up for their right to privacy.


A study conducted by Identity Theft Assistance Center, and reported by, found that 40 percent if identity theft victims knew the thief personally. According to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, they could be friends, roommates, household workers, and even spouses going through a messy divorce. So, if a friend or roommate gets too interested in your personal side, be aware. Or you catch a health care giver who is watching over a loved one nosing around where they shouldn’t be, ask why. If your divorce proceedings have led to a grudge, well, they probably already have all of your private information, so be prepared. This sort of alert extends to party givers who leave sensitive data lying around for the taking. If there are five people at your get-together, two could be looking for something other than refreshments.


There’s a good article in the South Florida Sun Sentinel on recommendations from privacy advocates of how to protect your sensitive data. Linda Foley, executive director of Identity Theft Resource Center, says: “Have we not learned from history yet, that if you’re going to give [data] to a third party that you either encrypt or password protect it?” I checked my sources in junk mail and learned that at least one of the big six data brokers has been using encryption for the past year, and a computer maintenance facility combines password protection with encryption. I plan to follow up and see just how prevalent this is within the industry. Beth Givens, director of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, comments: “The reason that we’re hearing of security breaches on almost a daily basis is because there’s so little encryption of the data.” Since ChoicePoint started encrypting its databases, they haven’t had a breach. However, experts will tell you that security depends on the level of sophistication of the encryption standard. The next question CP should answer is to what degree their encryption goes, and what are the odds of it being broken?


The FBI is so busy recovering lost laptops and missing weapons that one wonders how they have the time to protect American citizens. According to ZDNet and The Washington Post, 160 laptop computers, including 10 that hold “sensitive classified information,” went missing from 2002 to 2005. Once again, we have a case of not knowing the content of the loss, thus, an impossible situation to curb the damage. The FBI maintains more than 26,000 laptops, reports the WP, and only reported 38 of the 160 missing. GOP Rep. Thomas M. Davis of Virginia said Justice reported only two missing laptops to his committee in 2006. Whether or not consumer data is included in the loss, this is yet another example of the lax security at federal agencies, and even more reason to be concerned about government spying on innocent Americans.


There was talk of a “Voter Bill of Rights” after the 2004 election. Now the Associated Press has a piece on MSN Travel, “Passenger Bill of Rights Proposed.” Both excellent ideas, but I have an even better one. How about a “Consumer Personal Data Bill of Rights?” It could pave the way for individuals to control their names and private information, also paying them whenever it is sold. James Madison, proponent of a new U.S. government instead of fixing the old one, was a major contributor to the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. However, the Constitutional Convention of 1787 could not possibly have conceived of the advancements in technology that have brought us to the current identity crisis. I am putting something together on this, and would welcome input from readers. Also planned is another volley of e-mails and letters on the subject to Congressional leaders sympathetic to consumer issues.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


The Wharton School of the U. of Pennsylvania did an interesting and quite comprehensive study on whether you give up your privacy when posting information online. This article is must reading, especially for the younger set. There are two points well worth covering in relation to my concept of giving the individual control over their names and personal data, and compensating them for its sale. Number one, there is a burning question of who owns the information on sites like MySpace, Facebook, Xanga, and the like. The junk mail companies are convinced they own your sensitive data, and the attitude may be catching. Number two, these sites will most likely hold on to your private information forever, regardless of how active you are. There seems to be an utter lack of concern within the younger generation about giving up their personal data, breeding a generation of grownups that will be even more apathetic about the problem than their parents…if that’s possible.


One of the major problems with congressional leaders today is that they don’t understand the proliferation of the sale of consumer personal data, therefore are incapable of putting together a decent data protection bill. The burgeoning amount of private information has confused both Congress and the individuals whose information is being collected. Ultimately, the confusion has been passed on to defining just what a data breach is. Most of the current data bills allow the data broker to identify “significant risk” to the consumer, which is like putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop. Congress is busy now promising more legislation, but Roy Mark, in his piece “When Is a Breach a Breach?” says this is “…so much hot air.” Based on experience, I’d have to agree. Consumer groups say it’s simple: You expose it, you inform the consumer. Mark, however, doesn’t think that will happen. Fortunately, I still hold out hope the American public is eventually going to wake up.


It’s nice to have your theories confirmed by one of the largest consumer-oriented organizations in the country, Consumer Reports. Their article in the October 2006 issue, “Your privacy for sale,” is must reading for anyone who is serious about their inner-sanctum. In an earlier post I covered the subject generally, but want to be more specific here in pointing out striking examples of today’s identity crisis. First, CR mentions the high number of inaccuracies in background reports requested by their staffers from data brokers, including names, addresses, Social Security numbers. What is even more astounding is a statement by LexisNexis—one of the big ones—that said: “We do not examine or verify our data, nor is it possible for our computers to correct or change data that is incorrect.” As to the first part of this sentence, knowingly selling inaccurate private information should be a crime. Next, the allegation their “computers” cannot make corrections is an outright lie. Second, Elizabeth Rosen, the nurse whose sensitive data was stolen from ChoicePoint—another biggie data broker—had no problems in the early stages, but became victimized more than a year later. Evidence the crooks are sophisticated enough to lay low at first, and strike when the trail gets cold.


Damon Darlin in his article, “Don’t Call. Don’t Write. Let Me Be,” makes a statement that much of the public supports. Why should we receive mail, telephone calls, and e-mail we do not want? We have the FTC “Do-Not-Call” list, some flimsy attempts at halting spam, but the mail keeps assaulting our households with few or no restrictions. Unless…we grant consumers control over their names and personal data. In addition to stopping ID theft in its tracks, the procedure I envision would let you specify your interests, and the junk mailers would deliver only what you wanted. Colorado has proposed a “Do Not Mail” list, but this cannot be solved on a state-by-state basis; it must be nationwide to work. Besides, the companies you really don’t want the junk mail from don’t even use the do-not-mail lists. Another upside is the enormous paper savings; 98 out of one hundred pieces of junk mail go in the trash. This is really a no-brainer.

If you’ve heard of the Peter Principle (Dr. Laurence J. Peter), you can understand the absurdity in Bush’s new Identity Theft Task Force. Dr. Peter says that people within a hierarchical organization advance to their highest level of competence, then are promoted to a level where they are incompetent. Precisely the position of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as the task force Chairman, who, in 2006, said Bush has the power to spy on Americans without a warrant. We want this man to head the body that seeks a solution to the most important issue before Americans today? It is an insult to those 8.4 million victims of ID theft in 2006, and portends of the obvious attitude this administration has toward the average consumer. It’s like the Edsel; you know you’ve got it wrong, but you don’t know what to do about it.

Monday, February 12, 2007



All junk mail catalog companies who do not use recycled paper to print their catalogs. FACT: 98 of 100 catalogs end up at the city dump. According to Greendimes, it costs 100 million trees a year and 28 billion gallons of water to support this voracious appetite. The typical American household receives about 70 pounds of junk mail a year. It is “junk” because with control over your names and personal data, you would receive only the advertising mail you wanted.

Ponemon Institute Tracks ID Theft

The Ponemon Institute has been tracking individuals’ attitudes on the possibility of becoming victims of identity theft since 2004. They ask the question: “Will you become a victim of an identity theft at some point in the future?” Still prior to the ChoicePoint incident in Feb. 2005, it started at 47 percent answering yes in August 2004. It shot up to 70 percent right after CP, and peaked at 82 percent right after the May 2006 VA data breach of 26.5 million records. What I don’t understand is that, if as little as 47 percent of the population thinks they will experience ID theft, why don’t we hear a roar from this group demanding that something be done to give them the control over their sensitive data to keep this from happening? In their studies, Ponemon has found that Americans remain concerned over a “loss of civil liberties and privacy rights,” and “surveillance into personal life.” Folks, it’s time to put up or shut up!

Behind the Scenes at TJ Maxx

Remember CardSystems, the Tucson, AZ credit card processing company that exposed 40 million debit and credit card accounts through a cyber breach? They failed to secure their network, and lost the Visa and American Express accounts as a result. Lurking in TJX’s (TJ Maxx’s parent) data background is Fifth Third Bank—fourth largest credit-card processor in the country—in what has been called possibly the largest breach of security in sensitive data. What is most alarming is the fact that neither TJ Maxx nor Fifth Third has been able to determine the extent of the breach; it happened in Dec. 2006. Until this happens, whatever sensitive data is out there is in limbo, ripe for the new ID thief that carefully plans his strategy. Fifth Third handles over 17 billion transactions a year, with Kroger, Nordstrom and Abercrombie & Fitch as clients in addition to TJ Maxx. The lawsuits are already piling up, and the Massachusetts Attorney General is leading a civil investigation into the matter. For some reason, they aren’t letting this one go.

2007 ID Theft Surveys Better But Still Appalling

Javelin Research’s “2007 Identity Fraud Survey Report” shows that even with an 11.5 percent decline in ID theft in 2006, it was still $49.3 billion. 8.4 million adult-Americans were victimized at an average of $5,720 each, spending another $535 to correct the problem. The Federal Trade Commission’s 2007 report found identity theft still topping the list of complaints at 36 percent of the total. Since the ChoicePoint incident in Feb. 2005, there have been over 100 million records lost or stolen from over four hundred breaches. CP’s original 800 victims, resulting from the breach of 135,000 records, have risen to 1,400. That’s over $8.7 million of consumer losses from just one company. So don’t take comfort in this decrease, because I sense the ID thieves are just regrouping with new strategy.

Here Come the Bills. Here Come the Bills. Everybody Look Out. Here Come the Bills

They’re at it again, those congressional representatives that make waves to convince voters they are acting in their best interest. It’s all over the news in a flurry of the same old legislation that Democrats proposed while they were under the thumbs of the GOP. More. Vermont Dem Patrick Leahy leads the pack with a memorable quote: “Americans live in a world where their most sensitive personal information can be accessed and sold to the highest bidder, with just a few keystrokes on a computer, yet our privacy laws haven’t kept pace.” I believe he’s got it, what I have been saying for two years in this blog, yet he comes up with worthless legislation. For all the good it does, it allows the data breachers to decide when to notify the individual breached. The FTC Chairman wants to make “significant risk” the notification trigger, but doesn’t explain what that is. Is it so unreasonable to at least consider giving consumers control over their names and personal data? Let’s put it out there and see if it flies.

Citibank Really Pushes the Envelope

Citibank, the folks who, in June 2005, lost 3.9 million of their customers’ personal records, including names, Social Security numbers, account history and loan information, just sent me an unsolicited credit card offer. Normally I pay no attention to the eight to ten of these received each week, but something about this one caught my eye. In the address window, plainly stated in bold letters was: “Pre-approved offer for: Jack E. Dunning.” What dishonor-bound ID thief could possibly resist this temptation? Years ago they outlawed sending the actual pre-approved card(s) in the same mailing with the offer. It’s time to rethink this whole process with around 5 billion of these mailings going out each year.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

FTC Looks At Junk Mail Negative Option

The Federal Trade Commission all of a sudden wants to “understand” the use of negative option in junk mail. I was in the industry for 35 years and it has been going strong during that time. Columbia House tried to drop it several years back and almost went under. The practice involves sending you a notice of something the company is going to ship automatically, if you don’t say no. I hate it! Had to chastise Writer’s Digest twice for sending unordered books. Most companies pay the return postage, but this is still the opposite of convenience if it’s something you don’t want. As with most recent FTC action, they’ll study it until everyone has forgotten the original purpose of the study.

TJ Maxx Data Breach Opens Can of Worms

Data breaches occur so frequently these days that they are barely worth mentioning. However, the recent hacking into the T.J. Maxx discount chain’s computers has produced different results from both the consumer and business sides, according to the InformationWeek Blog. In Patricia Keefe’s article, the consumer was violated through inadequate security, having their data kept for longer than legal periods, and responding to the problem a month after, with an attitude of, “You’re on your own.” On the business side, fines are being assessed for violating the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. AmeriFirst has already filed a class-action lawsuit against TJX, TJ Maxx’s parent company, and its card processor, Fifth Third bank. WMAQ-TV, Chicago, reported a shopper embarrassed when her credit card was declined, due to cancellation by TJ Maxx. More on this in future blogs.

2006 “Kind of Disaster” for Data Security

Liz Gasster, acting director and general counsel, Cyber Security Industry Alliance (CSIA) is “discouraged” with Washington’s lack of attention to data security, and calls 2006 a “kind of disaster,” for this issue. According to Roy Mark in, she faults Congress the most for inadequate legislation, and the private sector for continuing to lose our sensitive data. Gasster brings up encryption, which, when used on our private information, is supposed to make it burglar-proof. Not completely true with current standards established in 1994, but this could change at the behest of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). More. The problem is, like hackers finding new ways to beat spy-ware, the encryption algorithm periodically becomes obsolete…like now.

Javelin Strategy & Research Releases “2007 Identity Fraud Survey Report”

Javelin’s 2007 Report on Identity Fraud is out and, although there is a 12 percent decrease, there is even more reason to keep up our defenses. The crooks are starting to specialize, like in retail chains, reflected in the recent hacking into the TJ Maxx computers, covered above. The same people had broken into systems at other retailers in a well orchestrated, concentrated attack, which proves the level of sophistication reached. Victims are down due to targeted specialization. Identity fraud still costs Americans and business a total of $49.3 billion each year, with the average individual loss at $5,720. Younger Americans beware: the 18 to 24 age group. You’re the ones at most risk due to your higher degree of apathy over the issue. You’re not alone; most consumers have similar sentiments.

Gartner Research Reports Consumers’ Security Concerns in 2006

Gartner says that nearly $2 billion was lost in E-Sales in 2006 because people are not comfortable with Internet security. Half of that from shoppers who refuse to shop online because of security concerns. Almost half of U.S. adults are worried someone will steal their sensitive data. Washington: We have a problem! But does any one of us think Congressional leaders will listen? Of course not. That is until American consumers form a grass-roots effort to take back control of their names and personal data. While we’re at it, pay us each time it is sold. I’m taking names so if you’re willing to sign up, e-mail me at

Thursday, February 01, 2007

They’re Paying More for Your Name and Personal Data. What Are You Getting?

The databrokers are selling your names and personal data for about 4 percent more this year than last, according to one of the list companies that sell it, Worldata. The individual amount is incidental, but the total annual revenue of around $4 billion is startling to those who don’t know the insides of the junk mail list industry. As a former list/databroker, I do, and if at least half of that $4 billion was returned to the name-holders and invested over a period of years, you could supplement your retirement by an average of $607 monthly.

Courts Can’t Protect Consumers Against ID Theft

If your private information is hung out there for the taking by the company collecting it, you’d think potential damages would apply in the legal system. The courts don’t agree. Bank Technology News reports on several cases from New Jersey to Minnesota that have tried but failed. That’s because the data thieves haven’t harmed the victims…yet. In one such case from Minnesota against Brazos, a student loan company, it was argued not to have been the result of negligence, although Brazos turned over sensitive data to a third-party whose representative had the laptop containing the information stolen from his home. Sound familiar? If the individual had control over his or her name and personal data, they could sleep at night knowing no matter what happens, the bad guys could not touch their private information.

Does Your State Post Your Social Security Online?

Ohio did in Cynthia Lambert’s case when they posted her speeding ticket, including key personal data like her driver’s license number, date of birth, Social Security number. They might as well have sent it to the crooks special delivery. In an MSNBC story, NBC’s Lisa Myers “…found state and county Web sites across the country that, with a few clicks of the keyboard, give identity thieves what they need to take over someone’s life.” Other guilty states are Missouri, New York, and Florida. Lambert sued the Ohio county and they stopped posting the tickets. Other states are following suit. I checked my state, Arizona, and couldn’t find any such action. Suggest you do the same.

AARP Warns Against Someone Stealing Your Medical Identity

In the September American Assn. of Retired People (AARP) Bulletin, they alert members of the devastation caused by medical identity theft. For one, going into the hospital for one thing and being treated for something entirely different, based on records created by an imposter’s health history. Or another, getting the wrong medication that could prove fatal. You could even be denied life or disability insurance. It could be an inside job by employees who steal the records, or dumpster divers from hospital trash. Some of us give it up willingly online as a result of purchasing health products, or completing surveys. AARP says your medical data is getting top dollar these days, so here’s your heads-up to be careful.

Unsolicited Credit Card Offer Pile Gets Higher and Higher

I said I was going to shred all these unsolicited credit card offers received in the last couple of years, but couldn’t resist letting it grow just a little more. Over a foot since the last time I posted on this. When checking, a large number of the mailings are from Capital One to our family and former junk mail list brokerage business. According to a Business Week article, Capital One reaps a great deal of their profits by issuing several cards to the same individual with low limits resulting in the cardholder exceeding their limits, thus, allowing Cap One to collect late fees. 30 percent of its credit card loans are to sub prime borrowers. They find you by “blitzing” credit reports for “new prey,’ says, adding “soft inquiries” to the credit records of those not holding the card. Soft inquiries don’t bring down your credit score, unless they are mistakenly listed as “hard inquiries,” which happens in this mistake-prone industry. One consumer received one offer per week from Capital One; our family gets between two and three. Think I’ll hold on for a while to see how much larger the pile gets.



The “National Date of Birth File with Opt-In E-Mail Addresses,” offered by, has a total universe of almost 12 million individuals. Folks, with your name and date of birth, it is almost guaranteed that ID thieves can obtain additional personal data on your household sufficient to do additional harm. It also offers excellent information to secure your Social Security number online for the grand slam.