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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.

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