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Monday, February 02, 2009


If you think the heisting of our sensitive data has already been as bad as it can get, then think again. Preying on the elderly and the suckers among us is bad enough, but taking advantage of bad economic times—which much too often still involves the elderly—is a step that establishes the identity thieves as the worst of the scumbags. But this is the normal approach for the greedy, and we should have anticipated their plans. However, their tactics and modern technology seem to move at a pace just ahead of law enforcement, which is unfortunate for the consumer.

Liz Pulliam Weston’s column on MSN Money, as usual, does an excellent job of taking us from the present into the future of where we can expect to go with the identity crisis. Yes, we had fewer victims in 2007 (2008 results are not out yet) by .67 percent. The Javelin Research report goes on to recount just where your private information breaches are coming from: 33 percent lost or stolen wallets; 23 percent lifting your pin or credit number while looking over your shoulder during a transaction; 17 percent by your family or friends; 12 percent online; and 7 percent resulting from data breaches.

Pulliam has indicated in her piece the fact that ID theft resulting from data breaches ranks last, but let me point out that, even in last position, it produced just-under 600,000 victims in 2007. At $5,720 each, that’s $3.3 billion lost by consumer fraud, and 14.7 million hours wasted by them in repairing their credit. Of course this is only one method of stealing your stuff. One can only wonder if all this has taken its toll on the productivity of the American worker. It has certainly established its position in whittling away at the family budget of those affected.

The article has some good points on how to protect your personal data from maintaining a file of credit card telephone numbers in case of loss, to whether or not you should freeze your credit. I strongly urge you to read this piece in its entirety for a wealth of facts that will help keep your identity safe. In particular is a section on ATM use, and the protection of your pin numbers due to the fact that the crooks are increasingly targeting bank accounts. You close one door they open a new one immediately in their quest to steal our private information. What Pulliam is saying—as is about every privacy advocate in the world—be vigilant any time you are in the process of a financial transaction.

Pulliam also covers the latest twist on “phishing,” which is when the bad guys send you an e-mail, claiming to be a legitimate company with the idea of heisting your sensitive data. The new spin on this is called “vishing,” which involves leaving a voice message on your telephone landline or cell phone, or text messaging your cell phone. That’s next time.

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