Many people who are using peer-to-peer networking to share music are unwittingly sharing quite a bit more. Try this experiment: ask your local teenager to search for any file with the words â€œtax return.â€ You might be surprised at what they find.
Advice: We would advise you to avoid downloading any peer-to-peer software because of the spyware most applications include in the installation. If you, or your kids, still choose to use your computer for peer-to-peer networking, make sure you have it set up correctly and limit what you share with the network.
Most people are aware of email spoofing but are you aware that internet telephony now allows spoofing of caller ID? Calls originating from the internet can be set to show up on your caller ID as anything the caller would like. This type of spoofing has become common among debt collectors and private investigators but in the last six months it has become more common for criminal purposes. Fraud rings are using this technique to call wire-transfer services like Western Union to transfer money.
Advice: You can no longer trust the information provided by your caller ID. Donâ€™t give out personal information unless you can independently verify who is calling. Also, make sure you use a password with your voicemail system. If you have the password feature turned off for your home or office anyone using caller ID spoofing has access to your messages.
In the last few days ID Theft Alerts has received several requests for the phone numbers of the three major credit agencies. We can only assume they needed it to report a potential problem. This week we wanted to review what you should do if your wallet is every lost or stolen.
- Cancel your credit cards immediately. You should have a photocopy of the front and back of everything in your wallet in a safe place with the account numbers and phone numbers.
- File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your wallet was stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is the first step toward an investigation (in the unlikely event there is one).
- Call the three national credit-reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. The alert flags any company that checks your credit that your information was stolen and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.
Here are the phone numbers of the three credit agencies that you should keep with the photocopies of your credit cards:
- Equifax: 800-525-6285
- Experian: 888-397-3742
- Trans Union: 800-680-7289
Add LexisNexis to the list of compnaies not protecting their customers information. They recently reported incidents of potential fraud involving up to 32,000 U.S. customers at the recently acquired Seisint unit.
Adedayo Benson, a Nigerian national who used personal information from ChoicePoint and other companies to commit identity theft against thousands of people was sentenced to 5½ years in federal prison. Along with his term, Benson was ordered to pay nearly $155,000 in restitution to 10 financial institutions.
His sister, Bibiana Benson was sentenced to 4½ years after pleading guilty to unlawful use of identification.
We would like to recognize Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC for dropping social security numbers from all their members Ids. Beginning on April 1st all their members will begin receiving new member Ids. Although a welcome change, this announcement only proves that everyone still using your social security number could use a unique number from their system and avoid needlessly putting you at risk for identity theft.
Advice: If you still have an id number that is your social security number, ask that you be given a different one.
Today the story broke that the scam at ChoicePoint which resulted in the sale of personal information belonging to 145,000 people was not the first time that this had happened to the company. In 2002, two Nigerian-born scam artists were arrested in Los Angeles and later plead guilty to posing as legitimate businesses to purchase personal information from ChoicePoint. The information was then sold for use in identity theft.
The public outcry over this incident has prompted a senate hearing. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said last Thursday that he had granted the request of Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy’s request to hold hearings on the matter.
Starting today, consumers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin are entitled to one free copy of their credit report annually from each of the nationwide credit bureaus.
Consumers can request their free credit reports through www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228.
We recommend getting a report from one credit agency every four months. This way you never have to pay for them and you can monitor your credit for fraud more often.