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Grave Robbing Identities

Even the dead are at risk for identity theft. Thieves scan the obituaries for names and addresses. Then they buy Social Security numbers and other personal data on the internet.

"About 400,000 checking accounts were opened in the names of deceased people in 2004," says Jay Foley of the Identity Theft Resource Center.

When the thieves default on payments for the new loans, their debt appeared on the credit histories of the dead. In such cases, surviving family members are unlikely to be held liable for the debt, but they may pay a price - in time and money - to unsnarl the credit and bank records of their relatives.

Spyware Legislation Update

The two spyware bills we reported on last week ,are now headed to a House-wide vote in the coming weeks. Known officially as the Social Security Protection Act of 2007 (HR 948) and the Securely Protect Yourself From Cyber-Trespass, or Spy Act (HR 964) are intended to bolster consumers' protection against misuse of their social security numbers and computer-borne spyware.

Among the recent amendments made to the bill before its approval were a number of exemptions to the rules to help law enforcement, national security, public health or safety, and credit verification organizations whom utilize the numbers for identification. The bill would also preempt similar state laws if passed, and provide for enforcement of the rules by individual state attorneys general.

FACTA Update to Take Effect in 2008

The final revision of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 coming out in late summer with a compliance deadline of mid-2008. The new addendum will ensure that credit grantors will no longer be able to simply brush aside an address discrepancy on a credit application.

There are two types of fraud tied to an address. One involves a fraudster obtaining all your personal information, then calling your lender to inform them that you moved and asking for a new card to be sent to the new address. This is known as account takeover, which is virtually undetected in financial institutions. The other form involves a fraudster using your information to open a whole new account or credit line, using an address that's not yours.

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