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How Does Identity Theft Occur?

Jan-05-08

 

No matter how careful you think you are when it comes to who gets access to your personal information, identity thieves utilize a number of techniques to gain access to your most private information. Increasingly, criminals are finding all the information they need  on state and local government Websites.  In many cases criminals find everything they need to hijack your life by simply perusing so-called Public Records on the county website.

 

That's right - the entire world - meaning anyone, anywhere with computer access can easily find your name, address, photos of your home, maiden names, social security numbers, credit and bank numbers in documents carelessly published online by officials you elected to preserve and protect your data. Almost every document the county holds on you contains information criminals can use. Some documents , like divorce and probate, list complete inventories of your home, assets, credit cards,  who got what in the divorce and where the kids are going this weekend - all courtesy of your local land registry. But you are not as helpless as some would have you believe. Legislators, attorneys and security services are beginning to offer effective laws and strategies that put your identity out of reach of international criminals.

Thieves would rather steal your reputation than what is in your wallet. Data that is easily mined from county Web sites is routinely bought and sold by individuals and organized crime through Internet chat rooms, electronic-payment systems and online casinos. The data can pop up anywhere ó from Russia, where credit card numbers are ripe for the picking on Web sites, to the Middle East, where terrorist groups finance operations through ID theft, and major cities in the United States, where street gangs do the same. Within minutes of a criminals gaining access to your private information, he can sell it dozens, even hundreds of times or keep it for years as a commodity to be exploited when you least expect it.

 

The Need to Protect Your Good Name

It is evident there is a need to protect individuals regarding identity theft and fraud. A slew of credit monitoring and protection products promise to notify the subscriber when there has been a change in their credit score or when there appears to be suspicious activity with one of their accounts. The majority of these services are reselling credit monitoring services, which provide no preventative features. Currently, there are over 70 identity theft services offered on the market and the number is growing. But credit monitoring does nothing to repair the damage caused by identity theft and like most identity theft services goes into effect only after an individualís identity has been compromised and is available on the black market.

According to a recent independent study by Javelin Research, "The types of credit monitoring services offered by various creditors and the credit scoreing agencies -simply don't work. Their services are designed to raise profits for the credit industry and have very little effectiveness, if any, in guarding our identities."

One identity theft prevention company has taken a proactive approach by acting before the thieves can use the stolen data. LifeLock does this by placing fraud alerts on all your accounts thus rendering the stolen data useless to anyone except you.

The Javelin study showed, "To prevent Identity theft, fraud alerts clearly trump credit monitoring."

The system works by only allowing the consumer who has placed the alerts the authority to utilize his or her own credit. The alerts ensure that if anyone tries to do anything with your credit score, such as get new credit, change your address, expand credit lines, open a checking account, get insurance, utilities, or anything else, the financial institution must call you directly for your approval before anything happens.

As far as can be determined, LifeLock is the only data security company to take this common sense approach. Todd Davis, the company's CEO is so confident the system works that he publishes his own Social Security number on the company website and in television advertisements. To learn why he is so confident about the LifeLock system Click here .

Holding Breech-Prone Government Web Sites Accountable


According to U.S. government statistics, you are 26 times more likely to be a victim of ID Theft than a violent crime. 10 million Americans will become victims of identity theft this year. Clearly, if a government agency or business entity fails to protect your information or is somehow party to the breach that revealed information they had filed on you, there is a definite liability question whether it be a institution, an employer, a credit bureau or the government. Even if an employee or contractor committed an illegal act and revealed your data, there may still be a liability issue for the employer of that person or their services.

Just last month, Police in Worthington Ohio reported that hundreds of people in five states were the latest victims of identity theft that resulted from county officials publishing sensitive information over the Internet. In several cases to date, private institutions and government agencies that hold and distribute this data have been found liable for the inappropriate or illegal release of private information and data, and the havoc it may wreak on identity theft victims and their families. Last year, a Virginia woman whose Social Security number was stolen by a temporary employee at a hospital where the ID theft victim gave birth won $351,000 in damages after a trial.

On the other hand, if someone stole the information from your trash or you somehow failed to protect your critical personal data like credit card or bank account information, family history or you gave a password away to an acquaintance who then defrauded you, the liability of the institutions or businesses involved may be greatly lessened. You are expected to protect your personal information as well.

Am I Qualified to Complain?
Yes! If a government agency, corporation or individual has exposed you to the threat of identity theft you may be due compensation. Recent court cases have shown that when your information is exposed due to the negligence, error or willful act of an institution, government agency, business, or employer who maintains such critical records -or through the actions of an employee/contractor for the institution, business or government agency - you may be due compensation. Click here for legal help and a free evaluation of your possible case The service is FREE and CONFIDENTIAL. Your case will be reviewed by top attorneys specifically interested in matters pertaining to personal Identity Theft. Find out how to clear your good name and possibly receive compensation.

 


 

  

 

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