Archive for General

The good (uh-huh), bad and ugly of ID theft trends

Posted in Business, Economy, General, Identity Theft, Legal, Life Improvement with tags , , , , , on March 5, 2009 by truthwillrise

It seems as if a month can’t pass without word of some new research report on identity theft.

The results are rarely good.

Identity theft is on the rise, up as much as 22 percent in 2008. Fraud of all stripes is up, too. The reason, experts say, is the recession is pushing criminals to be more brazen.

Tax returns are being filed under victims’ names to fraudulently claim tax refunds. Employment fraud, such as using a victim’s Social Security number to work or get benefits, is up, too, according to last week’s study from the government-run Consumer Sentinel Network.

And let’s not forget the spike in crimes of opportunity, such as purse snatchings. Such crimes were tied to 43 percent of identity theft cases last year, up from 33 percent in 2007, according to a survey last month from Javelin Strategy & Research.

Yes, it’s all doom and gloom. On the surface, anyway.

The deeper truth is that the Web — once the main culprit for identity theft — is helping consumers prevent such crimes at perhaps a faster rate than ever before.

Consumers who bank online are checking their accounts every week or every few weeks because funds are tight, said Linda Foley, founder of Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego ( They are watching where every penny goes, and it’s easier — for better or worse — to notice a transaction that shouldn’t be there.

I know this is definitely the case for me. I’ve caught at least two small, but still fraudulent transactions in the past six months. And I’ve had to cancel at least one credit card.

The same economy that’s making criminals more active also is forcing consumers to get off their butts and be more vigilant about their finances.

“People are looking at their credit reports — finally,” Foley said.

They’re uncovering cases faster and limiting their losses.

This could explain why Javelin, in its report last month, said that although the number of identity theft cases jumped 22 percent last year, to 9.9 million, the cost per incident fell 31 percent, to $496.

The Consumer Sentinel Network, which is a database of consumer complaints collected by several federal agencies, had similar tallies.

Another thing working in consumers’ favor is that businesses are being more vigilant about the lines of credit they extend and the bills that their customers then rack up.

In many cases, there are now more steps to verify an application for a credit card.

“Consumers get a call and (businesses) ask: ‘Did you apply for a credit card?’ ” Foley said.

If not, that could prevent identity theft right there.

Businesses, she said, also are turning delinquent accounts over to collections agencies in three months instead of four to six months.

Why is that good? Well, if you’re late on your bills, I suppose that’s bad. But if someone fraudulently started an account in your name, you might not hear about it until it goes to collections, and you’ll be hearing about it sooner rather than later.

This could be why the Consumer Sentinel Network’s report said credit-card fraud is still a big, but steadily shrinking cause of identity theft.

Other types of fraud are picking up the slack, though. So, your best bet is to stay vigilant.

Stop carrying your Social Security card in your wallet or purse.

Shred important documents.

Protect your computer with a firewall and anti-virus software.

Remember, Indiana has a credit-freeze law to thwart potential identity thieves. Go to http://www.indiana SecurityFreeze.asp for more information.


A fine article written detailing identity theft. I will say that placing a freeze on your credit is not always the thing to do. I have spoken with credit experts and fraud investigators and they shared with me that putting freezes and fraud alerts are done on a case-by-case basis. To learn more about identity theft, please check out

Starbucks sued after laptop data breach

Posted in Business, General, Identity Theft, Legal with tags , , , on February 25, 2009 by truthwillrise

 By Robert McMillan , IDG News Service , 02/23/2009

Chicago-area Starbucks employee has brought a class-action lawsuit against the coffee retailer, claiming damages from an October 2008 data breach.

Laura Krottner was one of 97,000 employees notified late last year after a Starbucks laptop containing employee names, addresses and Social Security numbers was stolen on Oct. 29. Krottner’s suit accuses the company of fraud and negligence.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in Seattle. Starbucks has offered employees one-year’s free credit monitoring and protection, but Krottner is asking the court to extend that to five years. She is also seeking unspecified damages and asking that Starbucks be ordered to submit to periodic security audits of its computer systems.

“Starbucks failed to follow reasonable precautions to secure its employees’ [personally identifiable information], failed to provide timely notice, and failed to protect employees from invasion of privacy, fraud, identity theft, and associated expenses,” court filings state, adding that Krottner and the other employees must now spend “considerable time and money to protect themselves,” from identity theft.

The company was unable to immediately comment on the lawsuit, but it said it has seen no fraud linked to the incident, according to its breach notification letter.

Lately, however, chatter on some Starbucks message boards shows that there have been some ID theft victims as a result of the incident, the lawsuit states.

News of the lawsuit was first reported Saturday on the Spam Notes blog written by Venkat Balasubramani, the principal with Balasubramani Law.

The suit is the latest of several in which plaintiffs are trying to prove that data breaches are harmful, even if they do not result in identity theft, Balasubramani said in an interview Monday. Courts in Arkansas and Indiana have rejected similar claims in recent years, he noted.

The plaintiffs in the Starbucks case, who are seeking a jury trial, may have better luck, however. “Washington could be different,” he said. “I think Washington is viewed as a privacy friendly state.”

Late last month the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reached a US$20 million settlement with plaintiffs in a class-action suit seeking damages following the 2006 theft of a laptop and hard drive containing data on 26.5 million veterans. According to reports, veterans who can show harm related to the theft will be paid between $75 and $1,500.

Starbucks has lost laptops before. In November 2006, the company reported that it had lost two laptops containing the Social Security numbers of nearly 60,000 current and former employees.


Another case of a company, losing the information of others and placing them in the pathway of potential identity theft. If you have worked for starbucks, or know someone that has or want to learn more about Identity theft, please log on to or

Wyndham Hotel guests at risk for identity theft

Posted in Business, General, Identity Theft, Legal with tags , , , on February 19, 2009 by truthwillrise

Tampa Bay Business Journal

A data breach at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts may have put up to 21,000 Florida residents in jeopardy of identity theft, Bill McCollum, Florida’s attorney general, said in a statement.

Wyndham reported the data breach to the AG last December and told the office it had contacted consumers of the unauthorized access to personal data on their debit and credit cards. So far, Wyndham believes no criminal identity theft related to the use of the consumer data has been identified.

McCollum encouraged consumers to be vigilant and to report any suspicious contacts they receive or activity on their accounts to law enforcement. Affected consumers are encouraged to take the precautionary steps outlined in a letter from Wyndham, including obtaining a free fraud alert from one of the credit reporting agencies.

There are 12 Wyndham properties in Florida, including three in the Orlando area.

Once again, we have another data breach that has left thousands of innocent people vulnerable to identity theft. As I have said so many times on here before, it is not what you do with your data, but it is out there in all these places beyond your control. As usual, the company that was affected comes out right after and tries to comfort the people by saying “there is no evidence that the data has been used”. How could they possibly know that and that does not speak to any other area of identity theft.  People need to know the whoe truth about identity theft, because the media is doing the people a real disservice by not giving the whole picute. To learn about Identity theft, log on to any of these websites: