One of the most common places identity thieves find private information is in the educational system. From kindergarten through doctorate-level, schools consistently have vast numbers of records compromised, for any number of reasons.
Occasionally I get notes from readers asking why I quoted a specific article instead of something they would rather have seen referenced. The choice isn't always as arbitrary as it might first seem. So once again, I need to address the question of sources, just to make sure we're all on the same webpage here.
(*grins* Did you see what I did there?)
Since Snowden came forward last year to reveal the gross privacy violations being committed by the American government (specifically by the NSA, but there are others,) privacy experts have been actively trying to find a way to stop domestic spying - to no avail. Looking forward, it seems like these data collection programs are going to keep going, and likely they will expand their reach.
Data encryption has been the privacy tool of choice since at least Windows NT, and maybe even longer. But last years' revelations by Edward Snowden prove that data encryption is not as secure as the world has been led to believe, and cybersecurity expert Richard Clarke has some harsh words on the matter.
Tax time is the biggest time of year to be concerned about identity theft if you let someone else prepare your taxes. In fact, the problem has become so prevalent that the IRS has created a new acronym - SIRF (Stolen Identity Refund Fraud). The new name (and 3,000 full time employees dedicated to helping identity theft victims) will most likely do little to fix the problem, though. So know what to look for if you go to a tax preparation service - even a well known one - and know what to watch for to avoid becoming a victim.
With all this information the NSA has been collecting, watching out for terrorists, you'd think that something as obvious as terrorist sneaking across the border among illegal immigrants would be a huge blip on the radar.
Unfortunately, that isn't the case.
Since I live in Indiana, I see a lot more news about things that happen here in the mid-west. Usually it's nothing exciting, but once in a while I see something that sets me back a pace.
This month, a local story came out about how international border agents at the Indianapolis International Airport kept a visitor from Greece in detainment for 5 hours, plying him and the American friend he was visiting with all sorts of personal questions. The big shocker? They got all their information from her private email, but there was no terrorism concerns.
Now how do you suppose that happens?
Is it just me, or does it seem like there's a super-abundance of fresh new ways to get robbed these days? We're all used to phishing scams by now, and card-reader scams most of us know about, too. But now you can get hit with massive charges for calling someone back on your cellphone... what gives with that? And there's that $9.48 charge on your credit card last month - is it an issue, or did you just forget something was going to be hitting your account from some website or something?
Identity thieves are getting more sneaky every year. And though taking $9.48 from someone isn't really that much of a big deal, if they manage to do that to a million people, that's nearly a billion dollars in cash.
Have you thought about how many credit cards were stolen just last year?
When I read that the ACLU was looking into the NSA trudging around MY stomping grounds, at first I was giggling. Then, when I started looking closer at what was being said and done, I did some stomping of my own.
Fact is, though, that they're on to something when they start inserting intelligence agents into World of Warcraft games. Besides the whole underground conspiracy to overthrow Garrosh Hellscream, there's an entire goblin black market that has made it all the way into Pandaria.
Is nothing sacred?
Medical identity theft expert Mac McMillan dropped some knowledge bombs for me this month when it comes to how healthcare companies need to address the threats associated with compromised patient information. I hadn't even thought of a couple of these points, but I suppose that's why he's the expert on the subject, and I'm writing about what he said right now.