Medical Data Breaches: Why Your Doctor Might Need a Check Up

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Think about the last time you went to the doctor’s office. Did you fill out a form with your Social Security number (SSN)? Were you prescribed any medicine? Did you disclose past allergic reactions?     Now think about what an identity thief could do with that kind of information. There’s a myriad of options, which is one of the reasons why medical identity theft impacted almost half (43%) of all identity theft victims in 2013. To get your information, an identity thief might hack your doctor’s digital filing system, find records leaked on file-sharing sites by an employee, or simply steal your doctor’s laptop. No matter how the data breach occurs, you’re left cleaning up a potentially life threatening mess. Here are just three potential … [Read more...]

Breached, Bothered and Bewildered?

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The LA Times recently published an article featuring mortgage credit experts who warned “that the recent massive data breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus and other retailers could have significant effects on some real estate transactions in the coming months as damaged credit files depress scores and jeopardize loan applications and home sales”.   Is it possible that your innocent purchase of toothpaste and a few groceries could indeed jeopardize your ability to achieve a significant milestone like purchasing your first home? It could be more than a distant dilemma for consumers to ponder if they discover too late that routine purchases made at recently compromised merchants resulted in fraudulent charges to their payment cards. Erroneous fraud charges that remain undetected or … [Read more...]

Protecting Your Credit and Financial Reputation

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Most people use their credit and debit cards every day with little thought regarding the fact that criminals are desperately trying to get access to your card information so they can run up fraudulent charges, create counterfeit credit cards, withdraw cash from ATM machines  (if they can intercept your pin number) or sell your information to other criminals.   And I am not talking about the random thief who steals a wallet or purse and uses the cards to rack up a couple hundred dollars at a nearby convenience store.  I am talking about highly sophisticated fraud rings led by really smart people who leverage advanced technology to access credit and debit card information on a larger scale.   Case in point – recent data breach notifications by Target and Neiman Marcus … [Read more...]

How the Grinch Stole my Credit Card Number

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Beware of Fraudsters this Holiday Season!   The frenzy of the holiday shopping season creates an inviting environment for fraudsters and identity thieves who aim to take advantage of distracted shoppers.   FICO manages the worldwide FICO® Falcon® Fraud Manager consortium, which provides fraud protection for approximately 85% of U.S. credit cards. Our experts suggest a proactive approach to protection with the following tips:   Lock your phone with a password Use extreme caution when downloading applications from unknown sources. Only download your bank’s mobile app from the official bank website or a trusted source. Enable “Find my phone” functionality when possible to locate missing devices or to remotely clear the device of all sensitive data in the … [Read more...]

Standards, Shutdowns, and Mortgage Applications

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Late last month, the Washington Post published that in August there was an increase in the percentage of successful home mortgages for applicants with FICO® Scores less than 700 – up almost double 2012 percentage. Some were taking that as a sign of hope, as some lenders may have focused equally on employment and savings. But not everything was getting easier with mortgage insurance premiums increasing in certain cases. Regardless, with average FICO Scores down, lower might have been the new norm.   Unfortunately, as we entered October, the country is in a government furlough. If the shutdown is short, there hopefully will not be long-term effects. But if there is no compromise over the shutdown and it extends to weeks, this could directly impact mortgage applications. Remember, … [Read more...]

Drug Lords, Identity Theft & Fraud: What This FBI Crackdown Means For You

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What better way to kick off Cyber Security Awareness month than with an FBI crackdown on black market websites? We sure can’t think of one.   Although the term “black market” sounds a lot like the next Hollywood thriller, it’s actually used to describe underground bazaars selling drugs, firearms, personal information or other criminal products. These marketplaces remain underground by setting up shop on high-security networks that aren’t accessible to the general public. Until relatively recently, the black market culture has been operating a lot like the Wild West—no rules, no government, just profit. That is, until the FBI showed up.   The FBI has been cracking down on cybercrimes since 2004. Their latest triumph? Agents arrested Ross William Ulbricht, leader of … [Read more...]

The Government Shutdown and Your Credit

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As “Closed” signs surface across various Federal government offices and sites, it is likely to affect most of us in some manner as the government services we rely on may be temporarily unavailable.   For the overwhelming majority of consumers, this closure will have no effect on your personal credit as most of us do not work for the Federal government and credit related functions are generally managed by private businesses.   You may be impacted, however, if you are in the midst of a securing financing for a home loan. If you are doing a FHA loan, HUD (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) stated that they will be able to continue processing single family loans during the shutdown.  They did share there will be a limited number of FHA staff available … [Read more...]

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