Why identity thieves are hacking the medical system & 7 ways you can protect yourself

Dirty Deeds

  Until recently, it was widely believed that the most probable targets of cyber-attacks would be critical infrastructure like energy grids, transportation and satellites. However, the latest hack into the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) disclosed by US officials goes to highlight the fragility of our employee and medical data. We naively expect that our government, of all entities, should be able to protect its employees from cyber hijinks. If only that were true.   The latest attack estimates that the personal data of every federal worker, federal retiree and up to one million former federal employees just got pwned (geek speak meaning “owned in a humiliating and online manner”). More interestingly, there are early indicators that this group of hackers may also be … [Read more...]

How identity theft insurance works

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Becoming a victim of a crime is something we neither plan for nor even imagine when thinking about the future. That’s why we have insurance. If something does happen, you’ll have assistance. You insure your car against break-ins, you insure your house against burglary and you even insure other high-price items like engagement rings or your smart phone.   Now imagine if you become a victim of identity theft—and not just credit card fraud. Say you discover an identity thief has taken out 3-5 loans in your name and has sold your information on the black market so that it can be bought, sold, used and abused. Do you have a plan for when that happens? Think about all the time it will take to correct your credit profile, restore your identity and monitor for more attacks. It can be … [Read more...]

6 Ways to protect your identity in the wake of the Anthem breach

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This has been an extremely difficult week for consumers everywhere. Anthem, the second largest health insurer in the US, announced that sophisticated criminals perpetrated a daring cyber theft of at least 80 million consumer records from their databases.   Anthem is warning consumers that phishing scams related to this data breach are targeting current and past covered members. Tax preparation giant Turbotax® announced that it is temporarily suspending State tax e-file services nationwide as a result of fraudulent activity that most certainly involves identity theft as a means to tap into the tax refunds of innocent tax-paying US citizens.   Quick Fraud Facts As many as 1.84 million people may have been affected by medical identity theft in 2013, according to the … [Read more...]

President Obama says credit scores are an “early warning system” for fraud. Is he right?

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On Jan 12th, in his lead-up to the 2015 State of the Union Address, President Obama gave a speech at the Federal Trade Commission outlining proposed legislation that would help “better protect American consumers from identity theft and ensure our privacy.”   In addition to previewing a new data breach notification law, which would require businesses to notify consumers of a breach within 30 days, the President lauded the recent efforts of several lenders who are offering free FICO® Scores to their customers.   He specifically thanked JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, USAA, the State Employees’ Credit Union, and Ally Financial  for “stepping up and equipping Americans with another weapon against identity theft, and that’s access to their credit scores, free of … [Read more...]

FICO, President Obama and the future of consumer protection

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  Friday morning was a momentous day for FICO—and for American consumers. President Obama arrived at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Friday to sign an executive order to improve consumer protection and identity theft prevention. The initiative is called the BuySecure program.   FICO was an active participant in this event, and we are honored to be able to contribute to the program.   Millions of Americans have fallen victim to data breaches in the last year as a result of weak security systems. Because of this, the President has decided to take action. Before signing the executive order, President Obama explained, “we've all experienced the benefits of new technologies that let us buy and sell things faster and more efficiently than ever before. … [Read more...]

Are you the ideal target for identity theft?

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  One of the biggest misconceptions about identity theft is that identity thieves only target rich people with high FICO® Scores who do careless things like lose a credit card. This mentality results in a lot of people thinking they would never be targeted by an identity thief. But the truth is, identity thieves have a variety of motives that ultimately result in a payout. What’s worse, they have a long list of ways they can steal your information.   In short, you don’t have to be rich and careless to be valuable to an identity thief. So who exactly is an identity thief targeting? Good question. Here are 5 types of identity theft victims.   The social butterfly How did we all survive before social media? You love logging in to your social channels, making … [Read more...]

Identity theft protection vs. credit monitoring: Which one is best?

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You have one noble goal: don’t become a victim of fraud. But what’s the best way to protect yourself? The most popular forms of protection fall into two categories: credit monitoring and identity theft protection. There’s a lot of debate about which type of service can protect you best. Here’s what you need to know about both.   Credit Monitoring One of your biggest concerns is probably how fraud and identity theft could impact your credit and thus ability to get a good loan. Credit monitoring is a great protection option, as you’ll be able to stay on top of suspicious changes to your credit reports—changes that could signify fraud.   PROS:   Most credit monitoring services scan your credit reports for changes at least weekly (FICO monitoring products … [Read more...]

Paying Cash May Cost You More in the Long Run

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The NY Times recently featured an article that talked about Americans who are trying to make a conscious effort to use cash instead of plastic.  The catalyst for this paradigm shift isn’t driven by a need to conserve funds or to avoid finance charges as you might immediately suspect.  Some consumers are choosing cash over credit to insulate themselves from the risk of being a cyber-crook’s next victim.  It seems like a sensible solution on paper until you realize that misguided precautions along these lines are eventually going to hurt your credit score if you are too stringent in your new “cash only “payment habits.   Credit scoring is really a “use it or lose it” situation.  It’s important to remember to use your credit frequently even if you fully intend to pay off the … [Read more...]

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...]

Cloud Security: Keeping your information safe in the cloud

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Although we have a long ways to go to conquering outer space, we should look perhaps a bit closer to our own atmosphere and consider the following: How safe are the contents we store in the cloud?   What’s this ‘cloud’ you speak of? Good question. Cloud services are applications that are Software as a Service (SaaS) based and hosted on OPP — Other People’s Property — so that a user is not required to download and install a software package in order to use the service. All you need is the Internet browser of your choice and you’re good to go.   Millions of consumers interact and store massive amounts of personal data every day. For example, those of us who watch Netflix or use Instagram to send pictures — all that content is stored in the cloud. DropBox, a file storage … [Read more...]

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