Category Archives: Identity Theft Solutions

Sony Offers Directors and Writers Guilds Identity Theft Protection

Sony Pictures Entertainment is attempting to recover from a mass hacking that took place earlier this month. The hackers, reportedly from North Korea, sent threatening messages to the studio and to movie fans who were hoping to see the film “The Interview” on Christmas Day. The hackers leaked sensitive personal data, embarrassing emails, and subjected numerous employees to identity theft through the release of Social Security numbers along with a list of high-ranking officials within Sony.

In an attempt to try and make matters right within Sony, the company has offered identity theft protection to directors and writers who work for the studio. Identity theft protection will be offered through AllClear ID. The service was offered to Sony’s 3,803 employees when the massive leaks began. Sony is now offering it to the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America West.

“The DGA supports Sony in its efforts to combat any ill effects of the attack on DGA members,” the DGA told Variety. “We do not know whether or whose personal information may have been compromised, but Sony is offering one year of identity protection at no charge to any present or former employee who requests it.”

Sony is offering the identity theft protection service for one year, at no charge, to present or former employees who request it and who fit certain criteria.

The three largest movie chains in the nation canceled the Christmas screening of “The Interview” and there are currently no plans for when the film will be released. There is no reports about whether it will get to the big screen or if it will go direct to video.

 

College, credit and identity theft

credit card scams

Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links, which help to support this site. However, all opinions expressed are 100% my own.

This post will be a little more personal in nature.  Recently I went shopping with my 25 year old son, who is getting ready to embark on the grand adventure of marriage.  Together we visited the jewelry stores.  He was hoping to find the perfect engagement ring to give to his soon to be fiance (we were pretty sure she would say yes) and I was there to negotiate the best price.  Finding the perfect ring we discuss the price.  Once we get the price the store was ready to accept we now have to find out the best way to pay for this item.

Like many college students (he graduates this December as he worked full time his way through college) he didn’t have the amount saved because every penny counts.  Having never had any credit since his car was paid for (thank you grandma and grandpa), as was his housing and other expenses we thought now would be a good time to begin to build it.  After all the cost of the ring was not that bad and it would be a good way to get started on the way to responsible credit use. Getting his bonuses over the next six months and each of them could pay for the expense, he decided to fill out the application.  After all, who knows a few years from now the next thing I hope to help him find is a new house (somewhere closer than 1900 miles away).

“I’m sorry, you weren’t approved,” the salesperson tells us.  Crushed, he quickly becomes curious, and asked to see the denial.

Lesson no. 1 If denied credit always ask to see the written response, you may be surprised.

The denial says he has unpaid credit card bills and outstanding credit (not outstanding as in really good either!).  But how can this be he asks.  Other than his monthly cell phone bill he has not had any credit cards, no monthly payments.  Not even student loans, because although he took one out his first year they are deferral because he is in school.   “Mom! What do I do?”

Lesson no. 2 Run your credit report immediately.  He can start with his free credit report, but considering these circumstances he may want to use a service like CreditSesame because they also offer additional services to help him stay on top of his credit rating.

We ran his credit report and now the work really begins.   It’s time to clean it up.  There are a number of different problems with it, from fraudulent use of his name, Social Security Number, creation of a new identity using his old address and of course the big problem, unpaid items of credit, whether it was a fast cash item or credit card.   “How did this happen?” he wonders.

Lesson no. 3 It can happen a number of ways from old mail, credit card offers in the mail, his Social Security Number used at the college or even a so called friend or roommate which had access to his information.  Stolen wallets, filled out forms, responding to spam messages, there are a whole number of different ways that this happens.  Maybe he was just unlucky.  Most identity theft takes bits and pieces of the true to create a “new you.”  That’s where this gets messy.

What can you do?  Now it’s time to take action.  Either file a dispute through the credit monitoring service that you are using or grab some pen and paper and do it the old fashioned way.   Either way you need to contact the credit reporting agencies with the information that is incorrect, correct it and include any proof that you may be able to provide.

Lesson. no 4 Some say you can file with just one agency and that all the information will be sent to all three.  However, to be safe I recommended that my son send the information to each of them if he didn’t want to file it online.

Here are some sample letters to use when filing your dispute.

Should you take the snail mail route here are the mailing addresses for each of the three reporting agencies.

TransUnion
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834

Experian
P.O. Box 9530
Allen, TX 75013

Equifax
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374

Remember mistakes can be made on anyone’s credit report but it has been reported that identity theft is on the rise for college students, so pass this information on to them so that they know what to do.

 

Identity Theft Is Accelerating With The Help Of Information Sharing

With the convenience of paying by credit card via the Internet, identity theft has become a major concern in the digital world.

[You already know this, because we cover that point a LOT on this site.]

There are now more methods used now than ever for storing, collecting, sharing, and sometimes stealing your personal details. You share your personal information to be evaluated for any loan, credit card, life insurance policy, mortgage or apartment. Your personal information is often shared just to apply for a job.

Keeping an Eye on Your Personal Details

It’s more important than ever to be vigilant about the process of your information being shared, and be discriminating in terms of who or what organizations you share your personal information with.

If you aren’t careful, and sadly, sometimes even if you are careful, you could become a victim of identity theft. In addition to being more vigilant, more and more people are turning to identity theft protection services like LifeLock to help provide added piece of mind. Many services will monitor your credit around the clock, offering identity theft protection 24/7.

Fraud at the IRS

A recent story reported that there was an identity thief within the hallowed ranks of the IRS. Domeen Flowers, a 48 year old (former) employee of the IRS, allegedly stole a number of tax payer’s identities directly from IRS databases and then used them to fraudulently apply for lines of credit for herself.

Flowers was hired as a mail clerk in 2007 in a Philadelphia IRS branch, but allegedly stole the taxpayer identities after she transferred to an IRS branch in Maitland, FL. She also allegedly fraudulently acquired the identity of her landlord in Philadelphia by faxing the landlord a letter on IRS letterhead, demanding personal details. She then used the information gathered to apply for credit cards for herself. Flowers will face up to 46 years in prison and up to $1.25 million in fines if convicted.

Warning Signs That You May be a Victim of Identity Theft

If IRS agents can’t even be trusted, how can you protect yourself? Start by watching for red flags. Here are five of the warning signs you might be a victim of identity theft:

– Unknown charges start to appear on your debit or credit card statements

– You suddenly receive credit card declines when you know you have plenty of available balance

– Merchandise you didn’t order is delivered to your address

– You stop receiving monthly billing statements in the mail

– You start receiving calls from debt collectors when you have no known debts

Besides watching for these signs of identity theft, you’ll want to pay attention to all the signs of fraud. This will provide tremendous piece of mind as you navigate through the pitfalls of this digital world we live in.

With the growth of the Internet and the acceleration of technology, there is definitely much to enjoy and appreciate about this fast-paced world we live in.

However, a measure of caution goes a long way in balancing the hazards of technology with all of its gifts.

Identity theft makes strange bedfellows

Swiper no swiping!  This story of identity theft reminds me of the story where “Dora the Explorer” traveled around the work to share her friendship bracelets and encountered a number of thieves in every country that were trying to steal her friendship bracelets.  Okay, yes I have children but when you hear the details about what is being called the largest identity theft bust of its kind in the United States you may see the similarities.

Reports of 111 suspects, including 25 people that are being sought in connection for these crimes were targeted for their involvement in “Operation Swiper.”  While arrested by authorities in New York, this identity theft ring came from across the globe with connections to Russia, India, China, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.  Their take was approximately 13 million dollars stolen from victims in Europe and the United States.  Queens County District Attorney calls it “called it the largest and perhaps most sophisticated ring of its kind in U.S. history.”

How did Operation Swiper work?

“The schemes and the imagination of these thieves is mind boggling,” said New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly at a press conference.  “These crimes are getting more sophisticated and thieves have amazing knowledge of how to use technology.” Continue reading Identity theft makes strange bedfellows

The Foster Youth Financial Security Act: Protecting foster children from identity theft

One study has highlighted that as many as half of the children in foster care in California have been victims of identity theft. Rhode Island Rep. Jim Langevin has introduced a bill, The Foster Youth Financial Security Act, to help protect children in foster care from identity theft and other hurdles that impede their financial success.
Foster children already have obstacles in their way including the lack of continuity of care and the stigma of being a foster child.  When children transition out of foster care to live on their own, Rep. Langevin says, “They shouldn’t have to struggle to find credit or fix credit just as they are leaving custody to live on their own.”
This latest bill introduced by Rep. Langevin is just one part of a big move to overhaul the foster care system in Rhode Island. Following a study released in March by The Children’s Advocacy Institute entitled: “The Fleecing of Foster Children: How We Confiscate Their Assets and Undermine Their Financial Security,” Rep. Langevin told a roundtable of parties interested in the foster care system that “research shows that current and former foster youth are more likely to forego higher education, be in poor health, become homeless, and rely on public supports as adults. I believe we can – and must – change these statistics.”

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