It's sad for me to hear the actual stories of the victims especially since it could have been so easily prevented in most cases if the lawmakers and the agencies who are supposed to protect you would just get their acts together.
Blame aside, the question is: what do you do? I wish I could help everyone, but every situation is different. What I will post here are the most common, basic steps you will take to handle the current situation and prevent further ones.
Most of ID Theft is a result of someone else gaining access to your credit reports. Things like getting a bank account, getting a job, getting a lease, turning on utilities, and getting a cellphone all require a credit check. The very first thing you need to do is cut off access to your credit files to prevent the problem from getting worse or re-occuring in the future.
Now you're going to start fixing the damage they caused.
Someone is getting some benefit from your identity in the form of goods and/or services. You might have information of what those are and you might now. It may be worth hiring a private investigator to dig up information about yourself so you can figure out what kinds of records are in your name that shouldn't be.
Even if it didn't impact your credit report, take care of them. If you find out that the DMV for a state you've never lived in has records in your name, work to have them expunged. If someone activated a phone service for a house somewhere in your name, have it shut off. Follow every lead you have and stamp it flat. Best case scenario, you get enough information to identify the theif.
The above links are good resources to learn more about the issue, but if you want the biggest bang for the buck to learn quickly and clearly about the ID Theft problem and concrete steps you can take to prevent it in the future, please check out my Goodbye Identity Theft crash course Tags: ID Theft, Identity Theft
Surprise, surprise. A company has giant data breach due to negligent security, but not to worry! They'll protect you by offering you credit monitoring for one year free!
It would be nice if people could spot this B.S. easily by now, but I'm guessing there are a lot that won't so let me spell it out. Credit monitoring is a waste of your time and is likely only offered to make it seem like they're doing something for you when they probably don't. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that the credit monitoring companies have a "data breach plan" where companies can get a bulk discount by offering monitoring to all their victims.
It's a classic win-win-lose. The breach company wins PR points, the monitoring companies continue to make money for not providing any real service, and we all lose.
If you're worried about id theft, justTags: !Big Business, Data Abuse, Data Brokering, Identity Theft, WellPoint
Todd Davis didn't post his social security number publicly because he thought his company could protect it. He did it as an advertising gimmick that netted him almost 2 million paying customers. At least, I have to assume that's what Todd's motivations were because I'm guessing he's not an idiot and knew his service wouldn't actually prevent ID theft. Even if he were, there have been so particularly telling clues recently such as:
That's why when an employee's sensitive data showed up online, they worked to have it removed. No one should have their social security number posted publicly because the risk is too great. Unless of course you're the CEO of a company that charges $10/month to almost 2 million people and can afford any amount of ID theft you're hit with.
For those that are bad at math, that's 20 million a month income. Makes that $12 million settlement seem kind of inconsequential doesn't it?Tags: Identity Theft, Lifelock, Scams - Ripoffs - Dirty Tricks, Todd Davis
I'm not surprised about the fine, just that it took this long. Of course, they'll just shrug it off and any other lawsuit so long as they make more money than they spend.
Sadly, by the time someone actually shuts Lifelock down (if ever), the people responsible for it will be so rich that it won't make any difference. But until then, we can feel a little happier knowing that there are some organizations that are making them pay for their dishonesty; although 12 million dollars is less than one month of Lifelock's income on their almost 2 million reported customers.Tags: Identity Theft, Lifelock, Scams - Ripoffs - Dirty Tricks, Todd Davis
Go figure! Someone believed that FreeCreditReport means you can get a free credit report? What are the odds!?
How this has gone on this long I'll never know. Even after 11,000 Better Business Bureau complaints the most that's been done to date was the very cool FTC spoof videos making fun of FreeCreditReport's TV ads where they did everything short of calling them crooks.
It's such an exquisite pleasure to watch this bogus company go down; let's hope this suit sticks.
Update June 2010:
It's probably been a month or two (or three or four) since this happened, but as a result of the lawsuit, the FTC has required them to put a giant banner on the top of their website saying essentially that they're full of it. Granted, the site should just have been shut down, but it's still nice to see.
Looking back from 2019:
The FTC filed their own lawsuit and won, but the measly ~1 million fine was so much less than the $72 Million they could afford just for theirdeceptive ad campaign, it just goes to show that founding a company in fraud is a solid business strategy. But I suppose it's not all bad… there was brand new legislation passed as a result of their scam:
On a lighter note, the Federal Trade Commission was so fed up with Freecreditreport.com, they made these awesome spoof videos:
Of course this isn't a problem limited only to Facebook, but the FBI issued a warning about the rise of hijacking scams. This is where a bad guy gets your login information through various means and then poses as you on your account. They'll send an urgent request for help or money to all your friends who may be fooled and comply (as in the case of Bryan Rutberg).
Remember to use good passwords and protect them especially the password for your e-mail account (which can be used to unlock all your other accounts).
I can't really state this often enough. There's only one place to get free credit reports and that's AnnualCreditReport.com. Everywhere else is going to take your money and give you grief.
Freescore is that company that's been advertising with Ben Stein on TV and they've been at the same dirty tricks as all these bogus free credit score places. However, because of a blogger who posted that they're a "predatory bait-and-switch" and also pointed out that the parent company of Freescore is VERTRUE, INC who has a Better Business Bureau score of F for charging people unexpectedly and then hassling them to get their money back (quoted loosely from here).
Freescore decided to file a libel lawsuit that looks surprisingly bogus to Felix Salmon, a blogger at Reuters. Not only did they never accuse the blogger of posting anything false, but the only part of the post that could be considered libelous was a direct quote from Felix's blog in the first place!
Well, this nonsense is no surprise to anyone that's watched these companies taking people's money and providing nothing in return.
Remember, there is only one place to get free credit reports and that's AnnualCreditReport.com. Anyone else that offers you free credit reports is lying or has a gimmick.Tags: Ben Stein, Freescore, Identity Theft, Lawsuit, lawsuits, Scams - Ripoffs - Dirty Tricks
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