When it comes to hacking, the aim isn’t always fraud

The credit data agency Experian could be facing criminal investigations, fines and class action lawsuits, after a hack that compromised the records of 15 million people, all of them customers of the wireless carrier T-Mobile.

And while this may appear just like any other hacking story — there’s a breach, a promise of free credit monitoring, investigations — this time Social Security numbers were among the data compromised. When it’s not just a credit card number, stolen data can create all kinds of headaches.

People can have fake tax returns filed in their name, fraudulant car loans and even mortgages. And when it comes to identity theft, the onus is on the victims. When the fraudsters don’t pay up, banks and loan collectors can come after the victims, instead. And it could take victims of fraud years to clear their name and financial histories.

“Law enforcement can’t deal with the volume” of fraud, said Chester Wisniewski, a senior adviser at the security firm Sophos. “If you approach the FBI, they’re not really interested if the crime is less than $1 million.”


Don’t give your Social Security number at these places!

When should you give your Social Security number and when should you not? My rule on giving out my Social Security number is that I don’t do it, unless I know it’s absolutely, positively required for what I’m doing.

Companies and institutions ask for our Social Security numbers like they’re handing out a piece of candy. Unfortunately, they do a mediocre to terrible job of securing the number, depending on the industry.

Kiplinger  magazine once ran a list of the 10 worst places to give out your Social Security number. Here are the places you shouldn’t give out your Social Security number:

Topping the list is any college or university. I recall when Social Security numbers were used as your student ID number and they were posted everywhere on campus. I even had a professor who posted grades outside his office by Social Security number.

The second worst place to give out your Social Security number is in the banking industry. Unfortunately, there’s no way around this one; if you want to open an account, you have no choice but to divulge the digits.

Making four separate entries on the list are hospitals, medical businesses, health insurers and …


Healthcare industry, listen up: you’re a prime target for cyberattacks.

“Cybercriminals view healthcare organizations as a soft target compared with financial services and retailers,” said Lynne Dunbrack, research vice president of IDC Health Insights, a health IT research and consulting firm. “Historically, healthcare organizations have invested less in IT, including security technologies and services, than other industries, thus making themselves more vulnerable to successful cyberattacks.”

“This should serve as yet another wake up call for those who haven’t gotten it yet….”


The Looming Crisis of Child Identity Theft

According to AllClear ID research on child identity theft, children may be victimized at a rate approximately 35 times higher than that of adults.

ID thieves need Social Security numbers (SSNs) with clean histories that are not currently being used, allowing them to attach a different name and date of birth to the number….


IRS changes policies after NH family deals with identity theft

The IRS is changing one of its rules after a woman from Strafford became the victim of an income tax scam. While coming to grips with the death of her daughter last year, things got worse for Lori Weeks when she tried to file her tax return.

“It was a kick in the gut,” Weeks said. “It was grief on top of grief.”

A month after her 7-year-old daughter, Madison, was killed in a car crash, Weeks and her husband were filing their tax return when they learned that someone had claimed their deceased child as a dependent….


For years, a Passport Agency contractor copied passport applicants’ data to create fake identities

A woman employed as a State Department contractor was indicted in Houston on Wednesday for an alleged identity theft scheme using personal information she stole while working at a passport office.

The contractor, Chloe McClendon, and two other women were charged “with multiple counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft,” according to the Associated Press.

Since 2010, the defendants used the stolen names, addresses and Social Security numbers from people’s passports to create fake documents and used those identities to borrow money to purchase electronics, including iPhones and iPads….