Thursday, August 22, 2013

New kind of burglary motivated only by identity theft

The “girls” (that’s what my mother would have called them) on the NBC Today show today (Thursday August 22, 2013) reported some new schemes for identity theft.

One is that burglars sometimes come into homes and photograph person records and leave without a trace, particularly homes without security systems and without high cylinder locks (and have only older locks that can be picked easily by “bump keys” – as was demonstrated about five years ago by the character “Kate” or “Katrina” on “Days of our Lives”). 

Another ruse is advertising vacation rentals, and either then breaking into them, or using the personal information collected for identity theft. 

Still another ruse is to offer services to put people on “do not call” lists.

The show advised carrying personal hotspots when you travel, rather than using hotel Internet (although https should make most activity reasonably safe in a reputable place).  It also advised against posting details of your trip online until you get back home. (An iPad can serve as a hotspot, at least with Verizon.)  

ABC “World News Tonight” Wednesday (Aug. 21) ran a report indicating that most burglaries happen during the day time on weekdays.  For vacationers, it recommended irregular timer lights and devices that mimic the sound and light effects of television sets to come on and off.   It also showed how modern home security systems can be monitored from smart phones – but that requires adding security cameras to your system.   

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Some low-income consumers have trouble getting "good" checks cleared or approved because of data broker mistakes

Michelle Singletary has a story in the Sunday Washington Post Business Section, Aug. 18, “Keeping consumer-reporting agencies in check”, link (website url) here.

The story focuses specifically on personal check clearing, and the possibility that someone’s check will be denied because of incorrectly stored information from other retailers.  It talks about a settlement against Certegy Check Services by the FTC.

Some consumers have no other way to pay but by check, and consumers were required to make unreasonable efforts to correct information with the data broker. 
Some retailers have the ability to clear checks electronically on site, which would eliminate problems.

I worked for Chilton (now Experian) in Dallas in the 1980's, and one of its subsidiaries was Telechek, which approved checks at cash registers.   

Friday, August 09, 2013

Crooks using Caller-ID to spoof police, threaten people into emptying bank accounts

USA Today is reporting on a scam where crooks call people and demand payments for supposed debts and manipulate caller-ID by hacking to make it appear that police are calling.

Steph Solis has a story Friday August 9 2013, and Byron Acohido has a related story online, March 15, where caller-ID spoofers try also to get directly into bank accounts, link here
The problem may be confused with abuses by the debt collection industry, but this takes “collection” to a new low, probably for money that isn’t even owed.

Callers make repeated calls and claim to have bench warrants, and recipients may fear police.  The proper procedure should be to call the daytime non-emergency number for a local police department, which will deny that the call is theirs and then investigate. 

Monday, August 05, 2013

Should consumers buy identity theft insurance? Where?

Should consumers buy identity theft protection?

Many consumers may find that in many states it is offered as a rider for normally property or renters coverage.  It also may be offered with umbrella coverage, common with auto policies.  I have wondered about the business wisdom (and sustainability) of combining normal property damage and liability coverage with “non physical” risks like identity theft and defamation liability (for Internet use), because they would be so difficult to underwrite and price as technology rapidly changes.
The “Nextadvisor” site has a comparison chart and various write-ups and sublinks for companies that offer identity theft protection, here

I’ve seen a number of tweets about this in the past few days.

Lifelock is on the list, and I think it comes with AOL membership if you want to use it.