Monday, May 21, 2018

Former debt collector sets up charity to buy back and forgive medial debt (RIP)



Craig Antico, a former medical debt collector, has formed a non-profit called RIP Medical Debt, which buys medical debt on pennies on the dollar so that individual debtors can be forgiven. 
  
NBC News has a video and report here.

I worked for RMA, a debt collector, in the summer of 2003 near St. Paul, MN.  It did have a division that collected medical debt.  

   
Antico said he used to make 200 calls a day as a bill collector.  That sounds about what I did.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Superhero comic character creator sues his own company for international identify theft attempt



Superhero creator Stan Lee has filed a #1 billion lawsuit against a company he helped found.
He claims executives at Pow! Conspired to create a deal to sell Pow to a company in China and then to steal Lee’s identity.
  
The CNN Entertainment story is here.

It’s hard to believe anyone could pull anything like this off.  But maybe business in China is that opaque.

I got odd requests in 2013 about registering my own domains in China, where I would probably be banned for my political content.

  
But the possibility of creating someone’s identity in a foreign country, especially a non-democratic one, sounds like a broader danger.  It’s unclear if that would have repercussions for an “average American” unless he/she traveled to the country.  It’s hard to believe fictitious international debts could be successfully pursued.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Unusual murder by elderly woman in Florida motivated by identity theft



In a bizarre case of female evil, a woman who shot her own husband in Minnesota fled to Florida, and then killed a woman who looked like her to try to assume her identity.


A station in Florida gives the bizarre account here
  
The perpetrator is elderly, “grandma”.  Very unusual crime, right out of the movies.
  
Authorities have already said that identity theft is the Number 1 crime in Florida.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Facial recognition data from leaked social media sites could lead to private blacklists






Forbes reports on a huge worldwide facial recognition project sponsored by Israeli security and hiring ex-spies.

The project would use Facebook and other data taken from social media companies by efforts like Cambridge.
  
Governments could use the information to build blacklists to keep out “terrorists” and private companies could develop and sell such secret blacklists.

EFF tweeted the story today. 

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Very private data may have been taken from Facebook Messenger, but could also have been taken from personal blogs



The data that may have been available to foreign analysts like Cambridge seems more private and extensive than I had thought, including the contents of private messenger, facial recognition data, and contact information for friends, as in this CNN Money story.  
  
Since this data could have been matched with dark web data based on other corporate hacks, this seems especially disturbing.
  
However, it’s also true considerable data about people who had blogged or self-published articles openly on the web could have been available anyway, even without modern social media, if enemy interests really wanted to target ordinary American civilians based on political or religious affiliations – a possibility that would raise new national security concerns were it to ever unravel.  Even shared economy about consumers (which shows physical location) could come into the mix. 

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Feeding of Facebook breach from Dark Web raises id theft risk to users



Craig Timberg, Elizabeth Dworkin and Tony Romm write a front page Washington Post story Thursday, April 5, 2018, “Facebook: Bad actors likely hot most users”, link.

Beyond the previous announcement of 87 million accounts compromised there is the bad news that criminals took data from the dark web, from previous corporate hacks (possibly Equifax) and fed it into Facebook.  It took some sophisticated programming to do this, but in Russia young adults don’t have good legitimate jobs. 

  
Therefore, you have to say that, especially overseas in authoritarian countries, the back could present a real ID theft to many Faceboook users after all.

There is also a lot of extra concern about the compromise of minors' privacy, literally as part of the business model. 

The regulatory consequences could be quite substantial.  Facebook seems to have violated its agreement with the FCC in 2011. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Could Facebook's breach lead to an identity theft risk for some users?



The enormous concerns over the recent misuse of Facebook data by British company Cambridge Analytica naturally could raise questions about possible identity theft. 

Is there really a danger?   I would think not.  Most of the data taken, even of “friends” was non-specific, such as likes or sites visited or purchases.  It generally was not PII as usually understood. So this leak is not as "dangerous" as, say, the Equifax hack. 

  
Some accounts say that facial images were taken.  Because facial recognition software exists, this could present a security problem for individuals.  I’ve written before here that people in bars and discos are more sensitive to photography by strangers now than they were, say, back in 2010.
  
However, the Identity Theft Resource Center writes essentially that there could be some risk from very determined foreign hackers who want to target someone. .