Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Use of chip-based rather than mag-stripe credit cards could reduce identity theft

Byron Acohido has a front page story in USA Today Christmas Eve warning “Target’s breach won’t be the last”.  The main reason, he writes, is that credit cards in the United States, in widely expanding use with retailers, taxis, and even cell phone payment systems, depend on magnetic stripe systems that can be copied.  In Europe, credit cards have chips which are much harder to replicate.
The link for the story is here
The story is important because it implies that the use of magnetic strip cards, very expensive to replace, facilitates identity theft, could place bank accounts at risk, and certainly places employee reputations at risk in jobs where employees are considered responsible for their own scores, regardless of fault.  The new bill limiting the use of credit checks in employment could be relevant here.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Could phishing emails for credit cards you don't have be a sign of identity theft?

Recently, I’ve gotten what appear to be spam or phishing emails from banks with whom I do not have accounts or credit cards.

These are often European banks (like the Royal Bank of Scotland), come with attachments, and have obvious spoofs (the sender can be determined to not be from the bank).  That last observation is not true of all spoofs. 
The question would come up, is this just identity theft?  Probably not in this case, because there are such obvious signs of spoofing. But real identity theft would mean that the institution “thinks” that I have an account with it, bills me, and then reports non-payment to credit bureaus and hires collection agencies. 
I have proposed NCOA as a way to control identity theft, because it would entail consumer notification.  In some postings I have said that email notification could suffice, but because of the possibility of phishing, it probably should not.  Notification of pins and opening accounts should probably start with physical mail.
I’ve discussed the Target breach situation on my Internet Safety blog. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Equal Employment for All Act would ban most credit report use in ordinary employment

The Equal Employment for All Act of 2013. HR 645,  would make it illegal in many jobs for employers to use credit reports (including “investigate consumer reports”) to deny employment to applicants in jobs except those requiring security clearances, jobs with certain government agencies, or managerial positions in financial institutions.  The Congress link for the bill is here. It was introduced by Steve Cohen (D-TN) in Feb. 2013.
CNN Money has a story on the bill by Blake Ellis today here. The practice of employer credit checks when not relevant to a job is thought to perpetuate unemployment, especially for the long term unemployed who are caught in a vicious circle.
Further, many credit reports have inaccurate information because of identity theft of simply reporting errors.  In the past, many employers have viewed associates as having absolute responsibility for their own credit history.
In the 1980’s Chilton Credit Reporting in Dallas required a credit check of everyone working there.  No problems turned up for me, but in 2000, a questionable debt for an expired credit card (from 1980) showed up with a company that bought bad debt.  When Chilton was purchased by TRW in 1989, the requirement that employees pass a credit check was stopped.
Some observers note that employers use credit checks to verify previous employment or addresses.
Will employers instead heighten their concern over “online reputation”?  Even that can easily fall to mistaken identity.  

Monday, December 09, 2013

"Foreclosure trolls" follow the example set by patent and copyright trolls, perhaps: a new kind of debt-collection?

We may have copyright trolls and patent trolls, but the Washington Post is reporting on what looks like a “foreclosure troll”, a company named Aeon Financial, which purchases tax liens in Washington DC and some other jurisdictions and then “shakes down” distressed homeowners for extra fees.
The Post story Monday by Michael Saliah and Debbie Cenziper is here
The Post calls it a “debt-collecting machine