Archive for August, 2009

The Identity Theft You Won’t Suspect

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

When you think about identity theft what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

For many, it’s that you might lose your wallet, leave your credit card behind somewhere, or have someone intercept your mail. All those things, and more, can happen, but those are individual, isolated events.

More threatening than that are the data breaches at major institutions.

Sometimes they happen because an employee takes a laptop home and it is stolen from a car or during a house burglary. In some of those cases the personal information is never used or sold, because the thief:
• Was interested in the laptop rather than the data it held
• Wasn’t even aware that the laptop contained sensitive information
• Didn’t have the expertise to get into password protected files

Those again, are identity losses that happened primarily by chance.

But then there are the others.

When the breach at Heartland Payment Systems was discovered, investigators found a security breach that had been going on for two years. Since Heartland processes payments for a variety of companies, the breach could very well have affected you and your credit cards.

Thieves had stolen over 190 million credit and debit card numbers from Heartland, 4.2 million files from Hannaford, and an unknown number of files from 7-Eleven.

The three men responsible for this breach have now been indicted by a federal grand jury. One of them, Albert Gonzales, was also tied to a security breach at TJX Co. in 2007. That theft exposed up to 94 million credit card numbers.

Among other things, the case against these men asserts that they conspired to bundle the stolen credit card numbers into batches to be sold over the internet.

This is the kind of identity theft that you do not suspect until you learn that a company you deal with has experienced a security breach. The very real threat of this happening is just one more reason why you should check your credit report often and read it thoroughly, looking for signs of theft. If you find one, report it immediately.

In order to protect yourself from hefty liability on a debit card you must notify the bank within 2 days of learning of the theft. Thus, if your wallet is stolen, one of the first calls you should make is to the bank that issued your debit card. If you do notify the bank within 2 days your liability will be limited to $50. If you notify within 60 days, your liability would be capped at $500 – and if you let it go longer than 60 days, the sky is the limit with regard to your liability. your resource for free credit report offers and the most current information regarding credit news. We also provide free tips and techniques to repair your credit for free. “Remember your credit report and credit score is more important than ever now.”