Are you Savvy to the dangers of a data breach and the impact of an identity theft?

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With the holiday season upon us, it's time to reiterate the importance of safeguarding your data and being alert to the dangers of criminal activity.  Criminals want to infiltrate businesses one way or another and sometimes that means recruiting employees and members of the public do the dirty work for them. 

Identity thieves often try to find employment at places of business specifically to gain access to sensitive information they can then easily pilfer. But if they can't get in through the front door of a business -there's always a chance they can get in through the back door.

One of their favorite methods of getting their hands on data involves offering employees a "second job" with promises of a lucrative stream of cash in return for passing on stolen information, such as Social Security numbers, credit card and account numbers. This technique essentially accomplishes the task...they get inside a business, university or government agency. This weekend's Associated Press story underscores the importance of being alert to the many of savvy methods criminals use to commit fraud or theft. 

This weekend's AP report;

US postal carrier jailed for stealing credit cards on mail route

A Miami federal judge has sentenced seven people, including a postal carrier, to prison for their roles in a credit card and identity theft scheme.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says Dondre Green, a postal carrier, stole credit cards out of the mail from victims who lived on his delivery routes. He then delivered the credit cards to co-conspirators who recruited shoppers to make purchases at local businesses using the stolen cards.

Authorities say they were responsible for more than $150,000 in fraud losses. Green, who organized the scam, was sentenced Thursday to more than four years in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

See earlier blog: Keep your Data (and employees) Safe from Identity Thieves...  .


The below story shows just how difficult it is to clear your name once a crime is committed in your name...

The Watchdog: A twist on identity theft

Michael Thomas of Arlington doesn't have a criminal history of his own. Yet, he spent years unknowingly lugging around the rather hefty criminal record of his older brother, Christopher, since 2004, when his brother used his name during a criminal trespassing arrest.

Later, through fingerprints, it was established who Christopher was, but because Michael's name was merged with Christopher's as an alias, the two brothers' histories became one.

Michael Thomas discovered this year, when he was applying for work, that his brother's record is linked to his name in criminal databases. After receiving a rejection letter from UPS based on that criminal record, Thomas, at the urging of girlfriend Kristen Hamilton, decided to try to correct the record that depicts him as his brother -- a convicted felon. Christopher Thomas pleaded guilty to a felony charge of unauthorized use of a vehicle late last year and is serving prison time in Huntsville.

"It's crazy. Not even McDonald's will hire me. I can't even serve burgers," Michael Thomas, 25, and the father of four children, told The Watchdog.

"People want to hire him, but they can't because of the liability," said Hamilton, 22, of Arlington. "It's just not right."

But as the couple, and Watchdog, discovered, separating your record from that of a criminal who has used your name as an alias is no easy task. Read More.

For more info on how criminal identity theft affects innocent victims, see earlier blog:
Identity Theft Victims find Themselves Thrown in Jail over Crimes they didn't Commit; Forced to Prove Innocence!

What happens when your Social Security number is used for employment purposes?
Authorities say $2.6 million in tax payments made to illegal immigrants

Here's a portion of a recent news item: Immigration Reform discussing the hardship caused when your SSN is used by undocumented workers for employment purposes. This practice can leave you in a mess with the IRS.

"...The investigation revealed that more than 1,300 illegal immigrants are suspected of using stolen identities to find work, and then filing tax returns through Amalia's Translation and Tax Services in Greeley.

So far, at least 15 people have been arrested for identity theft or criminal impersonation, and that number will climb. They face deportation in addition to the criminal charges. District Attorney Ken Buck said warrants will be issued for the rest of the suspects over the next year, and more arrests are likely.

It is estimated these suspects have received some $2.5 million in tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service.

Think about it: One tax preparer, 1,300 suspects, $2.5 million. Now, multiply that by the thousands of tax preparers nationwide who have provided a similar services for illegal immigrants. If that could be recovered, it could save the government potentially from the worst economic downturn in history. MORE

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