Tag Archives: identity theft

Equifax $425M data-breach settlement: How to file a claim

Equifax is a consumer credit reporting firm, the oldest of the three largest U.S. credit agencies (the other two are Experian and TransUnion). Founded in 1899, Equifax gathers and maintains information on over 800 million consumers and more than 88 million businesses worldwide. Based in 1550 Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta, Georgia, Equifax is a global service provider with $2.7 billion in annual revenue and more than 9,000 employees in 14 countries. Equifax is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

On July 29, 2017, Equifax discovered that some time in May, someone(s) hacked into its online databases and stole the names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses and driver’s license numbers of 147 million consumers in the United States — data that security experts have described as the crown jewels for identity thieves.

But Equifax kept this discovery quiet for 39 days before finally informing the public about it on September 7, 2017, admitting that 209,000 U.S. credit card numbers are also breached, as well as “certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers.”

Equifax blamed the hacking on a flaw in the STRUTS open-source software used to run its online databases.

On July 26, 2019, Equifax announced its settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and 50 US states and territories. The settlement includes up to $425 million to help people affected by the data breach.

If you information was exposed by the Equifax data breach, you can file a claim for reimbursement of time and expenses incurred dealing with the breach and any resulting identity theft, fraud or losses.

The FTC has a website on helping you file a claim, beginning with a link to see if your information had been exposed by the data breach. Use this look-up tool to see.

I clicked on the “look-up tool” link and was asked to enter my last name and the last 6 digits of my Social Security number. I was surprised that the result said my personal information had been exposed by the Equifax data breach. In all likelihood, yours had been exposed as well.

Once you’ve determined you are eligible for a settlement from Equifax, just follow the instructions on the FTC website to file a claim.

For the FTC website, click here or go to: https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/refunds/equifax-data-breach-settlement

See also:

~Eowyn

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Famous former con-artist says never use debit card!

Identity theft is the deliberate use of someone else’s identity (e.g., name, address, Social Security number, bank accounts) to get money and credit, obtain employment, steal property, falsify educational and other credentials, access healthcare and more.

Frank Abagnale is a former con-artist and professional impostor whose memoir, Catch Me If You Can, was made into a movie with the same title starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Abagnale lectures at the FBI’s Academy and field offices, and is one of the world’s most respected authorities on the subjects of fraud, forgery and cyber security.

In an article for CNBC (via MSN) — an adaped excerpt from his new book Scam Me If You Can — Abagnale warns us to NEVER ever use debit cards. Below are excerpts from the CNBC essay:

Every year, millions of American consumers — nearly 7% of the population — are victims of scams and fraud. In 2017, the number of fraud victims in the US reached 16.7 million, with $16.8 billion lost.

For more than 45 years, I’ve worked with, advised and consulted with the FBI and hundreds of financial institutions, corporations and government agencies around the world to help them in their fight against fraud.

But my expertise began more than 50 years ago, in an unusual way: I was one of the world’s most famous con artists. While I’m ashamed of what I did as a young man — cheating, stealing and, along the way, deceiving and hurting people — I was grateful for the opportunity to turn myself around….

In 2017, during talk I gave at Google, a young man posed a question that I’m often asked: “Given all the advancements in computing and technology, isn’t it harder for today’s criminals to steal your identity than it was back in the 1960s?”

The answer, I told him, is no: It’s not harder. In fact, it’s about 4,000 times easier today than it was then….

[C]on artists are very good at seeking and finding information. With today’s technology, all a thief has to do is go online, give a check-printing service your name and account number, have the checks sent to a post office box and voilà — there goes the contents of your checking account….

Want to avoid identity theft? Never, ever use a debit card. I don’t own one. I never have and I never will. I don’t recommend them to anyone — not my family, not my friends, not you.

As I said at the Google talk, a debit card is certainly and truly the worst financial tool ever given to the American consumer. Why? It’s simple: Every time you use one, you put your money and your bank account at risk.

Instead, use a credit card. I use one for practically all of my purchases, even when I’m traveling abroad. With credit cards, federal law limits my liability if there’s an unauthorized use of my card.

When I use a credit card, I’m spending the credit card company’s money every day until I pay my bill at the end of the month. Meanwhile, my money is earning interest in a bank account.

If there’s a large data breach (and you know that there will be) and a criminal does somehow get my credit card number and charges $1 million on it, I’m protected and my credit card company will cancel the card and send a new one within the next couple of days.

I won’t be responsible for any purchases made. If the same thing happens and the criminals get my debit card information, however, I could lose the money in my bank account and have a difficult and lengthy time recovering it.

Also, keep your check-writing to a minimum and be vigilant about examining your bank statements frequently.

~Eowyn

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ICE executes federal criminal search warrants across Mississippi, detains nearly 700 illegal aliens

Works for me.

From the ICE press release:

“JACKSON, Miss. – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) executed multiple federal criminal search warrants at seven agricultural processing plants across Mississippi Wednesday morning as part of an ongoing HSI worksite enforcement criminal investigation.

In addition to executing federal search warrants and seizing business records pertaining to the ongoing federal criminal investigation, deportation officers with ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in partnership with HSI detained approximately 680 removable aliens who were unlawfully working at the plants.

All the unlawfully present foreign nationals arrested Wednesday are being interviewed by ICE staff to record any potential mitigating humanitarian situations. Based on these interviews, and consideration of their criminality and prior immigration history, ICE is determining on a case-by-case basis based on the totality of the circumstances which individuals will be detained and which persons may be released from custody at present. In all cases, all the illegal aliens encountered as part of this operation are either being placed into removal proceedings before the federal immigration courts, and for those who already received due process and have been ordered removed, processed for removal from the U.S.

A 24-hour toll-free hotline is available for family members of those arrested in this operation to address questions about their detention location and status, and the removal process. This hotline operates in English and Spanish; the phone number is 1-855-479-0502.

This HSI-led operation was conducted in coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi, of which U.S. Attorney D. Michael Hurst Jr. will prosecute any resulting federal criminal charges.

HSI is the federal law enforcement agency responsible for upholding the laws established by the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which requires employers to verify the identity and work eligibility of individuals they hire. These laws help protect jobs for U.S. citizens and lawful U.S. residents, eliminate unfair competitive advantages for companies that unlawfully hire an illegal workforce, and strengthen public safety and national security.

Unauthorized workers often use stolen identities of legal U.S. workers, which can profoundly damage for years the identity-theft victim’s credit, medical records and other aspects of their everyday life.

HSI’s worksite enforcement investigators help combat worker exploitation, illegal wages, child labor and other illegal practices. Worksite enforcement investigations often involve additional criminal activity, such as alien smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, document fraud, worker exploitation and/or substandard wage and working conditions.

In addition to worksite enforcement operations like this one, HSI also uses I-9 audits to create a culture of compliance among employers. In July 2018, ICE announced a two-phase operation under this effort.”

DCG

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