(BOSTON, Mass. – June 20, 2007 – IDTheftSecurity.com) Numerous news stories have reported that identity thieves and similar scammers are targeting military personnel and families. Robert Siciliano, a widely televised and quoted personal security and identity theft expert, echoed others in calling the trend an inevitable consequence of the casual, widespread use of Social Securities as a universal identifier.
“The Social Security number is the key to the kingdom,” said Siciliano. “Any thief who obtains this number immediately positions himself to do all sorts of bad things, all the while assuming another person’s identity. This is elementary stuff, really, and no revelation, which makes our society’s insistence on depending on an insecure identifier such as the Social Security number all the more frustrating to personal security professionals.”
CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com and a member of the Bank Fraud & IT Security Report’s editorial board, Siciliano leads Fortune 500 companies and their clients in workshops that explore consumer education solutions for security issues. A longtime identity theft speaker and author of “The Safety Minute: 01,” he has discussed data security and consumer protection on CNBC, on NBC’s “Today Show,” FOX News, and elsewhere.
Of the more than 100 million personal records lost or stolen in 2006 according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, nearly one-third have been for active and retired military personnel whose data once resided at any of just four Veteran Affairs offices. The U.S. Department of Defense, by frequently employing enlistees’ Social Security numbers as all-purpose identifiers, may be contributing to the problem. A number of scams against military personnel and their families have recently been reported.
According to reports, social engineers are also preying upon military personnel and families. One scam, reported by many news outlets, including the June 6th Orlando Sentinel, features phone callers posing as members of the American Red Cross. Claiming that the spouses of the people they call have been wounded in Iraq, scammers proceed to draw Social Security numbers and information on matching birth dates out of the unwitting victims of this ruse.
A number of companies have answered the call to protect military personnel and families from identity theft. For instance, last year MyPublicInfo (MPI), a company based in Arlington, VA, helped citizens potentially hit by the massive data breaches at the Veterans Affairs Administration. The product, MPI’s Public Information Profile, allows anyone using it to self-perform a background check—one that obtains, aggregates, and formats consumer background information not found in credit reports.
In a June 19th press release, Denver, Colo–based ID Watchdog announced that the company would provide its identity monitoring services, billed as “360-degree comprehensive detection,” free to military families to help protect their identities. ID Watchdog monitors a consumer’s credit identity as well as personal information in 13 different, critical areas (e.g., criminal, medical and Social Security records), and resolves any detected breaches.
“The Social Security number shouldn’t be the default tool for identifying soldiers, or anyone else,” said Siciliano. “But citizens also need to know that they shouldn’t, and don’t have to, provide their Social Security number to just anybody. And those who already have done so need to know about the options they have to protect themselves.”
Readers may view the following video of Siciliano using the breach of customer data at an exclusive tropical resort as context to discuss the dangers of Social Security numbers as all-purpose identifiers.
Identity theft affects us all. Robert Siciliano, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com and member of the Bank Fraud & IT Security Report’s editorial board, makes it his mission to provide consumer education solutions on identity theft to Fortune 500 companies and their clients.
A leader of personal safety and security seminars nationwide, Siciliano has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, “FOX News,” NBC’s “Today Show,” “The Suze Orman Show,” “The Montel Williams Show,” “Maury Povich,” “Sally Jesse Raphael,” “The Howard Stern Show,” and “Inside Edition.” The Privacy Learning Institute features him on its Website. Numerous magazines, print news outlets, and wire services have turned to him, as well, for expert commentary on personal security and identity theft. These include Entrepreneur, Woman’s Day, Mademoiselle, Good Housekeeping, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, United Press International, Reuters, and others.
The media are encouraged to get in touch with Siciliano directly:
The media may also contact: