Identity Theft Credit Card Security

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Credit card fraud comes in two different flavors: account takeover and new account fraud. Account takeover occurs when the identity thief gains access to your credit or debit card number through criminal hacking, dumpster diving, ATM skimming, or perhaps you simply hand it over when paying at a store or restaurant. Technically, account takeover is the most prevalent form of identity theft. I’ve always viewed it as simple credit card fraud, rather than “identity theft” in its truest sense.

New account fraud, as it relates to credit cards, occurs when someone gains access to your personal identifying information, including your name, address and, most importantly, your Social Security number. With this data, a thief can open a new account and have the card sent to a different address. This is true identity theft. Once the identity thief receives the new card, he or she maxes it out and doesn’t pay the bill. Over time, the creditors track down the victim, blame him or her for the unpaid bills, and demand the owed funds. New account fraud destroys the victim’s credit and is a mess to clean up.

Victims of account takeover are likely to discover the fraud in numerous ways. They may notice suspicious charges on a credit card statement, or the credit card company may notice charges that seem unusual in the context of the victim’s established spending habits. Credit card companies have anomaly detection software that monitors credit card transactions for red flags. For example, if you hand your credit card to a gas station attendant in Boston at noon, and then a card present purchase is made from a tiny village in Romania one hour later, a red flag is raised. Common sense says you can’t possibly get from Boston to Romania in one hour. The software knows this.

Victims of account takeover only wind up paying the fraudulent charges if they don’t detect and report the crime within 60 days. A 6o day window covers two billing cycles, which should be enough for most account-conscious consumers who keep an eye on their spending. During that time, you are covered by a “zero liability policy,” which was invented by credit card companies to reduce fears of online fraud. Under this policy, the cardholder may be responsible for up to $50.00 in charges, but most banks extend the coverage to charges under $50.00. After 60 days, though, you are out of luck. So pay attention to your statements. As long as you do, account takeover should not hurt you financially.

But new account fraud is another story entirely – one that can and will hurt you if you don’t protect yourself. You may not be held financially responsible for the charges themselves, but you will pay in time, and time is money. In some cases you may pay lawyers or private investigators, or you may need to take time off from work, depending on how dire your credit situation becomes. Identity theft victims have been denied credit due to the unpaid debts in their names, and have missed opportunities to purchase homes as a result.

Protecting yourself from account takeover is relatively easy. Simply pay attention to your statements every month and refute unauthorized charges immediately. I check my charges online once every two weeks. If I’m traveling extensively, especially out of the country, I let the credit card company know ahead of time, so they won’t shut down my card while I’m on the road.

Protecting yourself from new account fraud requires more effort. You can attempt to protect your own identity, by getting yourself a credit freeze, or setting up your own fraud alerts. There are pros and cons to each.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing identity theft hackers

Check Fraud Identity Theft is Rising

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

As opening new lines of credit becomes more difficult, identity thieves are gravitating toward check fraud.

Check fraud is a billion dollar problem. As predicted by the Identity Theft Resource Center, check fraud, which accounted for 12% of financial crimes in 2007, increased to 17% in 2008. According to the American Bankers Association Deposit Account Fraud Survey Report, $969 million were stolen via check fraud in 2006, up from a reported $677 million in 2003. Of the $969 million dollars lost to check fraud, 38% was stolen through return deposit scams, 27% was stolen using cloned checks, 28% was stolen using counterfeit checks,  and 7% was stolen by altering or washing checks.

In an article in The New York Post, a brazen ring of thieves enlisted crooked bank tellers to run a check fraud scheme that was brought down when the crooks made the mistake of forging checks from a NYPD account. Two criminal hacker ringleaders organized the counterfeit scam, using 950 “soldiers,” or “mules,” to deposit and cash counterfeit checks, netting them millions of dollars. Three bank tellers were involved, stealing and selling customer profiles which included names, Social Security numbers, and account numbers. Insider identity theft of this kind accounts for up to 70% of all instances of identity theft.

Check fraud victims include banks, businesses and consumers themselves. Our current system for cashing checks is somewhat flawed. Checks can be cashed and merchandise can be purchased even when there is no money in the checking account.

I presented a program on motivation and self-improvement at a women’s prison in Massachusetts a few years back. I requested a little background on the women I was speaking to, just because I watch too many movies and I wanted to know if there was any possibility I’d get shanked. The case worker informed me that about 80% of the women were incarcerated for check fraud and shoplifting. It seems that when some people get a checkbook, they consider it an opportunity to print money.

There are numerous forms of check fraud:

Forged signatures are the easiest form of check fraud. These are legitimate checks with a forged signature. This can occur when a checkbook is lost or stolen, or when a home or business is burglarized. An individual who is invited into your home or business can rip a single check from your checkbook and pay themselves as much as they like. Banks don’t often verify signatures until a problem arises that requires them to assign liability.

Forged endorsements generally occur when someone steals a check and cashes or deposits it. There’s really nothing anyone can do to protect themselves from this, aside from guarding their checks and going over their bank statements carefully.

Counterfeit checks can be created by anyone with a desktop scanner and printer. They simply create a check and make it out to themselves. In order to prevent your checks from being counterfeited, make sure you shred all canceled checks before throwing them away, and be sure to lock up any checks in your home or office. Consider a locked mailbox so nobody can access your bank statements. You should also seriously consider using online banking exclusively, and discontinuing paper statements.

Check kiting or check floating usually involves two bank accounts, where money is transferred back and forth, so that they appear to contain a balance which can then be withdrawn. A check is deposited in one account, then cash is withdrawn despite the lack of sufficient funds to cover the check. In this case, it’s generally the bank or whoever cashed the check that gets burnt, unless they are able to go after the person who used their own account.

Check washing involves altering a legitimate check, changing the name of the payee and often increasing the amount. This is the sneakiest form of check fraud. When checks or tax-related documents are stolen, either from the mail or by other means, the ink can be erased using common household chemicals such as nail polish remover. This allows the thieves to endorse checks to themselves. In this case, something as simple and inexpensive as a select uni-ball pen can help. Select uni-ball pens contain specially formulated gel ink (trademarked Uni-Super Ink™) that is absorbed into the paper’s fibers and can never be washed out. The pen costs two bucks and is available at any office supply store.

If you write a check to pay a bill and then put it in your mailbox for the postal carrier to deliver, you put yourself at a higher risk for check fraud. Thieves see that red flag up and go phishing for checks. I suggest using a uni-ball pen and taking checks directly to the post office, or dropping them in a big blue mailbox.

If you plan to do any online banking, which millions do, make sure your PC is protected with McAfee anti-virus software and all your critical security patches in your operating system are up to date.

Robert Siciliano identity theft speaker discussing identity fraud and security

Requests For Social Security Numbers Leads to Identity Theft

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

A patient at a Washington state medical clinic was asked for his Social Security number numerous times. Many of us have endured this familiar process. Considering the recent buzz about identity theft, this patient became concerned about releasing his own sensitive personal data, and requested that the facility remove his Social Security number from their records. The clinic refused, the patient put up a stink, and was ultimately ejected from the facility. The clinic considered his request unreasonable, and a violation of their rules and regulations. So, who’s right and who’s wrong in this scenario?

One Saturday afternoon, years ago, my spouse and I went to a major chain that rents videos. Without naming them, let’s just say they rent some block buster movies. The account was under my wife’s name, but she didn’t have her card with her that day. Upon checkout, the pimply faced 17-year-old clerk said, “No problem,” and asked for her Social Security number, which appeared on the screen in front of him. I freaked out and was ejected from the store. So, who’s right and who’s wrong?

In both cases, the customer is wrong. That may not be the answer you were expecting. I was wrong and the patient was wrong.

In general, routine information is collected for all hospital patients, including the patient’s name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, gender and other specific information that helps them verify the individual’s identity, as well as insurance enrollment and coverage data. And due to federally mandated laws like HIPAA, they are careful to maintain confidentiality of all patient information in their systems.

Corporations such as banks, credit card companies, automobile dealers, retailers and even video rental stores who grant credit in any form are going to ask for your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and other specific information that helps them verify your identity and do a quick credit check to determine their risk level in granting you credit.

The Social Security Administration says, “Show your card to your employer when you start a job so your records are correct. Provide your Social Security number to your financial institution(s) for tax reporting purposes. Keep your card and any other document that shows your Social Security number on it in a safe place. DO NOT routinely carry your card or other documents that display your number.” But beyond that they have no advice and frankly, no authority.

Over the past fifty years, the Social Security number has become our de facto national ID. While originally developed and required for Social Security benefits, “functionality creep” occurred. Functionality creep occurs when an item, process, or procedure designed for a specific purpose ends up serving another purpose, which it was never intended to perform.

Here we are decades later, and the Social Security number is the key to the kingdom. Anyone who accesses your number can impersonate you in a hospital or bank. So what do you do when asked for your Social Security number? Many people are refusing to give it out and quickly discovering that this creates a number of hurdles they have to overcome in order to obtain services. Most are often denied that service, and from what I gather, there is nothing illegal about any entity refusing service. Most organizations stipulate access to this data in their “Terms of Service” that you must sign in order to do business with them. They acquire this data in order to protect themselves. By making a concerted effort to verify the identities of their customers, they establish a degree of accountability. Otherwise, anyone could pose as anyone else without consequence.

So where does this leave us? I have previously discussed “Identity Proofing,” and how flawed our identification systems are, and how we might be able to tighten up the system. But we have a long way to go before we are all securely and effectively identified. So, in the meantime, we have to play with the cards we are dealt in order to participate in society and partake in the various services it offers. So, for the time being, you’re going to have to continue giving up your Social Security number.

I give up mine often. I don’t like it, but I do things to protect myself, or at least reduce my vulnerability:

How to protect yourself;

  • You can refuse to give your Social Security number out. This may lead to a denial of service or a request that you, the customer, jump through a series of inconvenient hoops in order to be granted services. When faced with either option, most people throw their arms in the air and give out their Social Security number.
  • You can invest in identity theft protection.
  • You can attempt to protect your own identity, by getting yourself a credit freeze, or setting up your own fraud alerts. You can use Google news alerts to sweep the net and take precautions to prevent social media identity theft.
  • Protect your PC. Regardless of what others do with your Social Security number, you still have to protect the data you have immediate control over. Make sure to invest in Internet security software.

Robert Siciliano, identity theft speaker, discusses the ubiquitous use of Social Security numbers.

What have you done in the past when asked for your SSN? Did you refuse? What happened?

Credit card fraud is Americans number one concern

Identity theft Expert Robert Siciliano

A recent study conducted by the Unisys Corporation shows that identity theft as it pertains to credit card fraud is Americans’ number one concern.

When people ask me, “How do I protect myself from credit card fraud?” I tell them, “Cancel the card, or never use it.” Because that’s the only way.

Personal security (as it pertains to violence) and national security have always been a concern. However, this new study shows that people are more concerned with fraud, and the risk of having their savings depleted by scammers. Not so hard to believe, what with the number of data breaches, and the Madoffs of the world fleecing their unsuspecting investors.

75% of Americans feel that the recession has increased their chances of being victimized by criminal hackers and thieves. Most are also concerned their “private” information on a corporate or bank network may be compromised.

FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center’s 2008 Annual Report determined that online fraud increased by 33.1% last year. Dollar losses resulting from online fraud increased to $265 million.

Overall, these concerns are valid, due to flaws in the system of issuing credit that facilitate new account fraud. Furthermore, account takeover requires nothing more than access to credit card numbers, which are available in hacked databases or susceptible every time you hand your card over to a gas station attendant.

Viruses in spam or phishing emails continue to plague consumers and as scammers get more sophisticated, the chances of getting hooked increase.

Banks and business will continue to feel the pressure as criminals target their clients’ data.

Credit card skimming at ATMs and gas pumps makes it impossible to protect yourself when you could essentially be handing your digits over to a criminal.

Skimming is one of the financial industry’s fastest-growing crimes, according to the U.S. Secret Service. The worldwide ATM Industry Association reports over $1 billion in annual global losses from credit card fraud and electronic crime associated with ATMs.

Marite Ferrero, a blogger with Finextra, adds, “In Europe, the points of compromise are everywhere: ATM, gas pumps, parking, DVD rentals, movie tickets, food kiosks, tolls, buying metro tickets, and the list goes on… Because of chip and pin implementation, the proliferation of stand-alone terminals that accept chip and pin has provided a profitable playground for fraudsters.”

While the card holder is generally only responsible for the first $50.00 in losses, which is often waived by a “zero liability policy,” card holders who don’t pay attention to their statements often let these charges pass and eat them.

There are many technologies available to secure credit cards, such as “smart cards” and “chip and pin.” However, due to the nature of a credit card transaction, once the data leaves the card, it’s up for grabs. Whatever card security their may have been is now gone.

Check your credit and banking statements carefully. Scrutinize every charge and refute any unauthorized charges within 30-60 days. Call your bank or credit card company immediately if you see any fraudulent activity.

Invest in identity theft protection. Credit freezes or fraud alerts help prevent new account fraud. Protect your PC with McAfee, or other Internet security software.

Robert Siciliano, identity theft speaker, discusses credit card fraud.

I’m excited to work with uni-ball in 2009 in a partnership to help raise awareness about the growing threat of identity theft and provide tips for protecting yourself. Check out uniball-na.com for more information.

Neighborhood Identity Thieves From Hell

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert Speaker

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Unfortunately your enemies could be living in your home or across the street. As the economy tanks, people get desperate and thieves victims become those in their lives.

With all the hullabaloo about criminal hackers and identity thieves organizing as webmobs from all over the world, people often forget that it’s the people in our lives that are the closest to us who often perpetrate these crimes.

Especially in tough times, identity thieves could be someone in your inner trusted circle. I’ve consulted on stories where the dad stole his child’s identity. Those closest to us at home or work have direct access to our data.

“Familiar” Identity theft happens because the thief goes through a process of rationalizing their ability to commit the crime. The process is often referred to as the “Fraud Diamond”.

First they have Incentive. They say “I want to or have a need to commit this crime”. Next is Opportunity. They see a hole or weakness in the system they can easily exploit. And of course Rationalization; “I have convinced myself it is worth the risks”. Lastly, Capability; they determine they are the right person for the job and can pull off the scam.

Here a local neighborhood was terrorized by a drug addicted mom and dad who had a penchant for technology and used their skills to feed their habit.

Much of the crimes they committed could have been prevented.

1. Get a credit freeze or fraud alert
2. Invest in a locking mail box
3. Shred all throwaway paper work
4. Turn off the paper
5. Turn on WPA security for your wireless network
6. Pay attention to all your statements and refute unauthorized charges
7. As a national spokesperson for uni-ball, I recommend using a uni-ball® pen, which contains Uni “Super Ink” formula, to write checks and sign important documents. This specially-formulated ink won’t wash out and protects against check washing. Those closest to you have access to your canceled checks and can rewrite to themselves.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker Expert discussing family identity theft Here

CEO “Identity Theft Expert”?? ID compromised 90 times

The press has recently taken issue with CEO of an identity theft prevention company who has given his SSN out for all the world to see. His identity theft protection service is designed to protect the consumer from identity theft.

Because he used the marketing gimmick to drive sales, it has resulted in a never ending battle where identity thieves and others are using his ID to prove a point, that giving out your SSN is never a good idea.

His identity was compromised financially early on and since has been compromised REPORTED 87-90 TIMES.

It is impossible not to give your SSN in a society that needs it for most accounts, insurances etc. Plastering it on a billboard is a great idea when you dont care if your identity is stolen in order to sell a product.

However for the rest of us I’d not recommend it.

The idea is to make the SSN useless by investing in a service that keeps you in-tune, on top of, what is happening regarding your identity by wrapping a security system around your identity.

Stay tuned. Updates on this issue to come.

Identity Theft Expert and Speaker on Personal Security Says the Credit Freeze Is a Basic Consumer Right

(BOSTON, Mass. – Sept. 28, 2007 – IDTheftSecurity.com) Last week reports indicated that two of the three major credit bureaus had resolved to allow credit freezes, a major weapon consumers need to combat identity theft and credit card fraud. According to Robert Siciliano, a widely televised and quoted personal security and identity theft expert, the tool is a basic right that others also ought to allow in light of data breaches that have continued to expose millions of consumers’ personal data to possible theft.

“The credit freeze is a basic consumer right,” said Siciliano. “The delay in its availability to consumers has been a major source of consternation to those in the security industry, who help clients deal with the aftermath of identity theft. Yes, the credit freeze costs money to offer, but anyone with a credit history deserves the ability to freeze her records prior to, and in the event of, suspected fraud. Evidently, smart organizations are beginning to understand.”

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.

On Sept. 21, USA Today reported that major credit bureau TransUnion had reached a decision to allow consumers in all 50 states to apply freezes to their credit. According to the article, consumers would be able to begin exercising the important identity theft and fraud-preventing option by Oct. 15 of this year. The next day, Sept. 22, ConsumerAffairs.com reported that Equifax had decided to do the same and planned to offer the freeze in October, as well.

“Without a doubt,” said Siciliano, “those possibly affected by recent, large-scale data breaches will breathe a sigh of relief that the credit freeze is now an option.”

Just a week earlier, an article in the Sept. 14th edition of Wall Street & Technology reported on a data breach at TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. According to reports, which also ran elsewhere, the lost information included names, physical addresses, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers for more than 6.3 million customers. The Wall Street & Technology article stated that the affected company turned to ID Analytics for help.

“With numbers like this consistently making it into the news,” said Siciliano, “it’s likely that just about everyone in the country already needs the credit freeze. The sooner all credit bureaus offer it, the better off all consumers will be. Legislators and those in industry must work together to protect the consumers and citizens alike.”

Readers may view YouTube video below of Siciliano on “FOX News,” explaining how the ubiquity of Social Security numbers as universal identifiers helps thieves who obtain information following data breaches. Those wishing to learn how to further protect themselves against identity theft, may view video of Siciliano at VideoJug.

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About IDTheftSecurity.com

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 “The Today Show,” CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, “FOX News,” “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 Forbes, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, United Press International, Reuters, and others.

Visit Siciliano’s Web site, www.IDTheftSecurity.com; blog, www.realtysecurity.com/blog; and YouTube page, http://youtube.com/stungundotcom.

The media are encouraged to get in touch with Siciliano directly:

Robert Siciliano, Personal Security Expert
CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com
PHONE: 888-SICILIANO (742-4542)
FAX: 877-2-FAX-NOW (232-9669)
Robert@IDTheftSecurity.com
www.idtheftsecurity.com

Identity Theft Expert and Speaker on Personal Security Chastises Lobbying Groups’ Attempt to Weaken States’ Credit Freeze Laws

(BOSTON, Mass. – July 20, 2007 – IDTheftSecurity.com) News reports have documented industry lobbyists’ efforts to roll back credit freeze legislation. Robert Siciliano, a widely televised and quoted personal security and identity theft expert, said no one should disallow consumers from freezing their credit. According to Siciliano, the credit freeze is the best recourse available for any consumer who might be at risk of identity theft.

“Consumers lacked the credit freeze for a long time precisely because of its added cost to provide,” said Siciliano. “And legislators everywhere must continue to push for and defend the credit freeze as an option for consumers, as it’s no wonder that groups shouldering these costs would try to shirk the responsibility.”

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.

On June 25, USA Today reported in detail efforts by the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA), lobbying group for the three major credit bureaus, to reverse more than 35 states’ pro–credit freeze legislation. Brief reports also ran in Identity Theft Daily, ImediNews, and elsewhere, and The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle published an editorial questioning the CDIA’s wisdom and motives. According to the article in USA Today, the CDIA maintains that identity theft is less widespread than report have stated.

“Plenty of research points to the growing prevalence of identity theft,” said Siciliano. “Studies finding otherwise are few and have attracted strong skepticism. But contrarian data has been useful to organizations wishing to downplay the pervasiveness of this crime and the attendant need consumers have to defend themselves with the credit freeze.”

Many studies have pointed to steady, year-over-year increases in identity theft and other credit-related crimes. For instance, research released in March of this year by Gartner found that 15 million Americans fell prey to identity theft–related fraud in 2006. The number was a 50 percent increase over the 9.9 million Americans that the Federal Trade Commission had estimated, in 2003, would be affected by year 2006.

“A perfect storm of variables is driving a boom in identity theft and fraud,” said Siciliano. “Illegal immigration, increasingly sophistication computer hacking, inattention to data security, drug addiction, and more are fueling the rise of identity theft, an easy way for criminals to make money. Often, the consumer’s only shelter is the credit freeze. Industry efforts to disallow the credit freeze only make it another part of that storm.”

Readers may view YouTube video below of Siciliano on the “The Morning Show With Mike and Juliet” discussing the benefits of credit freezes with a child identity theft victim whose father racked up over $3 million in debt under the youth’s name.

To learn more about identity theft, readers may view video of Siciliano at VideoJug.

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About IDTheftSecurity.com

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.

Visit Siciliano’s Web site, www.IDTheftSecurity.com; blog, www.realtysecurity.com/blog; and YouTube page, http://youtube.com/stungundotcom.

The media are encouraged to get in touch with Siciliano directly:

Robert Siciliano, Personal Security Expert
CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com
PHONE: 888-SICILIANO (742-4542)
FAX: 877-2-FAX-NOW (232-9669)
Robert@IDTheftSecurity.com
www.idtheftsecurity.com

The media may also contact:

Brent W. Skinner
President & CEO of STETrevisions
PHONE: 617-875-4859
FAX: 866-663-6557
BrentSkinner@STETrevisions.biz
www.STETrevisions.biz

Identity Theft: Expert Lauds Massachusetts’ New Credit Freeze Law—Identity Theft Expert and Speaker on Personal Security

(BOSTON, Mass. – May 18, 2007 – IDTheftSecurity.com) Last week, both houses of the Massachusetts legislature passed versions of a bill that grants residents of the state the right to freeze access to their credit reports. Robert Siciliano, a widely televised and quoted personal security and identity theft expert, said consumers’ access to the credit freeze is an indispensable component of any identity theft–fighting strategy.

“The credit freeze is a basic right essential to consumers in this age of rampant identity theft,” said Siciliano. “Consumers are often the first to realize that someone is using their financial information without permission. The credit freeze is a weapon that empowers consumers to stop these identity thieves’ and credit card fraudsters’ illegal activities quickly and easily.”

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.

On May 10, the Massachusetts Senate passed a version of a credit freeze bill that the state’s House of Representatives had passed a day earlier, giving consumers the right to the credit freeze. The bill also required entities operating from that point forward in Massachusetts to disclose breaches of security that result in the purloining of sensitive data such as Social Security numbers and credit card information.

“Here we have a state finally putting two key pieces of the identity theft–fighting puzzle in place,” said Siciliano. “But ‘finally’ is the operative word. The pace of progress has been slow for state and federal legislation alike. The entire nation has needed credit freeze access and compulsory breach disclosure laws for a long time.”

Playing a key role in the reporting of a highly publicized security breach at ChoicePoint, Inc. in early 2005, California’s SB 1386 has for a number of years obligated organizations conducting business in that state to make similar, prompt disclosures of data breaches. And a majority of the nation’s states have preceded Massachusetts in making the credit freeze available to their residents.

Despite their utility as empowering weapons against identity thieves, various sources have indicated that the popularity of credit freezes among consumers has lagged. According to the Consumer Data Industry Data Association, “only about 50,000 people have requested freezes,” reported the Boston Globe on May 12.

“Lack of popularity is no reason to disallow the credit freeze,” said Siciliano. “If anything, consumers may be unaware of this tool’s availability. Consumer education must become a paramount initiative, and the onus of responsibility for this must fall upon the credit reporting agencies.”

Recently, Siciliano appeared on CNBC to discuss credit and debit card scams.

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About IDTheftSecurity.com
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.

Visit Siciliano’s Web site, www.IDTheftSecurity.com; blog, www.realtysecurity.com/blog; and YouTube page, http://youtube.com/stungundotcom.

The media are encouraged to get in touch with Siciliano directly:

Robert Siciliano
Personal Security Expert
PHONE: 888-SICILIANO (742-4542)
FAX: 877-2-FAX-NOW (232-9669)
Robert@IDTheftSecurity.com
www.idtheftsecurity.com

The media may also contact:

Brent W. Skinner, President
STETrevisions
PHONE: 617-875-4859
FAX: 866-663-6557
BrentSkinner@STETrevisions.biz
www.STETrevisions.biz