ATM Fraud Increases Identity Theft Risk

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

A spate of recent news reports highlight growing ATM fraud. Law enforcement in New York City reported a gang had stolen $500,000 from bank accounts via ATM skimming. They installed cameras and skimming devices on the machines, and recorded the magnetic strips and the PIN numbers.

A recent survey points towards ATM fraud rising 5-9 percent. Seventy percent of those poled experienced a jump between 2007 and 2008. Many of the large data breaches that have occurred over the past few years may have contributed to the fraud.

It’s simple enough to hack into a database and compromise cards and pins. It’s even easier to affix hardware to the face of an ATM machine and do the same. Once the data is compromised the identity thieves clone cards and turn the data into cash as quickly. recently published “7 Growing Threats to Financial Institutions”. This post is a play on that; “7 Growing Threats to You”

#1 Skimming; Hardware readily available online that is attached to the face of an ATM records user card information and pin codes. In this case you may still be able to perform a transaction.

#2 Ghost ATMs; A card reader is blocked off and replaced with hardware that supersedes the machine and records all your data without allowing a transaction. The machine reads “Can’t complete transaction”.

#3 Dummy ATMs; In some cases an ATM is bought off of eBay (do a search) or elsewhere and installed anywhere there is foot traffic. The machine is set up for one purpose; read data. The machine might be powered by car batteries or plugged in the nearest outlet.

#4 Ram Raids; ATMs built into a wall or stand alone are being rammed by a truck and/or wrapped with chain and pulled out then loaded onto a truck. Once removed the thieves blow torch the machine taking the cash. This is a hot topic in Mexican banks, buy certainly happens everywhere. A bank would be smart to install battery backed GPS in any machine.

#5 PIN ID’s; Sophisticated criminal hackers break into a database or skim magnetic strips. They then go to an online banking site with a hacking software that plugs in various well known PINs. These PINs might be consecutive numbers, peoples names, pets names, birthdates, or other various simple pass phrases people use. When it finds a match it gives the criminal access to your account.

#6 Automated PIN Changes; Criminals go through the banks telephone banking system to change the customers PIN. They may try to change the customers ANI (Automatic Number Identification) is a system utilized by telephone companies to identify the DN (Directory Number) of a caller. This might be accomplished via “Caller ID Spoofing”. They use publicly available data on the card holder such as name, card account number and last four digits of the social security number to “verify” them as the banks customer.

#7 SMS Attacks; AKA Smishing or Phexting – phish texting. Customers receive a text from a bank on their smartphone requesting login information.

#8 Malware or Malicious Software; Researchers found a virus that specifically infects ATMs and takes over the machine logging card numbers and pins.

How to protect yourself;

First and foremost; Pay attention to your statements every two weeks. Refute unauthorized transactions within a 30-60 day time frame.

1. Pay close attention to everything you do at an ATM. Look for “red flags”, anything out of place. If your card sticks, odd looking configurations on the ATM, wires, two sided tape.
2. Use strong PINs, uppercase lower case, alpha and numeric online and when possible at an ATM and for telephone banking.
3. Don’t reply to phishing or phexting emails. Just hit delete.
4. Don’t just use “any” ATM. Choose ATMs at locations that are “more secure” than in the middle of nowhere.
5. Make sure your McAfee anti-virus is up to date.
6. Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Because when all else fails its good to have someone watching your back.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing ATM skimming

Judge Rules; It is legal to post Social Security numbers on Web sites

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

B.J. Ostergren is a proud Virginian. She’s known as “The Virginia Watchdog,” but I like to call her “The Pit Bull of Personal Privacy.” She is relentless in her efforts to protect citizens’ privacy, and she is primarily concerned with the posting of personal information online. So in order to make this point, she finds politicians’ personal information on their own states’ websites, and republishes that information online.

Publicly appointed government employees known as Clerks of Courts, County Clerks or Registrars are responsible for handling and managing public records, including birth, death, marriage, court, property and business filings for municipalities. Every state, city and town has its own set of regulations determining how data is collected and made available to the public.

The Privacy Act of 1974 is a federal law that establishes a code of fair information practices governing the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of personally identifiable information about individuals that is maintained in systems of records by federal agencies.

Over the years, many have interpreted this law to allow public information, including Social Security numbers, to be posted online. I’ve seen Social Security numbers for Jeb Bush, Colin Powell, former CIA Director Porter Goss, Troy Aiken, and Donald Trump, all published on the Internet.

Years ago, B.J. discovered that several states, including her home state of Virginia, were posting our records online, and she immediately saw how this could contribute to identity theft. She has downloaded as many as 22,000 Social Security numbers from deeds, mortgages, tax liens from the websites of circuit courts, registers of deeds and secretaries of state. She made a concerted effort to inform each agency that what they were doing was unethical, at the very least, and possibly even criminal. But she was often rebuked. That’s when she decided to fight back. When government agencies stopped listening, she started posting politicians’ personal information on her own website, “The Virginia Watchdog.” This certainly attracted the attention of officials, but it also created a backlash against her.

Some states resolved the issue by redacting the Social Security numbers, but Virginia did not. B.J. persisted in informing them of the problem and, as the Richmond Times Dispatch put it, “the state decided that the person who brought the problem to their attention was the problem.”

A 2008 Virgina state law prohibited disseminating information taken from public records, and thus, prohibited B.J. from posting publicly available information on her own website. So legally, it was okay for the County Clerk to do it, but nobody else was allowed. U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Payne recently ruled that this 2008 state law is a violation of First Amendment rights. It’s a win for B.J., but this doesn’t resolve the initial privacy issue.

So how does this impact you? This means that while you can do everything possible to protect yourself from fraud and identity theft, your local government may be circumventing your security efforts by posting your personal data online. B.J.’s fight has led to the resolution of some issues and prompted some states to redact data, but the battle is far from over.

Visit B.J.’s site, The Virginia Watchdog, to become more informed about one woman’s quest to point out what’s wrong and to fight for what’s right.

Next, protecting yourself from new account fraud requires a credit freeze, or setting up your own fraud alerts. This provides an extra layer of protection. In most cases it prevents the opening of new credit.

Consider making an investment in Intelius Identity Protect. Because when all else fails you’ll have someone watching your back. Includes a Free Credit Report, SSN monitoring, Credit & Debit Card monitoring, Bank Account monitoring, Email fraud alerts, Public Records Monitoring, Customizable “Watch List”, $25,000 in ID theft insurance, Junk Mail OptOut and Credit Card Offer OptOut.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing availability of Social Security numbers

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

ATM Skimmer Defeated By Customer

Identity Theft Expert Robert Siciliano

Its not often that I get to report on the victim becoming the victor. It’s nice to see the good guys win one.

I met a charismatic gent on FOX and Friends named Sean Seibel. Sean has a unique job title at Microsoft: User Experience Evangelist. Sean’s job is to be on top of what’s new and what’s next in technology, in the next 5-7 years. He’s a futurist. He and I spoke in the green room of the show before we appeared together on a segment regarding ATM skimming.

ATM skimming often results in forms of identity theft, credit card fraud or bank fraud.

To be a User Experience Evangelist requires a certain vision, insight and the ability to go beyond what’s current or obvious. Sean proved his ability to see “more” by trumping a gang of identity thieves who set out to steal millions from ATMs but “only” got away with $500,000.

Sean stopped at an ATM to get some cash to pay his barber. When he inserted his ATM card in the machine, he noticed a bit of resistance. Most people wouldn’t think twice about this. But Sean doesn’t think like most people. Then the screen said the machine was unable to read his card so he tried again. The second time, the machine gave him an error message. Before he tried again, he thought about a report he had heard about devices that fraudsters attach to the outside of card readers on ATM machines and wondered if that was the source of his problem.

He says, “I’m looking at the thing and thinking, this can’t be. No way. There are all these stories and myths about it, but I actually found one in the wild.”

Sean was face to face with an ATM skimmer, one that he had just swiped his card through. His heart started pounding. Adrenalin was rushing through his body. He was concerned, not just that he might be scammed, but that criminals might be very close by, maybe even behind him or watching him. However, that did not deter him.

Sean says, “I tried to pull on the green plastic surrounding the card slot and found that it peeled right off.” This plastic ATM skimmer had an SD card built into it to store all the stolen data. Sean went into the bank and notified the branch manager, who had never seen an ATM skimmer and didn’t know what to do. She took the skimmer and thanked Sean.

Then Sean remembered, from numerous reports about ATM skimming, that there are usually 2 parts to the ATM skimmer. One is the skimming device itself, the second is a micro-camera placed somewhere on the machine, where it 1arecords the user’s PIN. The camera is often installed in a false brochure holder that taped to the ATM. In this case, it was behind a small mirror that alerts the ATM user to beware of “shoulder surfers.”

Sean went back to the still operational ATM, where people were waiting in line for their cash, and noticed a tiny video camera behind an extra mirror attached to the machine, positioned right over the key pad where it could record user’s PINs. Not being a bank employee and not wanting to alarm any of the people iwaiting, he actually got in line, waited his turn (knowing that the skimmer was gone and nobody was in danger) and pulled the camera off the ATM.

He brought the camera to the bank manager, who replied by saying, “Maybe we should shut 2b*that machine down, huh?” Sean said, “I think that’s a good idea.” The bank manager contacted bank security, shut down the machine and alerted other area banks. The identity thieves netted $500,000 from their scam, rather than the millions they might have stolen had Sean Seibel not foiled their operation.

Bank branch manager…ZERO
Identity Thieves……….$500,000
Sean Seibel foiling their operation and becoming a hero to many….Priceless.

Some great tips from Marite Ferrero, of CardSwitch Technology:

  • Skimming has been and will continue to be the most common type of ATM-related fraud.
  • Criminals attach skimming devices over card slots on ATMs to steal data as the machine reads the card’s magnetic strip.
  • Hidden cameras record victims typing in their PIN codes.
  • More sophisticated criminals use wireless keypad overlays, which transmit PINs to a nearby laptop, instead 3bof cameras.
  • The U.S. Secret Service estimates that annual losses from ATM skimming total about $1 billion each year, or $350,000 a day.
  • Bank ATMs are more vulnerable than standalone ATMs.
  • Standalone ATMs in grocery stores or on the street use technology that encrypts the PIN pad, making them more difficult for criminals to hack.
  • Standalone ATMs are often positioned near the watchful eye of cashiers or store owners, so it’s harder to install skimmers without being caught.
  • Bank ATMs are also more highly trafficked, which means a bigger potential payoff for the criminals.

Also, invest in identity theft protection and make to update your PC’s McAfee internet security software.

Identity theft expert Robert Siciliano discusses ATM skimming.

E-banking just got less secure

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker

There is no end to the ingenuity of the criminal hacker. They’ve figured out how to hack debit card PINS. Debit cards are linked directly to our checking accounts, which makes them tasty treats for criminal hackers.

At an ATM or cash register, most debit card users are blissfully unaware of what occurs when they swipe their cards and enter their pin numbers. A magical mystery takes place and we get to walk away with our new purchase, simply by swiping a card and tapping a few keys. The money magically disappears from our account and we celebrate by eating the Twinkie we just bought.

Whether you’re swiping your debit card at an ATM or in a store or restaurant, the process is similar. The user swipes his or her card and types in the pin number. The data is verified by a 3rd party payment processor or, in some cases, by a bank, over telephone lines or the Internet. Once the information has been validated and the payment processor confirms that the required funds exist, the money is moved from the user’s account to the merchant’s account, or is dispensed in cash.

The convenience of debit cards has led to global popularity that vastly exceeds that of handwritten checks, all the way into 3rd world countries.

We’ve known for some time that low-tech skimming at ATMs and gas pumps has been a point of compromise. Now, Wired reports that the transaction itself puts your PIN number at risk. Academics discovered this flaw years ago, but didn’t think it would be possible to execute in the field. Criminal hackers, however, have come up with the holy grail of hacks, stealing large amounts of encrypted and unencrypted debit card and pin numbers. And they have figured a way to crack the encryption codes.

The first signs of PIN tampering were recognized when investigators studied the processes of the 11 criminals who were caught after the TJX data breach. That breach involved 45 million credit and debit cards. The crime ring needed PIN codes to turn that data into cash. An investigation into this breach reported that the hacks resulted in “more targeted, cutting-edge, complex, and clever cyber crime attacks than seen in previous years.”

This revelation has some saying that the only cure for this type of hack is a complete overhaul to the payment processing system.

The compromise occurs in a device called a hardware security module (HSM), which sits on bank networks. PIN numbers pass through this device on their way to the card issuer. The module is tamper-resistant and provides a secure environment for encryption and decryption for PINs and card numbers. Criminal hackers are accessing HSMs and tricking them into providing the decrypting data. They are installing malware called “memory scrapers,” which capture the unencrypted data and use the hacked system to store it.

The PCI Security Standards Council, a self regulating body that oversees much of what occurs regarding payment card transaction, said they would begin testing HSMs. Bob Russo, general manager of the global standards body, said that the council’s testing of the devices would “focus specifically on security properties that are critical to the payment system.”

I don’t own a debit card and never have and never will. Simply put, if my debit card were hacked, that money would be coming directly from my bank account. A compromised ATM or point of sale transaction often fails to exhibit evidence of hacking. This means that I’d have to go through the arduous process of convincing my bank that it wasn’t me who withdrew thousands of dollars from my account. Whereas if a credit card is compromised, the zero-liability guarantee kicks in and I’m cured much more quickly.

Your ultimate responsibility here is to check your statements very closely and look for unauthorized activity. Read your statements online biweekly as opposed to relying solely on your monthly paper statement, and refute unauthorized charges immediately. Consider using a credit card instead of a debit card.

While this type of fraud is generally out of your control it’s still imperative you invest in internet security software such as McAfee and consider identity theft protection.

Identity Theft Expert discussing flawed card transactions

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 for more information.

Criminals Target ATMs to Steal Vital Personal Financial Information From Customers

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert Speaker

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

Skimming is a relatively low tech crime. It can occur in a few different ways. The most common is when a store clerk takes a wedge card skimmer

and runs your card through and skims the information off the magnetic strip.

Once the thief has the credit or debit card data they can place orders over the phone or online.

They can also rip the data from the wedge and burn to blank “white” cards. These white cards are effective at self checkouts or when the thief knows the clerk and they “sweetheart” the transaction. These white cards can also be pressed with foils to look like a legitimate credit card.

Then there is a more sophisticated skim. Thieves actually place a hard device on the face of the ATM that looks like the ATM. It’s almost impossible for a civilian to know the difference unless they have an eye for security, or the skimmer is of poor quality.

Often the thieves will mount a small pinhole camera on the side of the ATM in a brochure holder to extract the victims pin number.

Its not just ATMs that are potential marks, gas pumps are just as vulnerable. See video of me discussing Here and another article Here

ADT Unveils Anti-Skim Tool

ADT has a new technology that prevents ATM of skimming. I haven’t seen it yet, but it sounds promising. The ADT Anti-Skim™ ATM Security Solution helps prevent skimming attempts and detects skimming devices on all major ATM makes and models.

ADT’s anti-skim solution is installed inside an ATM near the card reader, making it invisible from the outside. The solution detects the presence of foreign devices placed over or near an ATM card entry slot, without disrupting the customer transaction or operation of most ATMs. Also, the technology helps prevent card-skimming attempts by interrupting the operation of an illegal card reader.

The ADT Anti-Skim ATM Security Solution:
• Helps protect the integrity of cardholders’ personal financial information during ATM transactions.
• Can trigger a silent alarm for command center response and coordinate video surveillance of all skimming activities.
• Requires no software adjustments to the ATM.
• Does not connect to or affect the ATM communications network.
• Has more than 40,000 successful ATM applications worldwide.

Prior to its North American introduction, the ADT Anti-Skim ATM Security Solution was successfully field tested on dozens of ATMs of four major U.S. financial institutions in controlled pilot programs. Testing pilots yielded positive results, with no known skimming compromises occurring.

Again, I haven’t seen it. But would like a first hand demonstration. ADT, Have your peeps call my peeps.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert discussing ATM skimming Here

Bankers Warned; Massive Credit Card Processor Breached

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Hackers have breached another huge payment processor. Who? As of this writing they aren’t saying. A statement issued by the Community Bankers Association of Illinois states “Visa announced that an unnamed processor recently reported that it discovered a data breach. The processors name has been withheld pending completion of the forensic investigation” The Open Security Foundation posted a notice on its website Here

CBAI report here and highlights below

According to VISA officials, the breach affected all card brands. Evidence indicates that the account number, PAN and expiration dates were stolen. No cardholder Social Security numbers, unencrypted personal identification numbers (PIN), addresses or telephone numbers or other personal information were involved in the breach.

An increase in card-not-present fraud suggests some BIN number have been targeted by criminals.

VISA officials reported that while the number of accountholders affected is undetermined, it appears to be fewer than those affected by the recent Heartland Payment Systems breach, but a significant number nonetheless. And unlike the Heartland breach, where thieves also captured Track 2 data, officials reiterated that no personal information was taken in this most recent event.

The status of the processor’s PCI compliance is unknown at this time. Bankers. MORE TO COME….”

Why not go after processors, thats where all the data is!

Visa and MasterCard are in the process of notifying affected banks about what they say is a “major compromise”. So far this is not related to the Heartland Payment Systems breach where an expected 100 million cards have been compromised. Or it may be, we don’t know.

Initial reports say the criminal hackers planted malware, or malicious software on the processors servers. Malware of this type generally has some type of remote control component that allows a criminal hacker to remotely access the server and divert data underground.

Visa reached out to all affected banks on February 12th when they conducted a conference call disclosing the severity of the issue. Apparently the compromise occurred from February of 2008 till August 2008 the past few weeks.

At this point neither Visa or MasterCard haven’t disclosed which processor has been compromised nor have they disclosed the size of the breach.

Whether the unknown processor was compliant or not has also not been revealed.

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

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker Expert discussing another ugly data breach Here.

Identity Theft Expert and Speaker on Personal Security Says the Behavior and Attributes of Security-Enhanced Credit Cards Must Be Simple for Users

(BOSTON, Mass. – Aug. 7, 2007 – Last week researchers touted the characteristics of a hypothetical high-functioning “dream credit card” that would offer consumer tools to prevent and detect credit card fraud. Robert Siciliano, a widely televised and quoted personal security and identity theft expert, commended the idea of such a card, but said simpler solutions already exist through technology that relies on credit cards’ existing attributes and relieves the consumer of the need to implement his or her own security measures.

“It’s a commendable idea to suggest the development of a highly functional credit card that dissuades fraudulent activity,” said Siciliano. “At the same time, the market continues to ignore technology already available that, if implemented en masse, would drastically reduce the incidence of credit card fraud and, by corollary, identity theft.”

CEO of 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.

A press release from Javelin Strategy & Research, dated Aug. 1, detailed the security features of what the organization termed a dream credit card. Javelin researchers claimed that a hypothetical credit card with the functionality they announced not only held the promise of putting consumers in control of security measures against identity fraud, but also presented “a golden opportunity” for card issuers “to increase loyalty and retention, and strengthen relationships and their brand reputation,” according to Javelin President James Van Dyke, quoted in the release. The credit card proposed includes options for consumers to enhance their own cards’ security levels.

“The idea that security is a marketing tool is a solid one,” said Siciliano. “This is a concept that card issuers ought to embrace. But, too often, industry places too much hope in solutions touted as panaceas to the fundamental problem of securely authenticating the card user at the point of sale. And, with too many steps or choices, security of any type becomes too confusing for the typical consumer, who, prizing ease of use above all, isn’t sufficiently adept at setting options on limits, setting up instant messaging, or tooling around with security settings.”

Siciliano advised card issuers to consider simpler technologies that rely on existing credit card attributes—and very little on consumers’ attention to their credit cards’ security features beyond the proactive step of making the decision to get a card that’s more secure.

Every credit card, for instance, has a magnetic strip on the back, composed from the slurry that comprises billions of microscopic particles. Like DNA, no two credit cards’ magnetic strips are alike; each is unique. MagnePrint®, from the company of the same name, is a technology that assigns an identity to this uniqueness, a fingerprint unlike any other, at the credit card’s point of manufacture. As Siciliano mentioned in his article for the August 2007 edition of the Bank Fraud & IT Security Report, complementing hardware known as MagTek® works in concert with MagnePrint at the point of sale (POS) to protect transactions from fraud.

“Card issuers might market their cards’ security features with great success,” Siciliano concluded. “But a game-changing, new breed of secure credit card must seem, to the consumer, exactly like the previous breed in terms of how to use it.”

Readers may view CNBC footage on YouTube, below, that features Siciliano discussing debit card and credit card scams. Readers may learn how to protect themselves against identity theft, a major concern for anyone whose electronic communication devices have been hacked, by viewing video of Siciliano at VideoJug.


Identity theft affects us all. Robert Siciliano, CEO of 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,; blog,; and YouTube page,

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

Robert Siciliano, Personal Security Expert
CEO of
PHONE: 888-SICILIANO (742-4542)
FAX: 877-2-FAX-NOW (232-9669)

The media may also contact:

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

Identity Theft: Retail Store Data Breach Affects Millions of Consumers, Including a Widely Quoted Identity Theft Expert and Speaker on Personal Security

(BOSTON, Mass. – April 16, 2007 – Market analysts have predicted that the massive theft of customers’ financial data at TJX Cos. may cost billions. The data breach has claimed millions of victims, including Robert Siciliano, a widely televised and quoted personal security and identity theft expert. Promptly refuting related, fraudulent charges to his bank account and taking swift action to halt the criminals’ ability to use his credit cards, he urged all consumers who have shopped at the many affected stores to monitor their financial information closely.

“I am a victim of this data breach,” said Siciliano. “My credit card information was among the many records these thieves obtained. No single consumer can prevent credit card fraud. It’s impossible. But I’m fine with being a victim, and I caught the foul play by watching my account, just as I advise all my clients to do with theirs.”

CEO of, Siciliano leads Fortune 500 companies and their clients in workshops that explore consumer education solutions for security issues. On its Web site, the Privacy Learning Institute has featured Siciliano, a longtime identity theft speaker. Author of “The Safety Minute: 01,” He has discussed identity theft and data security on CNBC, on NBC’s “Today Show,” FOX News, and elsewhere.

Upon receipt of his bank and credit card statements each month, Siciliano always scrutinizes every charge. In doing so with his latest statements, he immediately recognized unauthorized charges, telltale signs that fraudsters had gained access to his finances, and promptly refuted them.

“Shortly after I cancelled my card, I received a new one,” said Siciliano. “These are steps that many consumers, at their own peril, may not be taking.”

Recent news has suggested that consumers indeed are not taking advantage of tools that might protect their financial information. An article in Network World reported on April 10 that fewer than 10 percent of the approximately 163,000 consumers affected by the ChoicePoint data breach in 2005 used the free credit monitoring, credit reports, and identity-theft insurance the company offered.

Data breaches can be costly to a company that experiences them. Findings from Forrester Research reported in InformationWeek on April 11 have pegged the cost of an average data breach at anywhere from $90 to $305 for each compromised record. An article that ran in the Boston Globe on April 12 quoted technology analysts from Enterprise Strategy Group and elsewhere saying the TJX breach, which news reports have said exposed 45.7 million credit card numbers to potential fraud, could cost the retailer up to $1 billion.

“Data breaches are costly, plain and simple,” concluded Siciliano. “Whether the potential financial hit from a data breach seems manageable, the potential loss of customer loyalty is never worth the gamble. Companies and consumers are actors in a symbiotic relationship, after all; they depend on one another. But companies depend on consumers more than the other way around. ” See recent CNBC appearance;


Identity theft affects us all, which is why Robert Siciliano, CEO of, 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, Fox News, “The Suze Orman Show,” “ABC News with Sam Donaldson,” “The Montel Williams Show,” “Maury Povich,” “Sally Jesse Raphael,” and “The Howard Stern Show.”

Visit Siciliano’s Web site,; blog,; and YouTube page,

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)

The media may also contact:

Brent W. Skinner, President
PHONE: 617-875-4859
FAX: 866-663-6557