Scam of the day – January 2, 2016 – New law to protect children from identity theft

North Carolina became the latest state to enact a law providing for credit freezes for children to protect against child identity theft. Unfortunately, less than half of the states provide this much needed protection of minors from identity theft.  This is important because in recent years, children have been a prime target of identity thieves who, if they are able to get identifying information on a child such as the child’s Social Security number, can open a credit report on behalf of the child and obtain credit in the child’s name.  The identity thief never pays back the money accessed through the child’s credit and the child is burdened with a bad credit report that can have a deleterious effect on the child when he or she applies for credit, applies for a job, applies for a scholarship or applies for an apartment.

TIPS

If you live in North Carolina, you should go to the website www.ncdoj.gov/creditfreeze for information about how to put a credit freeze on credit reports of your children.  If you live in one of the other states that have similar laws, take advantage of the law, set up a credit report for your children and immediately freeze the account. And while you are at it, you should also freeze your own credit reports as your best precaution against identity theft. For information about how to put a credit freeze on your own credit reports go to the Search This Website section of Scamicide at the top of the page and type in “credit freeze.”  If your state does not have such a law, let your state legislators know that you want them to pass such a law.  I am proposing such a law in my own home state.  Also, as much as possible try to limit the places that have your child’s Social Security number and become familiar with the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act which helps you protect the privacy of your child’s school records and lets you opt out of information sharing by the school with third parties.  Finally, the security company AllClear ID (www.allclearid.com) provides a free service called ChildScan which not only searches credit records tied to your child’s Social Security number, but also checks employment records, criminal records and medical records to recognize at an early stage if your child has become a victim of identity theft.

Scam of the day – July 20, 2015 – UCLA Health System hacked affecting 4.5 million people

The parade of data breaches at major health care providers continues as I predicted in my USA Today column last December.  Here is a link to that column.  http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/12/20/cyber-hack-data-breach/20601043/

The present data breach is of the UCLA Health System and it may have been going on undetected since September of 2014 until recently being discovered.  The information that may have been compromised is a treasure trove of data for identity thieves.  It included names, Social Security numbers, medical records, ID numbers and addresses on 4.5 million people.  But, as I always say, things aren’t as bad as you think — they are worse.  The stolen data was totally unencrypted making the threat to the people in the UCLA Health Systems computers more serious.

Medical identity theft can not only result in your financial life being threatened.  The mixing of medical records of the victim of the identity theft with the medical records of the identity thief utilizing the medical insurance can potentially be deadly, such as when a person might receive the wrong blood type in a transfusion or a drug to which they may be seriously allergic.  Again, compounding the problem, it can be extremely difficult or even impossible to remove the identity thief’s medical information from the victim’s medical records after the problem has been discovered due to quirks in the medical privacy laws.

TIPS

If you are one of the people affected by this data breach, UCLA will be notifying you by regular mail and will explain your options.  They will not be notifying people by email or text messages so if you receive such a communication, you should not click on any links contained in the email or text message because they have been sent by an identity thief as a phishing email attempting to lure you into downloading malware by clicking on the link.

Those people affected will be offered free credit monitoring for a year.  They also should monitor their financial and medical insurance accounts carefully for early indications of fraud.  Putting a credit freeze on their credit reports would also be a good step to take.  You can find more information about credit freezes here in the Scamicide archives.

Here is a link to a press release by UCLA which describes the data breach and your options.

https://www.uclahealth.org/pages/data2015.html