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Posts Tagged ‘identity theft’

FTC Testifies In Congress On Efforts To Combat Identity Theft

Posted by Bill on December 18, 2007

Winston  Joel Winston, FTC, testifies

“The Federal Trade Commission today told the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security that identity theft remains one of the highest priorities for the Commission, and that the agency is playing a lead role in preventing identity theft and helping those who are victimized.”  See FTC Press Release.

FTC will report next year to Congress with recommendations regarding the private sectors use of Social Security Numbers.

Read the prepared statement of Joel Winston, Associate Director, Division of Privacy and Identity Protection. FTC Statement before Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, House Committee on the Judiciary.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA


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VA’s Real, Real Bad ID Plan For DMV

Posted by Bill on December 18, 2007

ID   Okay.  You go to VA DMV to renew your drivers license.  The line is out the door. You wait.  After two hours you get to see a DMV worker.  The DMV worker says,  “Give me your papers– your passport, evidence of your legal presence and proof of Virginia residency.”  Huh?  The DMV worker takes your papers, walks to a computer terminal and starts typing.  The worker pulls up your orginal birth certificate, your Social Security Administration file, your State Department file and other databases to compare your papers to the orginal records. 

Oh, and by the way, this renewal takes at least three hours.  Oh, and a week later you get notice from your credit watcher that someone stole your identity, opening new accounts all over town.   Oh, and you find out that ID thieves hacked the DMV database and stole thousands of files.  See previous post of December 13 on the Real ID Act Your Papers Please

Well, that is a possible outcome of Virginia’s plan to put into force by May 2008 the federal requirements under the Real ID Act.  Renewal of your license will probably take longer, cost more and the ID files will be subject to intrusions.  Read recent Washington Post article Here

Even the Roanoke Times published an editorial today calling Virginia’s plan “A real bad ID plan.”  See Roanoke Times.

In addition, Virginia does not have a way to pay $35 million plus to start up and operate the system.  Many states have opted out of the Real ID Act requirements and Congress is considering delaying or repealing the law. 

Bettr check it out.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

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FTC SSN Workshop–What’s It Mean?

Posted by Bill on December 13, 2007

  ftc-web.jpg     The FTC had a two day workshop “to explore the uses of Social Security numbers in the private sector and the role of SSNs in identity theft.”  The workshop is part of the work of the President’s Identity Theft Task Force to reduce “unnecessary uses of the SSN.”   Various groups and individuals attended the workshop representing government, private business and consumers.  The focus of discussions was how SSNs are used by business and the government and how limiting access to a person’s SSN will prevent identity theft.  There was a lot of discussion defining and distinguishing use of the SSN as an identifier and an authenticator, how the SSN is used as such, and what alternative means of using the SSN as an identifier/authencator is available. 

Some consumer groups and private groups believe that the SSN should not be used for an identifier/authenticator, and that a different of identifying identity should be implemented.  The business and industry groups talked about how they use the SSN as identifying people and their related accounts and information.  It is clear the SSN is used to match and identify different people with various amounts of information.  The SSN is tightly woven into use as a national, unique identifier for records matching and internal and external reports.  The government requires that the banking, insurance and credit industries report information utilizing  the SSN.  But, as one panelist said, “The SSN is out there. You can’t take it back.”  My conclusion is much the same.  Some businesses, institutions and government agencies need to retain use of the SSN as a unique identifier.  This simplifies matching matching information.  I am sure the IRS is not going to stop using SSNs as its taxpayer identification number.  Banks and other income generating businesses will probably be required to report income to the IRS and other government agencies using the SSN.

According to Consumers Union, there are three bills pending in Congress to limit the use, sales and purchase of SSNs.  See SSN BillSummary.  I do not believe the private investigation industry is concerned about whether the SSN continues to be used as an identifier or authenticator.  The industry is more concerned about the exceptions in the bills being considered restricting the industry’s access to SSNs for legitimate investigative purposes.  The bills provide exceptions to use, sale or purchase of SSNs to law enforcement, for purposes of national security, public health, complying with state or federal tax law and several other exceptions.  There is no exception for litigation matters, insurance investigations, fraud investigations, missing persons investigations or any other legitimate business investigation.  This means that private investigators could not properly identify persons who are subject to an investigation or identify witnesses needed in an investigation.

The Graham-Leach-Blilley Act and the Drivers Privacy Protection Act restrict certain personal and private information access, but both laws provide exceptions for litigation matters, fraud matters and other legitimate investigations.  The same exceptions should be provide for in any legislation restricting access to SSNs.  The Federal Trade Commission should consider recommending such exceptions in their report to the President’s Identity Theft Task Force.  Legitimate investigations, being litigation matters, fraud matters, criminal defense matters, missing persons matters or buisness matters, should be named as an exception to restricting access to SSNs.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in attorneys, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Research, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Real ID Act — Your Papers, Please

Posted by Bill on December 13, 2007

papers.jpg  You’ve seen it in the movies–a country ruled by a cruel dictator where everyone has to carry their identity papers with them and produce when the tough police demand them.

Well, Nicole Black of Sui Genris, a NY law Blog, wrote an interesting piece about the Real ID Act which I covered in a prior post.  The Act will require anyone living or working in the U.S. to have a federally approved ID card to open a bank account, travel on an airplane, collect social security benefits or any other government benefits. 

The real problem with the Real ID Act is that the Department of Homeland Security, DHS, requires minimal cyber security for the vast collection of almost all of a person’s private and personal information.  What a boon for ID thieves to have all the personal information in one place where it can harvested with a smile!

Read Niclole’s article on this.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in attorneys, crime, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Research, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Removing SSNs From Public Documents

Posted by Bill on December 13, 2007

The National Association of Secretaries of State published a white paper about “developing policies for removing social security numbers and other sensitive information from public documents.”  The title is Privacy, Public Access & Policymaking in State Redaction Practices.  The paper is on their website Here 

A survey section of the report details redaction practices in nineteen states.  The paper also calls for states to educate the public about identity theft.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

FTC SSN Workshop Now Available Webcast–Watch It!

Posted by Bill on December 11, 2007

You can see and listen to the entire SSN Workshop discussions via webcast FTC Webcast here.

I was not able to attend today’s session, but it was reported to me that some speakers were very outspoken against the private investigation industry.  Perhaps, these people never needed the assistance of an attorney or private investigator, but they may change their outlook when and if a situation arises and they need help.  For example, if a person is indicted or charged with a crime, they need an attorney to help them defend themselves, unless, of course, they are in their own right a super lawyer.  Facts are needed in defending a criminal case.  The prosecutor has the facts and has a legion of FBI or IRS agents, along with a grand jury, to gather more facts.  What does the defense attorney have to assist the client?  Sometimes it is a hired “private investigator.”  I have worked on criminal defense cases, and the gathering of facts is the primary objective of many cases.  Sometimes, as a private investigator, you find the one witness who will testify for the defendant and, possibly, contribute to a “not guilty” verdict.  To deny private investigators and/or attorneys access to information to prepare a criminal defense case is certainly open to an immediate constitutional challenge.  I believe it has somehthing to do with “due process” and “right to fair trials” etc.  Of course, these mere constitutional values may be overlooked in denying defense investigators and defense attorneys the right to access needed identifying information to find witnesses or challenge prosecution witnesses.

But, I digress.  I did not intend to write a summary of today’s FTC workshop.  I will do that tomorrow after watching the webcast.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in attorneys, crime, FBI, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

FTC Realtime, part 2

Posted by Bill on December 10, 2007

The panel started at 1:45 p.m. with an introduction by Valerie Abend, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Compliance Policy, U.S. Department of Treasury.  She explained the many needs and uses of the SSN by the Treasury Department, including the I.R.S.

The following is a summary:

Robert Ryan, VP, TransUnion, talked about TransUnion’s use of the SSN as an identifier in processing of millions of daily information reports received by credit bureaus.   SSN is important to ensure correct application of information.  The SSN is used for unique credit reports for millions of individuals.  The SSN is necessary to identify the credit report.  SSN is important when a person disputes some information in the credit report especially when the information is not accurate.  Use SSN to maintain accuracy of identifying the right person.  TransUnion has to comply with many State and Federal laws that require use of SSN to identify people.

Stan Szwalbnest, JP Morgan Chase said they use SSNs for identifying accounts, identifying individuals, reporting earnings to I.R.S., reporting to law enforcement, help identify business records in disasters and many other ways. 

Roberta Meyer, American Council of Life insurances:  Insurance companies use SSN for identifying life insurance applicants, making reports in compliance with laws.  SSNs are universal, unique and do not change over time.  This helps identify persons for life insurance policies going for many many years.  SSN necessary to accurately identify persons for reports.  There are many, many ways that companies use the SSN to identify people for all kinds of internal/external reports.  Many State and Federal laws require use of SSN for reporting purposes.  Tax departments require earnings report by SSN.  The Bank Secrecy Act and the Patriot Act require specific “know your customer” rules and procedures.  The SSN is vital to this procedure.  Insurance companies have to use SSNs to comply with federal law requirng that companies do not hire employees convicted of fraudulent activities.  Many state laws require use of SSN regarding property transactions, long term care partner programs, which was expanded by recent legislation.  All these situations require use of SSN to identify the person.  SSNs are needed to identify persons for medical records to get correct records.  SSNs are used to administer retirement/benefit plans.  There are many other reasons for using the SSNs legitimate business and consumer purposes.

Robert Townsend, licensed professional investigator over 40 years.  His comments are from his work as a day to day investigator.  SSN should be used under particular circumstances for legitimate reasons.  Why PI get the SSN?  Paid to get and link all information associated with the SSN.  Obtaining and linking SSNs is all done for money. Client paid for background information.  If you prosecute the violators, prosecute the original client paying for the investigation in addition to person illegal obtaining SSN.

Use SSN locate missing children.  SSN is unique personal identifier to distinguished one person from another.  Limit SSN information to licensed PIs with insurance.  PI need to identify the person being investigated.  Special Master System?  If there is a legal case being investigated by attorney or an investigator, he suggests a system where the investigator gets a the equivalent of a civil search warrant.  Judges would review applications for such a civil search warrant to determine if legitimate action.  If litigation goes further and more information is needed to determine assets, relatives, trace funds.  Should have judicial approve of this further investigation.

Michael Lamb, LexisNexis.  Unique identifiers, such as SSNs, are necessary to combat ID theft.  Data thieves have always existed and they steal other peoples identity.  Need to give tools, such as SSN,to combat ID theft.  LN has information needed to assist and help consumers to fight ID theft and get there ID back or keep safe.  Lexis helps firms meet legal obligations under the KYC and other laws.  Assist LE and other police help in crime.

SSN is the unique ID and will never change as person’s address, telephone etc will change.  Use partial SSNs?  Have over 15K variation of Will Johnson in the Lexis database.  Using the SSN last four digits, there are over 4k Will Johnson sharing the same last 4 digits.  If applying for credit or a job, you want data system and information to be accurate.  SSN identifier assists this.  Using partial number make information less accurate possibly.  Taking away full SSN, anti fraud programs will not work as well.  If take away use of full SSN, consumer may be negatively affected in financial and business matters.  SSN used to trace benefits for retirement, recover missing children, assist in crime fighting.  Do you want to have less chance of helping consumers in crime fighting and finding information.

Annie Anton,  Right now personal information about you is being exchanged by many businesses and government agencies including law enforcement.  SSN is defacto National ID number.  Privacy concerns because use SSN as personal identifier and authenticator.  The SSN should not be used as authenticator.  

That’s it for today.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in attorneys, crime, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Research, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

FTC Workshop Realtime

Posted by Bill on December 10, 2007

I am blogging from the FTC Conference Center in Washington, DC.  There are about 90 to 100 people attending.  There are still seats available.  So, if you are in  the area, come on down! I came in late, but here is some of the discussion:

SSN Display & Use as Internal Identifier 

Now a representative from Ernst & Young is explaining how companies or businesses can successfully remove SSNs from business records.  E&Y has a consulting service to assist businesses with this process.  They are emphasizing that companies establish a standard policy and train employees  about how to handle data.  In addition, SSNs should be removed from all documents.  Access to information should be limited to only those “with need to know.”  The major systems that need attention are time keeping, payroll systems, salary data and human resources.

E&Y discussed the ways SSNs are used by businesses to keep their records–employee identifier and database tracking.  Once reports are generated, however, hard copies or data files may spread beyond the original source.  Security must control access to the data containing SSN identifiers.

There is a discussion of what other unique identifiers can be used to identify a person.  Such things as place of birth, additional PIN number, mother’s maiden name etc.  Companies are adopting these measures, but it takes time. 

Lunch Break at 12:30 p.m.

I saw some well known PI people here today.  Jimmie Meesis, PI Magazine, PI Magazine,  Bruce Hulme, NCISS, NCISS, Larry Sabbeth, NCISS, Pat Clawson, famous MI PI and PIAVA member Nicole Bocra.  After lunch, the topic is “SSN Use to LInk Data Externally.”  The panel is Robert Ryan, VP, TransUnion, Stan Szwalbenest, JP Morgan Case Comsumer and Retail Franchise, Roberta Meyer, VP and Associate General Counsel, America Council of Life Insurances, Robert Townsend, National Association of Legal Investigators, Michael Lamb, VP and General Counsel, LexisNexis Risk & Informaion Analytics Group, and Annie Anton, Associate Professor of Software Engineering, NC State University.  Robert Townsend is a private investigator from Orange County, CA.

So long for now,

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in attorneys, fraud, Investigations, lawyers, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Research, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Virginia Identity Theft

Posted by Bill on November 28, 2007

Virginia’s Attorney General Bob McDonnel has a good outline and FAQ on identity theft issues in Virginia. 

From the AG’s site:

In Virginia, identity theft is a serious crime.  Currently, an identity thief whose crime results in financial loss up to $200 faces a misdemeanor conviction and confinement for not more than 12 months and/or a maximum fine of $2,500.  An identity thief whose crime results in financial loss greater than $200, faces a felony conviction and a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than five years.  For more details, please refer to §18.2-186.3 of the Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended. 

 See the whole site: VA Attorney General ID Theft

The Fairfax County, VA, Police have further information too, Fairfax Police

Also, check The Consumer Law Group, Richmond, VA, at  Consumer Law Group

The Washington Post has an excellent section on its website about identity theft and ways to protect your identity and personal information.  See Washington Post ID Theft 

Meanwhile, hold tight to your personal information.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

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Federal Trade Commission–Identity Theft Study

Posted by Bill on November 28, 2007

FTC Releases Survey of Identity Theft in the U.S. Study Shows 8.3 Million Victims in 2005

The Federal Trade Commission today released a survey showing that 8.3 million American adults, or 3.7 percent of all American adults, were victims of identity theft in 2005. Of the victims, 3.2 million, or 1.4 percent of all adults, experienced misuse of their existing credit card accounts; 3.3 million, or 1.5 percent, experienced misuse of non-credit card accounts; and 1.8 million victims, or 0.8 percent, found that new accounts were opened or other frauds were committed using their personal identifying information.

See full text of news release and download a copy of the report:

FTC ID Theft

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

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