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bchlr

Identity theft: How safe your social security really is.

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With the increasing number of identity thefts, I'm quite surprised our social security numbers and other personal information do not have the level of security they deserve. Having been an employee for the government for a while (actually I quit not so long ago), I find it so easy for anyone to gain access to public database, those information are in fact just clicks away. We have to sign stacks of papers involving keeping confidential information, but that's just as far as the rule goes. At any given moment, there are at least 10 people out there that handle and do have direct access to what would make anyone an identity theft victim (most of them are trustworthy, I know, but what percentage are potential predators is unclear). And as far as I'm concerned, there are websites that sell access to public database for less than $50 a month. We are not invulnerable, in fact we are more than vulnerable to the threat; the question is just when and how we become victims, for those that are still 'safe'. Isn't it time for something to be done to make us feel more secure?

Just some random observation, thought I'd share. Feel free to comment.

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What I get a kick out of is that this all becomes an issue and action is taken, when the horses are out and then the gates closed.  I don't know about anywhere else, but in WI if you want a landline home phone, they need to have your ssn.  Why?  Go anywhere to do business and the first thing you get asked, in front of other customers, is for your social security number.  

I thought  the ssn was supposed to be for social security. There's no "security" left in social security.

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According to the September, 2008 issue of Consumer's Reports, pages 28 and 29...

Files Leaked

Department of Veterans Affairs - 28 Million

Internal Revenue Service - 2,359

Transportation Security Administration - 100,000

City of Savannah, Georgia - 8,000

State of Ohio - 1.300,000

Veterans Affairs wins!  ;D

And did you know, according to CU...

You have NO RIGHT TO BE NOTIFIED ifsomeone is uising your SSN under another name.

Sleep tight.  ;)

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What I get a kick out of is that this all becomes an issue and action is taken, when the horses are out and then the gates closed.  I don't know about anywhere else, but in WI if you want a landline home phone, they need to have your ssn.  Why?  Go anywhere to do business and the first thing you get asked, in front of other customers, is for your social security number.  

I thought  the ssn was supposed to be for social security. There's no "security" left in social security.

Exactly how my wife got her identity stolen.  She bought a car and did the whole loan application, turns out the identity thief had someone working inside the loan dept. of the dealership that was giving him info.  The thief, who lived in one of the worst parts of town, set up a phone line and proceeded to run up a $1000 phone bill in my wifes name before the line was cut off.  She only found out when she attempted to get another Charge card and the outstanding bill was on her credit report.

Most of the calls had been made to various prisons in and around the St Louis area.   ::)

Getting that straightened out was a mess.  

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yup this is the reason your better off having crappy credit ....  ;D

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^A good credit is good if you wanna start off a business, get a big loan or make major purchases like a house. Takes me like 2 years to pay off a car, so I guess it won't hurt as much as long as I'm able to get the cash flowing in and out  ;)

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My wife works at a hospital and you wouldn't believe how easy they could get all your personal info :o

She thinks it needs to be screened better, think about it, all who can have access to your files in the medical system :(

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Its not just your SSN you need to worry about. In May, I went to my bank to withdraw some cash using the ATM. When I got my receipt, I noticed that my balance was about 3 thousand less than it should have been. I went home and looked online and found that 11 checks had cleared my bank in the previous few days that I had no idea what they were. Looking the checks online, I discovered that the checks were counterfeit. The thing was that they had my name, my wife's name and our address on them and the scumbag had written my drivers license number and my date of birth on the checks. Since it has been years since I wrote a check to a business with my information on it, I was and still am at a loss as to how these people got all the information they had on me. I live in Dallas butr the checks were all passed in the Houston area on one day.

It was also almost impossible to get a law enforcement agency to take a report on this crime. I first called Dallas PD. I was told that since the checks had been passed in Houston, I needed to call the Houston PD. When I called Houston PD, I was told that since the checks appeared to have been passed in suburbs of Houston, I needed to contact those PD's. After voicing my displeasure, the Houston PD agreed to take my report. I went into detail as to what had happened, where the checks were passed, etc. When I got a copy of the police report, here is what it said: "the compainant stated an unknown suspect obtained his personal information to write fraudulent checks." End of report.

I didn't lose any money, since I caught it quickly, reported it to my bank and the money was credited back to my account. However, I had to change my bank account, notify two places that make automatic deposits to my account each month, and fill out four affadavits.

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speaking of which, sometimes the post office crews up the addresses and send your check to a different address. One time I received like 3 checks worth like 10 grands in total in the mail. Turned out they were meant for some law firms up north that has the same street number and one word different in street name as ours. Trashed them immediately without even looking further, I know just opening it means violating a federal offense  ::)

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Unfortunately, personal info can be easily attained by anyone these days. Much easier than anyone would care to think.

I work for a bank and any one person that is employed by the bank can access any and all personal info for anyone that has an account or has had an account at our bank. In retrospect, we as a bank do everything we can to keep your personal info confidential, and I can't think of one incident where a customer's info was compromised as a  result of carelessness on our part.

However, the lax security measures that most major businesses employ these days can be directly related to customers info being compromised. Just in the last year we've had major issues with both TJX (the company that owns TJ Maxx, Marshalls and a number of other clothing stores...) and Hannaford's supermarkets compromising our customers personal info. In both instances debit transaction histories were stolen (including debit card numbers) via a stolen laptop (TJX) and a hacked transmission of transactions (Hannafords).

Was this the banks fault? Not at all, however we felt the repercussions and thus lost the confidence of our customers that were effected by someone else's carelessness.

My advice? Invest in a credit report, if not monthly then yearly at the least, whether through an online company such as freecreditreport.com or annualcreditreport.com or through your local bank if possible. If you feel your info has been compromised, file a report with the 3 major credit reporting companies, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.

There are a lot of ways to protect your credit and personal info, a lot of people just fail to utilize these tools. They're worth it in the long run, though.

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There are a lot of ways to protect your credit and personal info, a lot of people just fail to utilize these tools. They're worth it in the long run, though.

The issue that I have with this is that it shouldn't be my responsibility to pay for these services.  This information should not be available for use by anyone other than the individual whose ssn it is.  There needs to be a much more stringent method of identification for granting anyone credit.  It also should be illegal for companies to use SSN's as identification numbers.  

This is just another aspect of our gov't looking out for business's interests over their constituent's.

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There are a lot of ways to protect your credit and personal info, a lot of people just fail to utilize these tools. They're worth it in the long run, though.

The issue that I have with this is that it shouldn't be my responsibility to pay for these services. This information should not be available for use by anyone other than the individual whose ssn it is. There needs to be a much more stringent method of identification for granting anyone credit. It also should be illegal for companies to use SSN's as identification numbers.

This is just another aspect of our gov't looking out for business's interests over their constituent's.

I completely agree, credit reporting and monitoring should not only be free but given as a benefit to every citizen of the country. Unfortunately they are not, and paying for them is about the only way to gain some semblance of peace of mind that your info is secure. In the same vein, every person in this country is entitled to a free credit check once a year. Check out those two sites I posted in my previous reply. I suggest www.annualcreditreport.com as freecreditreport.com asks for a credit card number and actually charges you monthly fees after 3 months (although all you have to do is make a phone call to cancel your subscription, but still...)

I do have to somewhat disagree with your statement that an individual's SSN should only be used by said individual. The reason we ask for a SSN when opening an account or for any other matter, is so that we can verify that you are who you say you are. I understand that you wouldn't want to be giving out that kind of personal info, but it's actually now required by most banks after the events of 9/11. Our bank will not open an account if someone does not have their social security card and another form of valid picture ID in hand with them. After the account is opened, the SSN is used only for identification and tax reporting purposes.

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I do have to somewhat disagree with your statement that an individual's SSN should only be used by said individual. The reason we ask for a SSN when opening an account or for any other matter, is so that we can verify that you are who you say you are. I understand that you wouldn't want to be giving out that kind of personal info, but it's actually now required by most banks after the events of 9/11. Our bank will not open an account if someone does not have their social security card and another form of valid picture ID in hand with them. After the account is opened, the SSN is used only for identification and tax reporting purposes.

My point was more along the lines of phone companies and such using the SSN for identification purposes only.  There is no need for that.  Just make up some other character string for id purposes.  I understand why it is required to use for banks.  I think some of the new laws post 9/11 are ridiculous, but that's a different topic for a different forum.  So, actually I agree with you.  

One thing to note though is that many of these companies that ask for the SSN can not require you to provide it.  The problem is that most people don't realize that and give it freely when the shouldn't.

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Heck I posted my number on the board outside of Wal-Mart so all the illegals can use it.  In a few more years I will be able to draw Max SS ::)

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I do have to somewhat disagree with your statement that an individual's SSN should only be used by said individual. The reason we ask for a SSN when opening an account or for any other matter, is so that we can verify that you are who you say you are. I understand that you wouldn't want to be giving out that kind of personal info, but it's actually now required by most banks after the events of 9/11. Our bank will not open an account if someone does not have their social security card and another form of valid picture ID in hand with them. After the account is opened, the SSN is used only for identification and tax reporting purposes.

My point was more along the lines of phone companies and such using the SSN for identification purposes only.  There is no need for that.  Just make up some other character string for id purposes.  I understand why it is required to use for banks.  I think some of the new laws post 9/11 are ridiculous, but that's a different topic for a different forum.  So, actually I agree with you.  

One thing to note though is that many of these companies that ask for the SSN can not require you to provide it.  The problem is that most people don't realize that and give it freely when the shouldn't.

Ah, I see. A simple misunderstanding. I agree that phone companies and such have no need for someone's SSN. That's just asking for trouble.

And you're right, a lot of people don't seem to have a problem passing out their SSN whenever asked for it. It's a shame, really. We had one gentleman that got taken for over $80,000 when he was informed that he had won a Canadian lottery. He was withdrawing thousands of dollars a day in one of our branches that is inside of a Walmart, then walking the cash over to the customer service desk and wiring it up to Canada. We explained to him that it was a scam and that he was giving his money away for no reason, but he was under the impression he was going to get his $1.5 million if he just followed the instructions given him by the "Canadian Lottery Commission" or some junk like that. Some people just don't have a clue.

And RW, good link. I'm happy to see that our law enforcement agencies are doing at least a little something with our tax dollars! That's the exact incident that I described in one of my previous posts, the one involving TJX. Good find.

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