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Tag Archive | "Identity Theft"

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Swiper No Swiping

Posted on 11 October 2011 by Total Secure Shredding

“Swiper no Swiping, Swiper no Swiping, Swiper no Swiping…”

Anyone who’s raised a child in the last 10 years is most likely familiar with Dora the Explorer and Swiper.

Perhaps the New York City police are familiar (I doubt it) but this week the New York police have indited 111 people and arrested 85 in a two year operation called “Operation Swiper.”

The Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said this is “by far the largest and certainly amongst the most sophisticated identity-theft credit card fraud cases that any of us have ever seen.”

It certainly was a big one…

Apparently “skimmers” were hired “to steal credit card data from customers at restaurants and other businesses” where the info was than transferred onto other credit cards that were supplied overseas from Russia, Libya, Lebanon, and China.

The main items of interest were Apple products due to their easy resale overseas.

In total, $13 million in goods were purchased using this stolen credit card data.

Unfortunately there seems no simple precaution consumers can take to prevent their credit card from being skimmed at a restaurant. I for one, turn over my credit, on a plate (might as well be a silver platter), to my waiter or waitress. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether this person is an accomplice in some identity theft ring.

I suppose one option is to pay with cash at restaurants. However, this is probably not practical for most of us.

The only other thing to do is to keep a close eye on your bank and credit card accounts.

Reviewing your monthly bank and credit card statements in a timely manner is always a good idea.

If you find that your credit card has been compromised. Immediately let your bank or credit card company know. They will cancel your card and send out a new one.

In my experience, I’ve found that they are also really good at getting the money back into your account if there is any dispute.

To read the full story online, here’s the link:

In the end, keep vigilant and keep an eye out for Swipers!

Until next time… Keep Totally Secure,

Head Shredding Guy

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Doctor Fined $40,000 for Record Dumping

Posted on 16 September 2011 by Total Secure Shredding

Don’t think people are paying attention at the recycling center?

It appears a Charlotte North Carolina doctor recently had to pay out $40,000 for dumping patient files at the local recycling center.

This makes it pretty clear that recycling is not the same as shredding.

1,000 records in 25 boxes containing the personal information of 1,600 patients were dumped by the doctor’s sons in mid-June of 2010.

This comes to a whopping $1,600 per box of records!

Kind-of puts the cost of shredding in perspective doesn’t it? Especially when you could drop off these boxes at a secure shredding facility, such as Total Secure Shredding (for instance), and only pay $4.45 per box. I’d say the total cost of $111.25 for the secure shredding of these 25 boxes pales in comparison to this $40,000 fine.

I’ve personally seen records just dumped off at the recycling center here in good old San Diego. I have to say, not only is this irresponsible with regard to patient information, it also just doesn’t make any sense when you now consider the hefty fines that are being handed out by Attorney Generals.

My rule is simple when it comes to deciding whether to shred or not: When in doubt, shred!

After all, why take a risk with your own identity theft or the identity theft of a patient, client, or employee?

As always, if you have any questions about whether you should shred, please feel free to give me a call.

And until next time… Keep Totally Secure.

Your friend,

Head Shredding Guy
(619) 295-5474

P.S. Here’s the full article if you’d like to check it out: Doctor pays $40,000 fine for dumping 1,600 patients’ medical records

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Document Security When Traveling

Posted on 12 August 2011 by Total Secure Shredding

If you are traveling back and forth to work with client files in your car, you might want to start taking precautions, especially if you’re working in a Health Care related field.

Imagine this scenario…

You’re just leaving the office after a long day.

But like any good hard working employee, there’s always more work to be done and hard deadlines that need to be met.

So you pack up a few client files and load them into the back seat of your car so you can do a little work at home.

On the way home, you remember that you have to stop by the grocery store to get some milk and cereal so the kids can eat breakfast in the morning.

By the time you eventually get home, and get the groceries into the house, you’re just too tired to consider any more work for the evening and decide that you’ll wake up extra early in the morning to get a few things done before leaving for work.

Now, imagine if at some point in the above sequence your car is stolen or broken into and your briefcase is stolen. If this were to ever happen, you’re going to have to come to grips with some potentially painful consequences.

You are going to have to notify your clients that their documents were stolen and there’s a potential for identity theft. And let me say, you want to be the one that informs the client of this. The last thing you want is for the police or a news agency to find the documents and inform your clients before you do. The best thing to do is to get out in front of the situation and to do the explaining fist hand.

Just to give an example of some of the penalties that can be involved when it comes to medical information and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act), here is a listing provided by the American Medical Association (AMA):

HIPAA Violation Minimum Penalty Maximum Penalty
Individual did not know (and by exercising reasonable diligence would not have known) that he/she violated HIPAA $100 per violation, with an annual maximum of $25,000 for repeat violations (Note: maximum that can be imposed by State Attorneys General regardless of the type of violation) $50,000 per violation, with an annual maximum of $1.5 million
HIPAA violation due to reasonable cause and not due to willful neglect $1,000 per violation, with an annual maximum of $100,000 for repeat violations $50,000 per violation, with an annual maximum of $1.5 million
HIPAA violation due to willful neglect but violation is corrected within the required time period $10,000 per violation, with an annual maximum of $250,000 for repeat violations $50,000 per violation, with an annual maximum of $1.5 million
HIPAA violation is due to willful neglect and is not corrected $50,000 per violation, with an annual maximum of $1.5 million $50,000 per violation, with an annual maximum of $1.5 million

See the full article by the AMA here at:

In a recent health care data breach case brought against health insurer Wellpoint, Inc. by the Attorney General of Indiana: Wellpoint agreed to pay the state $100,000; to provide two years of credit monitoring and identity-theft protection services to consumers affected by the breach; plus to provide reimbursement up to $50,000 to any Wellpoint consumer for loses that result from identity theft due to the breach.

Current data breech laws do have teeth and this should certainly raise the awareness of anyone dealing with consumer health data. Taking precautions is mandatory.

Here are some tips you can take in order to protect work documents that are routinely transferred to and from your secure office location:

  1. You will want to have an accurate accounting of what documents were stolen. Only keep a minimal amount of client information you need when transporting documents back-and-forth between your office and home. If multiple employees are routinely taking home client information, you may want to implement a client information checkout procedure at the office. It’s much better to know which clients were affected than having to notify each and every one of your clients.
  2. Don’t assume your vehicle is safe. Keep in mind that you have customers’ information sitting in the car if you decide to make pit-stops on the way to or from the office. When you get home, be sure that you also bring in the documents where there’s a more reasonable expectation that they are safe.
  3. Don’t leave documents lying around at home, in the office, or in the car if at all possible. This information should be protected just as you protect the information in your computer with passwords and behind firewalls. Keep physical document with sensitive information in secure filing cabinets or perform routine file shredding with reputable paper shredding service if they are no longer needed.

It should be clear to everyone that is now dealing with sensitive customer health related data that the state and federal governments are taking identity-theft and data breaches extremely serious. Taking a few extra moments and steps to protect your customers data is not only the right thing to do professionally, but it is also an important policy to implement in order to protect the good name and reputation you’ve taken so long to build.

Until Next Time… Keep Totally Secure!

Your Friend,

Mike Krauss
Head Shredding Guy
Total Secure Shredding

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Children Targets of ID Fraud

Posted on 26 July 2011 by Total Secure Shredding

A recent article points out that thousands of inactive Social Security numbers are being found and sold online. The reason these Social Security numbers are inactive is due to the fact that they belong to children who have yet used them to ascertain credit.

The Better Business Bureau is warning parents to be on the lookout for signs that point to their child’s identity being compromised or stolen.

Last year, 8.1 million adult Americans were victims of ID theft, resulting in the loss of $37 billion, according to a report from Javelin Strategy and Research.

It can be difficult to determine if you child has become a victim of Identity Fraud since it is often years before the fraud is uncovered.

The BBB proposes these three steps for parents to take in order identify and correct underage ID Theft:

  1. Parents with children under the age of 13 can request a credit report from the credit reporting agency Trans Union. If a report exists, there could be a problem and credit reports should then be requested from Esperian & Equifax. If a credit report doesn’t exist, you child’s ID should be ok.
  2. Watch for pre-approved credit cards in your child’s name that may be coming in the mail

The FTC also recommends to run a child’s credit report at age 16 so there is enough time to dispute any incorrect information before your child starts applying to college.

Please feel free to leave any other tips you may have about protecting your child’s Identity in the comments section below.

Until Next Time… Keep Totally Secure,

Your Friend,

Head Shredding Guy
Total Secure Shredding, Inc

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Ever Lost Your Wallet?

Posted on 22 July 2011 by Total Secure Shredding

Hey Folks,

Do you know that sinking, sick to your stomach, feeling you get when you realize you’ve lost your wallet?

I’ve been there done that!

Now try loosing your wallet while on active in the military while down in Cabo San Lucas with your Military I.D. still in your wallet. Getting a new Military I.D. required your commanding officer’s approval – Let me just say he wasn’t all too happy about that!

But for the most part, you’re not going to have to worry about getting a new Military I.D., but you are going to go through the mental agony of trying to remember what exactly was in your wallet…

Which credit cards do I need to cancel; Great, I need to make an appointment with the DMV; Winning $80 Million Lottery Ticket (pretty much can write that one off!)

Well I found this story a few weeks ago on ABC’s Good Morning America.

It goes through how to keep a nice and tidy wallet that will help prevent I.D. Theft in the event your wallet is lost or stolen.

Here are the top 3 things no one should ever keep in their wallet:

  1. Never keep your Social Security Card in your wallet.
  2. Never keep your Passport in you wallet.
  3. Never keep a list of your passwords and account number in your wallet.

So remember to keep the contents of your wallet to a bear minimum just in case the unfortunate occurs.

Oh, and I’d love to hear your story about the event that transpired around a recent lost wallet story and how you were able to get it taken care of.

You may or may not be happy to know I did get a new Military I.D. without getting into too much hot water. The funny thing about it, I actually recovered that wallet! The cleaning lady at the hotel I was staying at in Cabo San Lucas found my wallet and somehow it made it’s way to the U.S. Embassy in Tijuana. Someone from the Embassy called my parents in Tennessee (being active duty in the military, I still was using a Tennessee Driver’s License), my parents called me, and I went down to the Embassy and picked it up. Believe it or not, everything was still in the wallet!

Goes to show there are still some good folks out there in the world.

Until next time… Keep Totally Secure.

Your friend,

Mike Krauss
Head Shredding Guy

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