Update on recent data security breaches
Since the ChoicePoint announcement, news about data breaches and information heists have become almost a daily occurrence. Here's an update courtesy of the US PIRG:
-- Bank of America came clean that back-up data tapes containing personal information and account numbers of 1.2 million Americans including federal employees (and members of Congress) went missing.
-- NY Senator Schumer blasted WestLaw for selling Social Security numbers to those who purchase access to its extensive databases of personal information.
-- LexisNexis, another data aggregator similar to ChoicePoint and WestLaw, announced that thieves accessed personal information of 32,000 consumers of its Seisint division by misusing existing passwords of a legitimate account holder.
-- Discount Shoe Warehouse disclosed that 103 of its 175 stores had customers’ credit and debit card information hacked.
-- Paymaxx, an online payroll management company, may have exposed financial data including W-2 forms of as many as 100,000 workers.
Midwest Consumers Get Free Credit Reports
Midwest Consumers Get Free Credit Reports -- What to Know Before You Get Yours
A new federal law, known as the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, or FACTA, was adopted by Congress in 2003 and gives consumers nationwide the right to receive a free copy of their credit report. The law is being phased in through the U.S., starting on the West Coast on December 1, 2004. Now individuals living in the Midwest can receive their reports as of March 1, 2005. By September 1, 2005, consumers east of the Midwest region will get the same right as the law is rolled out across the country.
Starting March 1, consumers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin are entitled to one free copy of their credit report annually from each of the nationwide credit bureaus.
With access to credit reports free of charge, individuals can more readily monitor reports to learn if they are victims of identity theft or if their credit reports contain errors. Often, errors on a credit report cause consumers to pay higher interest rates for credit. A recent survey by US PIRG found a high degree of inaccuracies in credit reports.
Consumers can request their free credit reports through a web site, www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling toll-free 877-322-8228
The PRC suggests that consumers stagger their free reports over the course of a year by ordering one report every four months. Thus, consumers can monitor their credit throughout the year to alert them to possible identity theft.
For more information about free credit reports in the Midwest see privacyrights.org
Thieves Steal Information on 32,000 Users from LexisNexis
Global data broker LexisNexis announced on Wednesday that information on approximately 32,000 of its users may have been stolen. The company says that the breech occurred in a database at its recently acquired Seisint unit, and that law enforcement authorities have been notified. The information accessed, according to LexisNexis, includes names, addresses, social security and drivers' license numbers, but not credit history, medical records or financial information.