Privacy Tips for Tax Season

You may be resigned to giving the government your money this tax season, but watch out for fraudsters looking for a piece of the action. Your tax forms contain sensitive information, including your Social Security Number. Taxpayers have a choice of filing by mail or electronically. Consumers may use personal software, professional services, or old-fashioned pencil and paper. Either way you can bet there is a fraudster ready with a scam. The following tips can help protect your privacy.

Federal Agencies' Guidelines regarding Notification by Financial Companies when a Security Breach Compromises Customer Data and Exposes Individuals to Identity Theft

The Agencies' current proposal establishes guidance for financial institutions' response programs for unauthorized access to customer information. The proposal also includes guidance on when notice to customers is necessary.

Recent studies have confirmed that the crime of identity theft claims millions of victims each year, costing both victims and financial institutions billions of dollars in losses.3 Financial institutions that collect and maintain personal customer information as part of business operations have a legal obligation to establish security procedures to maintain the confidentiality and integrity of that data.

Identity Theft Red Flags and Address Discrepancies under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003

The detection of red flags and the need to reconcile address discrepancies are among the most important anti-identity theft measures included in FACTA. Effective business policies and practices that spot attempted and actual identity theft early have great potential for relieving this national crime wave. This was the promise and Congress’ intent when it directed the Agencies to adopt Red Flag Regulations along with procedures to reconcile address discrepancies in credit reports.

Real ID Act Will Increase Exposure to ID Theft

If you think identity theft is bad now, wait until something called the Real ID Act goes into effect. This law federalizes and standardizes state driver’s licenses for all 50 states, and it will result in something that has been resisted in this country for a long time -- a de facto national identity card.
The Real ID Act was pushed through Congress in 2005 with little meaningful debate. It imposes sweeping changes on state driver’s licenses that will result in significant new fees and hassles for everyone who needs a license or ID – not to mention posing a new threat to Americans’ privacy. And, our experience suggests that if Real ID becomes the standard for driver’s licenses, it will worsen the problem of identity theft.

Is Your Client Prepared To Comply with the Data Security Breach Notification Laws? (Mansfield)

California adopted the first data security breach notification law, codified at Cal. Civ. Code Section 1798.80 et seq., effective July 1, 2003. nearly 40 other states have since adopted similar laws modeled after, but not the same as, the California law. Presently pending in Congress are several bills that would adopt a variant of the California model on a nationwide basis, including the Notification of Risk to Personal Data Act of 2007, S.239 (introduced January 10, 2007).

Preventing Identity Theft: Industry Practices Are the Key

Discussions on preventing identity theft often focus on steps consumers can take, such as shredding their trash and restricting access to their Social Security number (SSN). But realistically, while such measures can reduce the odds of becoming a victim, there is little consumers can do to actually prevent identity theft. The key to prevention, rather, is for businesses to establish responsible information-handling practices and for the credit industry to adopt stricter application verification procedures, among other strategies (see below).

Identity Theft Surveys and Studies: How Many Identity Theft Victims Are There? What Is the Impact on Victims?

Recent Surveys and Studies from Javelin Strategy & Research, Better Business Bureau, Identity Theft Resource Center, Federal Trade Commission, Gartner, and Privacy & American Business

Nowhere to Turn: Victims Speak Out on Identity Theft - A Survey of Identity Theft Victims and Recommendations for Reform

Identity theft is a growing crisis in the United States. As the crime becomes more visible, stories of victims' complex experiences permeate the media. Identity theft occurs when someone invades your life, taking pieces of your personal identifying information as his or her own, and ruins your financial reputation. In addition, victims of this crime face extreme difficulties attempting to clear the damaged credit, or even criminal record, caused by the thief.

Identity Theft: How It Happens, Its Impact on Victims, and Legislative Solutions

I appreciate the ability to provide written and oral testimony on the skyrocketing crime of identity theft, its impact on victims, and possible solutions. And I commend you and the Subcommittee members for addressing this issue. My written testimony is in four parts:

  • Topic number one is the crime itself - what is identity theft, how much of it is going on, and why it is happening in epidemic proportions.

  • Second, I will discuss the many ways in which identity thieves obtain the bits and pieces of information they need to impersonate others -- mainly Social Security numbers (SSN) and credit card account numbers.

  • Third, I will explain some of the impacts on victims.

  • And fourth, I will recommend legislative and industry measures to prevent identity theft and to expedite the ability of victims to regain their financial health.

Potential Identity Theft Scam Related to Terrorist Attacks

The media, law enforcement officials, and consumer organizations have been alerting the public of potential harmful scams, including charity scams, as a result of the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.

The Identity Theft Resource Center and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse also urge media outlets and consumer organizations to alert the public of two potential identity theft-related situations that might arise from the recent World Trade Towers disasters.

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