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.

Junk Faxes: They Are Now OK with a "Business" Relationship


Until recently, the law on fax advertising was simple and straightforward: No one could send a fax advertisement without your prior consent. Of course, this did not stop the deluge of unwanted faxes touting hot stocks, mortgage offers, and vacation deals. Now, adding to the frustration, Congress has created an exception for fax advertisements sent when you have an “established business relationship,” or EBR, with the sender.

The Case of the Disappearing Check: What is Electronic Check Conversion?


Electronic check conversion may be used when you make purchases in person at a store or when you mail a check to pay your credit card, utility or mortgage account payment. Either way, the growing use of electronic check conversion means you have to be more diligent than ever about tracking your payments and correcting errors in your account. When checks are processed electronically, your rights, remedies, and potential losses are governed by the federal Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Act. This is the same law that governs your ATM and debit card transactions.

It's Tax Time. Take These Extra Precautions with Your Mail


During the month of January, check your mailbox for information notices from organizations that have made taxable payments to you during the previous year. While these information notices are essential for preparing your taxes, they also are a treasure trove for identity thieves. A typical information notice has your non-truncated Social Security number as well as the name of your employer, your bank, mutual fund, or stock broker.

The Secure Transcript: Survey of U.S. Universities' Use of the SSN on Academic Transcripts (Titus)


Most universities have moved away from using students' Social Security Numbers as their Student ID, but because the SSN continues to be a convenient identification number, ancillary higher education organizations, such as lending institutions, continue to use the SSN as a universal identification number.  As a result, some universities which have otherwise discontinued using the SSN as a student ID, continue to print the student's SSN on academic transcripts and official documentation.

Suing a Telemarketer: How I Spent My Summer Vacation


I am a federal government retiree who does occasional substitute teaching just for fun.  Basically, I don’t work during the summer.  Also, I hate telemarketers and feel that companies who buy and sell individuals’ personal information in order to solicit are despicable. So, what did I do on my summer vacation?  I sued a telemarketer!

When Background Checks Go Too Far: Screening Volunteer Master Gardeners


I was at a Maricopa County (Phoenix AZ) Master Gardeners meeting this evening (I am a Master Gardener volunteer) helping with applications for the next Master Gardener training course -- a 17 week training program to teach people in the Southwest how to garden and take care of their landscape plants here, plus a component of our internship program to become a Master Gardener Volunteer. 

The program is run by the University of Arizona. The University is now requiring background checks of applicants applying to take this course. The applicants are paying $275 to take the course and part of that fee also pays for their own background check.

Background Checks for Master Gardeners in Maricopa County.???!!! I am flabbergasted.

Phishing: A Real-Life Experiment with Troubling Results


Last week I received a Bank of America phishing email. Nothing out of the ordinary in that. If I have a spare moment, I usually look to see if the phishing site is still up, then do a DNS lookup and blast off an email to let the site owner know of the scam.

Well, last week's phishing was particularly sophisticated.

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