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IDENTITY THEFT

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					                                IDENTITY THEFT
What Is Identity Theft?

Various pieces of personal information make up your identity, such as your name,
address, Social Insurance or Social Security number, or your bank account number.
Identity Theft is when someone uses your personal or financial information without
your knowledge.

Identity Theft may be used to facilitate crimes such as illegal immigration, terrorism,
espionage, or blackmail.

How Serious is Identity Theft?

Identity Theft is usually just a part of other criminal activities, but some U.S. credit
reporting agencies quote increases of 36% to 53% in crimes involving Identity Theft
in the most recent 5 year period. Law enforcement officials agree that Identity Theft
is one of the fastest growing financial crimes. More than 8 million Americans fall
victim each year.

In addition to the financial losses that go with Identity Theft, the emotional impact on
victims is also significant. If you’ve ever lost your wallet or purse, you’ll know that
awful sinking feeling that you are no longer in control of your life. And you’ll wonder
if someone else is.

Even if you recover your wallet or purse, you’ll still worry about what someone may
have done with your information. If your identity has been used by someone else,
you may have to spend large amounts of time dealing with problems such as
bounced checks, loan denials, credit card application denials, and debt collection
harassment.

How Does Identity Theft Occur?

Stealing someone’s identity is often quite simple: it’s just a matter of getting hold of
some identifiable information or documents about the victim. There are many ways
to do this, such as…

      Stealing mail or rummaging through rubbish containing personal data
      (“dumpster diving”);

      Retrieving information from redundant equipment, such as old computers;

      Researching about the victim in government registers, internet search
      engines, or public records search services;
      Stealing payment or identification cards;

      Eavesdropping on public transactions (“shoulder surfing”);

      Stealing personal information in computer databases (“Trojan horses, or
      “hacking”);

      Advertising bogus job offers;

      Infiltrating large organizations that store personal information;

      Impersonating someone from a trusted financial organization to get personal
      information (“phishing”);

      Browsing through social network (MySpace, Faceboook, etc.) sites online for
      posted personal information;

      Changing your address information, to divert billing statements to another
      location.

Protecting Your Personal Identity Information – General Rules

The strongest protection against Identity Theft is not to identify at all. This ensures
that information cannot be reused to impersonate an individual elsewhere. Identity
Theft is often a case of too little privacy or too much identification.

Identity Theft often occurs because victims have been too naive about who they
provide their information to. Carefully guarding who one gives personal information
to is thus the best protection against the severe losses involved in Identity Theft.

This includes being careful about who knows the passwords or coded answers to
pre-set questions that many activities and organizations in modern society require
people to provide. While these are a convenience for all, particularly in facilitating
transactions via the telephone or the internet, they do raise the risk of other parties
obtaining such key information.


How The Estate Vault® Protects Your Personal Identity Information

The Estate Vault® has been created to collect all your personal information in one
place. This makes it the best place to protect your personal identity. Here’s how we
protect your data…
1. All the information that you enter into your personal Estate Vault® is guarded by
   the most stringent security system available.

2. Most importantly, you and only you control access, through your password, to
   the information that you enter into personal Estate Vault®. Nobody who works at
   or for The Estate Vault® has access to your information.

3. You control your information in four optional ways:

       You can keep The Estate Vault® program on your home computer or laptop,
       or;
       You may upload information to our secure servers, or;
       You may input information directly over the web onto our secure servers, or;
       You may store your information on a disk or USB device and place it in your
       safety deposit box.

   You can, if you so choose, let someone else have access to certain sections of
   your Estate Vault® information - but you must give them your password before
   they can gain access to it. You also can remove access by that individual at the
   click of a button.

4. Our security protocols for the personal Estate Vault® information on our secure
   servers are as stringent as they can be. The servers are housed in the same
   location as all Federal Government (including Department of Defense) servers.
   They can be accessed only by authorized security officers who have retinal scan
   and other biometric device clearance. They are maintained and monitored
   constantly by The Estate Vault® and ISP Primus communication systems.


5. The Estate Vault’s ID Theft Insurance:

If, despite all precautions, a member of The Estate Vault® is the suffers from a case
of Identity Theft, The Estate Vault® covers the costs incurred by each of its
members in regaining their identity. The following is a general description of the
coverage; for full details please call the hotlines found on the website…

Each Member receives up to $25,000 worth of insurance coverage provided by a
member company of American International Group, Inc. This coverage will help
offset some of the cost of restoring their identity to its original status including:

   (a) Lost Wages: $500.00 per week, for 4 weeks maximum;

   (b) Re-Filing of Loans;
   (c) Defense Costs for certain Civil Law Suits; including…

       Reasonable and necessary fees and expenses incurred in Canada or the
       United States by the insured, with AIG’s consent, for an attorney appointed
       by them for…

         i.    Defending any civil suit brought against the insured by a creditor,
              collection agency or other entity acting on behalf of a creditor for non-
              payment of goods or services or default on a loan solely as a result of
              a stolen identity event ; and

        ii.    Removing any civil judgment wrongfully entered against the insured
              solely as a result of a stolen identity event.

   (d) Reimbursement of Fees: Covering payment of reasonable and necessary
       fees.


6. The Estate Vault’s Auto Credit Freeze Service:

The Estate Vault® gives you the tools that you need and automates the process of
placing a security freeze on your credit files of all 3 major credit bureaus. To place a
freeze on your credit bureau data, log into your Estate Vault and click on to the
“Freeze my Credit Bureau” button on the main dashboard page.

Why You Need a Credit Freeze Service

One of the best identity theft prevention tools is the security freeze. A security
freeze gives consumers the choice to “freeze” or lock access to their credit file
against anyone trying to open up a new account or to get new credit in their name.

Credit card companies, merchants, other businesses, and government entities do
not always adequately safeguard consumers' private financial information, making it
relatively easy for thieves to steal this data and use it to take out new credit or to
rack up charges on existing accounts.

When a security freeze is in place at all three major credit reporting agencies, a
consumer's credit report and credit score cannot be shared with potential creditors,
or other persons considering opening new accounts, unless the consumer decides
to unlock the file by contacting a consumer reporting agency and providing a PIN or
password.
Most businesses will not issue new credit or provide goods or services for later
payment to an individual without first reviewing his or her credit report or credit
score. If an individual consumer reporting file is frozen and an imposter applies for
credit in that individual's name, a creditor likely would deny the imposter's
application, preventing Identity Theft.

Under a security freeze law, people who choose to freeze access to their consumer
reporting files may temporarily lift the freeze when they want to use their own credit
files. When a consumer places the freeze, the consumer reporting agency issues a
unique PIN to the consumer that can be used to "thaw" or lift the security freeze for
a particular entity or for a designated period of time.

What does placing a security freeze mean?

If your consumer reporting file is frozen, even someone who knows your name,
date of birth and Social Security Number should be stopped from opening new
accounts in your name.

Can I apply for credit when my file is frozen?

When you want additional credit, you can open your file with a PIN or a password
and the business extending the credit will decide whether to issue the credit.

How does a U.S. state security freeze differ from a federal fraud alert?

A security freeze is a mechanism to prevent new account identity theft: it is the only
way for a consumer to limit access to his or her credit reporting file. The federal Fair
Credit Reporting Act creates two types of fraud alerts, but the only type available to
consumers who have not yet been victims of Identity Theft, called the Initial Fraud
Alert, expires after 90 days, unless renewed. This very short time makes this a poor
tool for ID theft prevention.

The Extended Fraud Alert is restricted to ID theft victims. Neither the initial nor the
extended fraud alert stops the release of the credit report or the credit score.
Instead, under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, when a fraud alert is attached
to a credit file, potential creditors must take certain steps to verify a credit
applicant's identity before extending credit. The fraud alert, however, does not
prevent the potential creditor from getting the credit report or the credit score.

A Security Freeze grants each consumer the right to prevent the credit reporting
agency from issuing his or her credit report to any applicant looking to issue new
credit or to open a new account. Unlike the Federal Fraud Alert, the Security Freeze
actually blocks access to the consumer credit report except for circumstances such
as review of existing accounts, other limited purposes, but only with the express
permission of the consumer.
Would anyone have access to a consumer's credit file if it is frozen?
Yes, the State Security Freeze laws include some necessary exemptions to the
freeze. Security freezes do not apply to any person or entity with which the
consumer has an existing account. They also do not apply to a limited number of
other parties, such as law enforcement agencies and certain governmental
agencies that need them for investigations and other statutory responsibilities.


Which states already have passed laws giving consumers the right to a
security freeze?

Thirty nine states and the District of Columbia have passed security freeze laws:
Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia,
Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New
Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, New York,
Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas,
Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

(For more information, see Consumers Union’s Guide to the Security Freeze)


Is the Security Freeze available in states that haven’t passed laws requiring
it?

As of November 1, 2007, all three major credit reporting agencies (Experian,
Equifax, and TransUnion) made the Security Freeze option available to consumers
living in the eleven states that had not passed laws requiring it.


How do I place a Security Freeze?

Detailed instructions for placing the freeze can be found in the Consumers
Union’s Guide to the Security Freeze


Does placing a Security Freeze affect my credit score?

No. Placing a freeze has no effect on your credit score.


How long does a Security Freeze last?

A freeze generally lasts until you remove it.
(The Estate Vault® would like to thank the Consumers Union Financial Services
Campaign for providing the above information on Security Freezes, which was been
updated on 10.24.07)


What can the victim of Identity Theft do in Canada?

In Canada, a Fraud Alert is valid for 6 years and provides the same kind of service
as a freeze does in the U.S.A.




Conclusion

We hope that this Briefing helps you improve your understanding of the difficult
issue of Identity Theft.

We also hope that it gives you a better understanding of the lengths that The Estate
Vault® goes to in protecting your personal information, as well as how you may go
about freezing your credit file, if you feel the need exists, without spending the
hundreds of dollars a year that other programs charge.

But, remember, the best protector of your information is you. Be aware, be
careful… and use The Estate Vault® to keep all your important data in one secure
place.

				
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