Credit Reporting Agencies

September 28, 2007

Here are the Three Credit Reporting Agencies

Equifax Credit Information Services
PO Box 105873
Atlanta, GA 30348


PO Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013-2002


Trans Union
Consumer Relations Center
PO Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
800-888-4213 OR 440-779-7200

If you are an identity theft victim, use the info below to contact the fraud departments.

Equifax Credit Information Services — Consumer Fraud Div.
P.O. Box 105496
Atlanta, Georgia 30348-5496
Tel:  (888)766-0008


P.O. Box 2104
Allen, Texas 75013-2104
Tel: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)


TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance Dept.
P.O. Box 390
Springfield, PA 19064-0390
Tel: (800) 680-7289


Gap’s Stolen Laptop Affected 800,000 Job Applicants

September 28, 2007

If you applied for a job at Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic or Gap Outlet stores from the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada between July 2006 and June 2007, you’re in trouble.

Gap announced on September 28,2007 that a laptop with unencrypted information was stolen from one of its vendors that manages data for their company. I wish I knew who that as yet unnamed ‘vendor’ was. Their job is to manage data and they didn’t even encrypt it.

Personal information including social security numbers of 800,000 applicants were on that laptop. No Canadians were affected. Gap is attempting to notify everyone, but if you’ve moved, they won’t be able to find you.

Ah, but fear not because a spokesperson said they have no reason to believe the laptop was targeted because the thief wanted to steal identities. That’s neither here nor there.  All that personal info is stolen and it’s not coming back.

I think if someone is dishonest enough to steal a laptop, they wouldn’t have any qualms about selling the personal information in it. There’s a huge underground market for your identity. This thief could be raking in the dough for years.

Gap will offer those affected a year of free credit monitoring services with fraud resolution assistance. They have also created a 24-hour helpline at 1-866-237-4007.

If you or someone you know applied online or by phone, take steps now to protect your identity.


ID Theft and My Neighbor’s Mail

September 21, 2007

As I write this post, I have my neighbor’s Discover Card bill sitting on my kitchen counter. The mailman put it into my mailbox by mistake. Lucky for my neighbor that I’m not a thief because I’d have her credit card number for a month and she’d never know it.

I opened it by accident because I was just ripping into all my mail to sort it and didn’t look at the name. I always just look at the charges. When I saw a lot of stores that I’d never shopped at, I thought someone had gotten my number and was using it. I think I said a few choice words right about then.

As soon as my heartbeat slowed, I realized it had my neighbor’s name on it. There was a long list of charges. I could have easily slipped in a few of my own and if she doesn’t look closely every month, she might never notice them.

Technically, using someone else’s existing credit card number isn’t identity theft – it’s credit card fraud. That’s not as serious or difficult to fix as an actual identity theft. But it still takes you some time and effort to fix.

You’ll need to call the bank that issued your card immediately and tell them which charges aren’t yours. It’s possible that they’ll hold you responsible for the first $50 in fraudulent charges. Have them issue  you a new card number immediately. Then if you have any bills that you automatically pay with the card, like internet service, you have to contact them and give your new card number. It’s all a pain and takes time that we’d rather spend doing something else a bit more fun. Plus, a little bit of your feeling of security has been stolen from you.

This is actually the second time I’ve had a ‘run-in’ with my neighbor’s credit. The first time was about a year ago. It was garbage day. I always bring in my can and my neighbor’s. When I went out that day, there was an envelope laying in the street that had missed being dumped into the garbage truck. It was one of those pre-approved credit offers. It wasn’t even opened, just thrown out. What were the chances of it being the one piece of garbage that missed? Apparently the chances were high, because there it was all by itself – in the open – unguarded.

No matter how careful you think you are, your personal information can easily be found by identity thieves through no fault of your own. Shred all pre-approved credit offers. Carefully look at your credit card statement every month as soon as you get it. And hope your mailman doesn’t make too many mistakes….

Identity Theft – Spear Phishing – MySpace

September 11, 2007

What do Identity Theft, Spear Phishing and MySpace have in common?

Everybody’s on Myspace – it’s gotta be safe!

MySpace, Facebook and other social networking sites are great ways to share news, photos and details of your life with friends and family. We all love using these social networking sites that let us create a personal statement on the web. We collect ‘Friends‘ and because they’re our ‘Friends‘, of course we can trust them.

Identity thieves have also figured out that ‘trusting friends’ thing. It’s really easy to surf MySpace and find profiles containing lots of personal information like birthdays and addresses. Then you also write about the music you like, your favorite food, the parties you went to, your family… you know what I mean.

A thief, posing as a ‘Friend’, will send you messages and develop a relationship that feels, well, friendly. Then they’ll send messages with pictures or links to click on. Or maybe a file to download. Normally, you’d blow this off as spam if it arrived in your email inbox. But because it came from a ‘Friend’ and had personalized info about you, you click without giving it too much thought.

This is called ‘Spear Phishing’. It’s a highly targeted type of phishing attack aimed directly at you. Spear Phishers want to trick you into revealing more of your personal info like credit card numbers, login passwords or phone numbers. They know you’re more likely to let your guard down – after all, they’re your trusted ‘Friend’.

How many times have you downloaded an unknown file from another person’s profile? The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) estimates at least 83% of users do. This downloading habit is especially widespread with teens who tend to be much more trusting and think it’s socially acceptable to do. Most of the time it’s harmless. But not always.

ID Thieves throw bait in the water and wait til you’re not paying attention and bam – they nail you. Once they get your personal info, you can’t get it back. There’s no undoing it. Too bad – so sad.

Just clicking on a link can infect your computer with all kinds of malware if you don’t have up-to-date virus and spyware protection. Keystroke loggers will grab all your usernames, passwords and sites you visit.

Keep enjoying MySpace but keep your guard up.  Yes, everybody is on MySpace – even the bad guys.