Friday, July 29, 2005

Free Credit Reports Might Not be Free

Do an internet search for free credit reports and it will be hard to find a site that isn't trying to sell you something besides a free credit report. Imposter Web domains are out there, where the specific intent is to use free credit reporting as a lure to sell you something and or obtain your information.

The official website for a free credit report is

The World Privacy Forum found that at least 233 imposter domains have been registered using variations of this domain name. They identified 122 of them as active and on-line. The imposter websites will change their domain name, ever so slightly, in order to misdirect people. Several of these sites were identified as selling personal information to businesses, such as mortgage lenders, or car dealers.

I would imagine, the most extreme danger is being misdirected to a site where information is being pharmed. Pharming entails using fake websites, designed to look legitimate, where personal information is stolen and used in identity theft.

The World Privacy Forum has published some Updated Consumer Tips:

"-When phoning the toll free number (877-322-8228) for a free credit report, ask that only the last four digits of your SSN be displayed when it is sent to you.
-If you use the toll free number above to access your free credit report, be aware that if you have a strong accent or a complex last name, the automated phone system may not work.
-If you call for your report or have it mailed to you, ensure that your credit report is mailed to a secure mailbox.
-Know that you are not required to give out your email address in order to obtain a federally mandated free credit report.
-If you order a free annual credit report online, take basic computer safety precautions. For example, ensure that your computer is virus-free and don't order your reports from a public computer or from work.
-If you do choose to go online to to access your free credit report, be absolutely certain that you have not mistyped in the address. If you see pop-up ads, or if you notice that the site is not a secure site, close your browser and start over. (Secure sites will have a padlock logo in the corner, and the address will read https:// instead of just http://). Please note, though, that some clever imposter sites are providing https:// secure site access, so just a padlock alone is not a guarantee that you are on the right site."

For more information from the World Privacy Forum, click on the title.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Internet Resume Posting and Fraud

Identity thieves are turning to job sites to steal personal information. Criminals are also recruiting people into getting involved in scams on these sites. Recently, I did a post on criminals who recruit people to ship merchandise and set up accounts to transfer funds (normally overseas). When this happens -- the person who is involved in this can be financially liable and even worse -- they might face criminal prosecution.

Besides the recruitment of people to do scams, resumes often provide the right information to steal identities. If they do not have quite enough information to do this -- they merely obtain the rest in the fake hiring process by getting the applicant to submit pertinent information -- such as their social security number.

Here is the recent post on work at home scams.

Besides shipping scams, people are also solicited on job sites to work in various financial type jobs. In this variation of the scam, they are tricked into transferring (laundering) funds obtained through fraudulent means. Since this is normally done through one of their own accounts they expose their personal financial resources, which are often promptly stolen, also.

According to the World Privacy Forum, this activity has been increasing recently: