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  • The Solution to Tax Identity Theft: Slower RefundsColumn, Blog

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    The Government Accountability Office estimates that $5.8 billion was lost to identity thieves filing fraudulent tax returns in 2013 and that there may have been as much as $24.2 billion in thwarted attempts. Tax identity theft losses are estimated to reach $21 billion by 2016, according to the Treasury Inspector General Tax Administration. While the massive loss chronicled in the GAO report was big news (for a nanosecond anyway) the GAO’s recommendations for stemming the […]

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    What We Could Have Done With the $5.8 Billion the Government Lost to Tax ID TheftColumn, Government, Blog, Identity Theft

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    Imagine you were President, or Speaker of the House, and one day you woke up and discovered that you had an extra $5.8 billion dollars to spend. What would you do with the cash? A new aircraft carrier (or half of one, anyway)? Perhaps a couple of bridges to somewhere or a new highway? A quaint premise, indeed, but not as far-fetched as you might think, considering the amount of money American taxpayers have been […]

  • Was This Billion-Dollar Bank Heist Preventable?Column, Data Security, Blog

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    A funny thing happened on the way to the ATM (and depending on who you believe, may still be happening). Scratch that. For the lucky few at the right place at the right time, an awesome thing has been happening: ATMs randomly coughing up cash—and a lot of it. Like an international lottery, the phenomenon has occurred in more than 30 countries, leading to potentially as much as $1 billion in stolen funds. At first […]

  • Are You Your Own Worst Enemy When It Comes to Identity Theft?Column, Data Security, Blog

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    The other day a reporter asked me who’s to blame for the growing epidemic of identity-related tax fraud. I almost replied, “the government and the bad guys,” but I caught myself before committing to that inaccuracy. “We’re all to blame,” I said. I believe that breaches, and the identity theft that flows from them, have become the third certainty in life, right behind death and taxes. While it may seem like hyperbole, more than 1 […]

  • Your Anonymous Credit Card Data Isn’t So AnonymousColumn, Data Security, Blog

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    A recent report in Science Magazine revealed the soft underbelly of what was once considered a well-armored use of “anonymized” consumer information. The study’s authors were able to successfully identify consumers based on several anonymized data sets—specifically, their credit card purchases. Using purchase metadata with no credit card numbers, names or any other simple identifiers, the report’s co-authors found they could track a specific person’s purchases using three factors: a receipt, an Instagram and a […]

  • The Simple Email Trick that Identity Thieves HateColumn, Blog, Identity Theft

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    “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity,” Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed in The Facebook Effect. Easy for him to say. Facebook has made a mint on data integrity—your personal information yoked to likes and dislikes sold to the highest bidder. But here’s some bad news for Zuck: When it comes to navigating a world filled with identity thieves, it pays to lack data integrity. There are more than a billion […]

  • How Banks Want to Change Mobile Privacy LawsColumn, Banking, Blog

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    According to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, it’s illegal to robocall a mobile phone number without permission. The American Bankers Association wants to change that, arguing that robocalls will help fight identity theft and other kinds of fraud. Opponents say that’s an overreach, one that will erode an important consumer protection. “Gee, I can’t talk right now. Why don’t you give me your home number and I’ll call you later.” That’s how Jerry Seinfeld memorably […]

  • Obama’s Cybersecurity Plan: Do As I Say, Not As I DoColumn, Data Security, Blog

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    “If we’re going to be connected, then we need to be protected,” President Obama proclaimed at the Federal Trade Commission on Monday. In wide-ranging remarks, the president expressed what should be a self-evident truth, but is not yet a reality in the new digital age: “As Americans, we shouldn’t have to forfeit our basic privacy when we go online to do our business.” He is dead right. But having spent the past decade focusing on […]

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    It’s Tax Season. Do You Know Where Your Mail Is?Column, Data Security, Blog

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    During the holiday season a missed or stolen package can be aggravating, which is doubtless why you eagerly watched for deliveries all December, calling the nanosecond you suspected a problem. Unfortunately, many employers don’t send tracking numbers when the packet of vital documents marked “Important Tax Information Enclosed” hits the mail destined for your home address. We receive some of the most sensitive, potentially damaging mail deliveries of the year during these post-holiday months, and […]

  • How the Sony Hack Is Changing the Way I WorkTechnology

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      If the past two years have revealed anything, it’s that every conceivable mode of communication comes with its share of serious privacy and security issues. Email can be hijacked, mail servers can be breached and malware can turn your smartphone into a peepshow. Wikileaks revealed that even our phone conversations are at risk. That said, don’t panic! It’s highly unlikely anyone is listening to your phone calls. (OK, it’s possible, but you’d have to […]

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