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  • 5 Things Identity Thieves Don’t Want You to Know

    Identity Theft 

    Identity thieves don’t want you to read this article. They’ve made an entire industry out of living off of other peoples’ good names. And when you know their typical tricks, stealing your identity is much harder. Unfortunately, not enough people know what puts their identities at risk for theft. And that has helped keep identity theft the No. 1 consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission for 15 years running. Do you like the idea of thieves […]

  • social media hack

    Fraudsters harvest data from social media to target grandparents

    Personal Finance 

    The harvesting of personal details blithely posted on social media sites continues. Some of the parties doing this harvesting have criminal intent. One manifested outcome is a rash of scams targeting grandparents. This is yet another example of how the obliteration of privacy—which underpins the business models of Google, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat— has proven to be a boon for scammers. Fraud investigators at IDT911, which sponsors ThirdCertainty, are helping victims recover from a rash […]

  • Does Your State’s Unclaimed Funds Expose Too Much Private Information?

    Column Government Blog Identity Theft 

    When it comes to privacy, not all states are alike. This was confirmed yet again last week in the 50 State Compendium of Unclaimed Property Practices we compiled. The compendium ranks the amount of personal data state treasuries expose during the process by which individuals can claim and collect unclaimed funds. The data exposed can provide fraudsters with a crime exacta: claiming money that no one will ever miss and gathering various nuggets of personal […]

  • Can Search Engines Stop Student Loan Scammers?

    Consumer Protection Personal Finance 

    If you’ve checked your spam folder recently, you know that offers of student loan debt relief have exploded right along with the student loan debt problem. You probably know it’s a bad idea to answer spam in a quest to lower your loan payments, but you might be more inclined to answer an advertisement you see on a major search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing. If you do, you’ll likely get a bad deal, […]

  • 4 Important Things You Need to Know About Social Security

    Financial Literacy Personal Finance 

    Retirement sounds exciting, but it can actually be a difficult landscape to understand and navigate. A retirement calculator can help guide your savings goals, both with a total target you are trying to hit and a monthly amount to include in your budget. But figuring out how much you can expect to get in Social Security benefits can be a little more difficult. (You can get a personalized estimate from the Social Security Administration here.) For […]

  • The State Compendium of Unclaimed Property Practices

    Financial Literacy Personal Finance 

    You may already know that every state has an unclaimed funds website that aims to reunite unclaimed property with the rightful owners. However, in the endeavor to provide consumers with as much information as possible, that information is also often easily viewable by potential identity thieves. The State Compendium of Unclaimed Property Practices ranks every state (and D.C.) according to how much specific information about a person is provided online without user verification. The standard […]

  • ransomware

    Is Your State Helping Scammers Rip You Off?

    Column Government Blog Identity Theft 

    As cybercriminals become more skilled, the privacy practices at many organizations have not kept apace. In the State Compendium of Unclaimed Property Practices that I’ve compiled, I found this to be the case at many state treasuries where the data exposed provides fraudsters with a crime exacta: claiming money that no one will ever miss and gathering various nuggets of personal data that can help facilitate other types of identity theft. First, you have to […]

  • Tax return

    The IRS Is Beefing Up Security. Will Your Taxes Be Affected?

    Personal Finance 

    In the past several years, millions of U.S. taxpayers have experienced the frustration of attempting to file their taxes, only to find that someone beat them to it: Tax-related identity theft is a common crime, in which people use stolen information (mostly Social Security numbers) to fraudulently obtain tax refunds. Then, when the rightful owner of that Social Security number attempts to file taxes, the IRS flags the return as a duplicate, and consumers end […]

  • Debt Collector Left Consumers Hanging on Medical Bill Disputes, Says CFPB

    Financial Literacy health care 

    A debt collector with ties to one of the nation’s largest private hospital chains spent yearsviolating basic provisions of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, federal regulators say. Consumers who dispute a debt are entitled to a response within 30 days, according to federal law. Medical debt collector Syndicated Office Systems took, on average, more than 90 days to respond to disputes, and in some cases, took more than […]

  • Student loan

    Private Student Loan Co-Signers Rarely Let Off the Hook, CFPB Finds

    Personal Finance 

    The CFPB also warned parents about other provisions of private student loans. Some lenders have a list of criteria that permanently bars co-signers from release, such as any request for loan forbearance. Meanwhile, many agreements call for “auto-default” if the co-signer dies or declares bankruptcy, meaning the student is required to repay the loan in full immediately. “Parents and grandparents put their financial futures on the line by co-signing private student loans to help family […]

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