Unsecure Private Databases Out To Sell YOUR Information!

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Unsecure Private Databases Out To Sell YOUR Information!

Post by Hipster on Sun Aug 19, 2012 8:06 pm

By Tim Dees


Keep your personal information out of online databases


The problem of keeping your private information private has been aggravated recently by the hacking of law enforcement networks



This Article was written for Police Officer but it offers tips to the private citizen who want to "fly under the radar". You may be a lawful citizen and not running or hiding from anything, but you should fear criminals and foreign interests out to steal and illegally use your information.

Here are some good tips not offered in Tim's Article:

  • Use a Private Mailbox Service or a friends address who does not know were you physically live instead of a US Postal Mailbox.
  • Refuse to have your credit pulled except by banks for a mortgage.
  • Refuse background checks that are not done by a Law Enforcement entity.
  • Do not give personal info to Ebay, Paypal, Linkedin, Facebook or ANY online service. Use false info for everything EXCEPT when dealing with banks, the Police of the Government.
  • Get a pre-paid phone and dump the phone tied to an account. Do NOT register your pre-paid phone or use fake info. Page Plus for $39.95 unlimited is the best. Do not have a home phone. http://www.pagepluscellular.com/Plans.aspx
  • Register your Internet and or cable under a business name and get a tax number to use instead of your SS# to do so.
  • Do not fill out "entry forms" at the mall etc. They are designed to get your information
  • Use an unregistered pre-paid Visa card for on-line purchases.
  • WHATEVER you do don't use your real information when registering with or creating your Facebook page or similar sites!
ARTICLE:

With good reason, cops have always been careful about keeping their
personal lives separate from their professional lives. Conventional
wisdom says that a cop should get his mail at a post office box to keep
his physical home address confidential, maintain an unpublished
telephone listing, and take advantage of the system some state motor
vehicle bureaus have where they will hide the address associated with an
officer’s personal vehicle and driver’s license in a routine inquiry.
These are all sound practices, but they’re less effective than was the
case in my day, before the proliferation of online data mining services.

Data mining services probe the extensive network of online
databases and gather information they then sell to third parties. Unless
you go to Unabomber-level “off the grid” measures, there is no
practical way to keep your information away from these services. We’ve
all got some combination of driver’s licenses, vehicles, real estate,
credit card accounts, marriage and birth records, etc. out there, and
the companies that hold this information can often increase their
profits by selling it.
Even before my first law enforcement job, I
was careful to keep my physical address and phone out of the public
eye, or so I thought. Until recently, my landline telephone service was
through my cable TV provider, and I paid extra each month for an
unpublished listing. Imagine my reaction when I got a letter from them
advising that they had “unintentionally” included my phone number in a
listing of published numbers they sold to a phone directory company.
Worse yet, although my bills came to a post office box, the address
associated with the number they told everyone about was my physical
address, where I got my service. They changed the phone number for free,
but they declined to buy my house and move me to another one.
I’ve talked before about the importance of creating strong passwords and watching what information you make available to social networks like Facebook. You can also take steps to limit what information is available through data mining vendors like Zabasearch and PeopleFinders.

Do a search for your name on any data mining service you can locate and
request the service remove your information from their database. Most
will comply. There is a list of the major players in this industry, with
instructions on how to request exclusion from their listings, here.
• Contact the Direct Marketing Association
and file a request to be removed from the lists their members maintain
and sell. You can select the type(s) of lists you want to target, e.g.
magazine subscriptions, credit card offers, etc.
• Consider
subscribing to a privacy service that actively monitors the internet and
files information removal requests on your behalf. DeleteMe is one of these, although I haven’t tried it and have no way of knowing how effective they are.
• Obtain a phone number from Google Voice
and link it to your other phone numbers (home, office, cell, etc.)
selectively. The service is free, the numbers aren’t associated with
your name, and you can set it to ring all your phones at the same time,
or place a “Do Not Disturb” on them during hours you choose. Give out
the Google Voice number instead of your personal phone number.
• Register your phone numbers with the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Registry, or call (888) 382-1222 from the phone(s) you want excluded.

Have your mail sent to a post office box—one at a real post office, not
a private vendor. The Postal Service has rules about what information
they will give out and who they will give it to. The private services
make it up as they go along.
While it’s unusual for bad guys to
hunt down officers at their homes to terrorize them or their families,
it’s not unknown. Don’t make it easy for someone to do so.

About the author
Tim Dees is a writer, editor, trainer, and former law enforcement
officer. After 15 years as a police officer with the Reno Police
Department and elsewhere in Northern Nevada, Tim taught criminal justice
as a full-time professor and instructor at colleges in Wisconsin, West
Virginia, Georgia, and Oregon. He was also a regional training
coordinator for the Oregon Dept. of Public Safety Standards &
Training, providing in-service training to 65 criminal justice agencies
in central and eastern Oregon.
Tim has written more than 300 articles for nearly every national law
enforcement publication in the United States. In 2005, Tim became the
first editor-in-chief for Officer.com, moving to the same position for
LawOfficer.com at the beginning of 2008. He now writes on applications
of technology in law enforcement from his home in SE Washington state.

Big Brother is watching

Companies compile tons of personal information on you. Here’s what they have, how they use it, and why you should know. WARNING: I do not agree with requesting free information about yourself from these organizations EXCEPT Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. If they don;t have your information, they will when you fill out the information request form. Don't worry about what they do have, just don't ever give them anything more!!!

Your
personal information—everything from your shopping habits to your
health history—can be available to creditors, employers,
landlords, insurers, law enforcement
agencies, and, of course, criminals. All they need to do is tap into the
public and private
databases that gather, buy, and sell your
vital statistics.

Demand
for your personal information has exploded in recent years. Its
availability has also raised privacy concerns. When
users buy and compile various pieces of
information about you, “they can paint a very complete picture of your
activities,”
says Paul Stephens, director of policy and
advocacy at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit consumer
advocacy group.

Whether
the data are accurate or not, misinterpretations can lead to higher
costs for credit and insurance, or the denial
of a job. They can also prevent you from
renting an apartment or opening a checking account, and even from
returning unwanted
merchandise to stores. Here’s what Big
Brother has on you.

1. Your credit history

Credit reports are compiled by the big three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Each has some 200 million
files, which help form the credit scores used to measure your creditworthiness.

What’s here?

Almost
everything about your use of credit, including amounts borrowed, credit
lines, opened and closed accounts, application
inquiries, and how well you’ve honored your
obligations on mortgages, credit cards, car loans, and other types of
credit.
Bankruptcies, foreclosures, liens, and
collections are also here. Public record information like court
judgments might also
appear. Other basics include your Social
Security number, date of birth, and past addresses.

How is the information used?

The
federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows companies to buy your
credit information if they are considering transactions
with you related to credit, employment,
insurance, investing, government licensing, or other “legitimate
business need.” The
purpose, in general, is to assess your past
financial responsibility, but insurance companies have stretched that to
include
predicting the likelihood that you will file
an insurance claim, based on confidential credit-based scoring models.

Your rights

Under
the FCRA, you’re entitled to a free credit report from the big three
credit bureaus annually and to dispute errors.
To maintain oversight of your credit reports,
get one from each credit bureau every four months, rotating from one
bureau
to the next. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com, the authorized site for obtaining your free reports, or call 877-322-8228.

Federal
regulations limit the time that negative information can stay on your
report (seven to 10 years) and let you opt out
of receiving preapproved credit offers.
Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring
credit bureaus
to allow consumers to put a security freeze
on their credit files, which blocks access to prospective creditors and
others
with whom you don’t already do business.

2. Your insurance claims

Reports
offered by ChoicePoint, a data broker in Georgia, are based on claims
information reported by insurers to the Comprehensive
Loss Underwriting Exchange. A-PLUS reports,
sold by the Insurance Services Office in Jersey City, N.J., are based on
information
reported by over 1,400 insurers to the
Automobile- Property Loss Underwriting Service.

What’s here?

Both
companies’ reports reveal information about you and your automobile and
homeowners insurance loss claims filed with reporting
carriers over the past three to seven years.

How is the information used?

Insurance
companies use your claims history to assess how much of a risk you are,
which can affect premiums or coverage eligibility.
They can also use the claims history of a
given property to determine how much of a risk that home presents.
ChoicePoint promotes
its CLUE reports to home buyers and sellers,
warning that a home’s past can “come back to haunt you in the form of
higher
premiums for your homeowners insurance.”

Your rights

Since ChoicePoint and ISO are “consumer reporting agencies,” as defined by FCRA, you’re entitled to one free report a year.
In some reports, negative information will remain for up to seven years. Go to www.choicetrust.com for information on how to obtain a CLUE report. If you’re considering buying a home, ask the seller to obtain the property’s
loss-history report for you. To order your A-PLUS report, call 800-627-3487.

3. Your health history

The
MIB consumer file database is maintained by the MIB Group, a consortium
of 470 U.S. and Canadian companies that sell life,
health, disability income, critical illness,
and long-term-care insurance. Two other companies, Milliman and Ingenix,
compile
your prescription drug history from databases
maintained by pharmacy chains and prescription benefit managers, and
sell IntelliScript
and MedPoint reports to insurers.

What’s here?

Information
significant to your health or longevity is reported to the MIB database
in coded form. It includes medical conditions
that you reported on insurance applications
for individual (not group) coverage, and test results from medical
underwriting
exams. Potentially hazardous hobbies and
driving records may also be there. Your actual medical records are not
reported.
The IntelliScript and Med Point reports
contain information about the prescription drugs you’ve used over the
last five years,
including dosages, refills, and doctors.

How is the information used?

When
you apply for individual life, health, and similar coverage, you may
sign a waiver that lets a prospective insurer check
your MIB report and IntelliScript or MedPoint
reports to see if you’ve omitted significant information. Insurers use
the information
to determine your risk class, set premiums,
and decide whether or not to insure you.

Your rights

The reports fall under the FCRA protections. To get a free copy of your reports, call MIB at 866-692-6901; IntelliScript at
877-211-4816; and MedPoint at 888-206-0335.

4. Your checking accounts

Chex
Systems provides information on mishandled checking and saving
accounts, a service used by about 80 percent of U.S. banks.
TeleCheck assesses the risk of accepting
paper checks at 350,000 retailers, financial institutions, grocery
stores, and other
outlets.

What’s here?

Chex
Systems and TeleCheck collect information on mishandled checking
accounts, such as overdrawn accounts closed by you or
your bank. The reports can include your
driver’s license number, unpaid amounts, and who was stiffed. The
reporting company
is not required to remove information unless
it’s incorrect, but it does have to report any payback. Negative
information
can stay on your report for five years at
Chex Systems and seven years at TeleCheck.

How is the information used?

Banks can check mishandling data to decide whether to open a new account for you. Retailers can use TeleCheck to assess the
risk of accepting your checks.

Your rights

Both are subject to FCRA requirements. To get a free copy of your Chex Systems report, go to www.consumerdebit.com and click on “Order Consumer Report.” To obtain your free TeleCheck report, go to http://www.firstdata.com/en_us/customer-center/find-product-support and click on “TeleCheck Consumer Assistance.”

5. Your background

ChoicePoint is one of the more prominent background-check companies. LexisNexis, which owns ChoicePoint, also provides Person
Reports.

What’s here?

ChoicePoint’s
reports include a smorgasbord of dirt: auto and homeowner CLUE reports;
pre-employment background checks; an
“Esteem” report if you ever admitted to or
were convicted of shoplifting; results of a national criminal records
search; evictions;
and public-records search results. Person
Reports include nonpublic and publicly available information.

How is the information used?

Employers, landlords, insurers, governments, and volunteer organizations use background checks to measure the reputation and
character of applicants.

Your rights

Also subject to FCRA requirements. To get a free copy of your file, go to www.choicepoint.com and, under Reports About You, click on “Access to Your Personal Information.” For information on LexisNexis Person reports,
go to www.lexisnexis.com/privacy/for-consumers/request-personal-information.aspx.

6. Your purchase returns

The
Retail Equation maintains information on merchandise returns made to an
undisclosed number of national retailers. Before
customers are allowed to return goods,
participating stores ask to run their driver’s licenses through a reader
to check their
return history.

What’s here?

It can include a record of your past returns at participating stores, the purchase prices, and whether or not you had receipts.

How is the information used?

Retailers
are on the lookout for certain fraudulent and abusive practices, which
include returning shoplifted merchandise,
“renting” (buying, say, a video camera to use
temporarily for a wedding before returning it), and “wardrobing”
(buying a dress,
then returning it after wearing it). If your
pattern of returns at a particular store raises red flags, you might not
be able
to get your money back the next time you try.

Your rights

The FCRA does not cover this. But Retail Equation will send you a copy of your return activity report on request. Go to www.theretailequation.com/consumers/ for more information.

7. Your rental history

First
Advantage SafeRent maintains a landlord-tenant database of 34 million
records and a subprime payment history database
of 40 million records to screen prospective
renters. A smaller company, RentBureau, includes nearly 6 million
records nationwide.

What’s here?

Rent-payment history, references, credit ratings, criminal records, and scores designed to predict an applicant’s risk of
defaulting on a lease.

How is the information used?

Landlords
who operate multifamily apartment complexes use the information to
screen tenants and reduce losses that result
when tenants skip out without paying, write
bad checks, require an eviction, or cause significant property damage.

Your rights

They are the same as with the other consumer reporting agencies covered by FCRA. For information on First Advantage SafeRent,
go to www.fadvsaferent.com/consumer_relations/index.php or call 800-815-8664. For more on RentBureau, go to www.rentbureau.com and click on “For Consumers.”

8. Mailing lists

This is the Wild West of databases. Two major players are USADATA, which has delivered more than a billion names to over 100,000
companies, and InfoUSA, whose databases contain 210 million consumers.

What’s here?

The
primary information sold is your name and address. But the real value
for buyers comes from prescreening the names by
certain characteristics—for example, people
known to be affluent, homeowners, mail-order buyers, investors, people
who have
specific diseases or are disabled, new
parents, older people, donors/contributors, and so on. Some companies
develop lists
of people who have fallen for get-rich-quick
scams or investment frauds.

How is the information used?

The lists allow salespeople to focus on consumers who are more likely to buy their products.

Your rights

You can opt out of receiving junk mail. See the box below for advice on how to do that.

How to protect yourself

Don’t ignore privacy-rights notices
from banks, brokers, and other financial companies. Use them to exercise
your right under
federal law to prevent those companies
from “sharing” (translation: “selling”) some of your information with
others. Do the
same when asked by retailers and Web
sites.

Don’t fill out surveys on warranty cards beyond your name, address, and the necessary product information.

Stop unsolicited preapproved credit card offers at www.optoutprescreen.com, or call 888-567-8688.

Put your name on the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call registry by going to www.donotcall.gov or calling 888-382-1222.

When you move, stay out of the U.S.
Postal Service’s National Change of Address database. Paul Stephens,
director of policy
and advocacy at the Privacy Rights
Clearinghouse, advises that you file a temporary change, good for six
months, which won’t
be entered into the database. During
that time, tell everyone who needs to know your new address.
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