Identity Theft – The Choice is Yours, Restoration Vs Resolution or Reimbursement

Identity theft has become a national problem of enormous proportions. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), nearly 10 million people fall victims to identity theft annually, costing customers $5 billion in out-of pocket losses and businesses $48 Billion .

This rise in identity theft is presenting employers with major headaches because they are now liable for identity theft/breaches that occur in their workplace. As of January 2005 to March 2008, there has been reported to the FTC over 223 million data records of U.S. residents have been exposed due to security breaches. This information, can be viewed at PrivacyRights.org. So, all businesses, corporations, schools, financial institutions and hospitals should be concerned about Identity Theft, Identity Theft Red Flags Rule, FACTA, HIPAA, and GLB Safeguard Rules in how they will impact their organizations. If not, the organization may NOT be in compliance with the new Federal and State Laws and modified regulations.

The liability, both civil and criminal for businesses for non-compliance can result in fines up to $1,000,000 per occurrence, 10 years imprisonment for executives, removal of management and employees, and class action lawsuits with NO statutory limitation to name just a few.

There are Five Common Types of Identity Theft: Drivers License identity theft, Social Security identity theft, Medical identity theft, Character/Criminal identity theft, and Financial/Credit identity theft. But, most employers and individuals think it is just about Credit Cards fraud or theft. Criminals are stealing Non-Public Information (NPI) in all 5 areas! Just imagine your medical information file has been stolen, leading to medical bills from hospitals you NEVER visited and receive treatment. Or your social security number was stolen, resulting in the IRS department seeking payment of taxes due from businesses you NEVER owned. Or your driver license number has been stolen, resulting in the Police Department arresting you for tickets that you NEVER knew about. Or new credit accounts (mortgages, credit cards, and loans) were opened in your name, but you NEVER applied for them and now you are liable for all debts after 60 days by federal law! These are just a few of real live identity theft cases occurring throughout America. All due to identity theft and breaches! What do you think September 11, the attack on our Twin Towers in New York…identity theft.

Today, business needs to rapidly education themselves (and consumers alike) on this national problem and be open-minded to possible solutions that can implement into their organizations to become more compliant. Based on CIO Magazine, “The Coming Pandemic”, Michael Freidenberg, May 15th, 2006 reports, “When it comes to cleaning up this mess, companies on average spend 1,600 work hours per incident at a cost of $40,000 to $92,000 per victim.”

So, it is highly recommended by Atty. Kirk J. Nahra, partner with Wiley Rein & Fielding L.L.P. in Washington, D.C., leading expert in privacy and information security litigation and counseling for companies facing compliance obligations in this country, states in his “White Paper” report, that companies needs to implement a security system that is continually monitored, as well as, have a service that will handle RESTORATION and MITIGATION for it’s employees and customers. Having a service that provides FULL restoration and mitigation would help reduce liabilities and class action lawsuits against their organization.

Mike McCoy, Director of the Identity Theft Institute, international expert and co-author of “Who is You? The Coming Epidemic of Identity Theft” and the author of “The Silent Crime, What You Need to Know About Identity Theft”, states “identity theft is on the rise and the worst has not come yet.” So the best two recommendations, an institution can do to limit identity theft exposure and losses are to train employees on identity theft and to offer the best Identity Theft Protection & Restoration service to employees and/or customers. The service that he endorses, as the best voluntary benefit service for employees and/or your customers, can be viewed at CombatProtection.com.

The time is now, for all institutions in America to put a “sense of urgency” into instituting a “Culture of Security”, as stated by The Federal Trade Commission, within their establishments to help reduce and prevent identity theft in the workplace. While identity theft & breaches will never be stopped, but it can be reduced, as well as liability exposures! By implementing the proper security systems, employee training, documentation, and continual monitoring of the effectiveness of your Identity Theft Prevention Program, is a pro-active position in addressing this major crisis. Small to Mid size institutions should be especially concern, due to the enormous cost from liabilities and class-action law suits, and the impact on their business. Reducing liabilities, will be one of the keys to success for businesses today and in the future.

It is advised, for members of a Board of Directors, Presidents, and Senior Level Executives/Managers of their institutions, to consult with an attorney concerning these laws, compliance standards for their industry, and how they apply to their institution.

Documenting Legal Information Through Legal Transcription

In the world of transcribing, there may be none as important as the legal transcriptionist. Not only are they charged with the responsibility to record legal interviews for hearings, motions, pleadings, depositions, legal argument, and judgments, there are countless other topics that these transcribers must document accurately, efficiently, and without any pause.

The major reason that legal transcription is so important is because it can be used as evidence in an important case. Not only that, it can also be used for future reference for possible repeat offenders in some instances. These transcriptionists will sit for hours on end, documenting each word that is said between legal parties. While in some cases, it may be done through a recording of the legal movement; it is often times done live and without any ability to pause in typing.

Unlike other forms of transcription, legal transcriptionists often times will type on specialized transcription equipment, rather than on a computer. The major reason for this is because if the power goes out, or if there is a technical error during a court hearing, there is no way for the transcriptionist to get back any lost files, which may have actually sent a criminal to their rightful place.

While there are many freelance transcription jobs out there, legal transcription is not one of them. Legal transcription often times requires years of college education, but why? Well, with something so important on the line, there is no room for a rookie error. Typically, these people are hired after schooling and years of transcription work under their belts. However, it is possible to get them fresh out of college as well if you show potential in accuracy and speed.

If the court or company that is needing legal transcription doesn’t have an in-house transcriptionist, they will often times hire from one of the many different transcription companies housed in each state and country in the world. This is mostly because if they hire in, they do not need to pay an hourly or salaried employee when there is no work to be done in transcribing.

On the flip side of the coin, if you’re a hiring law firm or someone else who may need legal transcribing? It is quite easy to find a legal transcriptionist these days with the invention of the Internet. It seems they are a dime a dozen when you know just how and where to look.

Of course as with anything else that is for sale, whether it be time, goods, or transcribing, the prices will vary from place to place. However, just because it is affordable, won’t mean it is bad. Just like if it is extraordinarily expensive, will it be good. The most important thing to do is to look for the credentials of both the individual who will be performing the legal transcribing and the company, which employs them. Remember; protect yourself from scams, even a company with good standing in the legal world can get scammed online. Know the company that you are hiring for legal transcription!

How Bad Is the Identity Theft Problem?

Armed robberies, car jackings and break-ins are serious crimes usually committed by a limited number of people. Identity theft is in a class by itself. A single individual can launch any number of attacks at anytime from anywhere and against virtually anyone.

The stealing of a person’s confidential information is a major national and international problem. One of the best (and most recent) resources describing the scope of the problem in the United States is a “lagging” Special Report produced by the Bureau of Justice Statistics entitled, “Victims of Identity Theft, 2008”.

More than 11.7 million people were affected by ID theft in the two year reporting period covered by the Department of Justice. The most commonly crime related to a person’s confidential information was illegal purchases having been made on the existing credit card accounts of victims. One of the more surprising facts is that nearly forty percent (40%) of the illicit credit card fraud is committed by someone who is known to the victim.

More than half of the victims of identity theft suffered fraud against their accounts that totaled more than 17 billion dollars in the two-year time period covered by the BJS report. Current law and practices, fortunately, help protect consumers who detect the identity theft early and move to fight it. Doing so makes it easier to prevent additional losses.

A relatively small percentage of victims, seventeen percent (17%), actually report an identity theft crime to law enforcement. This basic fact is surprising because to assure the maximum amount of consumer protection that the law provides, an identity theft victim must file a criminal report with a law enforcement agency and an Identity Theft Complaint form with the FTC.

Twenty three percent (23%) of identity theft victims suffered out-of-pocket expenses that averaged $788.00 per victim. The damages caused to the credit ratings of victims and the time lost in unraveling the fraud are difficult to measure. The obvious stress and inconvenience are also hard to determine. The effects of an identity theft crime against a victim tend to last for a while and disrupt the victim’s life.

The majority of the fraud perpetrated against individuals (53%) was committed against existing credit card accounts. The remainder of incidents was directed against bank accounts, telephone, insurance or online fraud. Thirty percent (30%) of the victims knew the identity thief.

Among the reasons that identity theft is prevalent is that it is relatively low-risk for the criminal. The actual crime(s) may already have been committed by the time the victim discovers the fraud. Complicating matters is that only a small amount of victims report the crime to law enforcement agencies as pointed out previously. Worse yet, a number of local law enforcement agencies across the country refuse to receive a criminal report related to identity theft. Those agencies are virtual havens in which identity thieves can set up “virtual dead drops” for stolen merchandise being delivered.

The burden of preventing ID theft is basically left on the shoulders of the individual citizen and private industry. The identity thieves know it and they look for vulnerabilities and opportunities. You can help deter identity theft by being vigilant with your personal digital profile and by reporting any identity theft fraud perpetrated against you. If your local law enforcement agency refuses to allow you to file a criminal report, insist upon filing a miscellaneous crime report.

The New Identify Theft – Medical Fraud

Identity theft is a very big problem and growing larger daily. Most people are concerned about credit card theft and use of debit cards. However there is an even bigger problem; medical-related fraud.

Any type of identity theft usually ruins your credit rating and makes you liable for large bills that you didn’t create. You get caught up in a web of false information that will plague you financially and medically for years to come.

Medical theft causes even more problems. If someone steals your medial insurance cards and goes to the doctor or hospital, receives services, maybe even surgery, they have created a huge problem for you.

One: You don’t find out until later, usually when the bill gets turned over to collection agency that you own a huge hospital and/or doctor bill.

Two: Your credit report takes a devastating hit.

Three: Your medical history is now altered; this can affect future insurance premiums.

Four: Whatever procedure, or diagnosis they received are now part of your medical history.

Five: Your insurance benefits may be maxed out, meaning that when you need medical care or surgery you may find that you are uninsured.

Six: You may experience being refused insurance because of pre-existing conditions you don’t have

Seven: You may at risk for inaccurate treatments because another person’s allergies, and medications may be listed on your medical records.

How to Defend Yourself:

  • The best way to defend yourself is do take steps to prevent medical identity theft in the first place.
  • Take care of your insurance card. Guard it the same as you do your identification card, credit and debit cards
  • Examine every Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statements that you get. Verify that each doctor and test are ones that you actually received. Also since the thief may use a false address be sure to ask for a summary of your EOB’s at the end of each year.
  • Check your credit reports regularly
  • Stay away from free health fairs or screenings, if they ask for your insurance information.

What to Do If Suspect a Crime:

  • Act Fast
  • Request a copy of your medical records-even if you have to pay for them
  • Do not mention the possibility of Fraud to your doctor. If it gets put on the record that your information is mixed up with another person’s information, privacy law will come into play. This means that your records will be kept confidential, even to you.
  • If you confirm fraud tell the authorities.
  • Call 1-877-IDTHEFT to report the situation.

In summary, guard your insurance information carefully, treat Identity Theft as seriously as it is.

The Differences Between Theft and Robbery

Colloquially, robbery and theft are often referred to as if they were more or less the same thing. A robber and a thief both take things that are not theirs, and thus these words can be used interchangeably most of the time. Legally, however, robbery and theft are different crimes with very different punishments. Let’s look at these laws in more detail.

Theft

This is actually a broad term referring to any occurrence when a piece of property is taken without its owner’s permission. It is usually classified as a crime against property, along with property damage and arson. Theft is prosecuted on the state level, with a few exceptions. Because Congress has the constitutional right to control interstate commerce, which has been interpreted very broadly over the years, some acts of theft that affect the interstate economy can be tried on the federal level.

In the US, most state governments use the term larceny in their criminal code because it is more specific. The word “theft” can cover looting, robbery, mugging, shoplifting and a wide variety of other offenses. Larceny, on the other hand, refers to the very specific act of physically moving an object that belongs to someone else, without their permission, and with the intent to deprive the person of that object permanently. It does not matter if the person committing larceny intends to keep the object for their self, but it does matter if they are only temporarily borrowing the object.

Larceny can be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the total monetary value of whatever objects were stolen. In Wisconsin, for example, stealing objects or money worth up to $500 is a misdemeanor. Any amount more than that is a felony, with the class increasing with the value of the stolen property.

Robbery

Legally, this term refers to the act of taking property away from its owner through the use of violence or intimidation. Unlike theft, the owner of the property must be present as it’s being taken, or else the crime does not qualify as robbery. This crime is always a felony, although the class varies depending on the amount and type of force used.

If a person physically assaults or threatens another without using any kind of weapon in order to steal anything, this is a Class E felony, and can be punished by up to 15 years in prison. Additional years may be added if the convicted person is a repeat offender. A person who steals property while using a dangerous weapon, such as a gun, has committed a Class C felony, punishable by up to 40 years in prison. Again, more years can be added for prior convictions.

For more information about the legal distinctions between different crimes, contact Milwaukee theft defense attorneys Kohler & Hart.