How You Can Play a Part in Preventing the Worker Identity Theft Crisis

Is identity theft a real threat? What can we do in order to protect ourselves from it? Should we just watch our statements, install anti-virus software, keep our social security card locked up, and hope we don’t become a victim? When it comes to a corporation, is there a threat as well? The answer to this question is “yes”. What kind of actions can be taken in order to keep both the company and employees safe from identity theft?

The Basics of Identity Theft

Identity theft is a crime that is done by stealing another person’s personal information in order to commit fraud. This crime is obvious in the example of credit cards that are stolen and used to purchase different items. But there are other forms of identity theft such as hacking into a corporation’s network in order to steal information, using someone’s social security number in order to obtain a job, using someone’s medical insurance in order to pay for the thief’s medical bills, taking out a loan in someone else’s name and much more.

Identity theft is a serious crime that has exploded since the late 1990s. Although it remains a serious issue, the rate in which the crime has been increasing has leveled off some over the past couple of years with between nine and ten million people becoming victims per year. And corporate data theft statistics show that businesses just like personal need to have protection in place to protect the identities of their employees. Identity thieves continue to use more advanced methods of theft increasing the cost to any business that becomes a victim of this crime.

The reason that identity theft has been a rising crime over the past couple of decades is due to the age of technology. Technology is consistently advancing and with these advancements come more threats of becoming a victim of identity theft. Think of all of the different places where your personal and sometimes financial information is stored, such as with your cable and cellphone companies, along with your financial institution, and any shopping that you do online. Then think about all of the accounts that you have online, such as Google, Yahoo, PayPal, and more.

Your employer also has all of your personal information on file, including your social security number, and possibly bank information for your check to get direct deposited. All of the accounts and passwords that you have in order to get into the systems that you use at work. If your company does any outsourcing of work, the risk for information to be stolen from these networks increases.

As you continue to think about all of the uses you have for the Internet, along with all of the uses your employer has, it can be a little scary. If any of this information is stolen online or if your employer’s network is hacked and your information is taken, there are huge risks that you will have someone using your information to commit fraud in numerous ways.

Identity theft can be much more than having your credit card stolen. It can be something that turns your entire life upside down. You will months and even years of your life trying to get it under control. As soon as you fix one thing, another can pop up. If your identity is ever stolen, you will need to keep in mind that it can easily be sold over and over again making your problems a lifelong issue.

Is Disaster Just Waiting to Happen?

Recently there were three legal changes that were pretty major that caused an increase in the cost of corporate data theft.

1. Provisions have been made to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act or FACTA that imposed penalties on an employer that did not protect their employees information with the result being employee identity data being lost. The employer could pay civil fines of $1,000 for each employee with additional federal fines. Some states have higher fines as well.

2. Several court cases have also found that employers need to take extra measures in order to keep employee information safe. Courts have awarded the cost of damages to employees whose information was stolen.

3. Several states have had laws passed making it mandatory for companies to inform the consumers of data that has been lost.

The task of keeping data containing employee information secure is becoming more and more difficult. With corporations and businesses outsourcing more of their work, such as recruiting, background checks, payroll, testing, benefit programs, and even all of HR, it makes it more difficult to manage the exposure of employee information. The same goes with outsourcing IT, how are companies going to manage the data when it is being outsourced. With virtual networks and remote offices being the new trend, it makes it difficult to control the way the data flows and to ensure that configurations are standard. How can you stop someone from burning employee information to a CD while at home? All of the regulations and legislation that has been put in place makes things even more complex.

What company can say that they actually understand everything that has been put in place? The result of all of these things are more data lost, and more issues trying to keep everything secure, and more identity theft. All of this revolves around employees with HR and IT trying to keep your information safe.

The good news is that this is a problem that people are aware of and are looking for. Everyone from the owner of a company on down the chain of command are aware of the issues that can come with the theft of employee information.

The Journey Through Identity Theft

It is important for all companies and corporations to have a permanent initiative to prevent identity theft. A program needs to be set up for this purpose and there needs to be someone that manages it. The management of the program needs to be consistently completed. Examine the risks that the company faces, use leadership skills, and continue to manage the program.

Primary Objectives For Identity Theft Program

1. Do everything you can to prevent identity theft.
2. Minimize the company’s liability for identity theft.
3. Respond quickly and effectively to any incidents.

Critical Areas and Key Factors for Success in Preventing Identity Theft

* Follow the path that the processes flow along with its data. Make sure you are aware of where any personal information goes and the path it takes to get there. In order to test the efficiency of your program and safe-guards, you could hire someone to try and hack into the system to get to the personal information.

* Put restrictions in place to only allow certain people access. This will help eliminate the exposure. Treat this data as if it were your own treasure. Be sure you have unique and strong passwords, training and security agreements for employees, and access audits.

* Ensure your employees are trained on the importance of protecting this information. They should be informed that it is personal data and is not something that should be copied. Inform them of the severity of distributing or selling this data to anyone.

* Create policies that need to be followed by anyone that handles this information. This goes for any external people as well.

Minimize Your Company’s Liability

* Do everything you can think of to safeguard this personal data.

* Have controls in place to protect the data.

* Document the steps within the program and the controls that have been put in place.

* Measure the success you have had with your program.

Respond Quickly and Effectively to Any Incidents

* Clear communication that is proactive, not only to your employees but to the public after.

* Explain in the communication what had happened, that a group has been put together to work through it, a procedure to “lock-down” the data has been put in place as the situation is investigated. Also explain that any employee that was affected will be compensated and given assistance in the recovery process. Services will be put in place to monitor the situation for any affected employee.

* Everything that you state to the employees and public must be true and followed through with.

* A task force must be put in place prior to any incident. They will be responsible for putting the lock-down in place.

* Have a drafted letter of communication written in advance for quick communication.

* Make sure investigative services are qualified.

* Expert resources for assistance in recovery and monitoring services should be researched and selected prior to any incident.

* Practice incidents should be done to ensure that the response can be done quickly and effectively.

* A response to an incident should be completed within 48 hours of it happening.

A quick and effective response to an incident can be beneficial to your company and the reputation of it along with having employees that are satisfied.

Identity theft is not something that just started to happen. It began because of the way that the world is moving. Technology is growing and becoming a more important piece of everyone’s lives. With this comes the risks that thieves will use this expanding technology to steal the information they want. A company can help protect their employees by being prepared for anything, including a potential incident.

Lawyers, Investigators and the Law in NH

Lawyers are trained to litigate and negotiate. Investigators are trained to investigate.

An article by Lisa Stansky noted: “… Investigators often are more successful than lawyers at gathering information from people…”

The New Hampshire Supreme Court also recognized the value of a professional investigation in a child custody matter.

“The evidence offered regarding the plaintiff’s failure to properly supervise and attend to the children was overwhelming…a private investigator testified that when he observed the plaintiff on ten different evenings, the plaintiff left the children alone overnight on six occasions while she visited a male friend…Furthermore, the investigator’s report indicated that following the first day of the hearing, the plaintiff continued her pattern of leaving the children alone overnight.”

There are a few laws that directly apply to investigators. Most, but not all, investigators are aware of these laws, the attorney should be too.

RSA 106-f: 4

Any investigation, for a fee, requires a license in New Hampshire. The statute governing these activities is RSA 106-f: 4. It is the activity that is regulated, not the title of the provider. There are various entities performing various investigations in New Hampshire, without license. The license means, among other qualifications, that a $50,000.00 bond is on file with the State. No license = no bond= no public protection. A license is required to perform the below services:

“business of collecting for a fee, hire or reward information on the identity, conduct, movements, whereabouts, affiliations, transactions, reputation or character of any person, or otherwise doing investigative work for a private rather than a public interest.” 106-F: 4 II

INVESTIGATOR’S DUTY

The New Hampshire Supreme Court stated that investigators can be held liable for the actions of their clients, even if the action is a crime.

“Thus, if a private investigator or information broker’s (hereinafter “investigator” collectively) disclosure of information to a client creates a foreseeable risk of criminal misconduct against the third person whose information was disclosed, the investigator owes a duty to exercise reasonable care not to subject the third person to an unreasonable risk of harm. In determining whether the risk of criminal misconduct is foreseeable to an investigator, we examine two risks of information disclosure implicated by this case: stalking and identity theft.”

TELEPHONE TOLL RECORDS

Recently an out-of-State investigator was ordered to forfeit over $110, 00.00 in profit she made after obtaining telephone toll records by pretext. For a longtime this was a gray area. Recent Federal Legislation makes this illegal, but there are still services offering to do it, they just leave out the pretext part in their advertising.

SKIPTRACING AND RESEARCH

The GLB (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act) is one law that governs activities in accessing certain data sources which are used in doing backgrounds or skip tracing for law firms. A person must have a permissible purpose under the GBL to access data, like credit headers. It cannot be resold to the public.

The GLB also restricts pretexting to obtain financial information, but it does leave room for work what involves recovering funds from deadbeat dads.

DMV

Accessing DMV information is harder here than in other States. Federal Law, the Driver Privacy Protection Act, allows for access “in anticipation of litigation.” Sadly we did not follow that and RSA 260:14 is far more restrictive. Not only do you need a docket number but a letter of explanation describing what you need and why you need it. Intrusive, but it is the law.

SURVEILLANCE V. STALKING

Clandestine Surveillance is allowed under RSA 106-f. Note the statutory term “clandestine.” Theoretically, stalking should not be an issue, but it became one in the Miller V. Blackden decision. Surveillance is an exception to the stalking law, if done properly. It is not stalking provided the activity is “necessary to accomplish a legitimate purpose independent of making contact with the targeted person.” (633: 3-a)

Clearly a clandestine surveillance is protected here and this is what the Legislature intended. It is an ‘in your face’, not so clandestine, surveillance that is prohibited under certain circumstances. The burden is on the investigator to prove he or she has a lawful purpose. The attorney must be aware of this when assigning surveillance to an investigator.

The New Hampshire League of Investigators, Inc. (WWW.NHLI.NET) is working with the Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence to make sure this is adhered to and training becomes a part of the new licensing scheme for investigators.

INTERVIEWS

An investigator can contact a victim of domestic violence, if working for an attorney, if the investigator:

1. Identifies himself or herself as a representative of the defendant.
2. Acknowledges the existence of the protective order.
3. Informs the plaintiff that he or she has no obligation to speak.
4. Terminates contact with the plaintiff if the plaintiff expresses an unwillingness to talk.
5. Ensures that any personal contact with the plaintiff occurs outside of the defendant’s presence, unless the court has modified the protective order to permit such contact.” (633: 3-a).

Make sure your investigator is aware of this.

CONSUMER PROTECTION LAWS

This was applied to investigators in the Remsburg decision, specifically in the area of “any unfair or deceptive act or practice in the conduct of any trade or commerce within this state.” (RSA 358-a)

Accordingly, we conclude that an investigator who obtains a person’s work address by means of pretextual phone calling, and then sells the information, may be liable for damages under RSA chapter 358-A to the person deceived.

PRIVACY

Investigators can serve the public and still maintain people’s privacy when asked to locate former friends, army buddies, roommates and estranged family members. After obtaining the identifiers from the client, the investigator tries to locate the subject. If successful, he or she contacts that subject and asks they contact the client, stating the reason, and not revealing the person’s whereabouts to the client.

EAVESDROPPING

This is a simple issue. New Hampshire is a two-party state, thus no conversation in person or by phone can be recorded without consent of all parties. A verbal waiver should be a part of every taped interview an investigator does for you.

ABANDONDED PROPERTY SEARCHES

This is a form of data mining, done with abandoned property, also knows as Dumpster Diving. As with many other things, New Hampshire treats this differently. In State V Goss, the Supreme Court addressed the intent of the owner in protecting his trash from a search, citing that seizing it without a warrant was a Constitutional violation.

While this does not affect licensed investigators, directly, it does, indirectly, if the concept were carried over to the private sector. While trash may be off the property and abandoned, it is the intent of the owner it be destroyed, not data mined.

FCRA

Pre-employment screening is addressed here. The investigator must have a waiver from the employee, on hand and all inquiries must follow FCRA guidelines. These guidelines set other standards and procedures for the employer to follow with regarding to adverse actions and other employment related decisions.

COLLATERAL RECOVERY

It looks like any tow service can retrieve a vehicle for a bank. (RSA 367-A: 7 VIII)

(4) whereby a seller or holder of the contract, or other person acting on his behalf, is authorized to enter the buyer’s premises unlawfully, or to commit any breach of the peace in the repossession of a motor vehicle; (5) whereby the buyer waives any right of action against the seller or holder of the contract, or other person acting on his behalf, for any illegal act committed in the collection of payments under the contract or in the repossession of the motor vehicle;

They do have to notify the police within hours after doing it. (RSA262: 3-A) However to do an investigation to find the collateral, if it is not at the location specificed, does require a license. RSA 106-F: 4

ETHICS

Ethical conduct is not addressed in the current licensing scheme, thus no adverse action can be taken for unethical/unprofessional conduct. The New Hampshire League of Investigators, Inc. (WWW.NHLI.NET) is trying to change that with HB 776 which will add testing to obtain a license, compulsory Continuing Education to renew it, and a definition of ethical conduct to give the Regulatory Board and Agency (Department of Safety) some tools for enforcement; better public protection through higher standards.

REASON FOR THE ARTICLE

In order for the attorney/investigator relationship to prosper both parties need to be aware of the laws governing the investigate activity. I have been an investigator for many years and a member of The New Hampshire League of Investigators, Inc during that time. I am its Past President. Our members are kept aware of these laws, by way of our publication, our website, and our training. Sadly I still run into non-members, licensed investigators, who ask questions like: “the GLB… what’s that?” The Miller v Blackden decision is another scenario that can be avoided by knowing the law.

FIND AN INVESTIGATOR

In addition to the educational opportunities available, members of The New Hampshire League of Investigators, Inc agree, in writing, to adhere to its Code of Professional conduct. Membership in the Association is the Hallmark of the Professional Investigator in New Hampshire.

Clarifying Legal Information With Public Divorce Records

The importance of divorce records within our civil system cannot be overstated. Together with Marriage, Birth and Death, this category of records form the Vital Records group within the Public Records Offices of the respective State Departments across the nation. Conventionally, the Office of Vital Records also functions as the State repository and some of their archives hold divorce files from as early as the 1800’s. Originating county and district offices and courts generally go even further back.

Divorce decrees are a mainstay of public information these days. In line with the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act in 1966, this public amenity became mandatory and have remained such ever since. Although there are variations in laws among the various state jurisdictions governing their accessibility today, public divorce records are essentially public information throughout the country. That means any member of the public anywhere in the land will ultimately have access to them although some states are restrictive in granting their release.

Public Records come under State jurisdiction. For states which are less liberal with public divorce records, only the individuals whose names are on the records, their legal representatives and direct family members are eligible to request them. This is because of the nature of such records which inherently contain private and vital information. Under such jurisdictions, clarifying vital information with Public Divorce Records by other parties is only possible with a court order, police warrant and other official authorization or when the records are older than a certain number of years, usually 50.

Generally, the designated state central agency responsible for responding to requests from the public will issue Public Divorce Records or their copies as long as procedures are followed and requirements are met. The charges for them are usually nominal – around $13.00 per copy paid directly to the Vital Records office which is effectively more of an administrative fee rather than the cost of the records itself. County-level searches may be more suitable for some folks due to location or other technical reasons. The records at these individual agencies would be similar to those at the central repository as they are inherently the point of origin of the corresponding data there in the first place.

There are typically a number of options to request Public Divorce Records from government offices in most states namely walk-in, mail, telephone and fax. Of late, online applications are increasingly being offered also, affording a much faster retrieval process with great convenience for those whose time and bandwidth are of the essence. What’s even better is the rapid emergence of private commercial records providers on the Internet. The market is competitive so the industry standards are remarkably high and fees are very affordable. That’s why savvy folks looking to advance their romantic relationship nowadays are clarifying vital information with Public Divorce Records.

Juvenile Carjacking Laws

Although carjacking is not one of the most commonly occurring crimes, it is still considered to be a very matter. It differs from auto theft because it consists of using fear and intimidation to take a vehicle from its owner while the owner is actually present, usually in the car itself. While this crime is serious for all individuals who commit it, it is particularly so when it is performed by an individual under the age of 18.

Laws Concerning Juvenile Carjacking

Across the United States, each state has the ability to set its own laws and regulations concerning the offense of carjacking, and if they choose, the specific offense of carjacking performed by a juvenile. Typically, these laws outline various conditions and stipulations:

  • Many states consider carjacking one of the most serious non-homicide offenses that can be committed, even for juveniles
  • Many juveniles who are accused of a carjacking crime can face an adult trial
  • In the state of Florida, a juvenile convicted of carjacking in an adult trial can face a lifetime prison sentence.
  • When a juvenile is accused of carjacking, he or she can face fines, probation, and even jail time depending on the severity of the crime and the aggressiveness of the prosecution.

Because these crimes can at times be punished so severely it is important that any individual accused of committing a carjacking immediately seek legal counsel. It is important for youth to have the support of a professional experienced in juvenile trials concerning carjacking offenses.

We Think, Therefore We Commit Crimes

People think, therefore they commit actions of choice. Criminals think, therefore they commit crimes. This is not a very complicated notion, or is it a new concept. What becomes complicated are the processes and actions that follow, coupled with academic attempts to explain the subsequent acts. In very broad general terms, criminal behavior can be formatted and analyzed from the assessment of crime scene, but not to a point of perfection. Assessment, profiling or whatever you want to call it, is no more and no less just another tool for law enforcement. Just like lifting fingerprints, interviewing witnesses, or gathering other physical evidence, criminal behavior assessment is basically guesswork. Human behavior is not subject to strict codification or precise parameters by which exact measures can be deduced. Probabilities can be asserted along a continuum, whereby we can understand the thinking processes of criminals to the junction of potential prediction, but not absolute prediction. This is predicated, of course, on the assumption that certain elements exist within the known environment by which such predictions can be based. It is frequently suggested that criminals form pre-crime thoughts in an effort to individually and collectively carry out their criminal behavior intentions. Interdicting at this point in time would be unique and advantageous from a law enforcement perspective.

Motivations or personal agendas so to speak, set the stage for intentional selection for results that are either good or evil. Evil is the darkness of the human mind that fosters all manner of opposition to the positive and productive aspects of life. It is life negation in contrast to life affirmation. Conscious or subconscious thoughts take relevance and manifest themselves into real levels of expression with a significant probability of repetition. Thinking processes are the foundation of potential criminal behavior. People can be inspired by their thoughts for doing both good and evil. The pursuit of certain thoughts is grounds for criminal activity. People are a dichotomous expression of being on the one hand selfish, self-indulgent and self-centered in nature, yet also law-abiding, decent and considerate on the other. From an investigative standpoint, one can never underestimate the depravity of human beings. Human nature is not to be trusted to an absolute sense in all situations, under all varieties of conditions. Yet, everyone is still ultimately accountable and responsible for his or her actions, regardless of station or position in a given socio-economic context. Of course, some would use their status to place themselves above the lawful necessity of accountability and responsibility. And, as a result of one thinking that he or she can make choices contrary to accepted legal policy or social acceptance, criminal behavior becomes probable.

Criminal actions are probable due to personal decision-making. Such actions devolve toward personal choices associated with power and control issues. Criminals basically commit crimes because that is what they want to do. A person’s code of morality is influenced by philosophical fallacies of belief. This affects the thinking process. People basically do stupid things. The depravity of behavior is most likely unfathomable to most people. Criminals think before they act. The thoughts are there long before the event takes place. Thinking becomes the basis to rationalize the behavior and ultimately blame the behavior on someone or something else. So, crime analysis is probably more descriptive of the actions.

The formulation of criminal plans (thinking processes) begins with the thought of doing the acts upon which one desires. Plans to do harm are not sudden and impulsive. They occur over a distinct period of time in the brain, or “mind”, of the thinker. And, there is a high probability that since we are biologically oriented individual, our sexual drives and desires may influence our decision-making (choice we make) in terms of the crimes we commit and additions we create.

The thought processes emerge in some behavioral aspect, such as physically, verbally, and nonverbally, as well as symbolic behavior. Outward behavior is indicative of the inner thoughts of the person. Interpersonal communication is one of the keys to dealing with aspects of criminal behavior. People in general use various forms of communication to suggest their feelings, value system, lifestyle, attitude and thoughts. From tattoos to bumper stickers, to physical gestures and slogans, people, and in particular criminals, reveal indications of one sort or another as to their inclinations. Physical being is an expression of presence and that presence translates into wants and presumed needs. Whether by word, symbol or deed, the inner thoughts surface and become the outer actions of mind over matter so to speak. And, sometimes these outer actions become anti-social in nature. There is a deliberate desire to do the thing contemplated, whether the thoughts are short-term or long-term in transformation. Thinking is doing, acting, believing and experiencing. Various acts of criminal behavior range from the simple to the complex, depending on the linkage between thought and action, as well as the sophistication of the criminal. For instance, the amount of physical expression required for a particular act of deviance is related to the ability, skill and desire of the criminal. Opportunity is a given factor. From thought to action, the criminal is always looking for opportunistic forms of expression. Desire, opportunity and ability mix together in order that the desired action is executed. The “evil”, as a concept of human behavior, concerns the malevolent things that people do to others. It reflects the inner composition of the human being. The connectivity evolves around the compendium of crime analysis and criminal behavior assessment.

It is associated with the ideation of preemptive actions toward the outer world, while one struggles with the inner world. Whether making bombs and blowing up buildings, robbing banks and raping people, the thinking facilitates the transformation into the criminal behavior. Evil opposes life and seeks to kill or otherwise destroy life. Acting out the actions is indicative of the internal “warfare” within the imperfect structure of human nature. As such, “evil” is human nature, and reflects the various personifications and proclivities down through history. No matter what the reason or suggested excuse, aberrant behavior begins with the individuals and then extends outward into the community of people. Whether minor or major, everyone commits some act of deviance against another. Such acts may be symbolic, verbally expressive or physical in actuality. The behavior may be overt or covert depending on the individual tendencies and preferences. Evil is characteristic of the state of human beings and the nature of their ongoing quest to fulfill selfish endeavors. This means others must suffer the consequences of what criminals do. Criminal activities extend from the human passion for adverse self-indulgent needs.

The transmutation of the thought processes are continually structured around personal intentions, some evil and some good. Compulsion to action generally reflects aspects of the personality, which typically favor the inclination to leave a “signature” upon one’s behavior. As such, the various patterns of behavior are built upon a foundation of prior thought and consideration. Regardless of the socio-economic circumstances, criminals postulate their criminal intentions through their own framework of ideation. Committing acts of evil are from within the person and subsequently carried out in acts of violence, theft, cheating, and a host of deceptive behaviors.

Analysis and assessment are essential in developing crime prevention and interdiction efforts to prevent or identifying criminal actions. All human beings are potentially evil (i.e. prone to criminal behavior) and have the capacity for the commission of hideous acts of aberrant behavior. The only difference between the so called “law abiding citizen” and the criminal, is the “law abiding citizen” controls their criminal inclination. When we so often speak of “what a nice person he was”, or “she wouldn’t hurt anyone”, how do we really know? What scale of perception do we use to assess the inner workings of person’s mind, which we can see or measure by normal means. How do we really know who a person is by looking from the outside?

Since there are at least two versions of every person’s personality and behavior extensions, one private and one public, what do we really know about the people? For that matter, it is even more complex to suggest we know something about people we don’t know. Analysis, study and assessment are essential in laying the foundation for more definitive answers. Crime prevention through proactive intervention strategies is the main objective of this focus. By attempting to identify the basic ingredients in criminal activity and behavior, the mission is to interdict where possible, as well as identify and apprehend the criminal to every extent feasible. Law enforcement personnel want to stop the criminal before he or she commits the crime. If that fails, then the law enforcement practitioners want to solve the case in the most expedient manner possible.

Listening to convicted criminals serving time in facilities may not be the most efficient way to go about developing proactive strategies for crime prevention purposes. In most cases, criminals will tell you whatever you want to hear in order to satisfy their self-serving needs. For this reason, criminal behavior studies may be significantly flawed due to the deception and manipulation that most criminals act out on a regular basis. And, given the gullible and often na├»ve nature of many researchers, the problem of data reliability is even more seriously affected. One must ponder the overall validity of information obtained from people who spend their lives deceiving others, making up their own rules and scapegoating at every opportunity. Self-serving, clever and deceptive, criminals will seek to justify every aspect of their behavior. Their actions will be rationalized to the extent necessary to shift focus from them to someone else. Criminals are very good at transferring blame from themselves to something or someone else. They typically will assert that they are the victims and the real victim is actually the cause of the criminal’s suffering. Their thinking processes should be of more interest than their environment, personal history or socio-economic surroundings.