Secure Document Shredding is More Than Just Best Practice, It’s the Law

Identity theft, the nation’s fastest growing crime, occurs when someone uses your personal identifying information, like your name, social security number, or credit card number without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. Approximately ten million Americans had their identity stolen in 2008. Proper document shredding is one of the easiest ways to help prevent identity theft. While it used to be best practice, it’s now the law due to growing identity theft crime stats.

According to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) 2008 complaint data, six forms of identity theft are most common. These include:
o Credit card fraud (20%), where someone acquires your credit card number and uses it to make a purchase;

o Government fraud (15%), which includes tax, social security and driver license fraud;

o Employment fraud (15%) occurs when someone without a valid social security number borrows someone else’s to obtain a job;

o Utilities fraud (13%) occurs when utilities are opened using the name of a child or someone who does not live at the residence;

o Bank fraud (11%), which includes check theft, changing the amount on a check and ATM pass code theft; and

o Loan fraud (4%), when someone applies for a loan in your name.

Every day printed, confidential and personal information is produced and passed on to businesses and strangers. Identity theft continues to rise every year while governments and regulators around the globe continue to introduce legislation to help protect businesses and individuals. Some of the legal efforts to make identity theft more difficult include:

Health Insurance Portability and Accessibility Act (HIPAA) puts very strict guidelines on the healthcare industry to protect sensitive patient information. Failure to comply with HIPAA results in heavy fines and potential loss of business.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) includes provisions to protect consumers’ personal financial information held by financial institutions, which comprises banks, securities firms, insurance companies, and companies providing other types of financial services and products to consumers. The GLBA requires banks to develop privacy notices and provide customers with the option of prohibiting the sharing of their confidential information with outside third parties. On July 1, 2001, the GLBA was amended with the requirement that financial institutions must have a comprehensive, written information security program which includes the proper destruction of
documents.

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) mandates that businesses properly dispose of documents containing consumer information. Businesses are required to take measures to destroy all consumer reports to the point that they will not be reconstructed or reread. Noncompliance of FACTA may result in fines, class action lawsuits and federal and state legal enforcement actions for violation of the law.

In recent years, most states enacted identity theft protection acts as well, which criminalize identity theft and impose obligations on businesses to protect the privacy of consumers’ information.

Federal and state regulations help to ensure consumer and business protection. Proper document shredding is a crucial step in abiding by these laws. Shredding and destroying information on paper used to be considered a best practice. Now it’s the law. Secure document shredding helps prevent identity theft and protects the integrity and liability of your business – saving business’ time, money and their reputation.

Theft Case – How to Get a Lawyer to Help You?

Theft is nothing but taking possession of others property without asking for it. Theft is one offense which is never taken lightly by any country’s law. The consequence of theft has always been harsh punishment by law. Same is the case when it comes to theft in Flagstaff, North Arizona. But neither do any of the Flagstaff lawyers take the offense of theft lightly. Flagstaff attorneys make sure that proper counsel is given to the accused so that the punishment fits the crime.

Sometimes it is thought by the offender that when the accused is caught red handed while committing theft, there is no escape to it and hence there is no need of any defense. The accused will most probably accept the crime thinking that he will get away with a minor punishment which is a thing which will have bad circumstances.

A theft and its penalties vary. No two kinds of thefts have the same type of punishment and this is a well know fact to the Flagstaff attorneys. For a minor theft charge one should not fall victim to the brutal law when Flagstaff lawyers take up the work. If you have been charged with an offense of theft then probably it can be of a few dollars, but chances are that there are multiple charges are levied upon you only to put you into more trouble. Practically thinking, this can ruin your life. So, it is better not to take any risk in the process.

The best and the only alternative to get minimal punishment which fits the crime is to consult Flagstaff lawyers as early as possible before it gets too late. Like if you have logged on to your friend’s computer without asking his permission, you probably do not want to be caught for identity stealing. In the eye of the law, a theft is a theft, and the law does not know anything about your friend or the theft is minor or major. A Flagstaff lawyer’s expertise lies in knowing the events surrounding the theft and the value of the theft so that the punishment is minimal and it suits the offense.

What the Prosecutors often forget, the Flagstaff lawyers uncover and hence the Flagstaff attorneys always help their clients by satisfying them when they need them. All the facts, figures and truth is presented before the court on behalf of the client and the primary goal of the Flagstaff attorney is to satisfy their clients.

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.