Hiring practices risk your personal information

The warnings are posted almost everywhere today. Over the past few years, identity theft crimes have increased so much that Wisconsin created the Office of Privacy Protection within the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

I posted Glen’s personal blog on my site before and mentioned the great work he’s done. He also keeps video of work-related material here. He recently posted a news video about a woman who was the victim of identity theft because a company did not conduct a proper background check. As a result, one of its employees used the victim’s personal information to apply for credit cards in the victim’s name.

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Jury duty scam may be headed to Wisconsin

I received this from Glen Loyd at work today, and I also found an article online from a local television station:

Minnesota court officials are warning that scammers posing as court employees are using threats to get information for identify theft and fraud.

The caller says the citizen evaded jury duty and threatens to issue a warrant.

This scam has been used elsewhere in the country to get Social Security and credit card numbers and employer information.

Courts do not call citizens seeking personal information. Jury summonses are sent by mail.

The best way to handle these calls is to hang up.

For more information, call the toll free hotline of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: 1-800-422-7128.

WMTV Channel 15 article: Jury Scam

Lottery mail scam

I received a letter in the mail yesterday from Spain. Some organization selected me to share $615,000 with 17 other people. All I had to do was provide my personal information (name, address, date of birth, bank account information, etc.) to start receiving my payments. Of course, I didn’t get off the boat yesterday… seeing how I work for the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, I walked the letter down to the Division of Trade and Consumer Protection and gave it to the appropriate person. She instantly knew that it was a scam (as did I, seeing how I never registered for anything in Spain to begin with).

Here were the dead giveaways to how I knew this was a scam:

  • No return address on the envelope; however, I noticed that it did have a Spanish post mark and stamp;
  • The letter felt chintzy; the paper was low quality and the signatures and letterhead were somewhat blurry;
  • It did not explain to me how my name was drawn;
  • It asked for my bank account information: had I really won anything, they likely would’ve sent me a check;
  • It was from Spain: as I stated before, I never registered for anything in Spain;
  • The envelope did not bear my full address; this was addressed to my building, but not to my specific apartment number.

The biggest tip-off was the fact that I instantly won something I never registered for. How this organization got my name is a mystery to me… my sister had a Spanish foreign exchange student stay with us back in high school, so that’s the only person I really know from Spain. Beyond that, I’ve never registered for or purchased anything from Spain. Some software that I’ve registered for or purchased is from Germany, so perhaps someone figured out a way to get into their registration databases. Or perhaps this organization found my name through some random Internet search or phone book. Who knows?

I know better than to send a stranger my personal banking information or other closely guarded information (this includes my social security number).

If you receive anything like this, please contact your financial institution or your state or local consumer protection agency. Whatever you do, do not provide valuable information to anyone without first checking with the proper authorities… it could mean the loss of hundreds or even thousands of your hard-earned dollars.

I just bought the original Star Wars trilogy on DVD today. I’m excited to start watching it. The bonus disc includes a demo copy of Star Wars: Battlefront for the Xbox. Seeing how I have an Xbox, I thought I’d pop it in and try it. It’s really cool! You can be either a rebel or imperial soldier and relive the major battles that were in the movies. The game also came out today, so I may have to do some more shopping this week.