We're going to talk today about scams (and ScamBusters) in the news. Here are three important current scam stories -- and what you need to know about them.
- 565 Arrested in Operation Global Con
- Private Data Including Social Security Numbers of 26 Million People Stolen From Employee at Department of Veterans Affairs
- Spyware Infestations Up 50%
On to the scams in the news...
565 Arrested in Operation Global Con
In what is being described as the "largest enforcement operation of its kind," Operation Global Con has resulted in 565 arrests over the past 15 months for international fraudulent mass marketing schemes.
These scams victimized over 2 million Americans, and losses exceed $1 billion worldwide.
Audri was interviewed by Adam Davidson of NPR's All Things Considered. You can read or listen to the story here:
She was also interviewed on the ABC Radio Network by The Satellite Sisters (which is an excellent show, btw). Here's the link - see Thursday:
Finally, Audri was interviewed on Tech Tuesday of the Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU 88.5FM Washington D.C. yesterday. Her interview begins about halfway through the hour show.
We applaud this effort and find it heartening to see a focus on global Internet and other scams. Obviously, this is just a drop in the bucket, even just for Internet scams, but it's a good drop. 😉
Private Data Including Social Security Numbers of 26 Million People Stolen From Employee at Department of Veterans Affairs
On May 3, 2006, electronic data including names, social security numbers, and dates of birth for up to 26.5 million veterans and spouses were stolen when an employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs took this information home with him.
According to a story published in the Washington Post, officials at the VA knew about this theft within hours of the crime, but did not tell Secretary Jim Nicholson about the theft for 13 days.
This is troubling for many reasons, including the fact that it is very important to deal with possible identity theft as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, these kinds of data theft have become very common in recent years.
We covered a very similar issue in ScamBusters Issue #132, when up to 36 million MasterCard and Visa credit card numbers were stolen. We recommend you check out that article now for 7 specific suggestions for how to handle this type of situation.
The only change we'd make to this article today is a stronger recommendation to purchase a credit monitoring service.
All three major credit reporting companies offer these services. They are not inexpensive. The service we now personally use is Equifax Credit Watch Gold.
Many people continue to complain that these services are much too expensive and they should be free -- that having to pay for these services is completely unfair. We certainly respect that opinion.
Our belief is that regardless of whether or not these services *should* be free, the fact of the matter is that they aren't. So, we believe the more practical question now is whether or not these services provide sufficient value to you to be worth the not inconsequential cost.
Personally for us, because of all the security breaches -- both online and offline -- and how fast identity theft is growing, the answer for the past year is that it is worth it to us. It may or may not be for you.
For veterans who may have had their private information stolen, the VA says you can go here to get more information.
You can also call this toll free number: 1-800-FED INFO (1-800-333-4636).
Spyware Infestations Up 50%
According to the Web@Work survey, which is conducted by Harris Interactive for the security firm Websense, spyware infestations have increased 50% during the last year. Nearly 92% of all companies now report they have found spyware on their networks.
Our anecdotal evidence supports these conclusions.
Check out our Anti Spyware Resource Center for more information on what every PC owner needs to know.
That's all for today -- we'll see you next week.