Two whistleblower lawsuits have been filed recently against insurers, faulting them for requiring unnecessary and repeated disability applications with Social Security before they’ll pay out any benefits. One person says her disability insurer, the Unum Group—which was only paying her $50 a month for a temporary injury she was almost certain to recover from—called her 10 times to ask her about her Social Security disability application. The woman told the New York Times “she did not need or want money from Social Security, and did not think she was entitled to it. Her doctors had told her she would recover, and Social Security is limited to people whose disabilities are total and permanent.”
A few days ago we linked to a Baltimore Sun article that investigated the recent accidental release of private patient data online by The Dental Network. Now the reporter who broke the story, Liz F. Kay, has contacted us with news that “this was the largest of nearly 40 breaches affecting Maryland residents” since a disclosure law went into effect in January:
Thirty-nine businesses or groups have reported losses of sensitive information involving about 87,500 Maryland residents in the three months since a state law took effect requiring that people be informed of such incidents, records show.
Last month, The Dental Network—a dental HMO owned by CareFirst BlueCross Blue Shield—discovered it had accidentally revealed personal data and Social Security numbers online for about 75,000 of its customers. It told the members about the screw-up three weeks later. “The company says that to its knowledge, no one has misused the information. But it says ‘the risk … should be taken seriously,’” and it’s offering affected members one year of credit monitoring. After that, as you know, the thread of identity theft plummets. Wait, what?
David C. Richardson, the owner of Rhode Island Refrigeration in Providence, Rhode Island, overheard two customers speaking Spanish to each other, so he asked them to produce proof of citizenship. According to them, he then threatened to call Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and make a citizen’s arrest, although Richardson denies he picked up the phone, but not that he made the threats. In fact, he says he’s done this “fifteen or twenty times” in the past and refuses to do business with those who won’t show their Social Security cards.
This writer is quickly growing convinced that payday lenders are the modern version of indentured servitude, trapping consumers in cycles of debt that simply cannot be broken in their lifetimes.
A woman sued Wachovia last year because it allowed a telemarketing scam company to process stolen payments through its banks, despite complaints from customers and warnings from other banks and federal authorities. Wachovia said it had no idea what was going on, but now documents have been revealed that prove people high up in the company not only knew, but that “the bank, in fact, solicited business from companies it knew had been accused of telemarketing crimes.” Why? How about millions of dollars of extra revenue from steep fees whenever a fraud-related chargeback went through? The lawyers for the woman are now seeking class-action status for the lawsuit.
Nathalie Martin’s elderly cousin had her social security check garnished straight from her bank account by a collections agency. Apparently, most banks skip over the section of federal law that protects social security and other public benefits from creditors. Good thing Nathalie is a bankruptcy scholar and knows how to fight the sleazy debt collectors.
IT BEGINS! Start hiding gold in your mattresses and boarding up your windows, because today the first official U.S. baby boomer filed for Social Security. [Reuters]
A new Consumer Reports survey says that 89% of Americans want the government to implement better safeguards on their social security numbers, and that 87% “claim to have been asked in the past year to provide their Social Security number, in whole or in part.” [MSN]
Federal law mandates that banks can’t take your Social Security to pay debts, but some banks are doing exactly that, endangering the ability of sick and dying elderly to pay for their health costs. WSJ reports:
Lost an important document? Misplaced your birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, social security card, property deed, title insurance policy, mortgage, car title, marriage license, divorce paper, or diploma?
Here’s a tax tip that might come into play for two-job holders. Make sure you didn’t overpay Social Security.
Over and over again, consumers are told to protect their social security number. It gets to the point where you feel like if you get your identity stolen, it’s your fault. But how well can you do if the companies you’re forced to hand over your private information to as a contingency for doing business with have lax security?