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Identity Theft News

Identity Theft News

Frivolous or Well-Founded? 3 Key Characteristics of a Worthy Lawsuit

Frivolous or Well-Founded? 3 Key Characteristics of a Worthy Lawsuit

Recently, an inmate in a Colorado correctional facility filed an $88 billion suit against National Football League officials for an overturned call in the Dallas Cowboys - Green Bay Packers playoff game. The fan-turned-plaintiff asserts the game hinged on that call and someone should pay up for the mistake. Dallas media outlets surmise he arrived at his damages figure, $88,987,654,321.88, in homage to the receiver whose catch was over-ruled, Dez Bryant, jersey number 88.


Frivolous lawsuits have become so common in the United States most Americans could recite the more shocking ones by heart.

Who could forget when McDonald’s was sued for serving its coffee too hot? A jury awarded the plaintiff in that case $2.86 million, prompting ABC News to call it “the poster child of excessive lawsuits.” More recently, a man has filed suit over the mental anguish he suffered when a McDonald’s employee handed over only one napkin with his order. He contends the experience has left him unable to work.


The sheer number of frivolous lawsuits filed each year in the United States necessitated some sort of protection for corporations; few disagree on that score.  Many companies prefer to settle with their claimants, far-fetched as their lawsuits may be, rather than to tie up time and resources in protracted legal battles. Lawmakers put stopgaps in place to soften the blows and to ensure frivolous lawsuits wouldn’t take companies down for the count.

Legislators took a stab at financially protecting companies from these inevitable payouts and other payments that are legitimate costs of doing business.

“They are allowed to write off settlement payments that are not fines or penalties paid to the government as ordinary business expenses. But a tax loophole has enabled corporate wrongdoers to take advantage of that tax break, too. Some companies that have behaved terribly are benefitting handsomely by deducting amounts meant to punish them for bad behavior. The American taxpayer underwrites a huge percentage of the amounts paid as though any bad act is standard business practice. It’s just so wrong,” says Christopher Huntley of the Huntley Law Firm, the provider firm for LegalShield members in the State of Idaho.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group reports that at least 80% of the $42 billion BP has paid for its 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil spill that resulted in 11 deaths and unprecedented harm to the ecosystem is tax deductible, saving the company an estimated $10-$14 billion. That savings is money the company keeps and the government does not collect on behalf of taxpayers.  Americans who had no culpability in the disaster have, essentially, been enlisted to bankroll BP’s Victim Fund.

Even J.P. Morgan Chase, considered by many to be an architect of the 2008 financial crisis, announced a $13.7 billion settlement payout to the federal government, followed the next day by the CFO’s announcement that $7 billion of that figure would be tax deductible (so investors need not worry.)

Interesting Note: If the government settles a claim with a corporation and the settlement document doesn’t clearly state whether the amount paid is a fine or a penalty, the corporation is likely to try to deduct the entire payment no matter how large the payment nor how egregious the acts


People often find themselves moved to sue their neighbors over property disputes, or mean teachers and administrators, or companies that have insulted them. Mr. Huntley cautions everyone to step back and really consider the situation carefully before taking matters to court. The expense, stress, and bad feelings left in the wake of such an event take a long time to dissipate.

One of the wilder frivolous lawsuits making the news lately stems from a five-year-old missing his friend’s birthday party. The host family incurred a $22 no-show guest fee, which they passed on to their absent guest’s family the following week. The fur began to fly, with both sides squaring off to go to court.

“Here’s the first question I ask: ‘Why are you doing this? Is it to change a circumstance or policy? Have you exhausted all other options? Or is this more for the principle of the thing?’ I will take cases with legal merit, but I find that people suing on principle often need to take a breather,” says Mr. Huntley, who emphasizes that the LegalShield service is ideal for calling to verify rights and the law, but not to file suit on anyone, be they inconsiderate guests or a corporation guilty of a reprehensible crime. “We refer clients to litigation counsel when the situation warrants a day in court, but 90% of the time, it really does not,” says Mr. Huntley.


The hit parade of corporations who have unjustly benefitted from the tax loophole has angered lawmakers for years, but none has been able to get new legislation off the ground thanks to bipartisan struggles and the sustained efforts of business lobbyists. Perhaps the most ridiculous part of the loophole is the deduction of punitive damages. Last month Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat from Vermont, introduced the “No Tax Writeoffs For Corporate Wrongdoers Act” in an effort to stiffen the penalties corporations must face when they have committed egregious acts. Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, and Senator Jack Reed, Democrat from Rhode Island, also plan to reintroduce similar legislation in this session.

“If you are offended by the idea of your taxes being raised so that a corporation can deduct an amount meant to punish it for wrong-doing, now is the time to call your representative in Congress,” says Mr. Huntley.

The New Teen Hangout

August 16, 2017

Social Media: The New Teen Hangout


From an early age, parents advise their children to not talk to strangers. That advice may stick with a child who is approached by someone at the park, but a teenager who feels “protected” by a screen may carry on an online conversation with a person they don’t know, especially if the “stranger” is posing as a classmate, a friend of a friend, or someone who shares the teen’s taste in music. If that conversation leads to an in-person meeting, your teen may be in serious danger.


IDShield Investigator Tips: Phishing Attempt Not Very Rewarding

July 27, 2017

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Marriott Rewards. Was I getting bonus points? A special offer for a last-minute weekend trip? Or was it something much less rewarding? 

As an expert in cyber security, I’m understandably suspicious of all emails. Phishers have gotten so good at making fake emails look real that it is easy to, at a glance, believe the message is from an individual or organization you have done business with, but there are some things you can look for so you do not take the bait and become a victim. What better way to demonstrate than by my actual example?

The Anatomy of a Phishing Email

This is what I first saw in my inbox:


Could Smart Toys Put Your Child’s Privacy at Risk?

July 19, 2017

FBI releases warning regarding privacy concerns for internet-connected toys

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a public service announcement alerting consumers to the potential dangers of “smart toys,” basically any toy that can connect to the internet. This applies to a range of toys currently on the market that have everything from microphones to cameras to cloud storage of audio, video, and other data collected from users.

The FBI raises concerns about toys negatively impacting your children’s privacy and security.


The features and functions of different toys vary widely. In some cases, toys with microphones could record and collect conversations within earshot of the device. Information such as the child’s name, school, likes and dislikes, and activities may be disclosed through normal conversation with the toy or in the surrounding environment. The collection of a child’s personal information combined with a toy’s ability to connect to the Internet or other devices raises concerns for privacy and physical safety. 


A Trip to the Pediatrician’s Office May Cure the Sickness, But Could It Put Your Child’s Identity at Risk?

July 11, 2017

By the time children are six years old, they have probably been to the pediatrician more than 10 times for wellness checkups alone. With many children continuing to see their pediatricians through their teen years, these office visits – and the information collected at them – all add up. As a parent, you trust the pediatrician and the office staff to take care of your child’s health, but can you trust that your child’s personal information will be securely protected and kept out of harm’s way? Assuming this has not previously crossed your mind, increasing your level of awareness – just as is done with an annual health check – can help to protect your child’s identity from being compromised and exploited.

Health Care Data Breaches on the Rise

WannaCry Ransomware

May 16, 2017

Over the past 72 hours, a massive ransomware attack occurred affecting businesses, government organizations, and individuals in well over 100 countries. The ransomware – called WannaCry (also called WannaCrypt) – encrypts the victim’s hard drive and demands a ransom, paid in the virtual currency bitcoin, equivalent to approximately US$300. Kroll strongly recommends organizations and individuals take action to reduce your risk and prepare for inevitable future similar attacks.


What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware; once executed on a computer system, it seeks to encrypt a wide range of files, denying the user access, and effectively holding the files “hostage” in return for a monetary payment – a ransom. It prevents users from accessing their computers, files, or mobile devices by holding them for ransom. Users are typically expected to pay high ransom amounts to get access back to their data. Many times, the ransomware will falsely claim that the user has committed a crime with their computer, and that they are being fined by the police department or a government agency.


U.S. Government Data Shows Healthcare Breaches Up 320%

May 11, 2017

Check the pulse of your personal healthcare information


When you visit your physician or a healthcare facility, the last thing on your mind is the personal information you are required to share. Where is it going? Who sees your information? What could happen to it? Healthcare providers collect personal data ranging from your name and date of birth, to credit card numbers, medical insurance numbers (which may include your Social Security number), diagnosis information, prescriptions, and medical history.


Providers are required to store this information securely, but data thieves know how valuable your personal information is. Despite healthcare providers’ best efforts, they often fall victim to data breaches. That puts your protected health information (PHI) in the hands of hackers and thieves who may use it themselves or sell it for others to use to execute a variety of schemes and crimes.