Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Open health records

Health information, by its very nature, is personal. 

sharing personal health data more freely with patients, health care providers and researchers raises thorny privacy issues.

strong believer in privacy, but he personally believes that the benefits outweigh the risks — and whether to share data or not should be an individual's choice

people will increasingly want access to their medical data and will share it, especially younger people reared on social networks and smartphones.

"This is what the next generation, which lives on data, is going to want,

http://nyti.ms/1ywqFDw

NYTimes: The Healing Power of Your Own Medical Data

There is evidence that letting patients see their medical files helps them take better care of themselves, but the medical establishment still resists sharing the data.

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Early April Fool's from Richard Branson?

Photo: Michael A. Schwarz, Bloomberg

Two weeks ago, British billionaire Richard Bransonsaid he was "exploring opportunities" in Branson, Missouri, after discovering the city was founded by a relative of his.

Now, he's claiming that he's moving the headquarters of the Virgin Group's US operations to the city — but people can't stop noting that it's almost April Fools' Day.

Branson claims Virgin America, the airline, will have flights to Branson from San Francisco. Virgin Hotels, he said, is "well on their way to developing their next property in Branson." And Virgin Limited Edition, he said, will base their next luxury property in Branson, offering guests "exclusive wagon trails."

Then it gets a little weird.

"Virgin Active are introducing a new Branson-themed workout that will have gym-goers tossing hay bales and rolling wagon wheels across the gym," Branson wrote on the company's blog. "Virgin Pure will ensure that the entire water supply throughout Branson is triple-filtered and purified to make it healthy for all – so I will always be able to enjoy the perfect tasting cup of tea whenever I'm in town. Virgin Holidays will be also offering package holidays to the city with a variety of attractions and excursions available through their concierge service."

Branson Mayor Raeanne Presley appears in an accompanying video, and the city's tourism operations and airport are playing it up big. Calls to several area officials weren't immediately returned.

Branson Airport put a statement from its executive director on its Facebook page Tuesday morning that made it clear there was no agreed-upon plan for Virgin America to serve the airport.

Of note: Virgin has historically been a fan of April Fools' Day jokes. In 2013, Virgin said it was launching the world's first glass-bottomed plane; shockingly, that never happened. 

Business Insiderhas more on Richard Branson's love of pranks.

"While we are obviously flattered that Richard Branson wants to fly his planes to #Branson ... he might have to wait in line," Bourk said. "I have my staff looking into gate availability, but it may be tough given Virgin's aggressive service rollout. In the meantime, we are anxious to see what incentives Virgin America can offer the airport and the community."

Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines both ceased serving Branson Airport in 2014, and the airport —currently served by public charter flights — has been actively hunting for another major carrier.

Check out this article from Springfield News-Leader:

Early April Fool's from Richard Branson?

http://sgfnow.co/1bMWd3g

atkins onrush zone weight lost diet

Original Investigation | September 3, 2014
Comparison of Weight Loss Among Named Diet Programs in Overweight and Obese Adults
A Meta-analysis FREE
Bradley C. Johnston, PhD1,2,3,4; Steve Kanters, MSc5,6,7; Kristofer Bandayrel, MPH1,4; Ping Wu, MBBS, MSc6; Faysal Naji, BHSc8; Reed A. Siemieniuk, MD9; Geoff D. C. Ball, RD, PhD10,11; Jason W. Busse, DC, PhD3,12,13; Kristian Thorlund, PhD3,7,14; Gordon Guyatt, MD, MSc3; Jeroen P. Jansen, PhD7,15; Edward J. Mills, PhD, MSc7,14
[+] Author Affiliations
JAMA. 2014;312(9):923-933. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.10397. Text Size: A A A

Importance Many claims have been made regarding the superiority of one diet or another for inducing weight loss. Which diet is best remains unclear.

Objective To determine weight loss outcomes for popular diets based on diet class (macronutrient composition) and named diet.

Data Sources Search of 6 electronic databases: AMED, CDSR, CENTRAL, CINAHL, EMBASE, and MEDLINE from inception of each database to April 2014.

Study Selection Overweight or obese adults (body mass index ≥25) randomized to a popular self-administered named diet and reporting weight or body mass index data at 3-month follow-up or longer.

Data Extraction and Synthesis Two reviewers independently extracted data on populations, interventions, outcomes, risk of bias, and quality of evidence. A Bayesian framework was used to perform a series of random-effects network meta-analyses with meta-regression to estimate the relative effectiveness of diet classes and programs for change in weight and body mass index from baseline. Our analyses adjusted for behavioral support and exercise.

Main Outcomes and Measures Weight loss and body mass index at 6- and 12-month follow-up (±3 months for both periods).

Results Among 59 eligible articles reporting 48 unique randomized trials (including 7286 individuals) and compared with no diet, the largest weight loss was associated with low-carbohydrate diets (8.73 kg [95% credible interval {CI}, 7.27 to 10.20 kg] at 6-month follow-up and 7.25 kg [95% CI, 5.33 to 9.25 kg] at 12-month follow-up) and low-fat diets (7.99 kg [95% CI, 6.01 to 9.92 kg] at 6-month follow-up and 7.27 kg [95% CI, 5.26 to 9.34 kg] at 12-month follow-up). Weight loss differences between individual diets were minimal. For example, the Atkins diet resulted in a 1.71 kg greater weight loss than the Zone diet at 6-month follow-up. Between 6- and 12-month follow-up, the influence of behavioral support (3.23 kg [95% CI, 2.23 to 4.23 kg] at 6-month follow-up vs 1.08 kg [95% CI, −1.82 to 3.96 kg] at 12-month follow-up) and exercise (0.64 kg [95% CI, −0.35 to 1.66 kg] vs 2.13 kg [95% CI, 0.43 to 3.85 kg], respectively) on weight loss differed.

Conclusions and Relevance Significant weight loss was observed with any low-carbohydrate or low-fat diet. Weight loss differences between individual named diets were small. This supports the practice of recommending any diet that a patient will adhere to in order to lose weight.

INTRODUCTION
ABSTRACT | INTRODUCTION | METHODS | RESULTS | DISCUSSION | CONCLUSIONS |ARTICLE INFORMATION | REFERENCES
Named or branded (trade-marked) weight loss programs are broadly available to the general public, providing structured dietary and lifestyle recommendations via popular books and in-person or online behavioral support. These programs represent a multibillion dollar industry.1 Debate regarding the relative merit of the diets is accompanied by advertising claiming which macronutrient composition is superior, such as a low-carbohydrate diet being better than a low-fat diet, and the benefits of accompanying lifestyle interventions. Establishing which of the major named diets is most effective is important because overweight and obese patients often want to know which diet results in the most effective weight loss.

Some physiological explanations regarding the merits of different macronutrient compositions, including variable genetic response to diets with different recommended dietary fat intake, make intuitive sense.2,3Low-carbohydrate diets may drive weight loss due to a higher intake of protein, which may induce a stronger satiating effect than fats and carbohydrates.4

Despite potential biological mechanisms explaining why some popular diets should be better than others, recent reviews suggest that most diets are equally effective,2,5,6 a message very different from what the public hears in advertisements or expert pronouncements. Only a few of the reviews of named diets have used rigorous meta-analytic techniques to provide quantitative estimates of how much better one diet is compared with another. They also relied on aggregating studies comparing one diet with another and did not have the ability to determine the relative performance of diets when they were not directly compared with one another in clinical trials. By not exploring the full range of potential comparisons in a statistically and methodologically rigorous fashion, these reviews could have missed important benefits of specific diets or their compositions.

Network meta-analysis facilitates comparison of different diets using all available randomized clinical trial (RCT) data.7 In the absence of published head-to-head clinical trials of each diet against each other diet, network meta-analysis uses both direct and indirect clinical trial evidence to estimate their relative effects. Using a network meta-analytic approach, we assessed the relative effectiveness of different popular diets in improving weight loss.

METHODS
ABSTRACT | INTRODUCTION | METHODS | RESULTS | DISCUSSION | CONCLUSIONS |ARTICLE INFORMATION | REFERENCES
Eligibility Criteria
As described in a protocol outlining our study methods,8 we included RCTs that assigned overweight (body mass index [BMI; calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared] of 25-29) or obese (BMI ≥30) adults (≥18 years of age) to a popular branded diet or an alternative. We included RCTs that reported weight loss or BMI reduction at 3-month follow-up or longer.

Named diets were identified through the explicit naming of the brand, the referencing of branded literature, or the naming of a brand as funders of an article reporting weight loss outcomes from the diet. The diet was labeled as brand-like when the diet met the definition of a branded diet, but failed to name or reference the brand in the article. For example, dietary programs that did not refer to Atkins but consisted of less than 40% of kilocalories from carbohydrates per day for the duration of study or were funded by Atkins were considered Atkins-like.9,10

We included dietary programs with recommendations for daily macronutrient, caloric intake, or both for a defined period (≥12 weeks) with or without exercise (eg, jogging, strength training) or behavioral support (eg, counseling, group support). Eligible programs included meal replacement products but had to consist primarily of whole foods and could not include pharmacological agents. Because it is impossible to provide a placebo diet in a clinical trial, eligible control diets included wait-listed controls, no specific assigned diet, or competing dietary programs. The characteristics of eligible branded dietary programs are reported in eTable 1 in the Supplement.

Outcomes and Effect Modifiers
The primary outcomes were weight loss at 6- and 12-month follow-up (±3 months for both periods). Secondary outcomes included BMI and adverse events. We considered 3 weight loss effect modifiers that were modeled as present or absent if they were included in an overall dietary program: calorie restriction, exercise, and behavioral support. Based on the lowest estimated caloric intake for sedentary adults, we defined calorie restriction as less than 1800 kcal/d.11

Exercise was defined as having explicit instructions for weekly physical activities and simply dichotomized when differences between varying degrees of exercise frequencies appeared to have negligible effects. Diets with at least 2 group or individual sessions per month for the first 3 months were considered as providing behavioral support.12

Search Strategy
We searched 6 electronic databases: AMED, CDSR, CENTRAL, CINAHL, EMBASE, and MEDLINE from inception of each database to April 2014. Search terms included extensive controlled vocabulary and keyword searches for (RCTs) AND (diets) AND (adults) AND (weight loss). The search strategy is available from the authors upon request.

We reviewed bibliographies of review articles and eligible trials, and searched the registries of ClinicalTrials.gov and the metaRegister of Controlled Trials. We contacted the named diet companies and individuals working in the field of obesity and weight management to identify additional or unpublished trials.

Study Selection
Reviewers, in pairs, independently screened titles and abstracts of articles and reviewed the full text of any title or abstract deemed potentially eligible by either reviewer. Reviewers resolved disagreements by discussion.

Risk of Bias Assessment of Individual Studies
Pairs of reviewers independently assessed the risk of bias associated with individual trials using the Cochrane Collaboration instrument.13 We assigned 1 of 2 summary assessments for each included study: low risk of bias for key domains, allocation concealment, and missing participant data or high risk of bias for key domains.14

Data Extraction
Pairs of reviewers independently, and in duplicate, extracted the following data items: study setting, type of trial (parallel or factorial), demographic information, experimental interventions, control interventions, exercise information, degree of calorie restriction, degree of behavioral support, and each of the outcomes of interest. We categorized dietary treatment groups in 2 ways: using diet classes (moderate macronutrient distribution, low carbohydrate, and low fat)15 and according to diet brands. Diet classes were established by macronutrient content (Table 1).

Table 1. Diet Classes Based on Macronutrient Composition

Durst mistress wife

Ms. Charatan's parents survived the Nazis in Poland during World War II. 

Her father, a kosher butcher, lost his foot to a land mine. 

Her mother was an orphan hidden by a Christian family. Ms. Charatan's personality was infused with their survivalist mentality

But if Ms. Charatan strove to be wealthy and accepted among the elite, 

Mr. Durst enjoyed watching people's reactions as he flouted convention by burping or smoking marijuana at social functions.

Ms. Charatan was going through a difficult divorce and custody battle when the two met. 

Mr. Durst helped her financially, providing a stack of car vouchers from the family business and 

using family funds to pay some of her legal bills

lost custody of her son, Bennat Charatan Berger, then 5, to whom she did not speak for the next 15 years.

http://nyti.ms/1yvjhs3

NYTimes: Robert Durst's Wife Steps Back After Years of Defending Him

The relationship between Mr. Durst and Debrah Lee Charatan, who supported him once before when he was accused of murder, has taken a sharp turn.

Drugs copilot suicide murder Alps

Stay home and exercise more.  Walk and bike. Use horses for longer travel. Horses do not fly into alps suicide. 

Drug users should not pilot.  

-----

Prosecutors have said that he had a mental health diagnosis and had talked to a psychotherapist about suicide before applying for a pilot's license.

authorities said antidepressants were found in Mr. Lubitz's apartment in Düsseldorf, Germany


http://nyti.ms/1MraCm4

NYTimes: Role of Illness in Germanwings Crash Raises Worry About Stigma

An intense focus on co-pilot Andreas Lubitz's mental illness in the Germanwings jet crash raised concerns that it could stigmatize mentally ill people and make it harder to identify workers who pose a safety threat.

Diet research inconclusive

2014 a meta-analysis of brand-name diet programs 

Journal of the American Medical Association.

low-carbohydrate (like Atkins), 

moderate macronutrient (Weight Watchers) and 

low-fat (Ornish). 

All of the diets led to reduced caloric intake, and all of them led to weight loss at six months and, to a lesser extent, at 12 months. 

There was no clear winner, nor any clear loser.

The best diet is the one that you're likely to keep. 

What isn't helpful is picking a nutritional culprit of bad health and proclaiming that everyone else is eating wrong. 

There's remarkably little evidence that that's true


http://nyti.ms/1MnhEIE

NYTimes: Red Meat Is Not the Enemy

Many people cite a recent study linking increased protein intake to higher mortality rates. 

But a closer look at the research tells a different story.

Monday, March 30, 2015

new email, off the grid, homeless, stateless, spring rain hail...

I am very sore from moving everything into storage between rain and hail storms.
I may be moving off the grid too, onto 20 acres.
I am canceling bank accounts, debit cards, etc.
Trying to simplify everything - not so exposed to hackers.  
I will probably cancel internet broadband and use a laptop at Starbucks or University.
Moving toward being a homeless, stateless drifter floating around to top universities.  

I will change my email address tomorrow probably to the same as above but with suffix of .xyz instead of .me.uk 
I will be working on this tonight, and a new website.

I won a free .xyz domain from French Gandi Net, a really good internet company!
They have an hourly contest today at https://15.gandi.net



Sign Up at irs.gov Before Crooks Do It For You — Krebs on Security


30
MAR 15

Sign Up at irs.gov Before Crooks Do It For You

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If you're an American and haven't yet created an account at irs.gov, you may want to take care of that before tax fraudsters create an account in your name and steal your personal and tax data in the process.

Screenshot 2015-03-29 14.22.55

Recently, KrebsOnSecurity heard from Michael Kasper, a 35-year-old reader who tried to obtain a copy of his most recent tax transcript with the Internal Revenue Service(IRS). Kasper said he sought the transcript after trying to file his taxes through the desktop version of TurboTax, and being informed by TurboTax that the IRS had rejected the request because his return had already been filed.

Kasper said he phoned the IRS's identity theft hotline (800-908-4490) and was told a direct deposit was being made that very same day for his tax refund — a request made with his Social Security number and address but to be deposited into a bank account that he didn't recognize.

"Since I was alerting them that this transaction was fraudulent, their privacy rules prevented them from telling me any more information, such as the routing number and account number of that deposit," Kasper said. "They basically admitted this was to protect the privacy of the criminal, not because they were going to investigate right away. In fact, they were very clear that the matter would not be investigated further until a fraud affidavit and accompanying documentation were processed by mail."

In the following weeks, Kasper contacted the IRS, who told him they had no new information on his case. When he tried to get a transcript of the fraudulent return using the "Get Transcript" function on IRS.gov,

He learned that someone had already registered through the IRS's site using his Social Security number and an unknown email address.

he learned that someone had already registered through the IRS's site using his Social Security number and an unknown email address.

"When I called the IRS to fix this, and spent another hour on hold, they explained they could not tell me what the email address was due to privacy regulations," Kasper recalled. "They also said they could not change the email address, all they could do was ban access to eServices for my account, which they did. It was something at least."

FORM 4506

Undeterred, Kasper researched further and discovered that he could still obtain a copy of the fraudulent return by filling out the IRS Form 4506 (PDF) and paying a $50 processing fee. Several days later, the IRS mailed Kasper a photocopy of the fraudulent return filed in his name — complete with the bank name and account number that received the $8,936 phony refund filed in his name.

"That's right, $50 just for the right to see my own return," Kasper said. "And once again the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing, because it cost me just $50 to get them to ignore their own privacy rules. The most interesting thing about this strange rule is that the IRS also refuses to look at the account data itself until it is fully investigated. Banks are required by law to report suspicious refund deposits, but the IRS does not even bother to contact banks to let them know a refund deposit was reported fraudulent, at least in the case of individual taxpayers who call, confirm their identity and report it, just like I did."

Kasper said the transcript indicates the fraudsters filed his refund request using the IRS web site's own free e-file website for those with incomes over $60,000. It also showed the routing number for First National Bank of Pennsylvania and the checking account number of the individual who got the deposit plus the date that they filed: January 31, 2015.

Kasper said he can't prove it, buthe believes the scammers obtained that W2 data directly from the IRS itself, after creating an account at the IRS portal in his name (but using a different email address) and requesting his transcript.

The transcript suggests that the fraudsters who claimed his refund had done so by copying all of the data from his previous year's W2, and by increasing the previous year's amounts slightly. Kasper said he can't prove it, but he believes the scammers obtained that W2 data directly from the IRS itself, after creating an account at the IRS portal in his name (but using a different email address) and requesting his transcript.

"The person who submitted it somehow accessed my tax return from the previous year 2013 in order to list my employer and salary from that year, 2013, then use it on the 2014 return, instead," Kasper said. "In addition, they also submitted a corrected W-2 that increased the withholding amount by exactly $6,000 to increase their total refund due to $8,936."

MONEY MULING

On Wednesday, March 18, 2015, Kasper contacted First National Bank of Pennsylvania whose routing number was listed in the phony tax refund request, and reached their head of account security. That person confirmed a direct deposit by the IRS for $8,936.00 was made on February 9, 2015 into an individual checking account specifying Kasper's full name and SSN in the metadata with the deposit.

"She told me that she could also see transactions were made at one or more branches in the city of Williamsport, PA to disburse or withdraw those funds and that several purchases were made by debit card in the city of Williamsport as well, so that at this point a substantial portion of the funds were gone," Kasper said. "She further told me that no one from the IRS had contacted her bank to raise any questions about this account, despite my fraud report filed February 9, 2015."

The head of account security at the bank stated that she would be glad to cooperate with the Williamsport Police if they provided the required legal request to allow her to release the name, address, and account details. The bank officer offered Kasper her office phone number and cell phone to share with the cops. The First National employee also mentioned that the suspect lived in the city of Williamsport, PA, and that this individual seemed to still be using the account.

Kasper said the local police in his New York hometown hadn't bothered to respond to his request for assistance, but that the lieutenant at the Williamsport police department who heard his story took pity on him and asked him to write an email about the incident to his captain, which Kasper said he sent later that morning.

Just two hours later, he received a call from an investigator who had been assigned to the case. The detective then interviewed the individual who held the account the same day and told Kasper that the bank's fraud department was investigating and had asked the person to return the cash.

"My tax refund fraud case had gone from stuck in the mud to an open case, almost overnight," Kasper sad. "Or at least it seemed to be that simple. It turned out to be much more complex."

For starters, the woman who owned the bank account that received his phony refund — a student at a local Pennsylvania university — said she got the transfer after responding to a Craigslist ad for a moneymaking opportunity.

Kasper said the detective learned that money was deposited into her account, and that she sent the money out to locations in Nigeria via Western Union wire transfer, keeping some as a profit, and apparently never suspecting that she might be doing something illegal.

"She has so far provided a significant amount of information, and I'm inclined to believe her story," Kasper said. "Who would be crazy enough to deposit a fraudulent tax refund in their own checking account, as opposed to an untraceable debit card they could get at a convenience store. At the same time, wouldn't somebody who could pull this off also have an explanation like this ready?"

The woman in question, whose name is being withheld from this story, declined multiple requests to speak with KrebsOnSecurity, threatening to file harassment claims if I didn't stop trying to contact her. Nevertheless, she appears to have been an unwitting — if not unwilling — money mule in a scam that seeks to recruit the unwary for moneymaking schemes.

ANALYSIS

The IRS's process for verifying people requesting transcripts is vulnerable to exploitation by fraudsters because it relies on static identifiers and so-called "knowledge-based authentication" (KBA)  — i.e., challenge questions that can be easily defeated with information widely available for sale in the cybercrime underground and/or with a small amount of searching online.

To obtain a copy of your most recent tax transcript, the IRS requires the following information: The applicant's name, date of birth, Social Security number and filing status. After that data is successfully supplied, the IRS uses a service from credit bureau Equifax that asks four KBA questions. Anyone who succeeds in supplying the correct answers can see the applicant's full tax transcript, including prior W2s, current W2s and more or less everything one would need to fraudulently file for a tax refund.

The KBA questions — which involve multiple choice, "out of wallet" questions such as previous address, loan amounts and dates — can be successfully enumerated with random guessing. But in practice it is far easier, said Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at theInternational Computer Science Institute (ICSI) and at the University of California, Berkeley.

"I did it twice, and the first time it was related to my current address, one old address question, and one 'which credit card did you get' question," Weaver said. "The second time it was two questions related to my current address, and two related to a car loan I paid off in 2007."

The second time round, Weaver said a few minutes on Zillow.com gave him all the answers he needed for the KBA questions. Spokeo solved the "old address" questions for him with 100% accuracy.

"Zillow with my address answered all four of them, if you just assume 'moved when I bought the house'," he said. "In fact, I NEEDED to use Zillow the second time around, because damned if I remember when my house was built.  So with Zillow and Spokeo data, it isn't even 1 in 256, it's 1 in 4 the first time around and 1 in 16 the second, and you don't need to guess blind either with a bit more Google searching."

If any readers here doubt how easy it is to buy personal data on just about anyone, check out the story I wrote in December 2014, wherein I was able to find the name, address, Social Security number, previous address and phone number on all current members of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee. This information is no longer secret (nor are the answers to KBA-based questions), and we are all made vulnerable to identity theft as long as institutions continue to rely on static information as authenticators. See my recent story on Apple Pay for another reminder of this fact.

Unfortunately, the IRS is not the only government agency whose reliance on static identifiers actually makes them complicit in facilitating identity theft against Americans. The same process described to obtain a tax transcript at irs.gov works to obtain a free credit report from annualcreditreport.com, a Web site mandated by Congress. In addition, Americans who have not already created an account at the Social Security Administration under their Social Security number are vulnerable to crooks hijacking SSA benefits now or in the future. For more on how crooks are siphoning Social Security benefits via government sites, check out this story.

Kasper said he's grateful for the police report he was able to obtain from the the Pennsylvania authorities because it allows him to get a freeze on his credit file without paying the customary $5 fee in New York to place and thaw a freeze.

Credit freezes prevent would-be creditors from approving new lines of credit in your name — and indeed from even being able to view or "pull" your credit file — but a freeze will not necessarily block fraudsters from filing phony tax returns in your name.

Unless, of course, the scammers in question are counting on obtaining your tax transcripts through the IRS's own Web site. According to the IRS, people with a credit freeze on their file must lift the freeze (with Experian, at least) before the agency is able to continue with the KBA questions as part of its verification process.

Update, 10:46 p.m., ET: The link included in the first paragraph of this story directing readers to create an account with the IRS is currently returning the message: "We are currently experiencing technical issues and unable to process new registrations."

Tags: 

27 comments

  1. Maybe I overlooked it, but can you be more specific about what needs to be done to create the account at the IRS website. I followed the link to the forms, but at no point during the account creation did it ask for my SSN.

  2. They know we are coming:

    We are currently experiencing technical issues and unable to process new registrations.

  3. Yes, Brian,how do you register on irs.gov? Can you be more specific. The site has no login or registration page.

    • The link to do that is in the first paragraph of this story. Oddly enough, the site seems to be having troubles at the moment.

      • Nigerian DOS attack?

      • If you click "Forgot User ID" you can then click a reregister link that seems to work, though I haven't verified that the resulting page would actually submit successfully.

      • Apologies if this comes through twice.

        If you click the "Forgot User ID" link, you can then click "reregister," which takes you to a page that loads. Whether it actually works, I don't know, because I didn't submit the form.

        • I attempted to register, and at the end of the process I got a "technical" error messages that my transaction to create my account failed.

      • Seems to be the IRS is flawed. Very flawed in so many levels.

        We are mad at companies like Intuit for not being careful with TurboTax.
        We are mad at the fraudsters for stealing our money and for getting us into legal trouble.

        But when do we get mad at the IRS that basically invites this to happen?

  4. By the way, if you go to https://www.irs.gov/ instead of just https://irs.gov/ you get a certificate error because the certificate being used is from an Akamai load balancer.

  5. This is the best story that I've read in a long time. Very useful. Another problem with the KBA questions is that they could be wrong. I tried the annual credit report site once and got questions about loans that I never heard about so slapped a fraud alert up right away. Nothing in my credit file about any loans so I have no idea where the questions came from.
    As an aside, if I'm a mule, what's to prevent me from skipping the WU step?

    • That happens to people all the time – turns out they are be questions to do with the finances of ex-spouses, relatives-in-law, distant relatives who died years ago, etc.

  6. IRS: "We are currently experiencing technical issues and unable to process new registrations."

    Social Security: "We are currently experiencing technical issues and unable to process new registrations. "

  7. Just tried to register and after several steps the site encountered an error and halted the process.

    "We are currently experiencing technical issues and unable to process new registrations."

  8. "Proceed as GUEST" SERIOUSLY?!

  9. This is currently happening to me right now. I went to e-file and found that someone else submitted a tax return in my name. I submitted the fraud alert form to the IRS but also sent in my hard copy of the real tax return. It sounds like I shouldn't have done that and should have filed and sent $50 to have a transcript sent of the fraudulent claim.

  10. HMRC send inderviduals a unique reference on the usual paperwork an then a further activation code by post to validate the current address if they register to file online.

    It begs the question; All this because they are too cheap to authenticate you by post?

  11. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/infoqualityguidelines.pdf

    Integrity
    Integrity, as defined in the OMB quality guidelines, refers to the security of information
    from unauthorized access or revision to ensure that the information is not compromised
    through corruption or falsification.
    To ensure the integrity of its information, IRS will employ rigorous controls that have
    been identified as representing sound security practices.
    Tax returns are protected from public scrutiny by law, and strict procedures govern the
    handling of returns and computer files containing such information. IRS has programs
    and policies in place for securing its resources as required by the Internal Revenue Code.

  12. Looking at url: https://sa.www4.irs.gov/icce-core/load/gettrans/pages/availableTranscripts.xhtmlto register for IRS transcripts. Site is in in the Netherlands !
    I am using flagfox extension in firefox to give me country location of server. I looked up uisng another firefox extension definitely Netherlands. Main IRS website US. Very disconcerting.
    Site still technical difficulties message @ 5:35 AM.

  13. Register at the IRS website? Really?

    Considering what's been going on with TurboTax, routers, and breaches of all kinds…..
    Considering how much trouble everyone seems to be having with this 'registration process'…..
    Considering that this has never been required before…..

    This entire idea is at the very least, laughable. At the most, questionable and suspect.

    With all this going on; What's the point in even having SSN#'s in the first place?

  14. George Scott Hollingsworth

    I suspect a generic error message is being used or an admin blocked access to Equifax servers as a quick and dirty fix to the weak KBA.

    I have seen the same KBA used also at healthcare.gov and free credit info sites operated by the credit agencies and maybe others like mint.com (an Intuit brand).

    Somebody asked when we would get mad at the IRS? Too late, we have generally been mad at the tax collectors since they made their first appearance thousands of years ago.

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Who Is the Antidetect Author?

Earlier this month I wrote about Antidetect, a commercial tool designed to help thieves evade fraud detection schemes employed by...

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