Mitt Romney, Al Gore Hit by Celebrity Document Diggers
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The celebrity-document diggers have struck again, posting online the Social Security numbers of six more prominent Americans, including former presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Al Gore.
The other new victims were Kanye West, Tiger Woods, reality-show mom Kris Jenner and U.S. Marshals Service director Stacia Hylton.
All except West also have their credit reports listed, which reveal bank and credit-card balances and partial account numbers.
From the reports, we can see that Romney has a Tiffany's charge card, that Woods has two American Express cards, that Hylton took out a home mortgage last year and that Gore shops at Nordstrom's.
Everyone has pretty good credit, except for Woods, who had a Bank of America account suspended for undisclosed reasons. The account was closed at his request.
Other personally identifiable information for the "doxed" individuals included dates of birth, current and former addresses, and, in Romney's case, telephone numbers.
On Monday, the same website, which has a Russian top-level domain suffix, posted similar information on 17 other Americans, including Michelle Obama, Britney Spears and Jenner's daughter Kim Kardashian.
There's no word on who's putting this online, but such private information is not that difficult to obtain. All it takes to run a credit report on anyone is their name and Social Security number, and the latter is sometimes easy to find through record searches.
The Associated Press used public records to confirm several of the Social Security numbers revealed Monday, including those of Jay-Z and Mel Gibson.
The people behind the website were better at covering their own tracks. The public domain-name registration simply lists the site's host, San Francisco-based CloudFlare.
All this information could enable identity thieves to open bank or credit-card accounts, or even obtain driver's licenses, in the names of the exposed individuals.
Trying to pose as Mitt Romney or Tiger Woods probably wouldn't get you far, but using their real names — Willard Romney and Eldrick Woods — might work.
To avoid having your identity stolen in a similar manner, run a credit report every four months. (Each of the three major credit agencies lets you run one free per year.)
Keep an eye on your bank and card balances and transactions, minimize the amount of personal information you put online (including Facebook) and give your Social Security number only to people who absolutely need it.