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Fraudsters Pull Out Credit Report through Shared Music Files

By Faye Mergel
Published: Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Millions of music enthusiasts are using peer-to-peer networks to share and download songs. Unfortunately, some crooks are using those same networks to pull out credit reports and other important documents.

Fraudsters Pull Out Credit Report through Shared Music FilesFederal financial student aid applications and tax returns are just some of the important documents that crooks steal through peer-to-peer networks. Investigators say most people install file sharing software in their computer to increase their music library or to download documents, applications, and videos. But what they do not know is that crooks are using those very software to gain access to financial information.

The Secret Service has informed many people whose personal information were stolen through file sharing so they would undertake measures to protect their identity. Experts say a person gives hackers a chance to access his whole computer simply by sharing just one file. They further note that on any given day, 20 million people use peer-to-peer networks such as Napster, Limewire, and Bearshare. Most of them trade music through those medium.

Specialists warn music enthusiasts that by sharing files through peer-to-peer networks, they are allowing crooks all over the world to access their computer with no restriction. It is like opening their credit report or tax return documents to the whole online community, specialists say.

Kathryn Warma, who was deal with several cases involving hackers victimizing peer sharers, says many sharing enthusiasts feel so confident that their computer is safe when they join those networks. They could be so snug in their bed without knowing that someone is taking a peek at their credit report. Worse, those hackers use the personal identifying information they steal to open fraudulent accounts with banks, mortgage, or auto lenders.

Some students reported that their student aid application numbers were found online after few months of using file sharing networks. Investigators add that some hackers use sharing networks to expose confidential information from the government and important documents for major companies.

Fraud investigators warn consumers that it is very important to keep their credit report secured since it contains important identifying information which could be used to steal their identity. This includes their name, Social Security number, date of birth, and driver’s license number.

Experts advise consumers to immediately delete any file sharing software they have on their computer, adding that those who are using older versions are particularly vulnerable to hackers since they do not have updated security features.

If they want to continue trading music, companies advise sharers to keep their software updated. Congress is set to hold a session at Capitol Hill this month to look into the dangers of peer-to-peer sharing.

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