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Was Your Identity Information Misused To Submit Fake Comments To The FCC About Net Neutrality?

After creating a webpage specifically to help New York State residents determine if their identifies were misued for net neutrality comments, Attorney General Schneiderman announced:

"In the last five days alone, over 3,200 people have reported misused identities to the Attorney General’s office, including nearly 350 New Yorkers from across the state. Attorney General Schneiderman urges New Yorkers to continue to check whether their identity was misused and report it to his office in order to inform the investigation."

The webpage automatically links to only net neutrality (Docket 17-108) comments with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC)  site. So, at least 3,200 persons have confirmed the misuse of their identity information by unknown persons (or bots) to pollute feedback by the public about net neutrality rules protecting consumers' broadband freedoms. You'd think that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai would be concerned about the pollution and fraud; and would delay the upcoming December 14th vote regarding net neutrality. But he's not and blew off the fake comments allegations, as explained in this earlier blog post.

You might think that Chairman Pai and the FCC would be concerned about pollution and fraud in feedback submitted to the FCC site, given the massive Equifax data breach in September which exposed the data elements (e.g., name, street addresses) criminals and fraudsters could easily use to submit fake comments.

This makes one wonder if the FCC can be trusted under Chairman Pai's leadership. Hopefully, Attorneys General in other states will provide similar webpages to help residents in their states... and not only for comments about net neutrality.

Being curious, I visited the webpage by AG Schneiderman. It instructed:

"The Office of the New York State Attorney General is investigating whether public comments regarding net neutrality rules wrongfully used New Yorkers’ identities without their consent. We encourage you to search the FCC’s public comment website and tell us if you see any comments that misuse your name and address.

First, search below to find any comments that may have misused your identity. If results appear, click on any comment that uses your name, and when the comment appears review the name, the address, and the comment text. (If no results appear, your identity most likely was not misused.)"

You don't need to be a New York State resident to use this online tool. My initial search produced 1,046, so I narrowed it by entering my name in quotations ("George Jenkins") for a more precise match. That second search produced 40 comments about net neutrality (e.g., Docket 17-108), a manageable number. I browsed the list which included my valid comment submitted during May, 2017.

I did not see any other comments using my name and address. That's good because I only submitted one comment. I noticed comments by persons with the same name in other states. That seems okay. It's reasonable to expect multiple persons with the same name in a country with a population of about 360 million people.

I did not check the addresses of the other persons with the same name. I realize that could easily hide synthetic ID-theft. In traditional synthetic ID-theft, criminals mix stolen (valid) Social Security numbers with other persons' names to avoid detection. In the ECFS comments system, one could enter valid names with fake addresses; or vice-versa. I hope that AG Schneiderman's fraud analysis also checks for both types of synthetic ID-theft: 1) fake names at real addresses, and 2) real names at fake addresses.

If I had found fraudulent entries, I would have notified AG Schneiderman, the Attorney General's office in the state where I live, and the FCC.

Did you check for misuse of your identity information? What did you find?

Comments

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Chanson de Roland

Thanks!

George

To submit a comment directly to the FCC, select "new Filing" in the left column on this page:
https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/search/filings?proceedings_name=17-108&sort=date_disseminated,DESC&submissiontype_description=COMMENT

Related petitions:

Stand Up For Net neutrality (Sen. Ron Wyden)
https://www.standtallforamerica.com/petition/fcc-netneutrality/a/

Save Net Neutrality
https://www.change.org/p/save-net-neutrality-netneutrality

Net Neutrality petition to Congress
https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/net-neutrality-petition?source=s.tw&r_by=17181072

George
Editor
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Howard

Thanks for the tip! While I submitted a comment legitimately, I found 3 comments with my name (and town) - one was mine, the other two were not, and one was in support of ending Net Neutrality (I do not support ending N.N.). I'll file a report with the NY AG - do you know if MA has a similar program?

George

Howard:
Sorry to hear your identity information was abused. I checked the website for the Massachusetts Attorney General (AG), who supports keeping net neutrality protections:
http://www.mass.gov/ago/news-and-updates/press-releases/2017/2017-07-17-net-neutrality.html

I do not know for certain if the Mass AG wants to be notified by residents who've had their identity information abused, but my guess is that Maura Healey would want to know. I suggest calling her office and contacting her via social media (e.g., Twitter):
https://twitter.com/MassAGO

You could also file a complaint:
http://www.mass.gov/ago/consumer-resources/filing-with-the-ago.html

And notify your state representative. I hope that this helps. Please let us know what happens.

George
Editor
http://ivebeenmugged.typepad.com

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