Friday, April 28, 2006

$2 million Identity Theft Crime Ring Busted

$2-million-Identity-Theft-Crime-Ring-Busted-audio post - click to play

Operating across 6 counties, a large scale identity theft
crime ring responsible for $2 million in fraud was recently
busted after six years of operation.

20 members of the ring were recently busted for creating
fake checks and charging stolen credit card numbers to
even phony businesses.

It took authorities 7 months to crack this identity
theft ring after initially recieving a report of a single
counterfeit check passed to a Los Angeles area bank.

What is particularly scary about this identity theft case,
is the length of time (6 years) they were in operation and
the $2 million in fraud they were responsible for in a
single year.

Plus, when busted, this identity theft ring had records
indicating the diversity of their fraud capability :

  • Fake checks
  • Stolen credit card numbers
  • Wire & Real Estate fraud
  • Computer equipment

This case proves that identity theft has become a very
profitable enterprise and is no longer just a crime
limited to purse snatchers or dishonest clerks stealing
personal information on an individual basis.

Let's face it - identity thieves are organized,
and unfortunately often
hidden away from exposure for years.

So, our tip for today is to arm yourself against the often
times silent criminal enterprise which could very well have
already made you an identity theft victim.

Besides a credit report check, check out your much larger
real estate fraud potential by getting your personal
and background records check today - especially to catch
the identity fraud not trackable by credit bureaus.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Can I Steal Your Identity with That Pizza?

Can-I-Steal-Your-Identity-with-That-Pizza-audio-post - click to play

It was bound to happen sooner or later.

A Utah man paid the ultimate high price for his recent
pizza purchase. That's right - identity theft resulting
from simply buying a pizza.

$1,500 in fraudulent credit card charges across two different
states were the result of identity theft committed against
the man while he was living in Ohio. It seems the pizza
clerk made use of a small, handheld device called a
"skimmer" to illegally capture the man's credit card data.

The skimmer pulls the data from your credit card which provides
the identity thief all the information needed to make a counterfeit
card. A skimmer can hold card data from hundreds of different
credit cards.

Identity thieves use them to record the names, account numbers
and other identifying information from the magnetic stripes
located on the back of the card to be downloaded onto a personal
computer later. That data can then be used to make phony credit
cards used to commit fraud against innocent victims.

Since hand held card skimmers have been reported to cost as little
as $300, it's no wonder the pizza man found it far more profitable
to steal identities than worry about whether pepperoni or sausage
was on your order.

Now combine a skimmer equipped identity thief with a customer order
database which includes your name, home address, phone number
and you have a ready made set of potential victims to commit credit
fraud against.

No wonder the pizza man is part of a cottage industry of identity
thieves who either directly commit credit fraud or illegally sell
your personal information to others to use anywhere else in the

It's a big problem which was estimated to cost $1 billion a year
accordingly to

So, our tip for today is to pay cash for that pizza ordered from
the call in service. Better yet, avoid using those "convenient"
phone in ordered, pizza delivery services altogether as they are
typically staffed by transient labor who are responsible for
recording some of your most confidential personal credit data
that you would typically only trust with a bank.

Friday, April 21, 2006

$1.5 Million Proves Identity Theft Does Pay

$1.5-Million-Proves-Identity-Theft-Does-Pay-audio-post - click to play

Priests, an ex-cop, fathers against sons, son against fathers
medical office billing clerks, laptops containing social security
numbers, and more.

We've shared with you stories recently involving all of these
type of individuals who have committed identity theft to
illustrate how pervasive this crime has become.


Identity theft has become a crime of convenience and opportunity
for many would be criminals. What we mean by convenience is that
it's been suggested by law enforcement officials that identity thieves
now believe it's easier to steal and traffic stolen personal information
than to peddle drugs - especially by organized gangs. With the
potential to getting caught and receiving long
prison sentences, identity
theft presents a more attractive
opportunity for criminals to make a easy

Case in point, a New York man recently was indicted for his role in
an identity theft scam that defrauded several high profile financial
institutions out of more than $1,5000,000 involving home
equity loans
and lines of credit. The New York identity thief
was able to secure these loans using the stolen personal information
of innocent victims living in the area. This identity thief also
fraudently purchased at least $180,000 in various goods and
using the victim's credit information.

But, how could he have acquired the identity theft victim's
personal & credit information?

Here's one possible answer as evidenced by the recent arrest of a
postal carrier. Apparently, this lady identity thief had stolen
credit cards, checkbooks and bank statements from at
least five (as many as 12) people to whom she delivered mail to
in her area. She was arrested by police after attempting to use
one of the stolen credit cards at a local area shopping mall.

As in these two cases, we've seen an emerging pattern used by
identity thieves with the use of "data collectors". Data
collectors are individuals who typically would not raise
suspicion by lingering or even just regularly transiting a
residential area - but they also serve a double live as
friend to a identity thief. Going about their seemingly
daily activities, they also secretly steal
personal information for either
subsequently selling to
other identity thieves
that actually use this information

to purchase goods illegally. Or, these id theft "collectors"
may selectively, but most often quickly, use their victim's
stolen credit cards (and pre-approved applications) to go
on a shopping spree for electronics or other goods they
can re-sell for a profit.

In either case, identity theft does pay for those criminals
waiting for the opportunity to steal your personal information
to commit credit fraud against your good name.

So, our tip for today is straight forward. You can
not stop
identity thieves from wanting and
even attempting to steal
your personal
information from every place it resides or

where it's being transported to amongst
data sharing partners.

You can, however, practice denial and detection methods as
your way to prevent identity theft from happening to you.
By denial, we mean opt out from pre-approved credit and
junk mail marketing lists. Plus, switch to on-line billing
statement delivery from your financial institutions as well
to limit the amount of your personal information from freely
circulating through the USPS mail system. Make sure to also
request from your financial institutions your right to privacy
by opting out of them sharing your personal data amongst their
marketing partners.

Finally, institute the practice of "detection" by enrolling in
credit and account monitoring as your identity theft burglar
alarm to guard against suspicious transactions or intrusion
by would be identity thieves.

Lastly, don't forget that identity theft just doesn't involve credit
data. You can also leave yourself vastly exposed to large scale
identity theft, as in the case of real estate property purchased
by identity
thieves, if you haven't checked out your public records
lately as well.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

High Tech Mobile Identity Theft

High-Tech-Mobile-Identity-Theft-audio-post - click to play

The ever resourceful identity thief now has
become more mobil and high tech

Case in point, a pair of identity thieves now
in custody, had set up a high tech computer
operation based in a Washington state motel.
It seems the two identity thieves were fully
equipped to commit fraud against hundreds
of local citizens before moving on to the next
town to repeat their crimes.

To manufacture forged documents needed for their
identity theft crime spree, the two criminals
had in their possession the following equipment:

  • Computers (faking checks)
  • Scanners (faking photos)
  • Laminators (faking cards)
  • Dozens of identities (faking people)

But, the really odd fact to this case was the two
had somehow managed to acquire a master key
the Vancouver post office!

So, our tip for today is to never under estimate
the power of greed or desperation by identity thieves.
The fact that a master key to unlock the post office was
stolen should give you an indication of how important it
is to reduce the amount of unsolicited junk mail containing
pre-approved credit offers in your name as well as frequently
checking your credit report for signs of identity theft.

Monday, April 17, 2006

9 out of 10 Consumers Want Online Bank Monitoring

9-out-of-10-Consumers-Want-Online-Bank-Monitoring-audio post - click to play

U.S. bank account holders overwhelmingly,
with 90% responding, agreed they want
online bank account monitoring in a recent
study released. In the poll conducted by
RSA Security, consumers (60%) also
would like their banks to contact them
first when suspicious activity is detected.

Given the overwhelming evidence identity theft
has become a national problem effecting tens of
millions of Americans, it's no small surprise
most consumers feel banks should be providing
better account monitoring and notification services.

We only utilize banks and credit card companies which already
automatic account monitoring with exception alerting
to our wireless
devices based on specific "burglar alarm"
threats commonly associated
with potential identity theft.

For example:

  • Sudden unexplained increases in your credit card balance
  • Unexplained charges and transactions outside your normal pattern
  • Suspicious withdrawals from outside your normal transaction area
  • Attempts to change your mailing address for monthly statements

So, our tip for today is to request these services, often times they're
free, from your bank and credit card companies.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Protecting Students Social Security Number from Abuse

Protecting-Students-Social-Security-Number-from-Abuse-audio post - click to play

This article post was made possible by one
of our long time subscribers who recently
shared with us an experience involving
requests for their child's social security

It seems in this era of computerized databases
and the numerous cross linking exchanges which
take place amongst marketing partners sharing
consumer information, the need for a univeral
reference id has become all to frequent of
a request of companies for you to supply your
social security number.

In many instances these companies are
from outdated procedures
which may no longer
even be legal
in many states
requiring you or especially
minor age students to supply social security
numbers on forms simply to make it easy
for firms to trade the personal data they c
ollect with other firms.

For example, as our subscriber shared with us,
kids today who take the PSAT tests as a pre-
condition to enrolling into college, are faced
with multiple requests to supply their
security number (ssn).

Additionally, we've found from further research
these same testing companies who're requesting
student social security numbers, frequently
also capture other sensitive personal
such as gender and ethnicity.

Our subscriber raised a very valid point, in that
how many high school age kids are that savy to know
the ramifications of releasing their social security
number when it's really not necessary?

Minimally, the act of releasing your personal information
will result in a flood of un-wanted direct mail.

Plus, with the threat of identity theft coming from
hackers who've targeted universities and medical
institutions as easier opportunities than commercial
firms, it's always a latent time bomb waiting to
blow up your financial future when you needlessly
release your social security number to entities who
practice data sharing.

So, our tip for today is to advise your children
to not release their social security number
your prior review of the forms -
especially those which are on-line. Secondly, as
a parent, companies with out-dated data collection
procedures requesting social security numbers or
other highly sensitive information may not
necessarily be your first choice to conduct
business with.

Remember, your rights to protect your
information are guaranteed
under laws
such as the GLB and FCRA which
expressly limit data sharing and accessibility
to only those special instances where it's required.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Identity Theft Powered by iPod

Identity-Theft-Powered-by-iPod-audio post - click to play

What some may consider to be an
identity theft case involving
a very brazen criminal, a
San Francisco man was arrested
who was in possession of over
500 names and credit card

Included in the list of names
were a California congressman
and even a San Francisco FBI

But, the real twist to this
story, was the identity thief
stored many of the stolen id's
on his iPod
. At the time of
this article, it had not been
determined if the iPod was
stolen either.

Plus, this identity thief used
the stolen credit to finance
stays for months at first
class hotels in San Francisco's
upscale Nob Hill district.

When arrested, the identity thief
had just accepted delivery of
computer equipment ordered using
a man's information which had
been reported stolen from his
wallet located in his car.

So, our tip for today, is to
guard your personal data well.
Make sure to password protect
and encrypt your electronic
data on consumer electronic
devices like cellphones or
mp3 players.

Never leave a wallet or other
personal items(laptops or iPods)
inside your automobile within
plain view - even for a short

Friday, April 07, 2006

When Your Car's Identity is Stolen, Yours is Too!

When-Your-Car's-Identity-is-Stolen-audio post - click to play

Not only do you as an individual need to guard
against identity theft, but also your automobile
as well as the two are interlinked.

It costs the insurance industry $4 billion
annually and you can rest assured that burden
is passed on to consumers in the form of higher
cost insurance premiums.

It seems, wily thieves have found a way to
the identity of a stolen car over to
a legitimate
automobile. So, for unsuspecting
used auto buyers,
be aware.

Here's how.

A car identity thief changes the vehicle identification
number (VIN) to obscure the fact the automobile is
stolen by copying from any legitimately
purchased car
. Then they re-register the
stolen vehicle, but with the legitimate VIN
number on it.

The car identity thieves do this so that they may collect
insurance money associated with reporting a stolen vehicle.

The problem, though, if you purchase a used vehicle that
has a VIN number reported as stolen, you inherit all
risk of repossession. Or, even if you do not buy
a used car that's really stolen, but your vehicle's
VIN number has been flagged by the
industry as a duplicate due
to an identity thief's scam against someone else.

Either way you inherit a big problem with lot's of
financial risk because your personal name
& identity
are tied to the car.

So, our tip for today is to periodically check your
car's identity against any reported thefts. Have
the title checked for your car. Make sure to also
request the history of your car's VIN across states
to insure it hasn't been registered somewhere else.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

$1 Million Identity Theft by a Single Woman

$1-Million-Identity-Theft-by-a-Single-Woman-audio post - click to play

Identity thieves have proven themselves to be resourceful.
In the case of an Colorado woman, a single identity thief
managed to purchase (4) homes totaling $946,000 in loans.

The identity thief allegedly has 13 different aliases which
illustrates just how resourceful this sole individual was
in assuming multiple identities as part of her crime spree
against unsuspecting victims.

It seems, the identity thief even impersonated the victim
during the real estate transactin so as to insure she would
collect fees as a mortgage broker.

However, this identity thief was caught. But the identity
theft victim is now saddled with (4) homes on her credit
that she neither purchased nor has a need for.

So, our tip for today is to frequently check not only your
credit report, but also your public records profile for
any unusual claims against your name.

It might just save you from suffering a unjust, but very
large liability not at all easily erased from your credit.

Monday, April 03, 2006

94,000 Get Identity Theft Warning Letters in Los Angeles

94,000-Get-Identity-Theft-Warning-Letters-in-Los-Angeles -audio post - click to play

In what may only be the beginning of what
could become ultimately
a much larger
number, Los Angeles County officials sent
(enough to fill up two baseball stadiums)
citizens identity
theft warning letters.

The disclosure letters were a follow up to the January
exposure by the Department of Social Services (DPSS)
of the client's highly sensitive personal information:

  • Names
  • Addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Social Security Numbers (SSN)
  • Medical information

The confidential consumer information was exposed to identity
theft in January after multiple boxes of un-shredded
were left outside a DPSS office in a
major park located within
Los Angeles.

The reason we suspect you may not have heard the last of this
incident is in the original story there were several shocking
facts uncovered:

After a citizen reported the sensitive documents were stacked
outside, it took 1 month before the paper was actually
for a professional shredding and destruction company.

Plus, the company which held the contract for the records
destruction, indicated they actually do not shred
the documents
but rather ship them to China
for recycling.

So, imagine your most sensitive personally identifying information
falling into the hands of potential identity thieves located in a
foreign country - well beyond the reach of local enforcement
and U.S. laws.

The bottom line here, 94,000 is a minimal number of consumers
disclosed due to costs. Remember, Choicepoint initially only disclosed
a small number of consumers effected by their security breach, but
was later forced to update that figure ultimately by 100,000.

While organizations such as the DPSS or Choicepoint were motivated
by limiting exposure to wholesale embarrassment and public ridicule,
you the consumer ultimately bears the cost of identity theft.

With quality, fake identification, available with the data exposed
by DPSS, identity thieves will gladly pay $100 or
more per name
for this type of information.

So, our tip for today, is to limit the amount of financial
damage an identity thief can cause with the type of personal
information exposed by organizations such as the DPSS.
Check out very carefully your credit report and public
records snapshot, then enroll in automatic credit monitoring.

Tell a friend about this if they live or work in L.A. county as the
DPSS files were originally believed to have covered over 2 million
residents - not 84,000.