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.

Why?

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
reduced
potential to getting caught and receiving long
prison sentences, identity
theft presents a more attractive
opportunity for criminals to make a easy
living.

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
services
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
normal
daily activities, they also secretly steal
consumer's
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.

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