The Day I decided to become an Identity Thief
I decided if my credit cards and checking accounts were fair game for all the savvy thieves in the cyber world then maybe I should become a thief, too. After all, if they can steal my money and think that I have enough of it to have stolen then maybe I ought to play this game. Guess what I discovered?
It is way too easy to steal someoneís money, and I donít even need a personís correct name, address, phone number or any other identifying information. All I need is their Social Security Number. I can walk into a bank, or apply for a credit card using any name, address, and phone number that I can obtain hard copy documentation that almost appears legal. Online applications are even easier, as there is not a real live person inspecting the physical documentation.
It is that easy folks. One little nine digit number and just about everything a person has in their bank accounts, available credit on a credit cards, and their credit worthiness to open new accounts is in jeopardy. It is all at a thiefís beck and call. Itís a virtual Cherry orchard and I have decided that I wanted to be a Cherry picker extraordinaire. (Just joking, I wanted to know more about how identity theft happens.}
Why? Several months ago a cherry picking cherry thief picked every cherry in my cherry orchard (bank account). I wanted to understand how this could happen. For the first time in my life, a thief made me very glad that I didnít have more money and a better credit rating. Somebody making me feel glad I didnít have more money and outstanding credit is just wrong, donít you agree?
Linda Foley of the Identity Theft Research Center in San Diego says, ďIíve seen accounts opened with wrong names and different addresses. As long as thereís a SSN, thatís all some of them care about.Ē
Everybody everywhere is asking for our Social Security Numbers. We give it to them on all their forms gladly so that we can hurriedly get back to our busy, important lives.
We have been lulled into a false sense of security by our Federal Banking authorities. From the Vets office that tends and mends our little four-legged friends to our Sewage and Electric Companies, they all ask us for our Social Security Number. From sea to shinning sea our data is out there -- filed, compiled, compressed, and collected, just waiting for unscrupulous people to take advantage of our hard earned cash and credit. Banks and credit card companies know this, too.
Not only will an individual have to endure the trauma of being a crime victim, once a person realizes that their money and identity has been stolen and their privacy invaded, it is going to cost additional money and time to prove they were a victim and hopefully clear their name of fraudulent activity, which adds insult to injury.
Your local bank may require a police report, which will then need to be submitted to the bankís fraud department. You will then have to wait for the bankís fraud department to determine if in fact you were a victim of fraud, which means more people snooping around in your personal records, and for a crime victim who is feeling violated this just adds to the trauma. This can take a varied amount of time, and usually does not happen instantly or overnight, either; I donít care what the television ads claim.
According to the California Public Interest Research Group, it estimates that it will take an identity theft victim 175 hours and $800.00 trying to clear their record of fraudulent charges. American businesses are not bearing the costs of these crimes, and neither are the banks, credit card or insurance companies. All the costs, which are running into the billions each year, are passed on to consumers.
That means YOU and ME. What? To my way of thinking, I am being taken more twice, maybe three times. First, my money is stolen by a thief, then I discover that banks and credit card companies are passing on the costs of the the theft, repairing my electronic data to me, their faithful, trusting customer. I have to pay for their inability to deal with thieves.
I am appalled. I am angry. And I think you should be too!
How do thieves get information so easily?
It is a business to them, and most of them buy the information legally. Surprised? Return on investment is tremendous, and even if an individual gets caught punishment is inadaquate. How often have you read in any news group anywhere about these organized identity theft operations being shut down and their operators sent to prison. My point exactly.
Our justice department is really busy prosecuting the Martha Stewart's of the world who didn't steal a dime. Go figure.
Do you use websites like Ancestry.Com? Then you really should read this:
Here is a quote from the above link:
ďThese records contain important personal identifiable information, including the name, social security number, date of birth, date of death, state or country of residence, ZIP code of last residence, and ZIP code of lump sum payment to the decedent's beneficiary. These records are also accessible for free on the web at places like Ancestry.com. The records have over a 3% error rate, and provide information chiefly on those who died after 1960.Ē
I donít know if Ancestry.Com is free, but I know that this is an alarming fact. What do you think?
Everyone should read the above link and all links just because you have a Social Security Number.
You can get a new SSN, but read this first:
September 2nd, 2004
Written by The Critic, inspired by the following article found on MSNís homepage on September 2nd, 2004.
The Critic hopes that you find both of our articles interesting, but find The Criticís article provides more information as well as being more entertaining. It is my hope that you will remember what was written here and forget all about the other guy. Itís a dog eat dog world.