Title: Identity Theft: Count the Ways
Author: Daryl Campbell
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               Self-Help & How-To's, Society & Culture
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Identity Theft: Count the Ways
by Daryl Campbell

I received an e-mail message from "Paypal" not too long ago. The
e-mail stated that PayPal needed me to update and verify my
security information for their database. I didn't. One of the
sentences in the e-mail read:

"Complete the necessary verification tasks within 5 days, or your
account might get temporarily suspended."

That didn't sound like the PayPal I've been doing business with
for several years. The grammar of "your account might get
temporarily suspended" raised an alarm bell. Also the logo while
quite professional looked odd.

But the obvious giveaway was knowing Paypal would never contact
me at an e-mail address I never gave them. I could have become a
victim of a technique called phishing. Just another form of
identity theft.

The effort criminals put into stealing your identity staggers
the imagination.

With Phishing, also called brand spoofing, criminals set up phony
but legitimate looking websites then spam you with e-mail like
the one described above in the hopes of catching a percentage of
Internet users. No reputable business will ever ask for your
personal information via e-mail information.

Phishing just became a parent to a newborn child called
"pharming". Hackers plant phony information into DNS servers.
This allows them to match domain names with the database of IP
addresses maintained by various web hosting companies. In other
words, you type in a web address, press enter and get rerouted to
bogus websites where identity thieves are waiting to grab any of
your information.

2003 saw identity thieves target Ebay account holders; this year
it's Paypal's turn, but any company with a database of
information remains a target.

Choicepoint, a veritable clearinghouse for the insurance
industry, finds themselves trying to explain how identity thieves
tapped into their system to defraud 145,000 customers across the
U.S. Investigators in California place that number closer to a
half a million.

The hackers apparently used previously stolen identities to apply
for and receive business licenses then bought information from
ChoicePoint whose database totals 19 billion public records.

The FTC estimates that this year alone identity theft will cost
the business community 4.2 billion dollars and 8 billion by the
end of 2006.

Easy access to computers provide more chances for identity theft
but the majority of cases according to the Better Business
Bureau happen offline. Mail fraud public spying known as
"shoulder or telephone scams that target the elderly surfing"
contribute greatly to this epidemic.

Unfortunately senior citizens face another threat known as the
"sweetheart scam" in which a criminal offers to run errands or do
chores around the house for the express purpose of taking control
of the victim's finances.

Taking control of someone's finances can also happen in a
restaurant, department store or any legitimate place of business.
When a clerk swipes your card twice without your knowledge then
stores the information for later use, this is known as skimming.
Often the clerk will make a duplicate card with your info to go
on a buying spree or sell it on the black market. The illegal
selling of credit card information as you might have already
guessed is big business.

Identity theft has forced many financial institutions to revamp
their ATM's due to criminal rigging. A person uses the ATM but
after putting in the pin# the machine keeps the card. Usually
when the person goes to report it, the thief strikes, taking
card, pin # and most importantly the victim's identity.

The methods of madness can include something simple like going
through your trash known as dumpster diving or an elaborate hoax
similar to the one reported by the Associated Press.

A family in the Pacific Northwest posed as tax preparers and used
stolen identities to go on buying sprees across several states
that included million dollar homes and luxury vehicles. According
to authorities, since the thieves stole the social security # of
children as well as adults, the damage won't be fully known until
these young people start applying for credit later on.

Law Enforcement officials believe the next step with this
criminal outfit involved applying for health care positions.
Hospitals and doctor offices provide a wealth of personal
information. Perfect for Identity thieves

These methods, along with old fashioned robbery, show why identity
theft according to the Department of Justice maintains its
ranking as the number one and fastest growing crime in the US for
5 consecutive years. Unfortunately, it will maintain that status
for the near future.

Copyright  2005 Daryl Campbell

About Daryl: Daryl Campbell owns and operates WintheMarket.com
(http://www.winthemarket.com). Identity theft can be devastating.
Restoring your good name can be overwhelming and costly. If
identity theft happens, you need more that do it yourself
information. Let the experts do the work for you. For free
information go to http://digbig.com/4cmcg now.


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