Feature Article
Mark Pribish
ID Theft and Fraud in the News... Last Week, This Week and Next Week
By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

On occasion, most individuals who write a regularly scheduled column or news article have what is called "writers block." For example, I write a monthly ID Theft article for our business clients that have a combined 4 million employees and customers.

However, today is Thursday, May 27 and I am being challenged on what ID Theft and Fraud subject I am going to write about for our May issue. To make matters more challenging, my editor (Robby Ward) is breathing down my neck to complete this article by the end of today since Memorial Day is this Monday, May 31 - when our offices will be closed.

However, one of my friends (I will not name this person since she is a senior executive at one of the largest banks in the United States) helped me out by asking me earlier this week "if I ever get tired of writing about ID Theft and Fraud - especially since it is a ‘tired subject’ - and does not make the news headlines the way it used to a few years ago?"

My response to my friend is that ID Theft and Fraud is alive and well in the news as evidenced by the 12 headline news stories (please see below) on ID Theft in just the last seven days.

One of these headline news stories included how Social Media ID Theft has impacted Facebook and its 450 million users where Facebook identities have been stolen and are "up for sale" on the internet.

In fact the public pressure and backlash negatively impacting Facebook forced Facebook to announce changes yesterday which will make it easier for users to change privacy settings and block outside parties from seeing personal information.

Others headline stories in just the last seven days include how the hard drives on copy machines can put our Personal Identifiable Information (PIN) at risk; and how ID theft is negatively affecting the homeless, public employees, our summer vacations, our medical information, our credit card information, our medical information including a news story on ID Theft and cosmetic surgery, our cell phone data, our employee information, and one of the latest trends in ID Theft called "Smishing" where bank text alerts have created a new angle on the old "Phishing" computer scams. I have added the links for each headline news article for those readers interested in learning more about one or more of these news stories:

Facebook, Facing Criticism, Ramps Up Privacy Options
CNN News
May 27, 2010

The Identity Theft Threat From Copiers
The New York Times
May 27, 2010

Charlotte loses data on 5,220 city workers
Charlotte Business Journal
Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Disbarred lawyer pleads guilty to ID theft
May 26, 2010

Identity theft is a reality, even on vacation
Chicago Tribune
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Loma Linda hospital patients' personal information stolen
The Press Enterprise
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Woman's quest for big breasts leads to ID Theft fraud charge
Seattle Times
May 24, 2010

AT&T Info Dumped In Local's Recycle Bin
Old Cell Phone Contracts Contained People's Personal Information
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Man Uses Coworker's ID for Student Loans
Mid-Hudson News Network
May 24, 2010

Identity Theft Scam Targets Low-income, Homeless
North County (San Diego) Times
Posted: May 21, 2010

Senator Bought Pot? No - He's an ID Theft Victim
KMJNews Talk Radio
May 21, 2010

Latest Trend In Identity Theft: Bank Text Alerts
"Smishing" Is New Twist On Old "Phishing" Computer Scams
Chicago News CBS Channel 2.
May 20, 2010 5:20 pm US/Central

So to my work colleague Robby - I hope you enjoy this article as much I enjoyed including your name in the story line. And to my friend in the banking business I hope this article validates how ID Theft and Fraud is not a tired subject as it remains a relevant and real problem that needs vigilant efforts to protect and minimize damage as it continues to make the headline news.

Happy Memorial Day.

To learn more about these threats and how to protect yourself and your family from Identity Theft, you can read my past newsletters at the Merchants Identity Theft Educational Website at www.idtheftedu.com.


Scam Central

Mail Forwarding Scam

Having mail stolen from your mailbox is among everyone's greatest fears. It can leave one feeling completely violated and vulnerable. A recent article on the KRQE.com website (http://www.krqe.com/dpp/news/crime/new-id-theft-scam-forwards-victim-mail) highlights the fact that identity thieves are becoming environmentally and economically conscientious. Instead of wasting gas by making a trip to yours and others mailboxes, they simply have the postal service deliver your mail directly to them.

How It Works:

You may receive a notice from the U.S. Postal Service informing you that your mail is about to be forwarded to another location. The problem is that it wasn't you that requested the forwarding change of address.

Identity thieves in New Mexico are now scanning residential phone books and choosing several random names and addresses. With this information, an identity thief will fill out a change of address form, just like the ones an individual who has moved would submit. If the attempt to forward your mail is successful, your mail will be directed to a new postal address, often out-of-state. Once the address has been successfully changed, fake documents such as driver's licenses can be obtained, credit card information stolen, and other personally identifiable information gleaned. Often times this information is sold to illegal immigrants in attempts to establish legal residency and obtain jobs.

Your Defense:

When a Forwarding Change of Address Order Form is submitted, the U.S. Postal Service will send a confirmation notice informing you that your mail is about to be forwarded to your new address. If you receive one of these notices and did not request the change of address, contact your local U.S. Postal Service office immediately and notify them that the forwarding address in question is not yours, and that they should put a halt to the forwarding of any of your mail. Also, you should contact all companies that send regular scheduled bills or statements (e.g. banks/credit unions, credit card, auto loan, utility, phone, etc.). And of course, you should contact the local police and file a police report.

You will have 7 - 10 days from the time the change of address form was submitted before the forwarding takes effect. The quicker you act, the safer your mail will be.

Read more on the U.S. Postal Service Change of Address Frequently Asked Questions.

If you believe your identity has been stolen, call 866.SMART68 today.