Mark Pribish

ID thieves use variety of tactics to steal from us

By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

Thieves use a variety of ways to get in and steal property. They might be dressed in fake company service uniforms to avoid attention or break in during the day when you are at work. Different security measures need to be taken for both types of threats.

Similarly, ID-theft criminals also use more than one tactic to steal from us with identity fraud and identity theft. Knowing what these ID threats are will help you defend against both.

Identity fraud relates to the fraudulent use or attempted use of your credit/debit card, checking/savings account, driver's license, health insurance card, personal or work e-mail or other types of identification to steal money or information from an existing account or member benefit.

Identity theft happens when a criminal uses your personally identifiable information, which can be used to uniquely identify, contact, or locate a single person or can be used with other sources to uniquely identify and pretend to be that person.

Fraudulent use of your Social Security number or a bank-account number can allow an identity- theft criminal to open accounts to initiate fraudulent transactions in your name. When this happens, that criminal may cause financial loss or a negative credit score to unsuspecting consumers or a small business.

Identity theft is more complicated and is usually a bigger problem than identity fraud.

If fraudulent transactions occur on your account, it does not necessarily mean your identity was stolen. Identity fraud is related to a single credit-, debit-, checking-, or savings account-related event. Fraudulent transactions can be solved through the fraud and security division of your bank, credit card or health insurance company.

So how do identity theft and identity fraud happen? Most of the individual consumers and business executives that I speak to believe identity theft and identity fraud are related to information technology and hacking.

While the data breach news headlines lead most people to believe IT and hacking are the primary source of these events, the real primary source is the insider threat. Insiders include current or former employees, vendors, and even customers, along with family members and friends who take advantage of their relationship.

So how can you protect you or your business?

As a consumer, safeguard your personally identifiable information by participating in an ID theft self-assessment quiz along with additional education, including fraud-prevention tips.

As a business, be proactive in annual information security and governance assessments, speak with your insurance broker to ensure you have appropriate coverage based on the specific information you collect and maintain, and read my columns on azcentral.com to stay informed of the ever-changing threat landscape.

You also can find consumer and business assessment tools and fraud-prevention education resources at many websites such as your financial institution, health insurer, employer or your identity-theft service provider.

Keep in mind that ID-theft criminals use ID fraud and ID theft. Plan accordingly to protect your personal and financial information.


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 Alert -- How Con Artists Create Fake Versions of Real Emails

September 08, 2015

A sophisticated new scam is targeting business and personal email addresses. Scammers create email accounts nearly identical to an existing account and use that new account to initiate wire transfers.

How the Scam Works:

You are working for a business that deals with contractors or suppliers. One day, you receive an email that comes from your contractor, requesting to be paid by wire transfer. This is unusual, but you have a long standing relationship with this contractor, so you initiate the transfer.

Watch out! The email may be a fraud. Scammers are hacking into email accounts and spying on messages sent by the account owners. Then they create a new, second account that looks very similar. It may differ by a single character.

Con artists then use these new accounts to initiate wire transfers. In some case, the funds from the unauthorized transfers are sent to money mules located in the United States. These mules may be victims of employment scams. They may have no idea that their new "job" involves moving money for scammers.

Tips to protect yourself from this scam:

  • As always, be wary of suspicious emails. Do not open e-mail messages, click links or download attachments from unfamiliar senders.
  • Double check email addresses. Watch out for changes in e-mail addresses that mimic legitimate e-mail addresses.
  • Question changes to payment instructions. Contact the real vendor to check on the change.
  • Have a dual step process in place for wire transfers. This can include verbal communication using a telephone number known by both parties.
  • Know your vendors. Be aware of each company's typical payment activity and question any variations.

For More Information

To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam).

Courtesy of the Better Business Bureau - for more information visit http://www.bbb.org/phoenix/news-events/

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