YOUR Information First
June 2007 / issue #5

In this issue:

Timely Tips
Feature Article
Latest ID Theft News
Scam Central
More Resources


Protect Your Identity On Your Summer Vacation

Are you planning to take a vacation with your family or friends this summer? Before you head out the door, keep in mind that thieves are also planning on having their own kind of fun with your money and identity this vacation season.

Here are some ways to protect your identity before and during your vacation:

  1. Keep your checkbook in a safe place at home. Once a thief has your checks and deposit slips they can use your account information to create fraudulent checks and drain your account. To make matters worse, check fraud is one of the most difficult financial crimes to clear up.
  2. Remove unneeded items from your wallet or purse before you leave. If you're taking a 7 day cruise to the Caribbean, you probably won't be needing your Macy’s card. Carry only the credit cards and identification you need for your trip and remove cards that show your Social Security number.  
  3. Be alert of your surroundings. Thieves use high-traffic areas such as airports, vacation resorts and night clubs to pick the pockets of unsuspecting tourists. In this information age, many are more interested in stealing information than cash. Carry your identification, cash and credit cards in a travel pouch or money belt worn inside your clothes.
  4. Secure your laptop. Laptops are a prime target for thieves everywhere because of the valuable data they contain. If you bring your laptop along, keep it with you at all times, ensure that it is locked when not in use and that you have a record of its contents.
  5. Remove your rental agreement from the car. Most rental car agreements contain personal information that could be used by identity thieves. 



ID Theft Is Bigger Than The Headlines
By Mark Pribish

Since February 2005 – when the watershed ChoicePoints data breach event took place – there have been over 450 data breaches (that we know of) affecting over 140 million records containing sensitive customer and employee information.

In the beginning, the electronic and print media has communicated these data breach events with major headlines and leading radio and television news stories.  However, because of the high frequency of data breaches, it appears as though the media has relegated such news stories to a paragraph or two away from the major headlines or as a second or third news story on the radio or television.

Since you are more likely to become a victim of identity theft (1 in 23) than you are to be in an auto accident (1 in 130), this is a great time to remind ourselves of the challenges and definitions of identity theft. The following is a list of tactics and scams used by thieves that you need to be aware of:

  • Cyber-Crime – committed by using a computer and the internet to steal a person’s identity, sell contraband, stalk victims, and/or disrupt operations with malevolent programs.
  • Dumpster Diving – going through trash bins, office or public – for loan applications, bank and credit documents, and social security numbers.
  • Insider Crime – where current and former employees, business partners, vendors, and organized crime break through internal controls to steal information.
  • Mail-Theft – mining mailboxes for information relating to new credit cards, pre-approved credit offers, insurance statements, employee benefits, taxes, etc.
  • Mules – where fraudsters recruit unsuspecting individuals to act as a middle man (mule) and by having the mule accept transfers of money from compromised accounts.  The mules are then asked to transfer the money from their accounts in the form of cash and forward it, minus their commission, to the fraudsters using an international money transfer agency.
  • Pharming – the process of redirecting internet domain name requests to false websites to collect personal information.
  • Phishing – a scam that uses an authentic looking fraudulent email to solicit confidential customer information in response.
  • Physical Records – are the physical and electronic documents including PC hard drives.  Typical physical records include your information that is stored by your current and former home/auto insurance agent, life insurance agent, employer group including health insurance provider, doctor, dentist, local hospital, division of motor vehicles, financial institution, educational institutions, and more.


SCAM CENTRAL - "The Internet Check Cashing" Scam

This scam typically preys on those who wish to work from home or who are stay at home moms. Because the thieves use convincing tactics and dupe the individual into thinking there is little risk and a big reward, many are victimized by this scam each year.

Here’s how the Internet Check Cashing scam usually works:

  • An individual receives an email or actually applies online at sites such as or for a work-at-home opportunity.
  • The criminals pose as top overseas companies such as software, health care, or research firms.
  • The victims are told that "due to the delays in clearing checks and money orders in Europe," they need "financial agents" to process payments for their U.S. orders.
  • The victims are promised a long-term "job" with the company and a percentage of the transaction-which seems to vary between 4-10%.
  • The victims will receive checks representing U.S. orders and deposit them in their personal accounts. They are then instructed to immediately transfer the money, minus their supposed fee, to the company. By the time victims discover that the checks that they had deposited are bad, the criminals already have the money that was wired to them and the victims account information for further transactions.
  • The criminals seem to change their corporate identities every few months.
If you believe you've encountered or have been victimized by this scam contact your local law enforcement officials and call 1.866.SMART68 to speak to a Recovery Advocate.


Are you at risk? Take our ID theft quiz
Tips about avoiding identity theft
Video: Delivering Justice

We've got you covered.  

To speak to a professional Recovery Advocate please call:

1.866.Smart68 (1.866.762.7868)

Click here to cancel your subscription to this newsletter