Facts you really need to know about identity theft: Internet ScamBusters #117
The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud
By Audri and Jim Lanford
Copyright © Audri and Jim Lanford
All rights reserved.
Today’s issue is about a very surprising aspect of identity theft. We suspect
you don’t know who commits the most identity theft — and why it’s so important
that you do know. So, let’s jump right in…
Identity Theft Often Begins the Same Place
Charity Does — at Home
You’d almost have to live in a cave not to know about identity theft. It’s in
the news on a regular basis. In addition, you may have already been a victim –
or know someone who has been victimized.
Everyone also seems to be aware that electronic identity theft — through email,
online banking or using credit cards online — costs consumers millions of dollars
every year, and the numbers are escalating.
For the fifth year in a row, identity theft topped the list of complaints reported
to the Federal Trade Commission in 2004, accounting for 39% of all complaints
received annually by the FTC. It also tops our ScamBusters prediction list of
the worst Internet
scams for 2005.
The consequences of becoming a victim of identity fraud include: having a scammer
open up accounts in your name (and running up debts to those accounts), losing
your job, being denied insurance, or even being arrested for crimes you didn’t
However, what you may NOT be aware of is that fully 50% of reported identity fraud
is perpetrated by relatives, friends and neighbors, or acquaintances of the victim.
That’s a truly amazing statistic. And whereas many people think that computer
crimes account for most identity theft, computer crimes, in fact, only accounted
for 11.6% of all identity theft where the cause was known in 2004.
According to a survey done by Javelin Strategy & Research, these ‘close encounters’
by friends and family are costing much more money — and time to resolve — than
‘stranger’ fraud would.
Here’s an example: the median loss from phishing scams is $2,320. But when the
identity theft is a result of fraud by family and friends, the median loss is
So how do you decrease your chances of your identity being stolen by a neighbor
or a nephew?
Here are 5 identity theft prevention tips:
1. Don’t give ANYONE access to your PIN #s.
2. Don’t leave financial mail or statements lying around your house or your car
– you’d be appalled at how much information can be gleaned from your checkbook,
bank statements, credit card account statements and tax records.
3. When you are discarding things, shred any personal documents that may contain
personal or financial information.
4. As much as possible, sign up for electronic banking and account monitoring,
and then review your accounts regularly. Any fraud will be detected sooner –
and more easily — than if you wait for monthly mail.
5. Review your credit report, bank accounts and credit card bills frequently.
Self detection is the best way to find out about identity fraud early.
For more tips on how to prevent and detect identity fraud, visit:
Action: Follow these tips and be vigilant to protect yourself
from identity theft from people you know. And also follow the tips from previous
issues to protect yourself from identity theft from strangers.
That’s it for now. See you next week…