Identity Theft & Fraud

Senior Detective Dave Street, of the Moreno Valley Sheriffs department, gave a presentation to the Riverside Tech CEO Forum about Identity Theft & Fraud. I found the presentation to be fascinating and disturbing. Based on the facts he provided, I believe everyone should take the time and review the information he presents. In this post I summarize the presentation, if you would like to view the full Power Point presentation, please download and/or view it at DocStoc.

The Facts

The FTC says Identity Theft is the fastest growing crime in America with over 8.1 million victims in 2007 causing $45 billion in damages. The “good news” is that we are down from $49 billion in damages from 2006.

The biggest problem in fighting this crime is that police have difficulty spending the resources necessary because of the volume of Identity Theft crimes and the intense research required. According to Detective Street, Identity Theft is the “Perfect Crime”, since no human interaction necessary.

Companies are part of the problem as well, since it cost a great deal of resources to implement processes to fight Identity Theft. There is also competition and pressure for companies to be able offer “easy” credit, which in some cases causes lax security measures.

The two primary victims of this crime are business (loss of money) and the credit card owners, who may not only lose money, but may have to endure blemishes on their credit reports that are not trivial to remove.

According to Detective Street, anecdotal evidence suggests that most perpetrators are drug users.

Follow are some methods that are used to steal your identity (see the full Power Point for more details):

  • Dumpster diving (not-illegal)
  • Mail boxes
  • Credit cards
    • blank checks
    • credit card statements w/ checks attached
    • bank and credit card statements
  • Burglary
    • they usually break in during the day when you are not home
    • vehicle theft
  • Dishonest Employees
  • Computer Searches
  • Phishing

Warning Signs

Here are some warning signs that may indicate that you have fell victim of Identity Theft:

  • Your postal mail abruptly stops.
  • You receive mail from financial businesses thanking your for your application.
  • You receive telephone calls to verify your address.
  • You have unexplained purchases on your credit cards.
  • You get calls from collection agencies for past due debt that you know nothing about.

What If You Are a Victim?

What to do?

  • File a local police report and bring all documentation including account numbers. Credit reports are not enough.
  • Go to for assistance, they have up to date information.
  • Put out fraud alert with Experian, Equifax and Trans Union.
  • Cancel the effected account.
  • Ask the effected bank to notify “check verification company”.
  • Get a recent credit report and check for strange activity.
  • Send the documents & police report to the three credit bureaus.
  • Ask the credit bureaus to “block and remove” fraudulent items.

Preventive Suggestions

  • Use some kind of identity protection service, such as Costco’s Identity Guard. (This suggestion came from one of the Riverside Tech CEO members)
  • Freeze your credit for $10 at each credit bureau.
  • Register any incidents of fraud with the FTC.
  • Document everything

Have you been a victim of Indentity Theft? Share your story.

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