Stop thief! That's my identity and I want it backgreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
Stop thief! That's my identity and I want it back
By JOHN SUTHERLAND
The fastest growing crime in the United States is identity theft - a form of fraud not even recognised until the 1990s.
It began in California, fed by the unstoppable wave of electronic development. Identity theft is safe.
If someone steals your money, your car, your ox or your ass, you know exactly what to do. Call the police and they will set the mighty engine of the law to catch the thief and - with luck - recover your chattels.
So, too, if someone misappropriates your plastic or cheque book. The banks and the card companies will be right behind you.
But with identity theft it is not your property or financial instruments that are stolen; it is your selfhood. And when that happens, expect no help whatsoever.
This is how it works. The thief gets hold of the three pieces of information needed to create an identity - your social security number, your date of birth and your driving licence number. This information is all in the public domain. The going price on the Net from bona fide "data peddlers" is about $US50 ($82).
You have an excellent credit record which is available over the net for $US8.50. Pretending to be your landlord or employer, I do the research. Given your financial good conduct, you are "pre-approved" for card, phone and hire-purchase accounts. I apply for gold and platinum in your name, supplying your details, but indicating a change of address for billing. I do not meddle with your current cards or credit lines. (That would be dangerous). I merely set up new accounts for which you will never see the charges.
Spending fast, I max out the cards, ignore the monthly bills and apply for more cards. I acquire a replacement driving licence in your name ($US12) - again indicating a change of address. I open a bank account in your name and write bad cheques.
I finance the purchase of a new car and default on the payments. I park my new car illegally and blow my nose on the tickets. I run up huge phone bills in an apartment where I fall behind on the rent. To forestall eviction and repossession of the car, I file for bankruptcy - under your name.
Given the law's delays, I can expect two years of dolce vita before moving on. (The world is full of identities).
You know nothing of this until months later debt collection agencies begin to harass you. Life becomes Kafkaesque. You inform the police - but the cops can't get involved with working out who is the real you. There are drug dealers and pedophiles out there.
The companies, meanwhile, have sold on your "bad debt" for a fraction of its face value. The new owners are wholly unreasonable. You have to write innumerable letters "disputing" charges and get affidavits "proving" you couldn't have done these outrageous things.
You have to prove you're you.
You hire a lawyer, who demands to be paid in cash - up front - for your credit rating is shot. You now know what it means to be an untouchable. Meanwhile, the identity thief is genuinely untouchable. Not paying your bills on time is no criminal offence.
If he becomes President, Al Gore has proposed to make identity theft a federal offence. He's not clear how. Will it happen here? Bet your credit-rating it will.
Unreal-n-surreal. I have a hacker friend from the early days and we discussed these procedures last Saturday. It's happening Down Under too. Is there anyone who can relate actual experience regarding this very disturbing issue?
-- Pieter (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 19, 2000
I know what will help stop the problem. The company who send out unsolicited "pre approved" credit cards should be made to eat the entire cost associated with the cards being issued and used by the wrong person. Add on to that a restitution fine of say, $5,000.00 and responsibility for correcting the credit rating of the injured party.
If it can be proven that the person to whom the card was issued did not order and/or use the card then these fines should be automatically imposed on the issuing entity.
That might just put a stop to them sending out unsolicited pre approved cards.
They are the ones setting up the situation to make it easy for this kind of crime to be pulled off they should be charged as accomplices before/after the fact. Their actions are almost like leaving a car unlocked with keys in them, they did not do the crime, but they set up the situation to make the crime as easy as possible for someone to committ.
-- Cherri (email@example.com), June 19, 2000.
Why don't we just give all the credit card companies the death penalty? That would end this problem really quickly.
-- Identity Thief (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 19, 2000.
Modern conveniences must obey the law of entropy too and identity crime is only natural.
I avoid credit, a move that consumes less mother nature.... you know.
Thanks Pieter, scary article.
-- Will (email@example.com), June 20, 2000.
makes me think of [THE THIEF] =satan, yah he stole our identity too!! he put,s bad thought,s in men,s minds--then laughs when we fall. he know,s our weaknesses--and uses them against us.
-- al-d. (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 20, 2000.