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Portrait of an Identity Thief 335

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the getting-off-easy dept.
Ant writes to tell us that the New York Times has a closer look and an interview with an identity theft addict. From the article: "As far back as 2002, Mr. Sharma began picking the locks on consumer credit lines using a computer, the Internet and a deep understanding of online commerce, Internet security and simple human nature, obtained through years of trading insights with like-minded thieves in online forums. And he deployed the now-common rods and reels of data theft -- e-mail solicitations and phony Web sites -- that fleece the unwitting."
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Portrait of an Identity Thief

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  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @08:31PM (#15658050) Journal
    The reason most people don't do it is because they're honest and want to help out the human race instead of being a drain on society.
    • by uvajed_ekil (914487) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @08:51PM (#15658086)
      The reason most people don't do it is because they're honest and want to help out the human race instead of being a drain on society.

      I think of myself as an honest person, but a desire to retain my freedom has also kept me from straying into a life of crime. And whether or not a need to be honest is universal I don't know, but I suspect the deterrent of prison is enough to keep most people straight. Lots of us have the skills and opportunities to commit some fairly lucrative crimes, though we choose not to, for whichever reason.

      • by Korin43 (881732) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @09:05PM (#15658117) Homepage
        Considering how much money could be made through illegal means and how easily, morals are a much more important deterrent than the police. The police are the back up plan ;)
        • Considering how much money could be made through illegal means and how easily, morals are a much more important deterrent than the police.
          Except that history clearly demonstrates, time and time again, what invariably happens when ordinary citizens are left with only their own morals to keep them honest - and it ain't pretty.
          • by draxbear (735156) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @09:41PM (#15658190)
            On the whole, we seem to be slowly moving from a "govern thyself" to a "If no-ones watching, why not?" frame of mind.

            I wonder if this is almost being encouraged by the powers that be as it fosters a feeling that it's ok for them to be watching because I no longer expect the others around me to be governing their own behavior...
            • by Nutria (679911) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @12:01AM (#15658468)
              On the whole, we seem to be slowly moving from a "govern thyself" to a "If no-ones watching, why not?" frame of mind.

              I wonder if this is almost being encouraged by the powers that be as it fosters a feeling that it's ok for them to be watching because I no longer expect the others around me to be governing their own behavior...


              IMO, this devolution stems from a set of interrelated and feedback-reinforcing factors, some of which are
            • by G-funk (22712) <josh@gfunk007.com> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:23AM (#15658689) Homepage Journal
              On the whole, we seem to be slowly moving from a "govern thyself" to a "If no-ones watching, why not?" frame of mind.


              I think the main reason for that is the vast array of laws that are simply to serve corporations, not the people. Nobody's going to argue that it shouldn't be illegal to kill somebody, or break into his house, rape his wife and walk out with his TV. But with laws like the DMCA and various other corporate welfare schemes, people going to jail for weed, how can any man have respect for what's law, rather than simply live by their own ideas of what's right, and simply try to avoid being caught when those two systems aren't in harmony?
            • Or could it be because the "powers-that-be" themselves operate on the same policy?
          • what invariably happens when ordinary citizens are left with only their own morals to keep them honest - and it ain't pretty.

            True. They tend to form governments to get themselves organised, and it all goes downhill from there.

          • Except that history clearly demonstrates, time and time again, what invariably happens when ordinary citizens are left with only their own morals to keep them honest - and it ain't pretty.

            Time and time again, those citizens form trained police forces to manage the irresponsible/criminal minority. There's usually a period in there where vigilantes manage "justice", but that gets messy.

            It ain't pretty? It doesn't seem so horrible.

            Think about it -- if most people actually enjoyed living in a dog-eat-dog worl

        • It is interesting how religious groups always claim the moral high ground, even though the whole operation is a scam, that plays on simple people's feelings of insecurity and then rip them off for the benefit of the church masters.
          • If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. -- Voltaire

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @12:14AM (#15658507)
        I think of myself as an honest person, but a desire to retain my freedom has also kept me from straying into a life of crime.

        That's funny.

        As an honest American, I find that my desire to retain my freedom is pushing me closer and closer to a life of crime with each passing day.
    • by Achromatic1978 (916097) <robert AT chromablue DOT net> on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @09:17PM (#15658141)
      I know... what a joke... an 'identify theft addict'. What, is stealing someone's identity this year's new black/bipolar? It's not a fucking mental illness.
      • It very well could be mental illness of sorts. There are compulsive shop-lifters, for example, who are influenced by something that can only be described as mental illness. Also, think about serial killers. One certainly can argue that they are very mentally ill. Of course that doesn't absolve them or this young man of personal responsibility. But there are devient behaviors that we say are not normal. Behaviors can also be addictive without meaning a person is mentally ill or insane, though. Gamblin
      • I know... what a joke... an 'alcohol addict'.
        I know... what a joke... a 'heroin addict'.
        I know... what a joke... a 'self mutilation addict'.

        He obviosly gets the same kind of rush from identity theft that people get from shoplifting, gambling, drug use, etc.

        Just about anything can be addictive.

        Examples: Rich people shoplifting & depressed people cutting themselves. Obviously neither group is doing it for their health.
      • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @10:41PM (#15658321) Homepage

        Everything is a mental illness.

        If it is a mental illness, that means two things. It's not your fault (hint: it is), and it's a condition (hint: thus insurance must pay). No one in America has problems. Those would be their fault and they would have to pay a shrink to talk about them. But if you make it an illness...

        What was that one that was "discovered" last month? Intermittent Explosive Disorder, aka "a really short temper."

        • Things like this change the chemistry of the brain. This individual, while completely responsible for the crimes he committed, is most likely addicted to the money and feeling that the crimes produce. Our society will be better if he is treated for this addiction as not only will he no longer be a drain, but can be an important contribution to it.

          In short, it is his fault that he has an addiction. It is in our interest as a society to pay for the recovery from this addiction.
        • by QuantumFTL (197300) * <justin.wickNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @12:43AM (#15658604)
          What was that one that was "discovered" last month? Intermittent Explosive Disorder, aka "a really short temper."

          What about this is not a mental disorder? Society says you are not supposed to have a short temper, and typically having a short temper is not something that a person typically chooses.

          I would postulate that given any person, there exists something you can do that will push them too far - something that will make them uncontrollably angry. For some it could be as simple as punching them in the face, or taunting them rudely for a while. For others it may take more. In either case, becoming angry is not a choice that the person is making - they may choose to try and suppress the emotion, but the human mind has only a very finite capability for handling aggression (as it is part of a very necessary fight-or-flight aggression system).

          I was once injured on purpose in gym class back in high school (it was somewhat minor, but extremely painful), and I can still remember the incredible adrenaline rush and rage that followed - I was barely able to contain it (even thinking about it 8 years later affects me strongly), and if the person who had caused the injury had done anything more, such as taunting me, I would no longer have been able to restrain myself (likely resulting in significant injury to that jerk, as the human body can abuse itself temporarily to gain signifcant strength during an adrenaline rush). I, for one, do not think this makes me a bad person - it's something that mammals evolved a long time ago (and man extensively since becoming intensely social creatures). There does exist a point at which the rational mind simply cannot override it.

          Back to mental illness... OED says that a mental illness is "a condition which causes serious abnormality in a person's thinking or behaviour." Some people simply have too short of a fuse - not because they felt like being an asshole, but because of a combination of genetic/environmental factors. It is probably good for these people to learn more about anger management to stretch their fuse a bit, but it is also probably wise for others to avoid provoking them. It's possible even that things that typically aren't a big deal to most people may be significant provokation for someone who has a serious temper issue - this makes it difficult for them to function well in society, and is thus a serious abnormality. There might not be a pill that makes it magically go away, but it doesn't make it any less serious of an issue.

          Of course that does not mean that all people who think they have IED actually have it, or even if IED has been properly defined... mental health is a field which is still poorly understood on the whole, and sometimes wanders away from the realm of scientific fact, however if being diagnosed with a problem helps people seek treatment (and yes, mental health is a legitimate use of insurance money... it doesn't matter whether you have a cure for cancer or whatnot if a person's just going to kill themselves anyways due to a chemical imbalance).

          I'm all for personal responsibility for the choices people make, but I do not think this is one of them. And for a rather small set of the population, it can be a socially crippling problem.
        • Slightly off-topic, but I thought Intermittent Explosive Disorder is what I experience after trips to Taco Bell.
    • So true. I'm technically capable of it, have access to all the tools etc. but I don't do it. Why, because I've been the victim of it. Had my bank account wiped clean and fought the bank and finally won.

      What most people don't want to hear is how insecure our banking system REALLY is.
    • Its remarkably easy to scam people

      Unfortunately, this is all too true.

      Just this morning, I read two stories on the second page of my (Dutch) newspaper.

      The first described a woman who was director of a collective that was supposed to arrange fake marriages for immigrants who wanted to get Dutch citizenship. She asked for 20,000 euros for each arrangement. Of course, once she had the money, she didn't bother contacting the potential immigrant again. She made at least 80 million euros this way. She was

  • Yeah... (Score:5, Funny)

    by GammaKitsune (826576) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @08:34PM (#15658052)
    That is what worries Mr. Sharma's wife, Damaris, 21, who has no time for the Internet as she raises the couple's 1-year-old daughter, Bellamarie.
    "I hate computers," she said. "I think they're the devil."


    Sorry. I just thought that was funny, and had to post it.
    • Re:Yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bsartist (550317) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @08:52PM (#15658087) Homepage
      Yeah, I got a laugh out of it. But it's kind of depressing to think about, and all too common - too many people would rather blame the tool (in this case a computer) than admit that their spouse/child/dog/whatever has done something wrong. It's sad to think that this woman might truly believe that a machine somehow corrupted her poor innocent husband and turned him to a live of evil.
      • "It's sad to think that this woman might truly believe that a machine somehow corrupted her poor innocent husband and turned him to a live of evil."

        Some say temptation is a form of evil. Computer offers temptation, person becomes evil. Though I agree that this rationale is flawed, we're all a little guilty of it at one time or another. The logic usually runs along the lines of "If this hadn't happened, I'd be happy now." Easy to understand, really.
        • Re:Yeah... (Score:5, Informative)

          by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @09:53PM (#15658211) Homepage
          Yes, but everything offers temptation. Even church offers temptation for some people. Church is the ultimate temptation. Do what we say, and you'll go to heaven when you die, and live in happiness for eternity. If someone goes to church everyday, do we say they are addicted, and send them to rehab? All things have the power to do evil. Doing something that hurts others is wrong. Doing something that detracts from your own well being is bad. But saying that a tool is "the devil" because it can be used for evil is just stupid. The computer has helped tons more people then it has caused harm to. Are we supposed to outlaw cameras because they can be use for spying, or child porn?
        • Some say temptation is a form of evil. Computer offers temptation, person becomes evil. Though I agree that this rationale is flawed, we're all a little guilty of it at one time or another. The logic usually runs along the lines of "If this hadn't happened, I'd be happy now." Easy to understand, really.

          That's the flawed logic. The correct aphorism is: an idle mind is the Devil's workshop. Without pressing familial responsibilies to keep their minds and hands occupied, young people too easily get in troubl
      • It's sad to think that this woman might truly believe that a machine somehow corrupted her poor innocent husband and turned him to a live of evil.

        It's a common response by the spouses of addicts.

        The spouse blames [whatever] because it enabled or allowed the behavoir.

        Addiction support groups are setup to deal with both addicts and their spouses.

        If the guy had allowed his life to be devoured by Everquest, would you still blame her for thinking computers were the devil?

        • If the guy had allowed his life to be devoured by Everquest, would you still blame her for thinking computers were the devil?
          Yes, without question I would. A computer is just a lump of silicon, plastic, and metal. It doesn't make you do anything, and claiming that it does is just as big a cop-out as claiming your neighbor's dog is telling you to kill people.
    • Re:Yeah... (Score:5, Funny)

      by 0racle (667029) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @09:24PM (#15658156)
      I hate it when people over react. Computers are the TOOLS of the Devil, not the Devil himself.
      • I hate it when people over react. Computers are the TOOLS of the Devil, not the Devil himself.

        The Christian would say that the Devil uses any weakness to ensare the mortal soul.

        The last(?) line in the movie Devil's Advocate http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118971/ [imdb.com] is a perfect example of this:

        Vanity: my favorite sin.

        No need for computers. In his moment of moral triumph, the heroic young lawyer does himself in.

        • That is such a mediocre movie and a total waste of Al Pacino's talent. While I wouldn't say it's one of the worst movies of all time, it's an incredibly stupid waste of time (and I don't mean that in the good way). Completely forgettable, or it would have been if you had never brought it up. I hate you.
  • Stupid Criminal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by locokamil (850008) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @08:43PM (#15658068) Homepage
    Can anyone say... script kiddie?

    The guy is clearly dumb as a rock. Who the hell takes a stolen credit card, buys stuff with it, and then has the stuff delivered to his doorstep???!!? I don't know jack about stealing identities, but this guy's MO is just plain stoopid.

    Trust the mainstream media to make him sound like some kind of twisted, tortured genius.
    • by Freaky Spook (811861) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @09:08PM (#15658122)
      Most criminals are dumb, thats why.

      He may not be robbing liquor stores but what he is doing is till fairly petty crime, it doesn't take much intelligence to do what he does.

      Thats probably the reason why you see so many people getting caught for this stuff, any geek knows the dangers of using a stolen credit card and ways to avoid getting caught, but I'm sure most of them are too busy posting on slashdot to bother.
    • This is why he got caught, because he did not care about the safeness of his delivery procedure (whatever the reason was, laziness, etc). For every man like him in jail, there are hundreds of others who are more careful, who use safe drop mailboxes, who are currently enjoying their scaming activities. And a lot of those people will probably never get caught.

    • Perhaps he got complacent after early successes. His first few attempts at theft went flawlessly, so as he went on to do more, he began to feel like he'd never get caught.
    • Re:Stupid Criminal? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mochan_s (536939) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @11:49PM (#15658438)
      The guy is clearly dumb as a rock. Who the hell takes a stolen credit card, buys stuff with it, and then has the stuff delivered to his doorstep???!!? I don't know jack about stealing identities, but this guy's MO is just plain stoopid.

      That is what he got caught and charged on.

      But consider this scenario. Suppose he uses Paypal to send money through credit cards to a fake account linked to a bank account created using a fake driver's license and social security number. I don't think the banks actually have a way to check the validity of either of them.

      Now, if he got your online banking info and a maybe copy of your check (not sure about this part, my bank just started not using full numbers just last month in online banking), you're screwed. It can be emptied and no chargebacks - nothing.

      The main evil is those phishing e-mails. If you get enter your info in there, you're screwed big time.

      I suppose it's easier to get credit cards by buying lists from hackers who have gotten into e-commerce sites but maybe more dangerous to use?

      But, this is not even identity theft; the real evil starts when people start taking loans in your name. This happened at our local housing complex. The parents of students going to school would co-sign the lease agreements that required a SSN and address and all that. A clerk working there would copy the document and request whatever amount of financial aid she wanted and just cash it in. She got caught only because she was too stupid to cover her trail. I'm sure there are a lot of experts out there who do it perfectly and cover their trail perfectly.

      BTW, as a disclaimer, this is just stuff I've noticed. I don't visit or know of those ID theft sites.

  • Addict, My Foot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PavementPizza (907876) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @08:47PM (#15658073)
    What's this "identity theft addict" balonium? Do you call bank robbers "bank robbing addicts"? All bad behavior is not addiction. The guy is a lowlife crook who found an easy way to make money and kept coming back to it, plain and simple.
    • What's this "identity theft addict" balonium?
      Your honor, my client pleads not guilty by reason of insanity. He's addicted to this type of behavior and cannot control his actions.
      • by jcr (53032)
        He's addicted to this type of behavior and cannot control his actions.

        "Sucks to be him, counselor. His victims are addicted to kicking the shit out of him. Bailiff, please throw the defendant to the gallery."

        -jcr
    • Re:Addict, My Foot (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mad_Rain (674268)
      What's this "identity theft addict" balonium? Do you call bank robbers "bank robbing addicts"? All bad behavior is not addiction. The guy is a lowlife crook who found an easy way to make money and kept coming back to it, plain and simple.

      According to one of the investigators, ""We were surprised at how forthcoming he was," Mr. Ruh said. "He was very proud of his accomplishments."

      Looking back at some of Mr. Sharma's other comments in the article, I began to check off a number of traits that may or may n
    • by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @10:11PM (#15658254) Homepage Journal
      There probably are bank robbers who are addicted to what they do. The concept of "addiction" is just a model for understanding destructive behavior. It's not an attempt to excuse it. In fact, the opposite is true: people who are fighting addiction, and the people who help them (often addicts themselves) will tell you that the worst thing you can do for an addict is overlook his or her misdeeds.
    • You're not the first person to feel this way. An insanity defense in a criminal case cannot be based on a disease whose symptom is criminality.
  • The banking industry as well as Congress and just about every commerce site out there is just drooling to get their hands on a REAL identity thief. The "example" they make of them should be grand! I can just see it....Nothing left but a smoking boot!

    B.
    • You are too kind, sir.
    • The banking industry as well as Congress and just about every commerce site out there is just drooling to get their hands on a REAL identity thief. The "example" they make of them should be grand! I can just see it....Nothing left but a smoking boot!

      The banks don't care. Really, they don't.

      They get paid no matter what.

      The only people who suffer are the retailers who sold the stuff and who now get hit with a chargeback so they're out the money AND the product ...

      And the guy who got his number stolen.

      If the b

      • Sure, on the credit card side you are right. On the online banking side you are wrong. The attention identity theft has received and will continue to receive when it gets worse will only cause people to not do anything involving money online. The more it happens, the less likely people will be to trust ANY site....

        B.
  • No Remorse??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by innocence18 (897646) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @09:00PM (#15658103)

    Did anyone else find this guys total lack of remorse in his actions a little...well...wrong!

    Not to mention this quote

    Mr. Sharma said, "because by then things have changed so much that it will be kind of hard for me to just go back in there and do everything."

    which implies that if it wasn't hard to get back in to he might consider it.

    What an ass!

    • Re:No Remorse??? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689)
      The man is trying to set goals for himself. "If I can just make it a year or two without doing it" kinda stuff.

      It's like a druggie rationalizing "If I don't score for a year or two, by then things will have changed so much that it will be kind of hard for me to just go back out there and buy drugs again."

      What that statement really reveals is that he hasn't quite accepted that, if it really is an addictive behavior for him, he'll never be able to use a computer again and go near a chatroom or web forum witho
  • by bsartist (550317) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @09:08PM (#15658123) Homepage
    Are we offshoring identity theft to India too?
    • by pen (7191) *
      We must take action quickly and protect our economy against this offshoring threat. I propose introducing legislation that creates incentive to conducting identity theft within our borders instead of off-shoring it.

    • Shiva Sharma? by bsartist (550317) on 20:08 04 July 2006 (#15658123)

      Are we offshoring identity theft to India too?

      Oh come on! Do you seriously think that that's his real name?

      --MarkusQ

  • by SonicSpike (242293) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @09:19PM (#15658145) Homepage Journal
    Fraud |= theft. In plain English, fraud does not equal theft.

    It's the same as the copyright argument. You cannot steal someone's identity. You can use it frauduantly. You can pose as someone you are not. You can give false witness. But identity fraud ISN'T!
    • Well, let us consider what an identity is, then. Say someone came to your home, took your face, robbed you of your fingerprints, and any other identifying marks on your person. Then they take some clothes typically worn by you. Then, they take your cards and do things in your name. Even the people who see your 'face' at the store see that your perpatrator is you. They do viscious things in your name.

      Now, we all know that is pretty far fetched. But taking identifying *information* about you and doing t
      • Well, it may not be identity theft, but more like identity vandalism. Or an identity joy-ride. They borrow your identity for a while, and once they are sufficiently done destroying it, they stop using it. You still have your identity, but it is royally screwed. You have months of phone calls with banks ahead of you, trying to get your identity back to its original state.
      • Wrong - NOT THEFT! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SonicSpike (242293)
        Merriam Websters defines theft as: "the act of stealing; specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it"

        When you use someone else's identity in a fraudulent manner, the original person STILL HAS THEIR IDENTITY!!! It is NOT THEFT, because you have not taken anything from them, they are deprived of nothing (except maybe some abstract type of sovereign individualism). But you are using their identity, and so are they!

        I think the fundamental
  • by jjohnson (62583) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @09:23PM (#15658153) Homepage

    ...is with the absence of any sense of responsibility for the consequences.

    "It's an addiction, no doubt about that," said Mr. Sharma

  • by monoqlith (610041) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @09:36PM (#15658178)
    [...] sitting in the empty meeting hall at the Mohawk Correctional Facility in Rome, N.Y., where he is serving a two- to four-year term."
    Two to four years? Gosh, if he goes in front of the parole board after the two are up, what is he going to say to convince them he's reformed? Maybe this will work:
    "I get scared that when I get out, I might have a problem and relapse because it would be so easy to take $300 and turn it into several thousand."
    I hope those folks at Mohawk in N.Y. missed today's issue of the most *widely read newspaper in the world.* Seriously, he must have some sort of brain disorder.

  • by crossmr (957846) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @09:56PM (#15658219) Journal
    could you put another metaphor or two in the summary so that its really spelled out...
    • Rods and reels that fleece the unwitting? It's not a mixed metaphor, it's a mash-up!

      Frankly, I need a car analogy to explain anything having to do with computers or I'm totally lost. (As lost as a babe in the woods thrown out with the bath water.)
  • by humankind (704050) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @10:15PM (#15658261) Journal
    Stories like this really irk me, and show how the industry wants to make the notion of identity theft much scarier than it really is. This is an example of an "identity thief?" This moron used stolen credit cards and shipped the crap to his parents' house where he lived. He's an idiot. Other people with common sense wouldn't do stupid shit like what he was doing. There's no skill involved in what he did. Any waiter or someone who handles credit cards on a daily basis could do the same thing, but they don't because they're not idiots like this guy.

    In the end, anybody he ripped off probably didn't have to pay, so it was the merchants that got screwed if anybody, and this is becoming harder and harder to pull off.

    If there's one thing this article does point out, it's that if the feds really want to stop identity theft damages, they'd shut down Western Union. That money transfer service pretty much solely exists now to play a party to scams of this nature.
  • What to do if.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by BobSutan (467781) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @10:20PM (#15658273)
    As I posted in another related story, if you ever suspect (or know) you've been the victim of Identity Theft, here's what to do:

    Contact the credit agency of your choice to put a fraud watch on your file. The agency you contact will notify the other two for you.

    Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

    Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013

    TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

    Its also a good idea to call 1-888-5OPTOUT to prevent banks, insurance companies, and those pesky fakers (remember the ChoicePoint fiasco) from getting ahold of your credit report. All 3 agencies use that same number for the opt out process. That should significantly cut down on those pre-approved credit card offers you get in the mail that can be stolen and used in your name as well.

    And for the Active Duty members in the crowd that happen to be TDY, you should consider getting an Active Duty military alert placed in your name in addition to a fraud alert. You can never be too safe when it comes to preventing ID theft. However, no matter what you do there's still no guarantee you won't fall victim to the random oddity that can occur (such as a bartender swiping your card # and going nuts on Amazon).

    For more info on how to minimize the risks of ID theft, or how to recover from it, check out the FTC's website at www.ftc.gov/idtheft
    • Re:What to do if.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by locotx (559059) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @11:07PM (#15658354)
      This is great and all, but I found that most of the time the credit agencies don't help too much. I've been a victim. Big whoop, you have a "Credit Fraud Victim" tag on your credit reports. That still doesn't matter, a company can still grant that credit request. You can have "Do not open any more credit accounts for this person" on your credit report and guess what, that will not stop companies from granting it. Credit reporting companies are there to report the bad things and protect the companies that are granting credit and even then they are merely reporting a potential risk. They do not help the consumer. REPEAT. They do not help the consumer. I've had a "Credit Fraud Victim" label attached to all my credit reports (all 3 companies) and I have a case number with the FTC. And STILL, I get credit accounts opened up. Nothing says frustration than doing everything that has been asked only to find out a $13,000.00 loan has been granted without you knowing and now it's in collection. Then when you contact the company that granted the loan, they treat you as if you are a theft and have to prove you didn't request the loan. Where as my thought process is "Wait a second you sorry sack, you granted a loan and you didn't check and see if it was me and now you are saying that I am trying to trick you out of paying this, you must be nuts." It's a very frustrating battle. This is something that happens a lot . .it's the "elephant in the room no one is talking about". . . but until it happens to you . .you will not know the frustration of having your identity stolen (or used fradulently).
      • are merely reporting a potential risk. They do not help the consumer. REPEAT. They do not help the consumer. I've had a "Credit Fraud Victim" label attached to all my credit reports (all 3 companies) and I have a case number with the FTC.

        Did you lock your report? If you're in CA, that (supposedly) requires your OK to do a hard inquiry.

  • by NynexNinja (379583) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @08:45AM (#15659683)
    There was an interesting quote:
    "Shiva Sharma was probably one of the first, and he was certainly one of the first to get caught," said Diane M. Peress, a former Queens County prosecutor who handled all three of Mr. Sharma's cases and who is now the chief of economic crimes with the Nassau County district attorney's office.
    This guy is from New York. What about New York's Masters Of Deception (MOD) group in the 1980's? I would say they were probably one of the first. Its pretty naive to make such statements that in 2006, this guy is "one of the first". He is 22 years old. I know guys that are in their late 30's early 40's that were doing computer based identity theft back in their teens and early 20's.

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