Identity Theft is a crime in which the perpetrator uses another individual's personally identifying information to open a fraudulent credit card account or commit other illegal acts under someone else's identity. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), this is the fastest growing white-collar crime in the U.S. with over 27 million Americans as victims (back in 2005, so this number has undoubtedly grown). At the time of the 2005 report, the primary means of theft were:
Now it’s posing as customer service representatives on legitimate Facebook business sites. Example: You go to your credit card company’s Facebook page to roast them about a poor customer service experience. Suddenly you receive a message on messenger from what appears to be a user tagged as "customer service.” After a few messages, they request your personal account information to “address this complaint, and make things right.” Some even go as far as providing you a link to an online complaint form. Unfortunately you follow up with a phone call to your card carrier sometime later, maybe after seeing a questionable purchase on your account…it’s too late!
Another disturbing criminal tactic, is romancing members of the single/lonely elderly community. You’ve heard the stories, grandpa just died, grandma hasn’t been alone for decades. She’s lonely. She posts on her Facebook page or other social media about her devastating loss. Or she enrolls in an elders dating site (you’ve seen the commercials). One day she is smitten by some “knight in shining armor” that has befriended her and says all the romantic things she’s missed hearing. Grandma never actually meets this person face to face. They make excuses (a popular one is, “I work on the Slope and can’t be reached.” One day this “Romeo” tugs on her heart strings and requests a credit card or bank account to bail them out of a dire situation, or needs funds to finally come unite with her…unfortunately at this point it’s too late…she’s been “catfished”!!!!!
If you have been the victim or related to a victim, you need to know that law enforcement is limited in what they can do for these cases. Typically unless there are multiple victims, little or no enforcement action can be taken. This is due to the enormous workload already placed on our law enforcement professionals and the almost impossible task of identifying these thieves, many of them residing in foreign countries.
As a military veteran, this is a whole different story that can be summed up by one issue: In your military career, from basic training to your final duty station, how many times did you have to write down your social security number on every document put before you? As a veteran myself, I couldn’t answer that accurately except to say innumerous times!
The Alaska Department of Law has a fact sheet here, http://www.law.state.ak.us/pdf/press/idtheft-fact-sheet.pdf on what you should do afterwards.
We strongly recommend you take action now to prevent…never just react. Enroll yourself and your love ones in an online identity protection service. Feel free to check out our Recommended Products section for more information.
- Aegis of Alaska