You, too, can be victim of identity theft !!!

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by alan halvorson, Feb 15, 2005.

  1. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    Now you, too, can be a victim of identity theft, even if you've done everything perfectly in protecting your personal information, thanks to this company.

    I worked for this swell company just a few years ago (in a totally unreleated area). I didn't like the idea that they controlled so much information then and I like it even less now. But, then as now, not much I could do about it.
     
  2. Joe Szott

    Joe Szott Screenwriter

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    I have a really good meesage I received about ID theft on my PC at all times, just in case. Great info, everyone should read it once just for peace of mind (or better yet print a copy to save.) Here it is:

    ---------------

    >> > The next time you order checks, omit your first name and have only
    >> > your initials and last name put on them. If someone takes your check
    >> > book they will not know if you sign your checks with just your
    >> > initials or your first name but your bank will know how you sign your
    >> > checks.
    >> > When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO
    >> > NOT put the complete account number on the "For" line. Instead, just
    >> > put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of
    >> > the number and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes
    >> > through all the check processing channels won't have access to it.
    >> > Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If
    >> > you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. Never have
    >> > your SS# printed on your checks (DUH!) you can add it if it is
    >> > necessary. But if you have it printed, anyone can get it.
    >> > Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine, do both
    >> > sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in
    >> > your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call
    >> > and cancel.
    >> > Keep the photocopy in a safe place. I also carry a photocopy of my
    >> > passport when I travel either here or abroad.
    >> > We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us in
    >> > stealing a name, address, Social Security number, credit cards, etc.
    >> > Unfortunately I, an attorney, have firsthand knowledge because my
    >> > wallet was stolen last month. Within a week, the thieve(s) ordered an
    >> > expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card,
    >> > had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN
    >> > number from DMV to
    >> > change my driving record information online, and more.
    >> > But here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this
    >> > happens to you or someone you know:
    >> > We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. But
    >> > the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so
    >> > you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them easily.
    >> > File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was
    >> > stolen, this proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is a
    >> > first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
    >> > But here's what is perhaps most important: (I never even thought to do
    >> > this).
    >> > Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to
    >> > place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. I had
    >> > never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell
    >> > me an application for credit was made over the Internet in my name.
    >> > The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your
    >> > information was stolen and they have to contact you by phone to
    >> > authorize new credit.
    >> > By the time I was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the
    >> > theft, all the damage had been done.
    >> > There are records of all the credit checks initiated by the
    >> > thieves'purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the
    >> > alert. Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves
    >> > threw my wallet away this weekend (someone turned it in). It seems to
    >> > have stopped them in their tracks.
    >> >
    >> > The numbers are:
    >> >
    >> > Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
    >> > Experian[​IMG]formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
    >> > Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
    >> >
    >> > Social Security Administration(fraud line):1-800-269-0271
    >> >
    >> > Pass this information along. It could really help someone you care
    >> > about
     
  3. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    I was, two weeks ago, a victim of ID theft. Someone in Virginia scammed one of my card numbers in order to purchase an iPod and other stuff from Apple Computer.

    A new card has since been issued to me, and the bank (BofA) and Apple Computer currently are investigating the incidents.

    For two or so days, I was handicapped because of this. (Never mentioned this to anybody. Interesting.)
     
  4. Elinor

    Elinor Supporting Actor

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    Jack, sorry to hear that.

    I just had a weird charge show up on one of my Visas. I'm disuputing the charge. A very small amount, but I have no idea where it came from.

    The cost of good credit is eternal vigilance (to borrow from Mr. Jefferson).

    Btw, Joe, good stuff, thanks for the post.
     
  5. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    I had a near-experience just this week when I couldn't find my ATM card. Turns out I just left it in the ATM machine and my local bank was holding it for me (first time in 15 years of using ATMs that has happened).

    Many years ago, probably around 1996, I ordered my credit report because I got turned down on a credit card application. I saw quite a few things that didn't belong to me, addressed to some street in San Francisco. I immediately contested and all items were removed. The weird thing was I think it was a mixup [as opposed to identity theft] because those items, while some had late payments, looked like payments were being made on them, albeit sporadically.

    Ever since then I tend to get my credit report every few years. If I ever do get turned down for a credit card report I would request one immediately (though I haven't been since the original incident).

    Joe, excellent email you referenced. Funny, of all the spam crap I get in my email, I wish just once I got a useful one like that! [​IMG]
     
  6. Elinor

    Elinor Supporting Actor

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    For those who may not know, Congress passed a law, which is being phased in, that allows peeps to get a free credit report (1 per year I believe). Some states are not online yet.

    https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp

    (You may have to type it into the address box.)
     
  7. Andy_G

    Andy_G Stunt Coordinator

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    Uh, does anyone seriously belive that the bank is actually checking your signature?

    I once read that if your check is for less than some amount--maybe $5,000--no real person at the bank even sees it.
     
  8. Elinor

    Elinor Supporting Actor

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    Andy, just 'cause a human doesn't look at it, doesn't mean the sig isn't verified. They could scan it.
     
  9. Mort Corey

    Mort Corey Supporting Actor

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    I had a charge put against my checking account for a debit card/ATM charge for something ordered over the internet. Funny thing is that I've never had nor applied for a debit card and have never used an ATM (yeh, OK, I live in the past) The bank reversed the charge but it was a real pain. You think they'd have easy access to records supporting my point but they wanted a written statement from me as well. Sheeze.

    Mort
     
  10. ScottHH

    ScottHH Stunt Coordinator

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    I guarantee no one is verifying the signature on your checks. In 1999, there were 30 billion personal checks cleared in the US. If you care, the FED has a website where they go into the electronic transfer and "truncation" of checks.

    If someone steals your credit card, that's not identity theft. It's annoying and it is theft, but it should be relatively easy to clean up.

    The real problem is when someone gets your name, account numbers, and social security number. Then they can steal your identity and open accounts as you, that is the purpose of the recommendations in Joe's email. I've seen stories where it is much harder to repair ones finances after an identity theft.
     
  11. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

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    Don't ATMs in the US require you to remove the card before it dispenses your money?

    And its an ATM, not an Automatic Teller Machine Machine. [​IMG]
     
  12. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    Well, yes, someone does see your check. That check has to be encoded with the amount before it can be run through sorters and other equipment (maybe there's a piece of electronics that can do this now, but it wasn't available then). It takes a person to do the encoding. Of course, as that person sees thousands of checks a day, he/she isn't likely to remember the specifics of any of them.

    I began my computer life as a mainframe computer operator for a small insurance company. My company also contracted to do the data processing for a small (then, now a lot larger) local bank. My duties included something known as Cash Letter (preparing checks taken in from other banks to be sent to the Federal Reserve so that they could be further sorted and sent to their respective banks), sorting checks through a sorting machine and running and printing nightly, weekly and monthly bank reports and statements. I had access to nearly everyones financial information and could look up whatever I wanted about whoever I wanted. Once in a while, on slow nights, I did. But I was sworn to secrecy as all bank employees are and could not (and did not) reveal that information to anyone, including other bank employees. Heck, I won't even do it today. The one report I found most fascinating was the NSF report. I was shocked at how many people I knew and prominent people I recognized, many of whom I believed were very well off, wrote NSF checks every week.

    After I was promoted to programmer, my replacement, a real knucklehead, while in a bar revealed wages of some of his coworkers from a previous job. They complained and he was immediately fired.

    I was a recent victim of credit card fraud also. An $800+ amount appeared on my statement from WALMART.COM even though I've never ordered from there. My first guess was that someone from my local Walmart had gotten hold of my CC information; however, after my CC company investigated, it turned out that someone from out-of-state was the culprit (which Walmart agreed with in a 3-way conversation between them, me and my CC company) and the charge was removed. I'm as careful as anybody with my personal information and couldn't figure out how someone got ahold of my number. Then I remembered I had ordered something from DVD Pacific, whose site was hacked shortly after. Lazy me, even after being dutifully notificed by DVD Pacific, failed to promptly cancel my card and get a new number. Lesson learned.
     
  13. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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