During a typical traffic stop, an Edmonton police officer questioned the legitimacy of a woman’s drivers’ license. It was just a lucky traffic stop that started to really unravel for an alleged identity theft ring.
The police ended up finding computer files with more than 30,000 credit card files, stolen passports, birth certificates and a ton of other stolen identities.
Yes, it was two women who were arrested and according to the police, it’s often women involved in identity thefts. After all, it isn’t violent, it’s working from home and isn’t about a gun – just a computer.
There are actually web sites, just like E-bay where you can bid on stolen personal information and buy stolen credit cards. The crooks will even give you one for a test to prove that they’re legitimate crooks.
In fact, it’s a huge volume game, as well as the fastest growing white-collar crime in North America. You can buy a stolen credit card for under a buck and a full set of identification right down to mothers’ maiden name and debit card PIN number is around $20 bucks. Isn’t that sick?
I can assure you, I could talk about identity theft for an hour or more, but here’s a few things to remember:
The vast majority of identity theft involves someone you know. If you find out, call the police. Do not minimize it, cover it, ignore it or try to explain it away. It’s robbery – pure and simple.
Get a shredder. Never throw out personal information of any kind, especially offers from credit card companies with applications on them, your bank statements, convenience cheques or anything with your name and address on it.
Don’t carry your social insurance card or a bunch of extra credit cards in your wallet. You’re a half hour away from home and don’t need half the stuff you have in your wallet or purse. It’s not worth the risk of theft. Treat that stuff like you would treat your cash.
Don’t give out personal information unless it’s a legitimate application. And 90% of the time, that’s not the case. Ask why they need it and use your head.
And don’t respond to e mails from Paypal, Amazon, brokerage firms or banks asking to update your information. They’re phishing e-mails sent by crooks looking for your personal information. None of those places will ever e mail you with that type of request.
Repeat after me: Don’t press reply!