Identity Protection

Location: Scotts Valley, CA, United States

Monday, September 25, 2006


A friend went to the local gym and placed his belongings in the

After the workout and a shower, he came out, saw the locker open, and thought to himself.
Funny, I thought I locked the locker. Hmmm." He dressed and just flipped the wallet to make sure all was in order.
Everything looked okay - all cards were in place.
A few weeks later his credit card bill came - a whooping bill of
$14,000! He called the credit card company and started yelling at them, saying that he did not make the transactions.

Customer care personnel verified that there was no Mistake in the system and asked if his card had been stolen. "No," he said, but then took out his wallet, pulled out the credit card, and yep - you guessed it a switch had been made. An expired similar credit card from the same bank was in the wallet.
The thief broke into his locker at the gym and switched cards. Verdict: The credit card issuer said since he did not report the card missing earlier, he would have to pay the amount owed to them.
How much did he have to pay for items he did not buy? $9,000! Why were there no calls made to verify the amount swiped?
Small amounts rarely trigger a "warning bell" with some credit card companies.

It just so happens that all the small amounts added up to big one.


A man at a local restaurant paid for his meal with his credit card. The bill for the meal came, he signed it, and the waitress folded the receipt and passed the credit card along.
Usually, he would just take it and place it in his wallet or
pocket. Funny enough, though, he actually took a look at the card and, lo and behold, it was the expired card of another person.
He called the waitress and she looked perplexed.

She took it back, apologized, and hurried back to the counter under the watchful eye of the man.
All the waitress did while walking to the counter was wave the wrong expired card to the counter cashier, and the counter cashier immediately looked down and took out the real card.
No exchange of words --- nothing! She took it and came back to the man with an apology.

Make sure the credit cards in your wallet are yours. Check the name on the card every time you sign for something and/or the card is taken away for even a short period of time.
Many people just take back the credit card without even looking at
it, "assuming" that it has to be theirs.


Yesterday I went into a pizza restaurant to pick up an order that I
had called in. I paid by using my Visa Check Card which, of course, is linked
directly to my checking account.

The young man behind the counter took my card, swiped it, then laid
it on the counter as he waited for the approval, which is pretty standard procedure. While he waited, he picked up his cell phone and started dialing.
I noticed the phone because it is the same model I have, but
nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

Then I heard a click that sounded like my phone sounds when I take
a picture.
He then gave me back my card but kept the phone in his hand as if he was still pressing buttons.
Meanwhile, I'm thinking: I wonder what he is taking a picture of, oblivious to what was really going on. It then dawned on me: the only thing there was my credit card, so now I'm paying close attention to what he is doing. He set his phone on the counter, leaving it open.
About five seconds later, I heard the chime that tells you that the
picture has been saved.
Now I'm standing there struggling with the fact that this boy just took a picture of my credit card.
Yes, he played it off well, because had we not had the same kind of phone, I probably would never have known what happened.
Needless to say, I immediately canceled that card as I was
walking out of the pizza parlor.
All I am saying is, be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Whenever you are using your credit cards, take caution and don't be careless. Notice who is standing near you and what they are doing when you use your card.

Be aware of phones because many have a camera phone these days.

When you are in a restaurant and the waiter/waitress brings your
card and receipt for you to sign, make sure you scratch the number off.
Some restaurants are using only the last four digits, but a lot of them are still putting the whole thing on there.

For the info. My credit card company has requested me not to sign my name on the back of my credit card, but rather sign the back with CHECK ID. This has prompted the sale clerks to ask me for picture ID before completing the transaction. However this does not stop the clerk from taking a photo copy of my card or scanning it with some other device for reproduction and use later.
I think I will do like is shown on your e-mail in scene # 3 and take my credit card to the cash register and stay alert of what is taking place during the transaction.
If things look or sound peculiar call your credit card company and advise them. They may cancel your card and you will have to wait a while for a new one, but the wait may take a few days. It may be worth your while. Hope this helps.

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Identity theft alert issued - Police say ring targets eateries

The next time you go through a drive-through of a fast-food restaraunt, or even a fine restaraunt, don't be impatient if the cashier is slower than you think they should be. RELAX, they are stealing YOUR IDENTITY as fast as they can, and you'll JUST HAVE TO WAIT YOUR TURN ...
like the rest of the victims !!!

There was a news story about 911 that said terrorist groups were considering buying convenience stores and gas stations to harvest the large number of credit cards used at just these two places ...
without a thought of how safe their card really is today.


Identity theft alert issued
Police say ring targets eateries

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 09/03/06

Cobb police have a warning for consumers: Be careful when using credit cards at restaurants.

They arrested three people last week who they believe are part of a larger identity theft ring. The alleged thieves used an electronic skimmer to read information on the magnetic strips on the backs of the cards. The operation was partially undone by a slow-moving cashier at a Taco Bell on South Cobb Drive, near Smyrna.

The cashier, Takeila Cherie Anderson, 18, was moving so slowly while working the drive-through that the manager went to investigate. Store video that police made available shows Anderson taking cards from customers and sliding them along a slit on top of the machine.

The manager called police after seeing the machine — so small that it fits in the palm of a hand.

It was the first time police in Cobb have seen the device, said Cpl. Ron Underwood, a detective in Cobb's criminal investigation unit.

Investigators arrested Anderson of Austell. She helped police lure the men who allegedly put her up to the scheme. Police also arrested Arthur Crumpley Jr. and Cecil Lamont Hicks, both of Douglasville.

They charged all three with criminal possession of a financial forgery device, a felony. They could face additional charges for each stolen account number found on the machine.

Underwood said Crumpley recruited Anderson. He promised her $1,000 for every 50 cards the machine skimmed.

Police believe Crumpley recruited restaurant employees throughout Cobb.

Police think Hicks was the ringleader. Underwood said Hicks told investigators he had a connection in California. Hicks would turn the stolen numbers over to his connection on the 14th Street bridge in Atlanta, Underwood said.

Consumers should pay close attention to monthly credit and debit card statements and get copies of their credit reports.

Underwood said the restaurant manager saved his customers a lot of aggravation.

"If you are a victim of identity theft just one time, you'll understand how serious this is," Underwood said.

Find this article at:
http://www.ajc. com/metro/ content/metro/ cobb/stories/ 2006/09/02/ 0903cobskim. html

Sunday, September 03, 2006

We take identity theft seriously, but our banks are dragging their feet

We take identity theft seriously, but our banks are dragging their feet

Thanks to Joe for the following article:
Readers feel that administrative errors by lenders are at least partly to blame for rising credit card fraud

Lisa Bachelor
Sunday September 3, 2006
The Observer

Credit card holders need to be extra vigilant about fraud on accounts they no longer use. Cash has learnt of a number of recent cases where banks have continued to send out cards and Pins even after being informed that the card holder has moved.

Mike Addelman and his partner Sarah contacted Cash last week after spending three years trying to stop MBNA sending them mail intended for the previous occupant. 'We moved into our house in Sale [near Manchester] about three years ago, and the previous occupants' mail was still being sent to our address. A lot of that was from MBNA, so we called and asked them to stop sending it, which they said they would - but this never happened.'

Addelman says the couple called MBNA on numerous occasions and were on the phone for an average of 40 minutes each time. They returned more than 50 envelopes to the bank saying on them that the account holder was no longer at the address. 'In the end we opened up some of the mail and there was a lot of very detailed information about the account holders in there. We also received blank credit card cheques, two credit cards and, in a separate mailing, the account holder's Pin with a letter saying a new credit limit of £15,000 had been granted. We think this is appalling and shows that they are not taking the security of their customers seriously. We cannot be the only people this has happened to.'

MBNA apologised to the couple and has now closed down the previous occupant's account. 'Anyone receiving an MBNA credit card would have to pass stringent security procedures to activate the card before it could be used,' a spokesman said. 'In addition, consumers would not be liable for any fraudulent transactions that may occur on an account.'

Two weeks ago Cash received a letter with a similar tale from a reader in London who was fed up after spending eight months contacting Barclaycard to tell them to stop sending him mail intended for the previous occupant, the account holder. This time the reader was sent six credit card statements, a credit card and a Pin number. Barclaycard apologised and sent the reader £25 in compensation but could not explain why no one had acted on the reader's calls.

Another reader emailed to say he had settled his credit card account and then moved house, unaware that a new credit card was sent to his old address and subsequently used to make fraudulent transactions. The credit card company passed the debt to a debt collection agency, which is now pursuing him for payment.

Figures from the Association for Payment Clearing Services (Apacs) show fraud losses for 'mail non-receipt' - where a card never reaches its recipient - had risen by more than 60 per cent from £45m in 2003 to £72m in 2004, the year when most chip and Pin cards were issued. The latest statistics, however, show this falling to £40m last year.

'The big driver for card-not-present fraud is when someone forgets to notify their bank that they've moved or where there is a communal hallway,' says Jemma Smith, spokeswoman for Apacs. 'The cases [above] were obviously caused by administrative errors on the part of the card companies and sound highly unusual. The card holder would not be liable for any fraud that did occur in these cases.'

But incidents of identity fraud, where a criminal uses a fraudulently obtained card or card details to open or take over a card account in someone else's name, continue to grow year on year, accounting for £30m of losses last year. According to credit reference agency Experian, almost half of all identity theft happens at a previous address.

An account that has not been used for some time is often declared dormant by a card issuer, but there is no set time limit in which this has to be done. Halifax, for example, says if an account hasn't been used for 12 months prior to the bank reissuing a card it will write to the card holder and ask them if they want the new card. Barclaycard, on the other hand, used to operate a 'three-year rule' when deciding whether an account was dormant or not. It has since changed this so that cards issued from October 2004 will become dormant if there is no activity on them for 21 months.

Apacs is also warning card holders to be extra vigilant about checking the statements they do receive. Although official figures for the first half of this year are not available until next month, it says early indications are that fraud at ATMs is on the rise, after having fallen by 12 per cent for the first time last year. 'This is due mainly to gangs continuing to do old-style skimming fraud at cash machines and taking stolen details abroad,' says Smith.

Sainsbury's Bank announced last week that it is to spend £3.5m on security around its 885 cash machines after worries about increasing levels of fraud in this area. 'Without a doubt chip and Pin has had a positive effect on overall levels of fraud but in this area [ATMs] the problem seems to be growing,' says Kevin Barrett, head of channels at Sainsbury's bank. 'We do twice as many transactions at our ATMs than on average cash machines, so we're being proactive with this move, not reactive.'

The new measures will include changing the position of CCTVs within the supermarkets, attaching 'anti-skimming' devices to all its ATMs and a number of more low-tech solutions, such as putting a line on the ground around ATMs to make it clear that the area is a private space.

How to fight back

What you should do if you receive financial post for a previous occupant?
· Contact the bank and ask to speak to customer services. If you have no luck there, try the customer relations manager.
· If the card issuer ignores repeated requests to stop sending you somebody else's mail, you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service. The FOS would not be able to take it on as a formal complaint as it is not your account, but it has had some success in the past when it has made informal contact with credit card companies over this problem.
· If you open someone else's mail, technically you are committing a criminal offence. Under the Regulation of Investigatory powers Act 2000 it is an offence to open, destroy, hide or delay any post that is addressed to someone else, even if you know that it has been incorrectly delivered.

What you should do to protect yourself against fraud?

· Notify all your card issuers if you change address - even for those accounts you no longer use
· If you no longer intend to use a credit card, close down the account, don't just cut up the card. Cutting up a card or putting it in a drawer doesn't shut down the credit facility.
· Check account statements so that you can spot anything unusual.