Identity theft has increased a lot these days. It is very common in USA and it is also spreading in other countries like India. This is a type of crime that doesn't kill you physically but it can take away from you everything that you have earned so far - money, credit history and social reputation. Identity theft can be done by high tech cyberspace hacking and also by low tech dumpster driving.
So, in order make everyone aware of what common mistakes they do and how can a identity thief steal all your valuable information, here is the story.
This is the fictitious interview of an identity thief when he got caught red handed.
It was 3A.M in the night, time for my usual dumpster diving. I am Just 23yrs old and i like the life i am leading right now. I like to make use of people's ignorance and I am hoping to build a mansion of my dreams. I am very smart and intelligent.. Aww you think that i am very over confident right. Very true.. But that night was the last day of my life when i could say such a statement.
I went near the dumpster of an apartment complex and tried to grab my steal i.e. trash which people throw every week. I went there before the actual garbage removal agency came to do their part. I jumped into the dumpster to scan the required items and keep it in my car. But alas i got caught red handed by the cops after i dived off from the dumpster.
Police Interrogation -
Officer 1 : What is your age ? When did you start doing this ?
Me: I am 23 and I am stealing people's identity since 3-4years.
Officer 2: What is your name ? What do you do ?
Me: John Atkins*
Officer 2: Real name plz... we also know you by Tony Rivera*.
Me: Michael Johnson and i am doing my major in computer science.
Officer 1: So Mike.. tell us how did you start doing all this..
Me: Well i was in a casino and I lost all my money. I wanted to play more but i didn't had enough money so i went out of the casino dejected and thought wish i get some money from outside.. even if it is a dollar. I searched everywhere outside and there i found a man's wallet. He had his debit card, ssn and credit cards. He even had the pin number for debit card in his wallet. I felt like i won a jackpot ! I cashed around $3000 dollars and started playing blackjack. I started using his name and made purchases using his credit card.
Officer 1: He never reported to the bank about his cards being stolen ?
Me: Yes he did after a week. But by that time i used his credentials and opened a secondary account connected to his card which he was unaware. For some days i was John. I changed the name at my apartment, pay checks and even on my credit cards. I diverted John's billing statements to my address. I could do anything now using his name. But after couple of years i had to let it go since he became aware and he cancelled every card carefully. I didn't have his social security number that was the reason why i couldn't continue this for long time.
Officer 2: So, what did you do next ?
Me : I search for my prey even by using the latest technology. I downloaded a software tool on that could scoop up the data from computers that are connected to my wireless and using that I can get the contents from their computers. For this reason I disabled password on my wireless router and made it unsecured. I was able to get some information from few people's computer when they were connected to my wireless. I got hold of their bank accounts and i then changed their password. I got their addresses. I became the flyer guy and distributed flyers in the community. I got the access to the mail boxes and i found mails from credit card companies who had pre-approved them. I called those companies and started accessing those credit cards. I somehow got information about the social security number as well. See its interesting how people can get so much information by hacking their laptops with our wireless connection !
People throw most darnedest things on earth such as their job application mails, pre approved cards, credit card billing details, electricity or internet bills etc and i get the most out of this. I can get information about the other cards by calling such companies and posing with that identity and i say "Hey i don't remember which visa card i used last time to pay my bill?" and its unbelievable what they tell me.
I love when the new credit cards appear in their mailboxes. I write their credit card number and wait until that is activated. In some cases, i activate it myself !
Officer 2: Wow.. that's amazing piece of information. How about if banks do take care of these thefts. What are the other ways for you to steal people's identity ?
Me: Well, i usually go the grocery stores and walk in the line to pay my bill. People confuse me with a guy talking over the phone, but when they take out the credit card i take a snap of it using my phone camera and boom.. i start using their card from the very next day. People usually don't check their account within 30days so yeahh i enjoy with their card atleast for the next thirty days....Sometimes i call people pretending to be an insurance company dealer or other financial institution who is giving them a cash prize.
Officer 1: What do u do when people catch you near their dumpsters ?
Me: If they catch me in the daytime, i tell them i came to visit my friend and my girlfriend threw her engagement ring here. So I am searching for that. Or i say that i lost my car keys. Otherwise i drive through their neighborhood at 3am on the trash day and fill my trunks with the trash that is valuable to me.
Officer 2: Okay. Mike the game is over and you need to relax your mind a little bit. You know you are very smart and clever but unfortunately your efforts won't be recognized. You are going to be in the jail for sometime of your life.
Identity theft is an increasing crime. It has been added as one of the federal law clauses. Best ways to avoid identity theft are:
- Check your bank accounts and credit card statements every week.
- Check your credit report regularly to limit the damage caused by the identity thieves.
- Shred all your documents that contain important information.
- Make sure to disinfect and clean your computer with latest antivirus software and run it regularly.
- When you find that your identity has been stolen report immediately to the police, notify your credit card companies to take care of any fraud or disputes.
Awareness is the best weapon to fight against identity theft. Be aware of how your information is stolen and how you can help yourself to protect against it. By doing this we can make the job of identity thieves very difficult. We can fight against this crime by educating our friends, family and community.
Note : Above interrogation is based on the interviews of former identity thieves who were caught in New York, Florida and Virginia.
ps: This post is for the Blogeshwar 3.0 contest as well.