London, England (PRWEB) October 19, 2006
With the launch of a comprehensive privacy course, Frank Simons urges people to be more vigilant and to drop their laissez-faire attitude towards their privacy
"Just a few days ago in the UK press I read how up to 50% of homeowners throw out enough personal material to put their identity severely at risk," says Frank shaking his head.
"In the time it takes you to watch the news or have dinner, an identity thief can charge up more than $10,000 in bad debts in your name and vanish without a trace, leaving you to clean up the mess, if you can," explains Frank.
The unfortunate thing is, most people won’t even know about this little shopping spree until they are turned down when trying to get a loan, or until they get threatening letters and calls from debt collectors about mysterious debts.
But who exactly is an identity thief?
"There is no point trying to spot an identity thief, what is needed is a complete review of what information you release about yourself, and an overall look at your attitude towards privacy," says Frank.
In other words, these thieves lurking in the shadows could be anyone.
Perhaps it’s the neighbourhood bum who goes through the trash thrown out; he may have made a visit to a dumpster near you just last week.
Perhaps it’s a bank employee who hates his job and who has access to customer personal information. He can access bank accounts and credit rating and decide who is worth ripping off.
Perhaps it’s an ex boyfriend who’s heart was broken when they were dumped, but has access to their ex's bank account details and password?
Perhaps it’s a colleague at work who has access to personnel records, including employment application, payroll information and social security numbers.
Perhaps it’s a cyber hacker geek who can break into bank computers to check balances and credit limits and sell the account numbers and passwords to the highest bidder.
Perhaps it’s the clerk at the video store, who knows where customers live, their date of birth and credit card details.
In other words, he could be just about anyone. But what he really want is…to be someone else
The likelihood is he is just an ordinary guy trying to make a living. He probably had a decent job, paid the bill. But then he heard about a guy selling names and social security numbers for as little as $500. So he gave it a try…and JACKPOT.
A couple of the names were worthless, but the others earned him $110,000 in no time. Here’s what might have happened.
Some of the names may have been used to apply for online credit cards and open bank accounts.
A few of the others may have been used to set up phony companies with merchant accounts so he could take credit card payments.
The remaining, to set up offshore bank accounts where money was wired from the phony companies after the credit card charges from the purchaser accounts cleared the merchant accounts…easy as that.
As all the business can be done online, there is never any need for the identity thief to show any photo ID or leave a signature and the stolen identities are never used for more than a few weeks.
Perhaps he has a few apprentices under him now that he’s training…showing them the ropes, and that starts with the dumpster. One man’s trash is another man’s gold, as they say. "Be vigilant, the identity thief is, and you may be next," says Frank.
Scary indeed. One option is to cut up all the credit cards/personal documents and go live in a cave. The other is to better manage personal information and learn how to your protect privacy.