Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"Who Am I?" (or, Who Was I?)

   I like the story of Les Mis.  I definitely like the musical.  I was not wild about the movies.  The book is definitely a good, and very long, read (or listen!).

   At it's core, Les Mis is a story about Identity Fraud!  It's the story of a man, seemingly wrongly convicted, who operates under a false identity in order to be able to live his life.  It's a common literary theme, used in stories like Martin Guirre, The Count of Monte Cristo and Matchstick Men.  In "olden times", Identity Fraud penalties were very serious. Today... not as much.  Last time we started a discussion of Identity Fraud - we'll continue our discussion of this topic.

   Breaches of online merchant websites and databases get a lot of media attention.  But there are many ways ID fraud is committed including:
  • Shoulder Surfing - this means someone looking over your shoulder, for example when you enter your PIN at an ATM
  • Dumpster Diving - it's amazing what people throw away
  • Mailbox theft - checks, financial statements and other sensitive documents get stolen from mailboxes
  • Stolen purse, wallet, laptop, tablet, phone - these all contain plenty of personal information
  • Social Engineering - be careful about what information you give out about yourself
  • Phishing - email or phone - con artists will call or email pretending to be your bank, law enforcement or other authority and ask you for information.
  • Social media - do you really know who your "friends" are?... there are all kinds of requests and information gathering schemes
  • Copy-cat websites - it's pretty easy for scam artists to create a fake site that looks just like your bank's website, perhaps with a misspelled URL like nationa1bank.com (that's a one instead of an L), and then collect the info you enter.
  • By known or unknown thieves! - some ID thieves know their victims.

   So many choices!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

(SuperValu) Wrote Me A Letter

   I'm hearing the Joe Cocker version of Box Tops song! (though I always picture John Belushi doing this!)

   I don't want my summer to end, but October is coming soon and, in the US, October is National Cyber Security Month.  This will be the first post of a series on Identity Theft that will carry us into October.

   First of all, the term Identity Theft is a misnomer.  According to Findlaw:
 Theft is often defined as the unauthorized taking of property from another with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. Within this definition lie two key elements:
1) a taking of someone else's property; and
2) the requisite intent to deprive the victim of the property permanently.
The taking element in a theft typically requires seizing possession of property that belongs to another, and may also involve removing or attempting to remove the property. However, it is the element of intent where most of the complex legal challenges typically arise in theft-related cases.
   But, with Identity Theft, your identity is not actually stolen, because you still have use of it.  A more accurate term is Identity Fraud.  Someone is using your identity, without permission, to execute fraudulent transactions or commit other crimes.  And, in many cases it's just aspects of identifying or financial information that is being used fraudulently, like your credit card.