In Identity Theft News This Week: Verizon Phishing Scams and Supreme Court Decisions

It has been a very busy week for identity thieves as well as for the laws used to protect us from them.
Verizon Customers Beware of Emails Bearing Account Information News
Verizon Wireless customers may have recently received a phishing email scam message: that is one of two. However, both yield the same results, that of releasing your information to an unknown person. Verizon however, seems to be on top of the problem and has listed on their website Verizon Announcement, a copy of the email message you may receive as well as several different variations of it. The all yield the same result, releasing your:
* Username:
* Password:
* Date of Birth:
* Country or Territory:
Another version of the current Verizon Phishing scam simply provides a link to a site that you sign into, Of course that means you have now giving these thieves all they need to know about your Verizon account. Not only does this provide information to important account information but can also lead to Cell Phone Tapping: The Scary Truth about this Techno Crime.
Verizon customers, Report and delete this message.
Follow Up to Supreme Court Takes another Look at Federal Identity Theft Law
Just a few weeks ago we brought you information on a pending Supreme Court case regarding immigrants with illegal status and identity theft penalties. At that time, the Supreme Court was reviewing the law which permitted extending sentences to those who used fake identities to obtain employment, often with social security numbers that were not simply fake, they were someone else’s.
The Law under Review:
The law is intended to punish identity thieves committing financial fraud has been used or threatened in immigration prosecutions in cases where the social security numbers used turn out to be actual social security numbers with owners.
Justice John Paul Stevens, just one of the justices concerned about the interpretation of the law by the government, said, “There’s a basic problem here.” He added, “You get an extra two years if it just so happens that the number you picked out of the air belonged to somebody else.”
The federal government was not only adding additional time to sentences for immigrants using identities that were stolen, but also using these convictions as a means for deportation. The question is should someone who unknowingly uses a fake identity that in the end belongs to someone else be given harsher punishments than someone who simply uses a fake identity? Immigrants have no way of knowing that these identities that they purchase belong to someone else.
The Supreme Court agrees with defense attorneys that argue that there must be proof that the person charged with a crime (defendant) knew the social security number actually belonged to another person, in order to receive harsher penalties. They decided that if “a person is arrested for the federal crime of aggravated identity theft for possessing or using a fake social security card, the government must prove that the defendant knew the social security number belonged to another person.”
As a result, if there is no proof that the thief was aware that the identity belongs to someone else, the punishment is less harsh. For example, if Uncle Joe applies for a credit card or job using your or your child’s social security number that you gave him to set up a so called guardian account then his penalty would be more severe than someone who is simply using what they thought was a randomly generated Social Security number. After all he knew he was “borrowing” a current Social Security Number.
As identity theft and fraud becomes an ever increasing concern it is good to see that both companies and the law are making efforts to keep up with the increases in and new methods of phishing scams and financial frauds that take place daily with protection and punishment.