My Week of Crime Fighting Identity Theft

It’s been a busy week for identity theft criminals. And for some reason they seem to have targeted this identity theft secrets writer. And the thieves have pulled out many of the common threats we warn you about.

It’s been a busy week for identity theft criminals. And for some reason they seem to have targeted this identity theft secrets writer. And the thieves have pulled out many of the common threats we warn you about.
First, an email message from my bank states, “Do not respond to text messages that “pretend” to be from our bank.” Now, why would that be you ask? Somehow the telephone numbers of members of this particular credit union were stolen. Members with cell phone numbers listed were contacted via text messaging, with a spam message of sorts. Things like “your account has been compromised” please reply text message with your account number and password so we can check the status of your account.
Next, Wyndham Vacation resorts sends out a letter to guests of their resorts in Florida. Recently their data systems were compromised and the credit card names and numbers of guests were stolen from the database. Guests were urged to put a credit freeze and fraud alerts on their credit reports and accounts.
But it doesn’t stop there. I was the winner of Five hundred thousand, Great Britain Pound Sterlings (£500,000.00) for the ANNUAL 2009 Lottery promotion which is organized by YAHOO/MSN LOTTERY INC & WINDOWS LIVE. How were winners chosen? Through a collection of email addresses of users of these services, random winners were chosen. To claim my lottery prize all I needed to do was submit the following information:
Full name…………..
Contact Address……..
Telephone Number…….
Marital Status………
Next Of Kin…………
Zip Code……………
Amount Won………….
Your Reference and Batch number at the top of this mail:
The good news is I knew this was a scam. The even better news is, this is actually my “junk mail” account with fake information to protect the real me from emails like this. The bad news is that this actually made it through my spam ware – both the private service and the spam detection services provided by Yahoo Email.
The week goes on. I receive an email from my Uncle. It claims that he is in London, England traveling on vacation and that his wallet and all documents were stolen. Could I please help him? It very thoughtfully included all the information I would need in order to make a Trans Atlantic transfer of funds. The funny thing is my uncle is in Idaho. I just spoke with him. He travels with my aunt quite often, in an RV. So, I am pretty sure he didn’t drive it to England. And, they don’t fly. After contacting him directly, I discover that recently he received the following email message:
Account Alert
Dear Valued Member,
Due to the congestion in all Yahoos, There will be removal of all unused Yahoo Accounts, Yahoo would be shutting down all unused Accounts, You will have to confirm your E-mail by filling out your Login Info below after clicking the reply bottom, or your account will be suspended within 24 hours for security reasons.
UserName:… ……… ……… ……
Password:… ……… ……… …….
Date of Birth:…… ……… ……
Security Answer…… ……… ….
Country Or Territory:.. ……… ………
After following the instructions in the sheet, your account will not be interrupted and will continue as normal. Thanks for your attention to this request. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Warning!!! Account owner that refuses to update his or her account before two weeks of receiving this warning will lose his or her account permanently.
Warning code:……. ……… .VX2G99AAJ
Looks convincing doesn’t it? But it’s a scam just like so many others. I have warned him and other family members of the dangers of responding to messages like this, but he thought it sounded real. After attempting to log into his account several times and being unsuccessful, the truth dawned on him. Not only had all his contact information been hijacked, but he had also given his date of birth and security answer. Many people use the same security answer for multiple accounts from shopping to email to credit cards, just because it is easy.
Score? Three for the good guys, one for the bad. My uncle’s email account has been closed, Yahoo has been contacted and now he begins the mess left behind and tries to contact all his services that he used his security answer for to change it.
No one is immune from the reach of identity theft – as is evidenced by my week.
How was my family protected?
– Knowledge, the more you know the less likely you are to fall prey to the scams like these this week.
– You have heard this before, but do not provide your private information via email, and do not click on links taking you to sites that could be harmful.
– Use different safety words for different accounts. It’s hard to keep track of, you may want to consider software like Roboform (for more information read Roboform Keeps Passwords and More Protected, ) but at least you won’t have the week that my uncle is having.
– Set up “junk mail” accounts. By having one, I was already pretty sure that my lottery winning email message was junk.
– Do not answer phone calls or text requests for personal, credit card or bank information.
It all seems so easy, but sometimes in this fast paced world, the thought of being without our technical services such as online banking or email scares us a little, and so we take information at face value.
Protect yourself and your family, dig a little deeper before you release any information and always contact the service providers directly.
Lastly, to help fight electronic identity theft, be sure to report these messages to your providers, whether they are stores, banks, credit card or internet so that they can use their resources to track down, stop and hopefully prosecute identity theft.

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