MSNBC produced a 2 hour show with Chris Hansen on tracking down the thieves who steal your identity for a living.

MSNBC produced a 2 hour show with Chris Hansen on tracking down the thieves who steals your identity for a living. The show was very intriguing especially being in the financial institution that is constantly fighting hard to prevent these kinds of crimes.

The story of Chris Hansen tracing the steps of a thief starts on the internet. They first showed the internet being filled with thousands of underground chat rooms where people buy and sell people’s credit card numbers, social security numbers, birthday, address, pin numbers, and other personal information. These crooks use customer information to purchase products from legitimate websites and have them delivered to a U.S. Address. Most companies don’t ship over seas because of crimes like these, but these thieves established a middle man in the U.S., where they will receive the product and ship them overseas. These middlemans are thinking the shipment is going to a girlfriend they have met online but in reality, they were setup as decoys.

You see these crimes starting from overseas with groups of people gathered in internet cafes, constantly scanning those chat rooms for your personal information and plotting their scams. In the show, “how to catch an identity thief”, Chris tracked the thieves all the way to Switzerland where he met a Nigerian man and another partner. That’s where Hansen ended up but had to let him free because U.S. Laws did not apply there.

How do we stop these kinds of crime? By equipping ourselves with knowledge of how these I.D. thieves work.

You can find the article about the show here along with a picture of the suspect dressed in business attire.

And here is part of an article taken from the OCC Website to help you stop internet pirates:

There’s a new type of Internet piracy called “phishing.” It’s pronounced “fishing,” and that’s exactly what these thieves are doing: “fishing” for your personal financial information. What they want are account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, and other confidential information that they can use to loot your checking account or run up bills on your credit cards.

In the worst case, you could find yourself a victim of identity theft. With the sensitive information obtained from a successful phishing scam, these thieves can take out loans or obtain credit cards and even driver’s licenses in your name. They can do damage to your financial history and personal reputation that can take years to unravel. But if you understand how phishing works and how to protect yourself, you can help stop this crime.

Here’s how phishing works:

In a typical case, you’ll receive an e-mail that appears to come from a reputable company that you recognize and do business with, such as your financial institution. In some cases, the e-mail may appear to come from a government agency, including one of the federal financial institution regulatory agencies.

The e-mail will probably warn you of a serious problem that requires your immediate attention. It may use phrases, such as “Immediate attention required,” or “Please contact us immediately about your account.” The e-mail will then encourage you to click on a button to go to the institution’s Web site.

In a phishing scam, you could be redirected to a phony Web site that may look exactly like the real thing. Sometimes, in fact, it may be the company’s actual Web site. In those cases, a pop-up window will quickly appear for the purpose of harvesting your financial information. In either case, you may be asked to update your account information or to provide information for verification purposes: your Social Security number, your account number, your password, or the information you use to verify your identity when speaking to a real financial institution, such as your mother’s maiden name or your place of birth.

In either case, you may be asked to update your account information or to provide information for verification purposes: your Social Security number, your account number, your password, or the information you use to verify your identity when speaking to a real financial institution, such as your mother’s maiden name or your place of birth.

If you provide the requested information, you may find yourself the victim of identity theft.

How to Protect Yourself

  1. Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request, whether it is over the phone or over the Internet. E-mails and Internet pages created by phishers may look exactly like the real thing. They may even have a fake padlock icon that ordinarily is used to denote a secure site. If you did not initiate the communication, you should not provide any information.
  2. If you believe the contact may be legitimate, contact the financial institution yourself. You can find phone numbers and Web sites on the monthly statements you receive from your financial institution, or you can look the company up in a phone book or on the Internet. The key is that you should be the one to initiate the contact, using contact information that you have verified yourself.
  3. Never provide your password over the phone or in response to an unsolicited Internet request. A financial institution would never ask you to verify your account information online. Thieves armed with this information and your account number can help themselves to your savings.
  4. Review account statements regularly to ensure all charges are correct. If your account statement is late in arriving, call your financial institution to find out why. If your financial institution offers electronic account access, periodically review activity online to catch suspicious activity.

You Can Fight Identity Theft – Here’s How:

Never provide personal financial information, including your Social Security number, account numbers or passwords, over the phone or the Internet if you did not initiate the contact.

Never click on the link provided in an e-mail you believe is fraudulent. It may contain a virus that can contaminate your computer.

Do not be intimidated by an e-mail or caller who suggests dire consequences if you do not immediately provide or verify financial information.

If you believe the contact is legitimate, go to the company’s Web site by typing in the site address directly or using a page you have previously book marked, instead of a link provided in the e-mail.

If you fall victim to an attack, act immediately to protect yourself. Alert your financial institution. Place fraud alerts on your credit files. Monitor your credit files and account statements closely.

Report suspicious e-mails or calls to the Federal Trade Commission through the Internet at www.consumer.gov/idtheft, or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT.

Jon Wu

No biography available for this author.

2 Responses

  1. Vicky Miller says:

    In March I received a letter from a physician informing me that their office had been burglarized & their hard drives were stolen which contained personal information about me which included my name, address, birth date & social security number. I was advised to put a Fraud Alert on my credit report. Three weeks later I received a letter from a former employer informing me that an employee was the victim of a robbery in their home and a laptop computer was stolen which contained personal information about me which included my name, address, date of birth & social security number. The employer offered to pay for a credit monitoring service for two years because of the theft of my personal information. The Seattle Police Department is still investigating both incidents.

    There was a recent report of a school administrator who left a laptop in their car which was subsequently broken into and once again, personal information about teachers including their performance evaluations for several years was on the stolen laptop computer. What types of security measures are employers taking to ensure that personal information about their employees is not compromised? It doesn’t just happen on the internet. How secure do you feel? Are we doing enough?

  2. Jon says:

    There is never enough security measures that a company can get to ensure their clients, employees, and other data to be secured. But educating internal and external members of the business is the most important first step to preventing incidents like yours from happen. Having that knowledge definately gives you the advantage of what crooks are doing and a good sense of security.

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