If you get hold of the Nevada Revised Statutes and read the details of “Obtaining and Using the Personal Identification of Another” (legal jargon for Identity Theft) you’ll notice that it reads easily compared to some of the more complicated statutes. I’ve always been fascinated by this fact because it describes a complex crime. In my opinion, two things complicate the crime of identity theft.
1. The information obtained and how its used to victimize.
Believe it of not you can be victimized with very little information. I’ve known victims that have been violated with the fraudulent use of just their full name and address and others that have been violated via full scale identity takeover where they were locked out of their own credit and checking accounts and found that someone used their name to avoid imprisonment. There’s countless ways within this spectrum. An offender can obtain credit, purchase vehicles or homes, and avoid legal prosecution all by claiming to be someone else.
2. There are infinite ways to obtain your information.
Your information is out there in many places so determining how you’ve been victimized and how to avoid it in the future is sometimes difficult. As I always say, it’s always better to be preventative so lets discuss popular ways offenders obtain the personal information of their victims that are popular today and haven’t been explained in my other articles.
This will always be a popular method to illegally obtain property and personal information from others. For an everyday person old checks are worthless. Yet for a certain type of identity thief, they represent a simple means to obtain money and/or property fraudulently. Here in Las Vegas, these individuals locate old or unused checks, create a fake identification card with their photo and the name on the check, and attempt to cash them.
I view “diving” as more than searching trash. Whether its dumpsters, mail boxes, or searching for parked vehicles that may have personal property inside, criminals capitalize on the fact the people depend on their vehicles for storage and don’t believe that someone will actually go through trash. There are many other ways, however after search warrants have been served on potential suspects, the majority of the evidence located appears to be from trash, mailboxes, or vehicle burglaries. So shred or legally burn your documents prior to throwing them out, use US postal mailboxes near the pick up times (usually posted on the side of the boxes), ask any business to which you give your personal information, about their storage and disposal policies, and never store items with your personal information inside your vehicles.
Door to door sales
Ever have a “shady” individual come to your front door trying to sell magazine subscriptions? Well I know I have, and recently one of these subjects handed me the application and I realized that it was nothing like a subscription form. It asked for unnecessary information like my social security number and driver’s license number. It’s just as easy, if not easier, to call a magazine’s subscription department or subscribe online instead of giving your personal information to a stranger.
The bouncing check
It’s become a well-known scam. Someone tells you that you’ve won an obscene amount of money yet they need a processing fee prior to sending it to you. Most can see this one coming from across the Atlantic Ocean where it originated. However, this scam has evolved. Here’s what can happen today. A potential victim advertises a product via the internet or a newspaper and receives contact from a supposed buyer. A check arrives and subsequently bounces. Think they’re trying to scam you out of a product? Maybe, but it could be more than that. Some banks stamp the numbers of the account in which the deposit is being made on the back of checks. And when funds are insufficient, some banks will send a scan or the entire check back to the person or business that wrote it. So basically, the plan is for the check to come back to them with your account number printed on the back of it. Luckily, many banks are aware of this and only send a scan of the front of the check or print the numbers in a manner that makes them unreadable to the naked eye. This is however another reason why money orders are a great idea when selling something.
There are many ways to steal someone’s identity. Hopefully you’ll find the above listed methods to be good additions to your “lookout” list and good luck safeguarding yours.