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Identity Theft, Who is the Real Victim?

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posted on Mar, 7 2014 @ 11:40 PM
I have recently experienced a form of identity theft when one of my debit cards was compromised and used to make purchases all over the U.S., Canada and Mexico. This unfortunate occurrence has made me very aware of the threat of hacking attacks on our economy and how unprepared the government seems to be in order to handle the new onslaughts.

I created this post entitled, “You’re the Next Victim of the Cyber Wars” describing my research into this subject at the following link.

Since then, I’ve been working on the steps to protect my identity that were recommended by the big three credit bureaus as well as state and federal agencies. These steps to be taken are common sense ones and one thing I would like to do is have a security freeze placed with the credit bureaus. In order to accomplish this, I must submit an official report of the ID theft along with copies of identity proving documents sent by postal service. This is point where I have apparently slipped through the cracks once again.

I have made a “complaint” with the FTC, but technically it is just an affidavit form you fill out and they keep on your behalf. It isn’t a legal document until you have it witnessed and notarized. After filling out and reading that lame thing and then trying to make a better one on my own, I came to realize I may not even be a victim!

Apparently I actually am a victim of identity theft of some kind, but it was only the theft and fraudulent use of my debit card information (apparently, but who knows?) and not the theft of something tangible like the card itself or a blank check. Certainly a crime was committed in my name using unauthorized information obtained by illegal means, but I have ultimately have not incurred any tangible damages from this crime, yet.

Worse, I have no idea who had initially stolen the information, how they may have done it, and where exactly it happened. Knowing any one of these things would help me get that first report made by a law enforcement agency with jurisdiction.

Because I’m victim reporting a crime that incurred no monetary loss, I might be able to make an incident report locally where I live. Still, I have no idea who did it or when, how, and where this crime occurred. My identity was stolen and used to commit various other crimes, but the only real victims, in the eyes of the law, are a debt card company, my bank and maybe half a dozen businesses that might have delivered goods or services before the bank froze the account.

After the disputed charges have been dropped, refunded or written off by the “real victims”, all I have left to work with is an unknown perpetrator(s) who somehow may, or may not, have profited by the unauthorized used of stolen debit card information. I need to go after the person or persons that illegally acquired that information and then to show damages, prove they, or others down the line, profited from it outside of any of the fraudulent debit card charges handled by the “real victims”.

A short membership with a cyber security company might help prove that my debit card info is out on the black market. If my information is out there for sale, then someone is profiting and I now have damages I could pursue. I may have unknown perps committing the theft and making the sales, but I may have a case if I can prove that my info is being sold for profit. Sure it would be a case that wouldn’t be investigated and I couldn’t possibly win, but I would at least have a legitimate report in hand.

posted on Mar, 8 2014 @ 12:24 AM
Yep, I learned the hard way, even if you know who it was, hand them the name and address, they likely will do nothing to them.

Similar thing happened to me when a leader of a nigerian smuggling ring, (not a joke) stole my telephone calling card from the mailhouse in my apartment complex.

I opened our first telephone bill to the tune, in 30 days, to almost 40 thousand dollars. Though my phone was cut off for a couple of hours, I suffered no real damages. A lot of frustration, anger, and feeling violated, but that was all.

The second bill was almost 30 thousand, but, that was the phone companies' fault. Even after being alerted to the theft, and obvious issues, and saying they would disable the card, they somehow failed to, and another 30 days of billing came through.

Long story short, I did some sleuthing, figured out who he was, he lived in my apartments, and the government knew about him and had been tracking him for years. Everyone he called, I called, and most of them hated the guy. They very willingly told me who he was. He even called his own phone on my card...

He did 350 thousand a year in credit card fraud, on an expired student visa, and they basically said, oh well, nothing we can, or will, do. We just watch him. Better to know where he is, than to deport him and lose track. They said if they tried to deport him, he would be back under another (no, the name he was already using was fake) assumed name in under a week.

I also found out where, aside from stealing mail at our mailhouse, he was getting help. It was the main IRS center in Atlanta. I caught them, and they admitted, on recorded IRS phone calls I made to them, to helping him steal ID's of tax payers, from the IRS. They got paid to pass him identities. Several hundred dollars per name. Plus, their job income. For whatever reason, they too felt they had nothing to fear.

Couple people allegedly lost their jobs, but that was it. No charges ever pressed, because everyone refused to pursue, the CIA refused to take action, the FBI refused, as well, and I had no say, as I was not a victim.

It truly sucks.

If me, or you, or many others did this, we would get buried UNDER the jail.

But, here is this guy, driving a 190E Mercedes he paid CASH for at the dealer, all from stolen credit card purchsed merchandise he returned for cash refunds. And he walks.

Ain't life grand?!

Best thing to do is put a credit freeze with the 3 main credit reporting companies. They will ask for a copy of your police report. Keep those records, at least 10 years, lest the banks "forget", and sell the bad debt to a leach credit collection agency, and they try to sue you.

Otherwise, be grateful you caught on before any damage WAS done, and you became a real victim. Digging out of that can sometimes take 10 years or more.

edit on 8-3-2014 by Libertygal because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 8 2014 @ 01:17 AM
reply to post by Libertygal

Great reply Liberty Gal, star for that. You know how the scam works!

My biggest problem is I don't have any idea of how or where the debit card information was stolen, so how do I determine which law enforcement agency has jurisdiction?

Let's say my home computer is infected with malware that compromised my debit card information. Did the theft occur in my computer or was it at the other end where the cyber criminal was pressing the keys that sent it out? Maybe the theft actually occurred somewhere in cyber space. When did the theft occur? Did the crime happen when the virus infected or when it made off with the info or was it when the criminals acquired it or when they used it?

If a person took that information from the card somehow, and then sold the information or used it fraudulently for gain, when and where did it happen? If I had the where and how at least, then I might have a case to report locally, but there is no way of knowing that. Perhaps I may get some leads, but I'll have to be the PI and do the leg work and spend the money too.

There are all kinds of hacks, scams and unknown compromised data bases where the crime could have occurred too. I basically have no case without at least some evidence of what happened to the information, like going to the tor black market and spend some bit coins to buy what is out there on me. I have little knowledge of how that world operates to be able to navigate in it.

edit on 8-3-2014 by MichiganSwampBuck because: typos

posted on Mar, 8 2014 @ 01:43 AM
Several years ago I had a credit card that was used only for business expenses. When I suspended the business I neglected to cancel the card. A couple of years later I suddenly got a bill with charges for a cell phone on it. I called the company and told them that it was not my expense and was told to file a report of illegal use of the card with the local sheriff's department. I did and mailed a copy to the credit card company. They canceled the card and sent me a new one with a new account number. The next month the bill showed up with the same cell phone charge. I called them again and reminded them that I was not responsible for the charges since I didn't own a cell phone nor had I authorized the use of the newly-issued card. I also pointed out to them that this problem must stem from within their system since the old number was canceled and yet the charges persisted to the new account number. I also pointed out that if they were interested in finding the criminal they could call the number of the phone and find out who was using it. They vigorously denied that anyone in their company could be doing such a dastardly thing but failed to offer an alternative explanation. I canceled the card and have had no more problems.
Because I haven't had debt in over two decades, my credit score isn't anything anyone would want to steal!!!

posted on Mar, 8 2014 @ 04:07 AM
there are people that work for the postal service that steal card information without even opening your mail.

they know what he letters with new cards look like and with the use of a piece of carbon paper can pull the card numbers for the card without opening the letter.

posted on Mar, 8 2014 @ 06:41 AM
reply to post by MichiganSwampBuck

If you personally didn't suffer a sizable loss, than you won't find any law enforcement agency wanting to take your call let alone have you come in, visit with a detective and do paperwork. You can't press charges. You don't have a case. You didn't personally lose money. You maybe could sue in civil court for emotional damages, but it is unlikely that a lawyer will take you case unless you pay upfront for the legal services. And would the guilty party be able to pay a judgment against him or her? It is understood by the card companies, banks and even retailers that fraud to their enterprise is a given fact of doing business. As a rule, law enforcement agencies stay out of it, because they know that banks and cc companies won't bother to file charges to cover their losses. They merely write them off as expenses and their members collectively foot the bill.

Content yourself in the realization that you survived the experience fairly well intact.

posted on Mar, 8 2014 @ 09:53 AM
reply to post by MichiganSwampBuck

Because you do not know who did it, you gather the information that you have showing evidence of the crime, and simply drive to your local police station and file an incident report. The crime of theft, regardless of who did it, always happens in your local jurisdiction, because it happened to you. They will take your report, but a uniformed officer will, not a detective.

They likely will not even assign a detective to the case. This happens thousands of times a day. But, I have learned by going through it, what the steps are.

Once you have the incident report filed, you simply ask the officer taking the incident report for the number. That's all you need.

Then, you can notify your bank that you filed the incident report, give them the number. I am surprised they gave you any refunds, affidavit aside, without the police report number.

Anyway, the same with the 3 credit reporting agencies. They do not require the incident report number, but it does help to have it on file, when you put the credit freeze on your accounts.

Most banks will hold you not responsible, because they track your spending habits and know what is and is not normal activity.

Heck, our bank disables our debit cards the instant me or my husband does any spending out of the ordinary. We then get an email notice, and have to phone the bank and verify that we spent those funds. The bank won't release the funds, nor unfreeze our debit cards, until we call.

This is new and improved loss prevention, albeit a little creepy, and sometimes infuriating, but no one would be able to steal our numbers and do anything substantial anymore.

We have had minor incidents, but follow the steps above, and once they have the incident report number and the affidavit saying we didn't authorize the purchase, our funds are returned, card canceled and a new one reissued, and the case is closed.

In every incident, we were able to eventually track down the criminal, and reported them. Yet and still, nothing was ever done.

Just secure up your accounts with the credit reporting agencies, and feel relief they didn't do things like manage to get leins put on your home or car, or worse, buy a home or sell the house you live in! Very terrible things have happened, and you got away scott free. Be happy! Move on.

And most of all, for your peace of mind, try to backtrace your steps prior to the theft, and figure out who it was. If you just can't, no worries. You may have been caught in any one of the huge corporate credit breeches, like Target, etc. They just announced on the news this week there have been large corporate breeches that have been unreported.

All companies, like Lifelock, do is put a credit freeze on you at the big 3. Other than that, you don't need anything else.

They can only guarantee any loss after that, because once the freeze is placed, it then becomes the banks' fault for issuing credit against a freeze. Yes, it really is that simple!

edit on 8-3-2014 by Libertygal because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 8 2014 @ 11:04 AM
reply to post by Libertygal

Excellent reply once again Liberty Gal!

So they will probably do an incident report with the information I have at the county level, if not maybe the state. Is that correct?

I think I might get a security freeze at Experian without the report as their mail instructions don't require it. They want to verify my fraud alert from TransUnion by mail, so I'm putting in that request along with the alert form they sent me and the required ID info. I don't see why they wouldn't issue the freeze considering some criminal used my card to create an account with them. Also, the bank had me take care of the disputed charges with them personally, my only stake in this case apparently. I'd have to go after whoever that criminal got the information from I guess.

That would be one down and two to go. Anyway thanks you ever so much for sharing your experiences, it has helped verify what I thought I should do next.

posted on Mar, 8 2014 @ 02:38 PM
This new system we have created for buying things sucks. You never had to worry about someone taking money from your local bank before without getting hold of your checks. You never had to worry about someone starting a credit card in your name before. If you wanted to borrow money you needed to go to the bank and take out a loan in person.

We have created a system that is very insecure. Someone is hacking things and swindling people all the time. The worst part is the law does nothing about it, it is your responsibility. If you think you are safe because you have no credit cards, you may be in for a surprise. They steal from everyone, even people without money.

Here is another thing. The credit card companies do not loose money, they pass the loss along to the people who have cards. The stores do not loose money, they raise prices. The consumer or person using the card always pays, it is spread out amongst everyone.

They need to start looking for these guys doing this and cut off their fingers or something. They need to classify conning someone as a crime.

posted on Mar, 8 2014 @ 10:35 PM
Many banks will set up a card account just for internet use.

Just keep enough money in the account for what you buy. and don't link it to your other accounts.

This will cause the thieves problems in many cases as unless they just hit the account at just the right time because the card will be refused.

Most thieves will not take to time with a card that does not work when they want it to and dump the card number.

posted on Mar, 9 2014 @ 01:34 PM
reply to post by MichiganSwampBuck

Yes, exactly. Just go to your local P.D. to file the incident report. The bank, when you sign the affidavit, is simply trying to assure YOU are not the scammer, and by getting you to agree to prosecute if they find the criminal, is their form of CYA for refunding your loss. Most of the time, and I said, the criminal is found, but the loss is so small, it would cost more to prosecute than just write off the loss. If, in the case, they come across a crime ring they do wish to prosecute, you just made yourself a witness. This rarely happens. Think Madoff.

My bank requires both the affidavit and the incident report case number. It just depends on your banks.

Last time I dealt with the Big 3, they also required an incident report case number and verification of ID. This is to prevent a vengeful spouse/stalker type incident, or someone trying to intefere in say, you buying a house, by freezing your credit at the Big 3.

You are on the right track.

You are quite welcome, glad that I could help!

edit on 9-3-2014 by Libertygal because: (no reason given)

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