Identity Theft Scams Exposed, Part I

    June 10, 2003

FACT: It takes 14 months, on average, before an Identity theft victim realizes their identity has been stolen.

Therefore it’s important that you be aware of scam artists and identity thieves who will use any means possible to get your personal information.

One scam that has been circling the internet and unfortunately working is what I like to call the “Your Account Needs To Be Verified” scam.

This scam begins with you being contacted through your e-mail account by someone claiming to be from your credit card company, your internet service provider, Paypal, eBay, or any other popular internet company.

The scammer sends a message stating that “your account information needs to be verified” because their files were hacked into, their database crashed or they believe that someone has tried to steal your account information.

Sounds pretty serious doesn’t it ? Just the type of e-mail no one likes to receive. And just the type of e-mail that usually gets your attention and makes you respond.

They will ask you to confirm your name, address, and telephone number. Then your account number, user name and password. Sometimes they will ask for your bank account information claiming it is just another part of the verification process. And because you think it’s from the actual company, you provide all this information easily.

In cases of impersonating your credit card company they will ask you the same information that you provided when you applied for “their” credit card. Your name, your social security number, your mother’s maiden name, etc.

The e-mails you receive can look very convincing, maybe even using that company’s logo. The sender’s address can also look very convincing and may have what appears to be an official company e-mail address such as one of your creditor’s or AOL.

The reality is it’s not your credit card company, AOL, Earthlink, PayPal, or Ebay contacting you. Even if the sender’s address contains part of the company name be very cautious.

Chances are that you are being contacted by a scam artist or identity thief who wants to “verify” , or more truthfully “get”, your personal information so that they can then turn around and use this information fraudulently against you.

Once you verify your information with them, the identity thief takes that information to open up new accounts in your name. And remember …It takes 14 months, on average, before an Identity theft victim realizes their identity has been stolen.

TIP: NEVER give personal information to a company, such as AOL, eBay, or your credit card company that already has it. If you are suspicious about being contacted, contact the company yourself before giving out or verifying any personal information – especially through e-mail.

James is editor of “TO YOUR CREDIT”, a free
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