Since the 1990s, a startling number of Americans have experienced checking their bank balance to find hundreds or even thousands of dollars mysteriously missing. They have received bills for credit cards they never signed up for and even been accused of crimes that happened on the other side of the country.
According to Javelin Research, 12 million people were victims of identity theft in 2012, with over $20 billion in combined losses. Though there are many more ways to protect consumers online than there were even a decade ago, the number still seems to be growing.
Some of the worst identity theft cases in recent years revolutionized the way software companies offer security. These are 5 of the most famous examples of how dangerous the internet can be.
1. Philip Cummings
35-year-old Cummings was the former employee of a software company who managed to steal the credit reports of over 30,000 people. He sold the information to criminals for $30 per the report, and from 1999 to roughly 2002, those 30,000 people lost over $100 million – many of them, their entire life savings.
This stolen information was the basis for a sophisticated identity theft ring involving Nigerian nationals. Cummings was caught by the FBI in 2005 and sentenced to 14 years for fraud.
2. Albert Gonzalez
28-year old Gonzalez was revealed as the mastermind behind some very sophisticated identity theft scams. His history with computer-related crime dated back to 2003, when he actually helped federal investigators catch his own colleagues in the underground world of cybercrime. He was later arrested again for stealing credit and debit card information from chains like Dave & Busters and TJMaxx.
Then, in 2009, it was revealed that Gonzalez’s now-lavish lifestyle was funded by his strategic attacks on Fortune 500 companies and that he had stolen the credit card information of over 30 million people.
3. Ahmar and Neja Punjahi-Singh
Married couple Ahmar, 33, and Neha, 30, pled guilty to their part in a global identity theft scam which netted over $3 million in 2011. Their criminal enterprise involved 111 people who victimized residents in countries like China and Russia by using a skimming device and illegal information-gathering websites to steal their credit cards.
The Singhs were primarily responsible for overseeing “shoppers” who would use the counterfeit cards to stay at lavish hotels and even rent a private jet. Despite this, Ahmar was only sentenced to 5 -10 years, and Neja was conditionally released.
4. Todd Davis
The case of LifeLock CEO Davis is unique because he actually didn’t steal anyone’s identity. Instead, he professed his cybersecurity company was flawless at protecting users from identity theft, and to prove it, he advertised his actual social security number on his website and billboards.
The aim of the marketing campaign was to show customers he had absolute confidence in LifeLock’s ability to prevent identity theft.
Naturally, the scheme didn’t work, and Davis has been the victim of identity theft at least 13 times since 2007, including fraudulent cell phone accounts and credit cards being created in his name. The company was also fined $12 million by the FTC for false advertising.
5. Lara Love and David Jackson
In 2009, Santa Cruz couple Love, 42, and Jackson, 41, were sent to prison for hacking their neighbors’ insecure internet connections – victimizing dozens of nearby homes. They opened fraudulent accounts, joined online gambling sites, and made purchases from amazon.com.
When their neighbors joined efforts and realized they were all experiencing strange mailings and information about accounts they had never opened, Love and Jackson were arrested.
They paid over $9,000 in restitution and had legal barriers placed on their internet access. The prosecutor in the case warned people to start password protecting their wireless accounts.
There are plenty of fundamental things the average person can do to protect their identity online and off, but the cybersecurity industry is always working to improve the threat to individuals and businesses. Going online can be scarier than you think.
Brett Harris is a blogger that knows about identity theft-it happened to him! Cybercrime is on the rise and needs people to fight it so check out the 10 Best Online Cyber Security Degree Programs and start a great career.
How to Repair Your Credit After Identity Theft
Being a victim of identity theft is a nightmare for most. You can start receiving debt collection calls for the debts that were gained by the thief. While putting measures in place beforehand is great, it does not always prevent it from happening.
So if you find yourself a victim of identity theft what do you do now that your credit is in trouble? There are a few things that traveler’s guide to preventing identity theft can help you with. Guest door offers great solutions for before and after identity theft has happened.
If you want to find out what you do know here are a few wonderful tips on how to get started fixing your credit.
File a police report
This is where you need to start. The moment you realize that there is a problem you need to file a report. Many of your lenders and creditors will want to have a copy of this for their records.
Those that the person might have opened under your name will want a copy as well. This is the first step into getting your life back after identity theft. Talk with a detective or officer about what all you will need to file this report.
Put a fraud alert in place
When you are working with the police for your company, you need to activate an alert on your social name mentioning that the fraud has taken place. This will help to prevent any fraud from happening in the future.
You need to have an alert placed on your account to ensure that if anyone is trying to give you credit, he has to go through the process assuring that it is you who is working with the account. This is done by getting in touch with all three credit bureaus and explaining your situation.
Call your credit card companies
You need to contact your lenders right away when you notice fraud has taken place. This helps them get your account on alert and make sure that you do not have any other issues. If you let the companies know your card has been stolen or is missing they can put a stop to the card at once.
Sometimes they will refund fraudulent charges right away and other times they may need proof from the police department to refund. This is where your police report comes in handy. It is important you call them to let them know what is going on as soon as possible. This will prevent any further charges from happening.
Keep close tabs on your credit report
Be sure to monitor closely your credit report and account statuses. This will help you to make sure that no other fraudulent charges or accounts are appearing. It also lets you know how this has affected your credit report. You want to monitor for a length of time afterward to make sure that everything has shown up.
If other items do show up you will be able to report them. Monitor it for at least a year after it happened to be on the safe side.
By keeping these tips close by you can be prepared to repair your credit should you become a victim of identity theft?
You never know when or where it can happen but it causes a pile of hard work for all involved. Be sure to take measures like safeguarding your information, keeping tabs on all of your accounts, and regularly checking your credit report.
Keep these tips in mind if you have a problem with your identity being stolen. You will be glad you had this information if it happens to you. If it does, relax and know that you can take steps such as these to fix the damage done.